Column: off the record…, vol. 12-500

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off the record, from @U2

If you missed it last week, please stop reading this OTR and check out Aaron Sams' overview of the 22 tracks that made the final cut for U22, the next members-only release. It's a super look into how the audience voted, especially in relation to the songs that were played the most during the U2 360 tour.

The final track list is a bit different from the one I submitted, but that's okay. I really had no expectations that my choices would be anywhere near the final choices, and after thinking about it for a bit, here's why:

The audience is probably a really different type of fan than I am, and also different from the audience we have here on @U2.

I say that because of the way I interact with other bands. I consider myself a Coldplay fan, for example, and I'm on their official mailing list. When emails come in, I click through to visit Coldplay's official site -- it's where I get pretty much all of my Coldplay news. But I never visit any Coldplay fan sites. Same thing back when I was a big R.E.M. fan. I was in the fan club. I visited the official site ... but I probably only visited an R.E.M. fan site 4-5 times over the years. Ditto with Collective Soul, The Killers and countless other artists that I like: I'm a fan, but not deeply enough to spend time on their fan sites.

I would assume U2 has a ton of fans like that, too. They get the emails. They visit the site and get all the official news. But they never visit @U2. (Quelle horreur!) So it makes sense that, as Aaron showed in his U22 article, most of the songs that fans chose are the tour standards, and there are only a handful of tour rarities that made the cut. As an @U2 reader, you're probably disappointed in that to some degree -- you've heard the standards enough and you wanted to hear some rarities. But I'd say that, as an @U2 reader, you're a different fan than most who visit Not better, just more dedicated and interested in the day-to-day stuff surrounding U2. For better or worse, I think our audience would've voted for a much different set of 22 songs.

Still, I'm looking forward to getting U22. Based on packaging alone, it looks like something that Live Nation/U2 is putting a lot of effort into.

You may have missed this little bit of forward-thinking promotion between Universal Music and a company called Aurasma, makers of an augmented reality mobile app. They cooperated on a virtual ad for From The Sky Down. If you had/have the app, you could point your smartphone (or iPad) at an ad in Rolling Stone magazine, and you'd be able to watch the FTSD trailer. If that doesn't make sense, this video does a better job of showing it.

And you may also have missed the chance to win a pair of Adam Clayton autographed shoes. Yes, shoes. They sold for $$275 at a charity auction in November.

I told my family this past week that, if a doctor ever tells me I have 40 minutes to live, I want them to put on the beginning of the Zoo TV Live from Sydney DVD. From "Zoo Station" through "New Year's Day" is about as close to perfection as has ever been captured in a U2 release.

You may have noticed the number 500 up in the headline of this OTR. Yes, that means this is the 500th OTR we've published on @U2, and that kind of boggles my mind when I think about it. Five hundred columns? Are you kidding???

The very first OTR was published on September 2, 2001 -- a little more than a week before the tragic events of 9/11. Here's how I described the purpose behind launching a weekly column:

What will the column be about, you ask? Not sure myself, but the idea is to have a place to share news, rumors, thoughts, comments, and ideas that just don't seem to fit anywhere else on this 80MB monster we call @U2.

The "80mb" is a reference to how much server space the site was using at the time. I have no idea what it is now, but it doesn't really matter these days. That first column also introduced our readers to "Answer Guy," our wise-cracking U2 genius who knew everything there was to know about U2, or at least thought he did. There was no question too outlandish -- and no answer too unbelievable -- for Answer Guy. If you're looking for a good laugh, go back and re-read some of his contributions to the early OTR columns. I can pretty much guarantee you'll laugh, be offended, or maybe both. Most of our readers were.

I wrote all of the OTR columns (but I wasn't Answer Guy) up until ... I think it was about 2007 or so. That's when I had to take a hiatus from @U2 to work on the first edition of U2-A Diary, so other staffers stepped in and began writing the weekly column. I loved seeing more of our crew getting their byline on the site, and seeing them have a platform to share their thoughts, opinions and whatever else came to mind, so we've kept OTR as an all-staff thing since then. I typically write the first column each month, then others volunteer to write the rest of the month. It works well, I think.

As I bid goodbye, then, on this 500th edition of OTR, a quick thanks to you for reading as long as you've been reading and to the @U2 gang for keeping it going when I disappeared for a bit in 2007. It's pretty amazing to think that we have a piece of writing/journalism/commentary that's been alive for more than 10 calendar years and is still a popular feature. Had no idea we'd still be doing this in 2012 when I uploaded that first column....


See ya next time!

(c) @U2, 2012.

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