Mapping Popular Music in Dublin Survey Of Interest to U2 Fans

St Pats LogoI took a short online survey for this interesting research project called “Mapping Popular Music in Dublin” and I wanted to make other U2 fans aware of it and encourage them to take the survey too. I think the survey closes on September 30, 2015.

The project “aims to map popular music experience in Dublin by looking at popular music from the viewpoint of fans (citizens and tourists), musicians, and music industry personnel. The purpose is to inform tourism, culture and music industry organisations by providing the first comprehensive overview of popular music experience in Dublin to date.” The project is led by Dr. John O’Flynn (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Áine Mangaoang, and coordinated by St. Patrick’s College, Dublin City University, and funded by Fáilte Ireland.

Learn more about the project and take the survey here.

MPMiD Image

If you live in Dublin or have been in Dublin as a popular music tourist, or if you have some distinct impressions about the Dublin popular music scene you’d like to share, the project would benefit from hearing from you.

You can follow the project and the results, and get updates about related events, at its  Facebook page.

Contributor:
Scott Calhoun
Contact:
calhouns@cedarville.edu

Danish book on U2 published: When the Sky meets the Sea – U2´s songs as hymns

In June 2015, a new book was published in Denmark. The Danish title is “Himmel og hav i ét – U2´s sange som salmer”.  Translated directly it is: “Sky and Sea in one – U2´s songs as hymns”. The book focus on the theme of U2´s No Line On The Horizon (2009), exposing the contrasts and ambiguity of life, the longing for contact, understanding, unity and love and the harsh reality of alienation, division, disintegration and hatred in our personal life and in the world we live in. The wonderful moments where the sky meets the sea, and there is no line on the horizon, end the times where the line between the sky and the sea is all too clear.

The book is an in-depth analysis of No Line On The Horizon, and there is a wide range of references to other U2 songs, music, literature, the bible, hymns, our personal experiences among other things. It is available here.

The book consists of 15 chapters, with an introduction, a presentation of the four trilogies of U2 (1980-2009), a chapter for each of the 11 songs on NLOTH plus “Winter”. The last chapter focuses on the 360 tour and the new songs presented there. As an appendix there are two articles on our experiences with U2 church services.

The authors of the book are Joergen Lasgaard, Aarhus and Jens Moesgaard Nielsen, Herning – two pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, who have been inspired by U2 in decades. They have been arranging U2 services since 1993. Joergen is a vicar amongst homeless people, drug addicts and people who are fighting to keep up every day. His experience is that the music and songs of U2 can be a part of both reflection and reconciliation. Jens is a vicar in a church, and he can say the same thing, even though his church is situated in an “upper class area”. The Church is the home of the well renowned Herning Boys Choir, and they have transformed two U2 songs into sacred music, both “Magnificent” and “Gloria.”

Both authors participated in the U2 Conference 2009, giving a presentation on our work with U2 services: U2 in the church – How it is done in Denmark.

 

Contributor:
Jens Moesgaard Nielsen and Joergen Lasgaard
Contact:
jcmn@km.dk

Engaging with Bono’s “Little book” at Fandom and Religion Conference, Leicester, UK, July 28-30, 2015

Bono described what he was thinking when he pressed “go” to publish his Little book of a big year, but what was he actually doing? More extensively and intimately engaging with fans than he had done for a long time, the little book makes interesting reading across many issues. I will be exploring issues of meaning making in a paper presentation at the Fandom and Religion Conference, University of Leicester, UK. In particular, I will briefly approach Bono’s presentation of himself, his beliefs and understanding of fandom, whilst linking his Little book to other discourses. In my analysis, I will apply the concepts of Sensemaking and Sensegiving. For those interested, I have included the longer abstract below.

I’m delighted to be presenting in the same session as Dr. Scott Calhoun, whose presentation is titled “Ecce Bono: Celebrity Status After 33.” – really looking forward to hearing that!

Abstract

“F is for Fans… J is for Jesus: Making sense of Bono’s big year”

Dr. Chris Wales

“It’s January 1, 8 p.m. I nearly didn’t press go on this, and I am clearly delirious in places. It’s very personal, but I feel in not a corny way that U2 has a very intimate relationship with our audience … so I’m going for it.”

