Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Window in the Skies - Video

A very clever video for U2's "Window in the Skies" just came out a couple of days ago. It was directed by Gary Koepke (thanks to Calvin in Spain). It recalls the masterful Mark Romanek video for "Hurt" by Johnny Cash. It shares the same fancy editing chops - splicing together video, documentary film & concert footage. The visual & emotional effect is one of tweaked nostalgia mixed with discovery. Perhaps you've never thought of Frank Zappa & Joe Strummer as musical brethren. "Window in the Skies" poses many of these possibilities - Mary J. Blige & Elvis Presley, Beck & Frank Sinatra, Keith Moon & David Byrne. It gets your head thinking about what these artists have in common. But it also intrigues because it must have taken the director a lot of time & effort to sync the singing footage with the new song's lyrics.

U2, by the way, has its own official YouTube page.

The two Rick Rubin/U2 collaborations - "The Saints Are Coming" & "Window in the Skies" are nice appetizers for the next U2 record. Rick Rubin had never worked with U2 before. Apparently he was made aware of this through an interview with U2 in which they mention him as an artist with which they'd like to work. This coupled with the fact that Bono is learning how to play piano - maybe for the sole purpose of using the instrument as a songwriting tool - is a clue to possible new musical directions. That they recorded these songs at Abbey Road is trivial when you listen to them. They are bursting with the energy of much younger bands. Makes you wonder what keeps them so engaged.

Friday, December 08, 2006

John Lennon Remembered

The Dallas Morning News Interactive division remembers John Lennon's death - December 8th, 1980 - 26 years ago today. This is a snippet of pop-culture before CNN, MTV & the Internet.

John Lennon's death is one of the first big events that I remember as a kid. I had the commemorative issue of Newsweek. And I remember going through my older brother's Beatles book: "The Beatles Forever" by Nicholas Schaffner, and marveling at the pictures. All those places they went - the colors, the phases they went through. It was all too much!

Even at that young age, you could feel the vacuum that Lennon's death left music & popular culture. We had a hard time getting our heads around it all - especially the sudden nature of it . "Why would someone shoot a Beatle? Why does it sound & feel like he's still here? He's all over the radio still. For such a character - who was so full of life, how can he really be gone?"

One good product of all this was the wave of Beatlemania that came in the years after his death. I remember recording the Beatles A-Z marathons on the radio. I would get the 10-packs of 90 minute Maxell blank cassettes to record them on. I would carefully pause the recording during the commercials and wait carefully for the DJ to come back on. I would cringe when the end of the side would approach in the middle of a song. Then I'd flip the cassette over as quickly as possible to continue recording the sequence on Side B.

I remember loyally listening to the Lost Lennon Tapes with Elliot Mintz and hearing about his 1970's post-Beatles wanderings. And who hasn't listened to Breakfast with the Beatles?

Photo of The Beatles Forever bookjacket courtesy of London Collectibles eBay account.