Monday, April 29, 2013

Head and heart: a U2 conference review

I will remember this U2 conference for the way it brought together both head and heart.

It began for me with Natalie Baker’s fan film and the stories from fans of how U2’s music helped them avoid suicide and assist their healing from childhood sex abuse. Suddenly U2 was more than entertainment and the conference more than academic. It was inviting us into deep places.

It quickly went deeper, with Bill Carter sharing about his engagement with U2 in the Zooropa tour. His stories, of persuading Serbians to drive past sniper alley in order to share, via ZooTv, their story of living through the bombing of their city, took us even deeper, into the humanity that can emerge amongst inhumanity.

Finally, the presentation by Steve Averill was a further reminder that music is so much more than music. His sharing about the development of U2’s albums documented the visual and tactile side of music – the album and CD cover, the merchandising. It was a reminder that music is about communication, the colours and photos carefully selected to try and capture the essence of the music.

There were more many other highlights but for me, I will remember the head and heart being invited to be whole bodied.

Perhaps it was the jet lag. Flying overseas is always a disorientating experience, so perhaps the way my body responded was to seek another heartbeat.

Perhaps it was the venue, more compact, which encouraged more interaction and engagement.

But I suspect there was more going on, an important corrective for the work “academic”, which can easily hide behind footnote and theory, and in doing, so walk past the beating heart and whole body.

Thanks to all those who made the head and heart possible, especially the Calhoun’s.

For those interested, a brief summary of my contribution to the conference is here. And here is my review of the first, 2009, U2 conference.

Posted by steve at 07:53 AM

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