There’s a lot I enjoyed in Steven Hyden’s interview with Adam Clayton for Grantland, which Hyden embedded in his review of the start of the tour in Vancouver and his analysis of the highs and lows of U2’s career thus far. For example, point to Hyden for thinking of Proust when thinking of Bono:
Here’s a grandiose analogy that Bono might appreciate: If Marcel Proust had been inspired by an old Ramones song instead of a madeleine cookie, Remembrance of Things Past would have resembled Songs of Innocence and its accompanying tour.
I’m giving a point to U2, however, and its Pop album specifically, which Hyden calls a “halfhearted electronica LP” and then makes the seemingly compulsory big-box-store of suburban music criticism’s digs on what ended an extraordinary decade of musical adventurism for U2:
Songs of Innocence is U2’s worst LP — the filler is weaker on other “worst U2 LP” contenders like Pop and No Line on the Horizon, but the peaks on Songs don’t approach those other albums’ high marks.
That said, Hyden remains strong with plenty of smart observations, such as :
For a band like U2, whose debut LP came out 35 years ago, believing that the denizens of a youth-obsessed pop marketplace would want a record about the growing pains of middle age forcibly implanted on their phones is delusional, bordering on self-destructive.
For my money, though, not only the game point but the grand-slam-moment goes to Adam Clayton’s reply to what motivates U2 to keep making records. Here’s the front-runner for most-buried U2 lead of 2015:
Up to now, inclusive of this record, we wanted to make music that could communicate to the most people, that could be played on the radio. We were conscious that we wanted to be relevant to this time. That’s not something that we might always want. We have a very loyal, strong, intelligent audience. We might make music just for them in the future. We might not want to connect with other people.
Wow. Granted he triple qualified with those mights, but it’s really got me wondering what music made just for U2 fans might sound like. I asked a long-time fan this question at lunch the other day, and he said: “It might sound like any of U2’s albums!” Yes indeed, even like Pop.
Hyden’s reply was smartly sensible yet again:
Clayton’s thinking seems totally reasonable and refreshingly self-aware. As a fan, it makes me hopeful that U2 might once again make an album for people who already like U2. But there’s another part of me that feels a little sad. If U2 becomes interested in only catering to a niche, is that really U2?
How about you? If U2 makes music in the future for just their audience – which includes you – what would you like it to sound like? And if they did, would that make U2 more or less U2 to you?