Willie Williams: Next U2 Tour ‘Less Imposing’ Than 360

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File this one in the Not-A-Surprise folder: Willie Williams recently told a Canadian interviewer that planning for the next U2 tour has started and the tour will be "less imposing" than the U2 360 tour.

The comments are at the end of this ARTV.ca article (en Francais), which I think was first reported by U2achtung.com. According to the Google translate of the French text, this is what Williams said:

Do you participate in the next concept U2 tour?


Do you have a scoop to deliver us on this new concept?

It will be a less imposing than the previous tour show (From 2009 to 2011, the U2360 tour was the last to date).

No one should be expecting a bigger tour next time out, so this is no surprise. Not long ago, Bono said that U2's next tour would at least start indoors.

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Column: off the record…, vol. 14-611

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off the record, from @U2

It’s been three weeks since the Academy Awards and I have finally accepted “Let It Go” winning Best Original Song over “Ordinary Love.” I was cheering for U2, of course, but knew in my heart of hearts that the Disney machine couldn’t be beaten. After the ceremony, I listened to the nominees with a critical ear and came to a startling conclusion: “Let It Go” was as deserving of the Oscar as “Ordinary Love.” I can feel the collective blood pressure of the U2 community starting to rise, so before you come to my door with torches and pitchforks, allow me to explain.

From a musical perspective, both songs were Oscar-worthy. “Ordinary Love” is a fairly simple song about the most fundamental theme: love. But romantic love is not the subject here; it’s brotherly love. Individual romantic relationships cannot happen without first accepting and loving those who live with and around us. “We can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love.” “Let It Go” is necessarily musically complex because it is a song about complicated emotions. The clever lyrics and the crazy harmonic changes are symbolic of a character experiencing emotional turbulence and, ultimately, gaining self-confidence and a feeling of empowerment. This is an important message for everyone, but especially for the young girls who are part of Disney’s target audience. Make no mistake: I don’t think “Let It Go” is a better song than “Ordinary Love.” But it is an important song for today’s youth, and that’s why it also deserved to win.

I still want to hear “Ordinary Love” with the full electric setup. I absolutely loved the acoustic version the band performed on The Tonight Show, but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that they played essentially the same version at the Academy Awards. Before the show, I was convinced that they were going to pull out all the stops and just blow the roof off the theater with a fully “plugged-in” rendition. As an unabashed Adam Clayton fan, I wanted to see and hear the full version primarily because I wanted to see and hear him play that gorgeous bass line from the studio version of the song. And I wanted to hear Edge fill the theater with his trademark echo. I appreciate the level of restraint and understated nature of the performance, a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela. In my book it was easily the best musical performance of the night. I can’t help but imagine how much faster the audience would have stood and cheered if U2 had played it full-stop.

I’m having trouble digesting all the rumors about the new album as well as the supposed demise of the band. On the one hand, I’m like every other U2 fan out there: I want a new album, and I want it NOW. Based on what Bono’s been saying for the past several years, there’s more than enough new material to work with. Pick a production team, hole up in the studio for a couple of months, polish the songs and release the record. On the other hand, that’s not U2’s style. They have always done things on their schedule and it’s hard to argue with a method that has worked really well for the better part of four decades. We should trust that, by now, they know what they’re doing.

Perhaps it’s the eternal optimist in me, or maybe it’s because I cannot imagine U2 not being together, but the rumors of an impending breakup really bother me. I just don’t see this as the end because I don’t think U2 can end in a fizzle. I don’t think they would let it happen that way. They’ve been doing this for too long at too high a level to just dissolve. That’s not this band’s style. However and whenever it does finally end, it will a spectacle. It is U2, after all. How could it not?

That being said, I think these rumors are good for both the band and the material. It shows U2, Guy Oseary and the record label executives that the public still is interested. To use Bono’s word, U2 is still relevant. The public is waiting for this album, so it’s going to sell. It’s also going to put just the right amount of pressure on them to finish and (finally) release the album. After all, pressure makes diamonds.

