Monday, March 21, 2005

U2 at the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame

Some of you may have caught U2's speeches/performances as they were inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. If so, I'd love to hear your reactions.
Just as a handy guide to my take on the men and the music, I mostly love U2, think "Atomic Bomb" is very good and occasionally great, think The Edge is an unsung guitar hero, and am (oh, how to put this nicely) ambivalent on Bono. All of those things were in evidence at the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.
Bruce Springsteen's induction speech was wonderful -- poetic, heartfelt, and funny. I thought the Edge, Adam, and Larry acquitted themselves well in their speeches, too.
Bono is Bono. He's the perfect frontman, has wonderful pipes, and writes great songs. I'm just not sure I like him as a human being. His speech was, by turns, rambling and incoherent, self-serving, maudlin, rambling, self-serving, pompous, mean-spirited, and self-serving. And did I mention that he really likes himself? I know there's nothing new here, nothing that hasn't been pointed out a thousand times before. Maybe arrogance comes with the territory, and that you can't be the lead singer/songwriter/spokesperson for the Biggest Band in the World without a supersized ego. I'm sure the temptations and challenges are great. But sometimes I just want to slap the guy silly, shake him by the shoulders and tell him that it's okay to be normal, that sometimes it's fine just to be humble and thankful, and that there's no need for the defiant clenched jaw and the Big Pronouncements. But that wouldn't be Bono, I suppose. As I said, I'm ambivalent.
The songs? On the VH1 special, they were "'Til the End of the World," a snippet from "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (with Springsteen sharing the vocals) and "Vertigo." It was good to great stuff, with the Edge playing that magnificent guitar that somehow manages to be both raw and ethereal, and Bono mostly hitting the high notes. I'm happy for the band. It's certainly a well-deserved honor. But, as has been the case for a long time now, I like them more when they sing than when they talk.


John McCollum said...


I've been compared to Bono (personally, not vocally, I'm sorry to say) on a number of occasions.

Given your description, I'd say the shoe fits, at least when I'm at my worst.

BTW, I didn't pick up on the mean-spirited, but I definitely caught "grandiose-on-the-verge-of-arrogant."

I'll still take that over Paul W's "arrogant-on-the-verge-of-misanthropic."


Andy Whitman said...

It's okay. I've been compared to Bozo (personally, not vocally) on a numer of occasions.

If the nose fits ...

In spite of my reservations, I would gladly take Bono over Paul W. Plus, I hear Wolfowitz doesn't really have a falsetto.

danthress said...

Andy, now you've done it. Are you going after the Simsons next? GenXers are weeping across the land.

God seems to bless U2, so who am I to say, but I'd rather hang out with a humble seeker like Jeff Tweady of Wilco.

I think what you like about Da Edge is that he is one of the few RIFFers left out there (as opposed to strummers). All of us who had facial hair in the 70s know it's the riff that makes the rawk.

Andy Whitman said...

Scott, very true.

I seem to have acid reflux disease as well.

mg said...

i didn't see the induction, but i read transcripts of the speeches. perhaps i'm biased but bono's speeches never bothered me. i tend to think of him as a guy trying to get the right words out and occasionally it is awkward, but ya gotta love him for his rawness.
at any rate, there were a couple tearjerked moments and then other moment of intense pride for my favorite band.

by that is just my $0.02.

danthress said...

MG, Your $.02 is worth $20.00, at least, cause you're out doin' the stuff. And writin' the stuff. And your a frontman for the Lord and stuff.

your pal, stuffy

mg said...

thanks stuffy!

Andy Whitman said...

Thanks for your comments, Mike.

I mentioned my reaction to Bono to a friend last night. And he reminded me of all Bono's work with DATA, the days and weeks he's spent in refugee camps, the fact that he willingly suffers adversarial political pundits like Bill O'Reilly in order to make his points. In his view, that more than makes up for the loose-tongued moments that sometimes make Bono look bad.

And it's a point well taken. I admire that Bono as well.

But it's that same Bono who, in the space of five minutes the other night, managed to talk about taking revenge on his enemies, get in some not-so-subtle digs on the Edge, use the platform to turn what should have been a celebratory occasion into a diatribe directed at the music industry, and twist even his most complimentary comments into a reflection on Bono, Center of the Known Universe. Sigh.

I will admit that these same tendencies lie within all of us; certainly within me. And it's a very good thing that my words and thoughts are not scrutinized. But it's still disappointing to me that someone with so much talent, so much compassion, and someone who is arguably the most visible Christian in the world (perhaps with the exception of John Paul II) can so frequently come off as such a colossal jerk when he opens his mouth. I recognize my own fallibility here. In spite of that, I'd like to think that when the cameras were rolling I'd try a little harder to keep the Asshole part of Andy in check.

I will readily admit that I have a kind of love/hate "relationship" with the guy. I hope the love outweighs the hate. I have great, great respect for what he does musically and politically. I just wish I didn't cringe when he opens his mouth.

John McCollum said...

Oh, I dunno, Andy.

I think that after he got used to having the cameras in his face, the ole' loveable asshole Andy would make himself at home on the TV sets of the world.

I mean, I can't help being an asshole in meetings, at church and at kids' birthday parties. I'm not sure a TV camera would stop me.

Give the asshole side of you some credit. It's much stronger than you think.

(Much love intended, I assure you.)

maureen said...

it seems to me that fame would make it very difficult to walk our your faith. it is difficult for lill ole me to walk and not get fogged, distracted and jaded. i guess i've always imagined a famous person's lot even more challenging.

it helps me to pray for people in influence and leadership when i'm into a mode of critiquing how they walk out their faith. i don't succeed much- but it helps me combat my inner critic.

mg said...

andy,john et all

i didn't see the actual ceremony since i don't have cable. if they do rebroadcast it, would someone tape it for me?

at any rate, i didn't see it. i just read the transcript. nothing in the transcript seemed to me to be anything other than typical bono. i'm sure he was in a good mood and was trying to convey that.

the part where he talked about adam being willing to take a bullet for him had me in tears. as well as his other snapshots which summed up his relations and respect for his other band members.

i dunno. perhaps i'm used to it. perhaps i've built bono up in my mind so much that he can do no wrong. perhaps his good deeds outweigh the bad ones. all in all, i am overjoyed at their induction into the RRHOF. truly they are the band of our time.

teddy dellesky said...

christian or not, what do you expect from one of the most highly recognizable rock icons? bono, like many believers, paint both positive and negative pictures of what it means to be a christian. bono may be a bit of an egomaniac but he offsets this with his many efforts and personal contributions to AIDS relief in Afrika. i can't tell you how many times, in how many different contexts of my life, i have said or done something that pure stupidity and non representative of my faith.