Why U2 – Reason #22

whyu2Bono’s been publicly referring to U2 as a “punk band” as far back as I can remember. When I was a little bit younger, it used to make me cringe a little bit, because I LOVE punk rock, but I didn’t quite understand it then like I do now. In my teens and twenties, all “punk” meant to me was loud and fast rock music, the sloppier the better. Of course, those characteristics very rarely describe U2, and I used to imagine that kids who were into punk but not U2 would think that the boys in U2 were poseurs. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to recognize that punk is about a lot more than a style of music, how the instruments are played, or even what the instruments are. Punk is about creating based on how you feel inside, as opposed to using creativity as a means to accomplish another unrelated, usually financial, goal. If you make money doing it, all the better, because that frees you up to pursue and follow that muse, but making money shouldn’t be the end goal. Punk is about making art that comes from deep inside you, and it doesn’t matter if your instrument is a guitar, a keyboard, a paint brush, or your own body. Sometimes, punk will fit in with whatever else is going on at the time, some times it won’t. Sometimes, the artists will be experts at their craft, other times they’ll be little more than kids in a garage, trying to bend their cacophony into a sound that fills the holes in their hearts. The only real characteristic that describes punk, as I’ve come to describe it, is that the artist has to have something burning deep inside, and that the music or the painting or the sculpture or the tattoo or the graffiti or the dance is their attempt to get it out. U2 definitely fit that criteria, and it’s just one more reason that I love them.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Pam 1 year, 10 months ago.

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  • #10598


    Bono’s been publicly referring to U2 as a “punk band” as far back as I can remember. When I was a little bit younger, it used to make me cringe a litt
    [See the full post at: Why U2 – Reason #22]

  • #10637


    Wonderful thoughts, Joshua! I agree that punk and great art in general means much more than just a certain style or the mastery of a craft. I often regard an artistic direction as a wrapping and for me it´s exciting to discover the essence behind the facade. Like punk, U2´s music is always a great revelation of sincere emotion. Love your references to different sorts of art like painting and dance! 🙂

    • #10651


      REALLY insightful comments, Pam. I like how you draw the connection between genre and “artistic direction” – somehow, that makes it seem more transmutable than trying to make an artist’s square peg fit into the square hole of genre. It’s easy to get wrapped around the axle when coming up with what genre something does or doesn’t fit, and your comments help to keep things in the proper focus. Thanks for that.

  • #10674


    Thank you, Joshua! I think the term “genre” easily puts artists into a certain category whereas an “artistic direction” gives them more freedom to try different approaches. Of course U2 get associated with the genre of rock or popular music in general, but they have the courage to leave their comfort zone in order to explore different sonic possibilities.

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