Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Pretty self-explanatory
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Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:58 pm

http://scatterolight.com/2011/09/08/sca ... ritish-gq/

Image


Image

This reads like a speech Elvis might have given when presenting an award to U2 for being GQ's Men Of The Year. The ceremony was last night in London. Accounts say , however, that the award was presented by Salman Rushdie, with no references to Elvis being there.

Elvis was their 'Man Of The Year ' in '09-

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7981&hilit=Robert+Chalmers

As you may read, Elvis comments about 'sharing a table' in '09 with some who now form the U.K. government.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Neil. » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:11 pm

I've never understood the appeal of U2 - I'll have to read the Elvis article to see if he expresses what I presume he thinks are their qualities - but to me they've always seemed bombastic and overbearing. Nothing they've ever done has ever moved me, and I'm baffled as to what Elvis sees in them! I'll have to read on.

I guess I can relate to how young men and women were roused by their Irish politics stance in the 80s - but as they moved beyond that, their sound got very pompous and grandiose - but I guess some people like that! And those who loved them when young will always love them - as I do Elvis.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Kevin Davis » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:04 pm

U2 are funny--for being one of the biggest bands on Planet Earth, I think I've met one person other than myself who likes them. That the remainder not only doesn't like them but seems to reserve epic volumes of hatred for them does make me wonder on occasion who exactly all these people are who are filling football stadiums to the roof every time they cart themselves around the globe.

That said, I'm a fan, and one who vastly prefers the late-period stuff. I think the early records possess an admirable spirit but ultimately meander and , barring the occasional fluke hit single like "Sunday Bloody Sunday," evidence absolutely no command of songcraft whatsoever. I admire whatever A&R person at Island Records heard their material circa 1979-80 and predicted they'd emerge into the commercial machine they later did--would that I could be so clairvoyant.

However, they did evolve. And ultimately, beneath the sonic pomp and Bono's whole savior persona, there's a clever stadium-art-rock band with a sound grip on the mechanics of their craft and a better-than-decent sense of humor.
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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Jeremy Dylan » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:38 pm

I'm a huge fan. I worry sometime that they might be the last great big rock band.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby the_platypus » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:11 pm

I find them incredibly annoying and their post-2000 rock songs are the very definition of middle-of-the-road, but man, can they write a good ballad.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Poor Deportee » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:32 pm

Jeremy Dylan wrote:I'm a huge fan. I worry sometime that they might be the last great big rock band.


It seems pretty clear to me that they are. Some would nominate Radiohead. But a really 'great big rock band' is one whose songs everybody knows and whose influence is immense. U2 fits both bills (e.g., practically every rock singer coming of out Britain these days sounds to me shudderingly like Bono).

As for their merits, I come down in defence of a specific U2 period - i.e., the one from "Achtung Baby" (surely a spectacular pop album, if any is, and clearly their masterpiece), "Zooropa," and "Pop." Those three records seem to me to leaven the bombast with a good dose of humour and wry self-awareness. The last even has a suggestion of freedom and spontaneity about it. Unfortunately, after that they seem to have returned to their staple sound, which is tiresome and self-important.

So, for me the U2 story is one of a band that hits an interesting plateau and then, burned by the perceived failure of "Pop," retreats into safe and stagnant terrain, where they have dwelled ever since. Just my two cents.
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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Kevin Davis » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:42 pm

Poor Deportee wrote:As for their merits, I come down in defence of a specific U2 period - i.e., the one from "Achtung Baby" (surely a spectacular pop album, if any is, and clearly their masterpiece), "Zooropa," and "Pop." Those three records seem to me to leaven the bombast with a good dose of humour and wry self-awareness. The last even has a suggestion of freedom and spontaneity about it.


Well said. That's absolutely my favorite run of U2 material, enhanced by some of the oddball tracks from that era ("Hold Me, Thrill Me," "Miss Sarajevo"). That said, I like some of the sideways song structures on "No Line on The Horizon," too--the humor isn't quite as prevalent, but in a few of the songs there is a playfulness absent from the preceding "return to form" records. Ultimately, it seems unlikely that anything U2 does from here out won't be colored by Bono's approach to and use of celebrity. Unlike others who find his high-profile philanthropy blatantly self-serving, I've always thought that he was 100% sincere and committed to those things--but it does trickle over into the music, and it serves it poorly. I'll be interested to read Elvis's article.
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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby pophead2k » Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:01 pm

I'm also partial to U2's later output. Achtung Baby is probably my favorite, but All That You Can't Leave Behind and No Line on the Horizon are probably 2 and 3 for me.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby sheeptotheslaughter » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:04 am

I have only ever bought Achtung Baby and played it twice and didnt bother playing it again.

I do like most of their singles but I find them a bit much on album. Maybe I just haven't given them enough time

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby fred darden » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:28 am

they lost me after "boy"

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Emotional Toothpaste » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:03 am

I stepped off after Joshua Tree. Boy, October, and Unforgettable Fire were my favorites.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby wordnat » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:52 pm

This is straight from the "Goes Without Saying" department, but EC's just a monster talent. So many quotable lines in this little piece! Amazing writer....

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Top balcony » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:43 pm

Neil. wrote:I've never understood the appeal of U2 - but to me they've always seemed bombastic and overbearing. Nothing they've ever done has ever moved me, and I'm baffled as to what Elvis sees in them!.


yes - my sentiments exactly.