“Little book of a big year: Bono’s A to Z of 2014”, U2.com, 2015

No strangers to fandom and anti-fandom, in 2014 Bono placed U2 once again in what he likes to describe as “right in the centre of a contradiction” with the “controversial” U2/Apple album release that intended to reach instantly a wider audience. A few months later, as 2015 began, he published a “little book” on U2´s official website, seemingly one of his most intimately direct, although asymmetric, communications with fans. I will review and analyse this personal ‘treatise’ and the events leading up to and around it, showing the way it directly and indirectly addresses issues relating to unity, fandom, activism and religious tolerance, whilst explaining the relevance of music and message, aimed at deepening understanding of the U2 mind-set. Bono’s communication is analysed as an act of sensemaking (Weick, 1995) and sensegiving (Gioia & Chittipeddi, 1991), theoretical constructs thought pertinent to understanding the band´s internal and external meaning making. The paper explores how alongside the increasing growth and diversity of their fan-base, U2 has engaged with the varying interpretations and expectations placed upon them, especially concerning issues of belief. The search for ultimate validation is linked to musical authenticity (Pattie, 1999), rather than promotion of celebrity, aligned to the band’s self-claimed constant and driving desire to produce authentic and relevant music, built on deep, intimate audience engagement, while embracing controversial issues such as faith and conviction. Further analysis considers how this ‘intimate’ form of communication might be understood as “authentic” or “performed” (Marwick and Boyd 2011; Bennett 2012).

Contributor:
Chris Wales
Contact:
chris.wales@nla.no

The U2 Tattoo Project

The U2 Tattoo Project is documenting and curating U2 tattoos and the stories behind them.

When you think of bands like The Beatles, The Who or The Rolling Stones, a dominant icon emerges in your mind: the elongated type and fretboard-like “T” of the Beatles, the arrow-protruding “o” of The Who, the lips and tongue of the Stones. But what comes to mind when you think of U2? The hand-brushed grunge script from Achtung? The bold, red Block Gothic face of War? The Joshua Tree silhouette? U2 has become an iconic band with no consistent icon, but rather a history of transient visual identities that embody their eras and represent different emotional experiences for fans.

In the absence of an official logo or singular, long-running, uniform mark, how do U2 fans brand their love for the band? The U2 Tattoo Project aims to study U2 fan tattoos in terms of popular U2 iconography and lyrics, examine the connections between favorite albums and tattoos, and explore what happens to U2’s visual identity as it passes into the hands and onto the bodies of fans.

Have a tattoo? Submit via our survey. Follow the project on social media: “U2 Tattoo Project” on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. 

 

Contributor:
Beth Nabi
Contact:
U2tattooproject@gmail.com

“Ecce Bono: Celebrity Status After 33” Presentation at Fandom and Religion Conference, July 28-30, 2015

I’ve been looking forward to attending the Fandom and Religion Conference at the University of Leicester for months, and in a few more weeks I’ll be finally be there from July 28-30, taking in a great program of speakers and seminars, all organized by Dr. Clive Marsh as a part of the Theology, Religion, and Popular Culture Network at U of Leicester. I’ll be learning from everyone on the program and surely I’ll strike up some new friendships; I’ll even be presenting a paper and chairing a session too.

As a major gathering of leading theorists, scholars, practitioners, and students, the conference will explore interactions between religion and popular culture. How does fandom work? What is happening to fans as they express their enthusiasms and allegiances? Has fandom replaced or become a form of religion? What can the study of religion learn from explorations of fandom?

I’ll be presenting Wednesday, July 29, in a session with two papers on U2. One will be from my colleague Dr. Chris Wales, of NLA Høgskolen, who presented at the 2013 U2 Conference and published “Collaborative Transactions: Making Sense (Again) for U2’s Achtung Baby” in U2 Above, Across, and Beyond (Lexington, 2014). Dr. Wales’ presentation is “F is for Fans … J is for Jesus: Making Sense of Bono’s Big Year.”

My presentation is titled “Ecce Bono: Celebrity Status After 33.”  Here’s the abstract for my presentation:

“Dressing like your sister / Living like a tart /
They don’t know what you’re doing / Babe it must be art / ….
They want you to play Jesus / They’ll go down on one knee /
But they’ll want their money back if you’re alive at 33 /
And you’re turning tricks / With your crucifix / You’re a star”

“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” U2 (1993/95)

When Bono was 33 in 1993, he had already disappointed many of the devout U2 fans the band had acquired in the 1980s. Having taken to heart the Irish poet Brendan Kennelly’s Judas-haunted aphorism, “If you want to serve the age, betray it,” Bono had “tarted up” the persona he had developed in the previous decade for U2’s revolutionary Zoo TV tour, and he was well on his way to disappointing more fans in the future with a vigorous commitment to avoiding the trap of typecasting. Now at the un-messianic age of 55, Bono has become expert at attracting, exciting, and repelling the masses, forcing the fan-celebrity dynamic into an ever evolving process of redefinition as both he and U2’s fandom ages. Behold Bono! I will examine Bono’s public acts as a singer, performer, and advocate as they have become intertwined with his status as a rock star for what they reveal as running through the heart of U2 fandom when evaluated against some fans’ specific expectations of celebrity-leadership, particularly among those who identify as having strong religious commitments. Paradoxically, as Bono has successfully avoided typecasting, he has moved closer to archetypes, most obviously the rock star-humanitarian. But in light of Bono’s overarching role as an artist, and especially since he is self-identifying as an artist on U2’s current tour, I will argue for our attention to be focused on his arguably greater feat of successfully enacting a palate of multiple and contradictory types to become, himself, a work of art that resists easy, monological interpretation, eschewing fans’ singular devotion to himself. In doing so, he is not only closer to the archetypal artist fulfilling the archetypal function of art, but is, ironically, performing a primary role of the archetypal savior by reorienting the adoration of fans who would follow him and frustrating them into synthesizing an authentic, liberating fandom of their own, imbued with a more realized sense of self and a more realized sense of the other. Behold Bono indeed. He’s a star.