Finally, for those who like electronic music with hints of rock, I suggest checking out Tycho (the stage name for California-based producer and musician Scott Hansen). I found Tycho’s music about a year and a half ago and can’t get enough. He paints broad soundscapes with a seemingly effortless sound that mixes electronic backbeats with lead and bass guitars. His new album, Awake, was released this past Tuesday, and the sounds on this record remind me a lot of U2. So, if you’re in the mood for some U2-flavored electronic instrumental music, Tycho fits the bill.

(c) @U2/Endrinal, 2014

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Fashion frontman Luke James recalls 1980 tour with U2

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“Hello. Are you Fàshiön?” asks a fresh-faced lad. “I’m Bono. I’m the singer with U2.”

“Very nice to meet you, Bongo,” (Fàshiön drummer) Dik says.

“Yeah, welcome to the big time, mate,” I say.

“Take no notice of them,” (Fàshiön manager) Annette says to Bono, who has a slight smile on his face. “No one else does.”

— Luke James, Stairway To Nowhere

Luke James has nothing but nice things to say about U2, even though they were the final catalyst in his exit from the music business.

After James’ British New Wave trio Fàshiön did a small tour of London clubs with U2 in 1980, the disillusioned frontman abandoned his band and fledgling music career.

James was burned out after only two years performing with Fàshiön, and U2 were distinctly on fire.

“They had this energy and belief that I had seen in our band a year earlier,” James said. “I was a little envious, but I was also really pleased for them. They were a great light. Even if there was only a small number of people in the crowd, they’d lift people up.”

It was a refreshing reversal from Fàshiön’s world: internal disputes, negative press, exhaustion, broken promises, drugs and alcohol, money woes.

James, who moved to the U.S. and has lived in San Francisco since 1988, is now happily married with two kids, has a day job working in sales for a print company and writes online for soccerly.com. In 2009 he published a book about his jaded musical journey, Stairway To Nowhere. The final portion of the self-published memoir includes James’ account of Fàshiön playing on a bill with U2 at nine clubs over 10 days in London in 1980, when they alternated as headliners. The book ends right after the co-tour, with James skipping out on his band and headed to France.

James, during a recent phone interview with @U2, laughed with a touch of self-deprecation when he talked about watching U2 recently on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and the Academy Awards.

“I remember sitting in a dressing room talking to Bono, both of us complaining about our record companies doing nothing to promote the band,” James said. “And here we are 35 years later, and he’s on the new Jimmy Fallon, and I’m watching it. And I’m very pleased for him.”

Fàshiön forward

Luke “Skyscraper” James (the nickname refers to his 6-foot-9-inch-tall stature), who was born Al James and at one time called himself Luke Sky (“when I was taking myself way too seriously,” he said), had reason to hope that Fàshiön would find fame.

Yes, the name is spelled with the accent and umlaut, but still pronounced like plain old “fashion.” The letter embellishments were part of the band’s image. Fàshiön’s founder and bass-synth player, John Mulligan, was an artist and style aficionado whose first poster for the band featured a Vogue model.

Fàshiön, featuring James on guitar and lead vocals, Mulligan on bass and synthesizer, and Dik Davis on drums, with Miki Cottrell as producer, formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England. The band, which played a mix of punk-techno-reggae music, drew the interest of Miles Copeland, manager and producer for The Police. Fàshiön started out opening for The Police, The Cure, the B-52s and other bands. Duran Duran opened for Fàshiön.

The U2 gig came about after Fàshiön finished a three-month tour of the U.S. When they returned, Britain had mostly forgotten about them, or thought they broke up, James said, and Copeland was devoting all his energy to The Police. They had trouble landing any gigs, and agreed to tour with a new band from Ireland.

James said he noticed U2’s energy and charisma during the first show they played together, at the tiny Hope and Anchor, a cellar underneath a pub, when U2 performed “11 O’Clock Tick Tock.”

“It’s kind of like the first time I heard (Nirvana’s) ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’” James said. “I was pretty knocked back — these guys are really good. Within a few minutes I found myself smiling, and the next thing I know I’m jigging around and having fun. I said, ‘The joy in this, my God.’ They had that effect immediately on a kind of bored, jaded, dissatisfied, disgruntled musician. The energy came off the stage. Everybody in that place had a great time. And then we went on. Everybody went into a depression.”

James said the two bands didn’t mingle much, in part because Fàshiön drove home to Birmingham every night (they were short on money for hotels), and U2 stayed at bed-and-breakfasts.

