Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Forty years on from Woodstock: U2’s 2009 Summer of Greed

The Secret Museum

Jim Webb

"It's a tough life being a pop star. You know, at the end of the day when you've paid all the bills and put the kids through college and that, you know, there's only enough left for a small island off the South Pacific."-The drummer from U2

Rock concerts have evolved, from 1969’s epic gathering in upstate New York of like- minded souls with similar musical and lifestyle choices, to being nothing but a money producing ATM machine for the celebrities onstage. Former London School of Economics student Mick Jagger and his debauched cronies invented the rock concert as modern-day train robbery, but Bono’s U2 have perfected the “Art” of hauling cash out of your pocket and putting it into theirs.

Has anyone noticed that U2’s last half dozen CDs all sound the same? They’ve become just another band that have creatively run out of gas, but still charge premium prices at the pump (turnstiles.) Bono feels so guilty about becoming a mega million “brand” name, like Exxon or Budweiser, that he parades around the world in his private jet asking for debt forgiveness to the poor. I’m not against giving anybody an extra hand up, but it’s laughable that Bono doesn’t think we can see through his charade. His wish is to be credited as a contemporary Robin Hood- nice idea, except that he is the Rich, and became so by overcharging for tickets, t-shirts and recordings. I wish the American concert-going public would send him a message by picking one of his shows this summer to boycott. We shouldn’t put up with bands continuing to gouge us, particularly during these challenging economic times. They don’t care about you, and never did. It’s always been about building name recognition, then reaping the rewards.

U2 certainly aren’t the only ones over the last forty years who have jumped on the Rock and Roll gravy train and milked it for all it’s worth, though it is beyond absurd that they continually try and package themselves as different from the rest every time out, committed to the common man. I have more respect for Jagger, because he’s at least upfront about running a for-profit circus. Bono wants the same customers and their cash, while attempting to make it seem like he really cares about the elephants in the show. If there is nothing left culturally from the music scene in 1969, we can at least respect the memory of what could once be had. I know things will never go back to how they “used to be”; we’re all choking now on what happened once music got taken over by Big Business. In the late seventies, before they got plowed under as U2’S ‘biggest influence’, The Clash sang: “They think its funny, turning rebellion into money.” Joe Strummer was more prophetic than he could have imagined.

In 2009, it’s fitting to remember what was written about the original gathering of tribes forty years ago:

We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devil’s bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

Instead of going to a U2 show this summer, call 1-800-FLOWERS and have a nice bouquet sent to the old Yasgur’s farm, c/o General Delivery, Bethel, New York.
-Jim Webb

1 comment:

Joanne Casey said...

Hi Michael, great taste in music I see!

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