Column: off the record…, vol. 11-491

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off the record, from @U2

I'm eight years younger than Bono, and I can say this with 100% certainty: If I kept a schedule that was even half as busy as his schedule gets sometimes, I'd collapse. Does the man ever sleep when he's on these humanitarian/activist appearance junkets?

It was a lot of fun to put together my personal U22 track list as part of the members offer for 2012. (You can see my 22 songs on or, if that link is for subscribers only, I also posted it on my own blog.)

I was really tempted to take the easy way out (the obvious way, too?) and just list "Ultraviolet" 22 times. Because, 1) let's face it, that song was far and away the jewel of U2 360, and 2) I'd actually love to have a CD with 22 different live performances of that song. Seriously. When I was putting together that set list, I was in this groove where I'd go to the gym to workout and spend 35 minutes on the treadmill just repeating the Pasadena DVD video of "Ultraviolet" over and over and over -- I could play it about six times during the workout, depending on how quickly I could rewind on the iPhone. So I had a bad case of "Ultraviolet" on the brain when I was writing up my set list piece for But, as it turns out, I resisted the "Ultraviolet" urge and ended up putting together a set list that I'd love to have heard.

Much more newsworthy than my U22 track list, though, was the one that Willie Williams put together. Did you see his? It starts with all three tour openers -- "Return Of The Stingray Guitar," "Even Better..." and "Breathe." But the thing that really stood out for me? He didn't include "Where The Streets Have No Name" on his list.


I only noticed that because Willie has a really, really strong influence on the songs that U2 plays in concert. If you read our 5 Questions with Willie Williams interview last month, it sounds like he was basically in charge of deciding what the band was going to play at Glastonbury. So I'm just going to file this away for when the next tour comes around: If U2 isn't playing "Streets," was this a sign of things to come? Could be.

And, by the way, if you're a subscriber and you didn't bother voting for your track list, they've extended the deadline until December 18th.

If your interest in U2 extends into some of the more academic and intelligent angles on the band and its music, let me encourage you to check out a new project called Achtung! The U2 Studies Journal. You can find it at It's an academic journal dedicated to U2 studies, but the papers will be published online. Think of it as a logical extension to the type of discussion and study that took place a couple years ago at the U2 academic conference in Raleigh.

As you poke around, you'll recognize some familiar names. Two of our staffers are spearheading the work -- Scott Calhoun and Arlan Hess. A couple other staffers are working on it, too. (But it's not an @U2 project.) And you'll surely recognize a couple names on the Advisory Board, as well.

Anyway, the first issue is due to publish next May and, if you're interested in contributing, they're accepting submissions now.

I don't know if this will do justice to how I feel about the @U2 crew these days, but I'm super, super proud of them and the coverage they've done over the past two months in honor of the October and Achtung Baby anniversaries. We tossed the idea around earlier in the year and had a few story ideas in mind, and as October and November approached, people kept suggesting new ideas and new people to interview and everyone nailed the stories that were assigned to them. If you missed any of it, see the October @U2 Originals recap for the October album content, and look for a new @U2 Originals for November to be published on our home page soon with all of the Achtung Baby coverage collected.

I think we were remiss in posting about this when it happened a couple weeks ago, so let's remedy it now: The folks at AMP Visual -- U2's longtime design team, formerly known as Four5One and other names -- posted a really cool look at the Achtung Baby cover and visual elements. If you liked the book they did about eight years ago, you'll love this article.

And finally ... if two attractive, identical-twin harpists are going to post a video of themselves covering "With Or Without You" while standing on an empty train track, you bet I'm going to link to it. Enjoy!

See ya next time!

(c) @U2, 2011.

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