“After the show they didn’t hang about much — there was nothing much to hang about for,” James said. “We’d mostly see them when we got there to set up and do sound check, some of the usual interband banter. They were very friendly.

“They were really nice guys. A lot of the people I met in my years in that world were — how shall I put this delicately — not the most decent human beings I’d ever met. I was in a pretty bad place mentally myself. So it was really nice to be able to work with some people who were just these decent young guys. They didn’t drink; they didn’t carouse; they didn’t do any drugs. That optimism and joy in what they were doing, I remember thinking: This is not right they should open for us.”

Bono being … Bono

James said his most vivid memory of U2 was a performance in Fàshiön’s hometown of Birmingham.

“At one point Bono gets this rose in his teeth and jumps off the stage,” James said. “The Edge and Adam Clayton jump down too, but they haven’t figured out how long their guitar cables are, so one of them is unplugged and the other falls over. Bono still has his vocals, and so he just goes into this thing with the drums, and this dance. When they come back in with the guitar and bass, it absolutely takes the roof off.”

James said Larry, Edge and Adam were “pretty quiet most of the time,” but he remembers having a few conversations with Bono, mainly about negative press coverage and unhelpful record companies, including a “really lousy review” for a gig Fàshiön did with U2. James included a quote from the review on the cover of his book: “These jesters probably think that the future of music is theirs.”

“They said horrible things about how shallow we were and how wonderful U2 were, which was great for them,” James said. “I was sitting next to Bono, and I said, ‘Why can’t they just say good things about you? They don’t have to talk crap about us.’”

According to James, Bono replied, “Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t matter what they say about you, as long as they spell your name right.” James then looked at the reviews … and the accent and umlaut were missing. “They even spelled our name wrong,” he said, laughing.

No regrets

“At the end of the tour, I quit, I ran away,” James said. “I went away in the sun in Bordeaux with my 19-year-old French girlfriend, which made more sense to me than freezing and starving in some little apartment in Birmingham waiting for a 50-pound gig. That was that. It was pretty legit, I think. I’ve since apologized.”

Fàshiön went on for a few more years with different band members. James said he and Mulligan have exchanged one email since 1979 and “buried the hatchet and wished each other well” in 2000, when producer Cottrell died. Davis has died as well.

James said he has “no regrets at all” about leaving Fàshiön because he’s “married to the love of my life and have these two incredible children. I’ve been clean and sober for seven years. If I’d been successful in commercial terms, I’d have been dead on a bathroom floor somewhere a long time ago. The best part of my life came late. I’m just so damn lucky to have gotten to it, the things that are really important.”

He said he’s channeled his “addictive personality” into writing — including a black-comedy novel he hopes to publish someday; acting (doing performance pieces of his writing); and reconnecting with his love of soccer.

James still dabbles in music, too. He has recorded “In Deep,” an album of songs he wrote while falling in love with his wife, Karin; and released Stairway To Nowhere (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/fashionmusic2), a 30th-anniversary tribute to Fàshiön’s debut album, Product Perfect, featuring new songs written and played by James. He’s also learning to play flamenco guitar, an English style he calls “flamanglo.”

James’ YouTube page features a video of Fàshiön performing on the BBC in 1979.

James said he hasn’t seen U2 perform live since he left Fàshiön, although he’s watched their concert DVDs. “And I love that movie (It Might Get Loud) The Edge made with Jack White and Jimmy Page,” he said. “It’s guitar player porn.”

And he knows U2’s music.

“They never stopped with the awesome songs,” he said. “Every time you hear a U2 song, it’s never bad. I don’t know how they do it.”

One of the reasons he moved to the U.S., James said, was because “in Britain, they love nothing more than to drag you down. The amount of people I know who talk s**t about Bono for the work he’s trying to do … I don’t hear that here. It really ticks me off.”

‘Hi, U2’

James said he has never considered contacting the band. And if he did, “it’s not because I would want anything. It would be to say hi. I’d let them know I remember them as being a really great band and really great guys, and that it was kind of the bright spot at the end for me — a glimmer of light at the end of my so-called career. U2 that went on to burst into a shining light.”

