Friday, March 19, 2010

u2 chapter accepted for publication

News overnight that my U2 conference paper – Sampling and reframing: the evolving live concert performances of “Bullet the Blue Sky” – has been accepted for publication. Date and publisher still to be clarified, but with over 40 papers being submitted for a book of about 15 chapters, I’m stoked.

It’s also my first foray into the arts and music world outside the church, so the whole process – having the chance to present a paper and now have that accepted for publication, is a pretty big tick in terms of what I do and teach (the paper began life as a casestudy in a lecture in my Living the text in a postmodern context.”

Here is the “abstract”:

“Bullet the Blue Sky” is the fourth track on U2’s 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. The song was originally written as a commentary on a highly particularized context, the involvement of the United States military in Central America during the 1980’s. Over time, this highly particularized political context has changed, yet the song has continued to be performed by U2.

Using commercially available concert footage, this chapter will explore the changes and development in the song’s performance, over a twenty year period, with a particular focus on concerts in Paris (1987), Slane Castle (2001) and Chicago (2005).

Following one song over an extended period allows an exploration of how a band can reframe and re-perform their music as the context and culture shifts. (Hint, hint, what churches are seeking to do every Sunday in relation to Bible and church tradition! Ed)

The theoretical frameworks of narrative mapping and analyzing popular culture using the metaphor of sampling will be employed. Narrative mapping allows complex data to be analyzed in real time, as it unfolds, while sampling involves the collage-like re-appropriating of already existing elements in the pursuit of creativity.

Naming these samples, including song snippets, video and theatrical performances, and how they work in relationship to the audience, demonstrates a complex renegotiation of the meaning of “Bullet the Blue Sky” and shows how “sampling” a song might address new contextual and political issues. The application of installation art theory offers insights into the public negotiation of communal memory and provides another window by which to appreciate U2’s live concert performances. (Hint, hint, creativity in the context of gathered worship! Ed)

Posted by steve at 08:40 AM


  1. such good news, well done, you!

    Comment by lynne — March 19, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  2. Fantastic news….. well done!!

    Comment by Jan — March 19, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  3. Well done!!


    Comment by Janette — March 19, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  4. thanks to you Janette (and Paul), for your careful editing eye.

    i have this vague memory of all that work pre-Christmas – i could have been packing up my Laidlaw office, but hey, much more fun to push the envelope and pump out a paper! 🙂


    Comment by steve — March 19, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  5. Well done! Any idea when the book might be compliled/out? I have been tracking the process as it maps with my MA thesis (long submitted) on U2/Newbigin/public truth and I’m eager to stay updated.

    Comment by Graham — March 19, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

  6. Great work, Steve. Very happy for you. It a great abstract too, and very funny to see the editor massaging the imaginations of the readers with those comments.

    Comment by Iain — March 20, 2010 @ 4:45 am

  7. Re: “Packing up my Laidlaw office”……..Strange thing, this: I always get most creative a day or two before a move. Instead of packing I churn out pictures. Maybe I need a few more moves.

    Comment by Ingrid — March 20, 2010 @ 7:37 am

  8. thanks folk. no idea re publication date Graham. Happy to send what I’ve done your way in exchange for your thesis though,

    Ingrid, yes deadlines do provide a sharpening focus for me. But not this one, the move was stressful enough as it was without adding in me needed to finish off a paper. Especially cos for me, the creativity is in the early stages, putting the paper together, while the end is much more about footnotes and finding the exact word, a part I don’t find creative.


    Comment by steve — March 22, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

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