Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Nice to be back

Vacation, followed by a lot of interviews, followed by some tight editorial deadlines for other projects, followed by recovery from seeing the Stones at Fenway the other night. Nice to be back.

Some observations and answers to questions:



  • Are there any Springsteen fans who are just casual fans? If so, I haven't met any of 'em. As I participate in interviews to promote Runaway American Dream, I almost always find myself interviewed by a fellow obsessive, someone who wants to argue about a '75 set list or whether the Dec. 29, '80 show at Nassau was better than the New Year's Eve gig. There are a lot of delightfully crazy people out there.

  • And most of them will be at Monmouth University next month for "Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium," sponsored by Penn State. A handful of participants have shared their presentations with me, and many more people have asked if I'll be attending. I won't, mostly for logistical reasons. Some of the 100+ presentations seem intriguing, but I suspect there will be a lot of testifying about how Bruce is so great. Think of it as the Q&A session from Somerville in '03, multiplied by hundreds. It might turn out to be great, but it reminds me of the Star Trek conventions I attended when I was 12. I wonder if people will go dressed as their favorite E Street Band member.

  • Did I slight U2 in Runaway American Dream? One reader thinks so.

    "Just finished Runaway American Dream and must say I liked it a lot.
    Refreshingly critical and interesting (almost) song-by-song account of the albums. In my opinion there is however an error in the book when referring to my other favourite band U2. On page 146 you mention that U2 is one of the 'alleged icons of purity' who have accepted corporate sponsorship. I'd like you to expand on this on your weblog. As far as I'm aware U2 has never accepted corporate sponsorship. As you have heard Bruce explain in his induction speech of U2 to the RRHOF, U2 didn't get paid for the iPod commercial (for what reason they did it, is a good question). Other corporate involvement, like Philips for the huge screens of ZooTV and Popmart, cannot be regarded as sponsorship as bands like the Rolling Stones receive. So please elaborate ;-)"


    Gladly.

    It is true that U2 was not paid directly for the "Vertigo" iPod ad, at least according to published reports. But the band does get a piece of all sales of the U2-branded iPod, it does get a larger-than-usual fee for its available-nowhere-else "Complete U2" tracks on iTunes, and Bono in particular has been the best spokesman Apple Computer could have, calling the iPod (during an interview with the Chicago Tribune) "the most beautiful object art in the music world since the electric guitar." I have no doubt that the iPod is a pretty good product, that "Vertigo" is one of the band's greatest songs, that many of the "Complete U2" tracks are worth hearing, and that Bono is sincere when he praises the aesthetics of the iPod. This may not be "corporate sponsorship" by the traditional definition, but there's no question that U2's and Apple's business interests are now intertwined. Bono is out there promoting a product; whether he gets paid directly or indirectly for it is, by the rules of the band's own idealism, irrelevant.