Thursday, September 10, 2009

it’s work. honest! U2

So today is a writing and research day and you would have seen me at the library, checking out the U2 digitally remastered The Joshua Tree. It’s work.


You see the boxed set includes DVD includes concert footage, Paris, 1987. The performance includes Bullet the Blue Sky. Now, fast forward years 17 years, to 2004, and the Vertigo DVD. The concert includes a performance of Bullet the Blue Sky. Same song. But 2004 is a radically different context than 1987. As Bono notes, a song can change the world. But what happens when a world changes around a song? How might the “ancient text” sound in a culture of change?

Now address the question by using a method called narrative mapping. Look not just at the narrative of the lyrics. Look also at the narratives of sound, of lighting, of visuals, of theatrical performance. Any changes? How has the performance evolved? What might we learn – about culture, about context, about communication?

Such are the questions I’m researching. It’s work.


All preparation for my paper for the U2 Academic Conference, initially planned for New York in May,


then postponed, now happening in Durham in October. I’m speaking alongside Beth Maynard, looking forward to her paper and seeing face to face a cyberfriend, looking forward to talking U2, feedback and hype, over a weekend. Of work. Honest!

Posted by steve at 12:36 PM


  1. Can you see the impact of “shock and awe” on the latter live version of the song? Our mediated experience of warfare is quite different than it was pre-1990 (Gulf War I)…


    Comment by Paul — September 10, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  2. Steve,

    I can’t believe you’re going to be in North Carolina next weekend, and I just found out about it (via Andy Rowell’s blog). I wish I could drive up to Durham (from Charlotte) to hang out and meet you in person — and of course attend the U2 conference (and concert!). Oh well, it probably won’t happen this time, but hopefully our paths will cross at some point.

    Until then, Shalom,
    Steve K.

    Comment by Steve K. — September 28, 2009 @ 4:58 am

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