Can remember (a few decades ago?) Elvis and Cait queued up outside HMV in Church St, Liverpool, to buy a new U2 album which was on sale from midnight. Sorry can't recall the name of the product.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:24 pm

Poor Deportee wrote:
As for their merits, I come down in defence of a specific U2 period - i.e., the one from "Achtung Baby" (surely a spectacular pop album, if any is, and clearly their masterpiece), "Zooropa," and "Pop." Those three records seem to me to leaven the bombast with a good dose of humour and wry self-awareness. The last even has a suggestion of freedom and spontaneity about it. Unfortunately, after that they seem to have returned to their staple sound, which is tiresome and self-important.

So, for me the U2 story is one of a band that hits an interesting plateau and then, burned by the perceived failure of "Pop," retreats into safe and stagnant terrain, where they have dwelled ever since. Just my two cents.


Echo these sentiments and those of several others on the thread. "Achtung Baby" has always been for me a perfect 'pop' record and one I never tire of playing. It has lent itself to some interesting covers, the standout being Casandra Wilson's version of "Love Is Blindness", which I can never get enough of, may even be better than the original. "Pop" for me had its moments and I got the satire. "All That You Can't Leave Behind" was their last very good one for me. A favorite from that decade. The last two have had their moments, but as PD says, they just seem to stay on a plateau and rarely cause me to pull them off the shelf. "Joshua Tree" is the only early record that I treasure. It broke new sonic territory for me and was and remains a very unique sound. I love the way the songs flow on that album. The other early stuff is too earnest and bombastic for my taste, just like early Bruce Springsteen. Never play them.

As EC urges, I will gladly raise a freshly 'charged glass' to their continued existence. They are a band for whom I will willingly give any new product a listen. Oddly, have never had a compulsion to see them live. Not a stadium goer.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Top balcony » Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:05 pm

[quote/] "Christopher Sjoholm" "Achtung Baby" has always been for me a perfect 'pop' record and one I never tire of playing. [/quote]

As an alternative, I highly recommend Achtung Bono by Half Man Half Biscuit.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Hawksmoor » Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:19 am

I rather like U2, but I'm truly surprised that Elvis does. I'd have thought they were the antithesis of of everything he appears to like in popular music. Still, there you go - learn something new every day.

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby docinwestchester » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:28 am

Hawksmoor wrote:I rather like U2, but I'm truly surprised that Elvis does. I'd have thought they were the antithesis of of everything he appears to like in popular music. Still, there you go - learn something new every day.


They look pretty chummy here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFwKzRs9tiw

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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Poor Deportee » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:39 am

Hawksmoor wrote:I rather like U2, but I'm truly surprised that Elvis does. I'd have thought they were the antithesis of of everything he appears to like in popular music. Still, there you go - learn something new every day.


I haven't read the piece, but my guess is that EC respects U2 for combining reasonably intelligent and adventurous music with enormous popularity and staying power. Recall that EC came of age in an era when popular music really mattered, being a key element in defining the voice, style, identity and concerns of its times. (Think The Beatles and Dylan as archetypes). This was an era before the infinite fragmentation of niche-marketing and the cramming of pop into narrower and narrower formulae and stylistic boxes: a time when someone like Glen Campbell would get airplay on rock stations, and when everyone was aware of, and excitedly following, what the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Beach Boys, etc., were doing, and where they would go next.

That's the model of which U2 and Nirvana were the last exemplars. And only U2 has managed to survive and remain relevant over the long haul. "The last of the rock stars," as Bono self-indulgently sang of himself on All That You Can't Leave Behind. I don't love U2 but I love the fact that they have refused to surrender on that model of popular music, refused to take the easy way out of being "alternative" and therefore uninterested in the mainstream. Like the great rock and roll acts of the 60s, they strove to define the mainstream. It's probably their success in achieving that ambition - one Elvis once shared - and what it represents, as much as their music, that earns EC's respect and admiration.
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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:42 am

Hawksmoor wrote:I rather like U2, but I'm truly surprised that Elvis does. I'd have thought they were the antithesis of of everything he appears to like in popular music. Still, there you go - learn something new every day.


Never been too hard for me to draw the connection- EC gives it to us in his little piece- 'irony'- something he has always been supremely steeped in and is equally drawn to in the more mature work of this band. Ironic, too, that it is inherent in a band that is so known for its 'earnestness'. They are two superb exemplars of the humor to be found in contrasting opposites.
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Re: Elvis writes about U2 for GQ magazine

Postby Kevin Davis » Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:20 pm

Poor Deportee wrote:That's the model of which U2 and Nirvana were the last exemplars. And only U2 has managed to survive and remain relevant over the long haul. "The last of the rock stars," as Bono self-indulgently sang of himself on All That You Can't Leave Behind. I don't love U2 but I love the fact that they have refused to surrender on that model of popular music, refused to take the easy way out of being "alternative" and therefore uninterested in the mainstream. Like the great rock and roll acts of the 60s, they strove to define the mainstream. It's probably their success in achieving that ambition - one Elvis once shared - and what it represents, as much as their music, that earns EC's respect and admiration.


Here's some good reading from Chuck Klosterman, from CK IV:

"What Bono can see (and what so many other groups tend to miss) is the relationship between capitalism and freedom. U2 never had to worry about Island Records interfering with their musical vision because the band understands a very basic equation: as long as they make everyone money, they will be allowed to do whatever they want. It's assumed that any time an entity becomes corporate, that entity loses its autonomy; this was not the case with U2. When I met them in fall of 2004, they had a limitless kind of autonomy that surpassed any indie band on any independent label. I've never met a rock group more satisfied with the condition of their career."

This sums up a lot of what I love about U2, and their '90's work in particular.
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