(c) @U2/Lindell, 2014 

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Bono and Bill Gates are planning to go to the World Cup in Brazil

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Journalist Mônica Bergamo reports today in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that Bono and Bill Gates are planning to go to the World Cup in Brazil. We know they have been friends for a long time and both share the same passion for humanitarian work.

Bono has already talked about attending the World Cup, when he was with with the former president Lula in a meeting last year in London. They talked about the ONE Campaign and Brazilian projects to fight poverty. Bono said he would be in June in Brazil to watch the first match.

The same article also says Bono helped some children from Africa and India get a visa for the Street Child World Cup, which will happen next week in Rio de Janeiro. They had some difficulties so Bono got in contact with Brazilian politicians. Bono and Street Child United's organizers are friends. And just like it was reported before, Larry Mullen Jr. is also giving his support to this project.

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Poll Results: U2 Fans Prefer ‘Invisible’ Over ‘Ordinary Love’ By a Landslide

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In all the recent discussion of whether U2's new album will be released later this year, or maybe sometime in 2015, it's easy to forget that -- for the first time in years -- we do have two new U2 songs to listen to: "Ordinary Love" and "Invisible."

As these two songs were released, we ran three different polls to gauge how well U2 fans liked both songs. The results are pretty clear: You like both songs, but you prefer "Invisible" over "Ordinary Love" by a landslide.

During the month of February, more than 4,100 fans responded to our question asking which of the two songs you like better. "Invisible" was the definitive winner getting almost 74 percent of the votes cast.


But that's not to say fans didn't like "Ordinary Love" at all. Prior to the comparison question, we asked two separate poll questions inviting fans to rate each song on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being best. Nearly 8,000 fans responded to the "Ordinary Love" poll (an all-time record), and about 80 percent of them graded the song at 3 or better.


"Invisible" did even better in its poll question, with 92 percent of the 4,800 respondents grading it at 3 or higher.


We've just posted a new poll question, asking whether you think U2's next studio will be released in 2014 or 2015. You can answer that question on our home page.

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U2 Lists: Top 10 U2 Songs to Use to Convert Non-Fans

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U2 Lists[Ed. note: This is the 56th in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]

Like a preacher stealing hearts at a traveling show, I'm an unashamed full-on U2 evangelist. I can understand if Bono's causes annoy folks, or if their lyrics sometimes lean too Christian for the non-believing crowd, but I do have a tough time with people (especially musical people) who don't recognize the way the band has impacted the music landscape since their debut in the '70s.

I may not go door-to-door spreading my gospel, but I most certainly challenge friends and acquaintances who say they "don't care for" U2 or "never got into them." That to me is unacceptable. Everyone should realize that U2's catalog goes a lot further than "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Though I personally think that song is brilliant, it may be too political. I get it.

Whenever I encounter someone who is really dismissive of the band, I make a playlist for them and wait to see if my plan will work. The following 10 tunes are the core of my persuasion. Feel free to use them in your own defense. So far, I'm winning.

10. Mysterious Ways

This is a good one to start with because it was so popular during its prime and continues to enjoy semi-regular radio play. Most people already know it but forgot that they like it (or that U2 created it). The hook is undeniably catchy, the imagery associated with it features sexy belly dancers and celebrates the female spirit. What's not to love?

9. Angel Of Harlem

I dare you to play this one for your friends who possess serious soul—they won't be able to deny that they feel it. The classic, gritty arrangement born in Memphis tells of the band's first ride in a limousine in New York City. They recalled hearing Billie Holiday on the radio and made their lyrics a tribute to her legend.

8. Beautiful Day

It's so conventional it almost pains me to include it, but who can deny the way this song makes you feel on a sunny day, driving fast with the top down? Yeah, I thought so. It's mandatory for these purposes.

7. Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me

Because this song was created for a Batman film, it isn't as "U2-ey" as some of their more mainstream songs. In fact, it's downright seductive in the way it pulls you into the story—from headaches to suitcases to turning tricks with a crucifix, there's a lot of ground covered here. And every ounce of it rocks.

6. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own

For anyone who has ever had a complicated relationship with a parent, this song is bound to hit home. Bono balances paying tribute to his late father with detailing all that was wrong in their relationship and celebrating what he gained from it. It's a eulogy of cathartic forgiveness, passionately released if for no other reason than to get it out. If only all of us could extinguish our pasts with such grace.