If you’re still awake and want a little more detail on my talk, as I conduct my examination and argument, I’ll cover these topics:

  • A brief survey of types Bono performed in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s
  • monologism vs. dialogism
  • Fandom formation and appropriation theories
  • Complicating factors in U2 fandom within the American Evangelical Christian community, starting with the 2003 critique called “Bono’s Thin Ecclesiology” up to U2’s recent support of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ireland and the United States
  • The functions and conditions of art and archetypes

And finally, the session I’m chairing is music focused and looks great with these presentations:

  • Len Cazaly: “’You got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend’: Dylan v. The Fans”
  • Dr. Wendy Fonarow: “The Purists: How Indie Music Expresses Puritan Dogma”
  • Felix Papenhagen: “Jewish Religiosity in the Context of Popular Music in Israel”

I’d love to see you at the conference. You can register here.

Contributor:
Scott Calhoun
Contact:
calhouns@cedarville.edu

U2 Concerts and Community Publications by Michael Williams

My name is Michael Williams, and I am a long-time U2 fan (since 1982). Currently, I am also a doctoral candidate, researching rock music events, focusing on U2’s 360° tour. The aim of my research is to develop a better understanding of the concept of spectacle in the context of a rock music event. 

The following two publications relate to my research project and may be of interest to fellow researchers and fans:

Williams, M. (2015) ‘One but not the same: U2 Concerts, Community and Cultural Identity’ in Merkel, U. (ed.) Identity Discourses and Communities in International Events, Festivals and Celebrations. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 242-259.

Williams, M. (2014) ‘Politics as spectacle: U2’s 360° tour (2009-11)’, in Merkel, U. (ed.) Power, Politics and International Events: Socio-cultural Analyses of Festivals and Spectacles. London: Routledge, 174-190.

 You can find out more about my research project at www.U2360spectacle.net

Contributor:
Michael Williams
Contact:
mw146@brighton.ac.uk

Music Events as Spectacle: U2’s Union of Rock and Resistance

My name is Michael Williams, and I am a long-time U2 fan (since 1982). Currently, I am also a doctoral candidate. My research project focuses on the concept and phenomenon of spectacle and the process of spectacularization in the specific context of U2’s ‘360°’ tour (2009-2011). In particular, it concerns the contribution of spectators to the creation of the spectacle and the meaning they attach to this. Spectacle is a frequently used term but it is not yet fully understood in the event context. The project focuses on the relationship between rock music events, politics and audiences. The research uses a multi-method case study, which includes analysis of online content and semi-structured interviews with fans and attendees of U2’s ‘360°’ concerts and analysis of concert documentary material.

I am keen to interview people with varying experiences of U2’s 360° shows in Dublin, Istanbul, Moscow and Pittsburgh.

If you are interested in participating, please contact me by emailing me at mw146@brighton.ac.uk. You can find out more about my research project by visiting my website at www.u2360spectacle.net

 

Contributor:
Michael Williams
Contact:
mw146@brighton.ac.uk

Research query on U2 and Krautrock, and new MA dissertation on U2 and James Joyce

Hello. My name is Helena Torres and I wrote an MA dissertation in Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool on U2 and Joyce, titled “Nicely-polished looking glasses: A comparative study of U2 and Joyce’s Dublin in ‘Eveline’ and ‘Running to Stand Still.’” You can read my work here.

I would like to develop a new research project focused on Achtung Baby and the influence of krautrock for this album. However, I think sources regading U2 and krautrock are scarce. I have Rock and Popular Music in Ireland: Before and After U2 by Noel McLaughlin and Martin McLoone to provide me a starting point, but I’d like to know if there are more options. Thanks a lot.

 

 

 

Contributor:
Helena Torres Montes García
Contact:
ladystardust18@gmail.com

New book: The World and U2: One Band’s Remaking of Global Activism

I am happy to announce the publication of my new book, The World and U2: One Band’s Remaking of Global Activism. It’s a history of the band’s evolution as activists–what made them engaged, how they changed, and the impact they’ve had both on their causes and on the world of activism. Rowman & Littlefield is the publisher. It’s a short book, great for students, and you can see more here at the publisher’s page. It’s available at Amazon too.

Alan McPherson

Contributor:
Alan McPherson
Contact:
mcpherson@ou.edu

The U2 Conference logo and site design by Beth Nabi.