5. Lemon

For the dancers among us, there's no better U2 song to put forth than this one. An infectious beat, a silly falsetto and layers of real meaning via the lyrics. Midnight is indeed where the day begins, and the result here is a burst of hip-shaking awakening.

4. Slow Dancing

I'll be the first to admit that country music is not my favorite. I can appreciate the early greats—Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, etc., but I've never been one for the modern stuff. That said, I do respect the genre, and songs like this Willie Nelson-injected ballad give me clarity as to why so many people embrace it.

3.  Vertigo

If you're old enough to remember the debut of this song, it probably conjures up memories of a certain iconic iPod commercial, starring four dapper rock stars. Though iPods have become almost obsolete since the advent of the smartphone, the electric energy captured in the moment here will never dissipate.

2. Stay

This song is so delicate and beautiful it's often an afterthought even for the most dedicated of fans. Bono is understated here in ways he seldom holds back, and the result is pure poetry. You can follow the fog of the riff all the way to the end, absorbing its beautiful calm.

1. Walk On (America: A Tribute to Heroes live version)

Though the song was written about Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, following 9/11 it assumed compound meaning, and this specific arrangement was performed in the wake of the attacks when everyone was raw from the pain. It's difficult to imagine anyone, American or otherwise, not moved by the conviction in Bono's voice and the power of the band's performance. It was unifying, healing and inspiring in the moment, and now lives on in a sonic time capsule of positive energy.

(c) @U2, 2014.

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Column: off the record…, vol. 14-610

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off the record, from @U2

What a week for the Irish!

On a sporting theme, in Paris yesterday, Ireland held on to the bitter end in a nail-biting finish to beat France 22-20 and win its first Rugby Six Nations since 2009, giving legendary Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll the perfect send-off in his last test for Ireland before retiring. In BOD we trust. And earlier in the week, the renowned horse racing event, The Cheltenham Festival, had over 200,000 punters in attendance betting on the races, with the biggest race over the four days won by the Irish-trained Lord Windermere in the Gold Cup. With St. Patricks Day weekend already underway, culminating in St. Patrick's Day on Monday, there will be plenty of Irish folk in Ireland and around the world ensuring that plenty of Guinness is being consumed, just like this chap …. who clearly is enjoying a drop of the black stuff in Kerry over the weekend. As the slogan goes, "Guinness Is Good For You." Let's hope it inspires some super songs for the new album, and preferably before the end of this year!

By now I am sure you may be familiar with the photobomb phenomena, which even U2 have been involved with, via the brilliant Sherlock actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, who made the headlines at the Oscars red carpet with what is becoming one of the most famous photobombs of all time. But even better known is the discovery of video footage of Cumberbatch clearly thinking about and subsequently taking the opportunity to do so … to unsuspecting and bemused band members and wives … and all to a backdrop of the Jaws theme. Great stuff!

Another revelation in the news this week has been the discovery of a rejection letter by RSO Records to a young wannabe rock star by the name of Mr. P. Hewson. It appears that in the spring of 1979, Bono had sent a demo tape to London-based RSO Records -- part of the Robert Stigwood Organisation, who in the late 1970s had tremendous success with the Bee Gees, and also released multimillion-selling soundtracks for huge films such as Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars. However, it does seem that despite “careful consideration,” it certainly wasn't good enough for RSO. Wouldn't it be great if someone could find RSO A&R man Alexander Sinclair to comment almost 35 years later? Note also that the letter was written on Bono's 19th birthday. 

There has been so much speculation about the new album. The latest news is that U2 are on track for a 2014 fall release, and touring plans haven't been confirmed yet. Well, that makes sense to me, as I really would be surprised to see an album release by U2 that is in any month but November. No Line On The Horizon was released in February 2009, and that month is a notoriously quiet month for album releases. I can't see U2 or their respective record company (and new manager) making that mistake again. It might be a situation similar to Pop, when U2 scheduled a tour before the album was released. As a result, both the album and the tour were compromised and felt -- certainly early on -- underrehearsed. One thing for sure, we will have to be patient. Me? I'm looking forward to Arcade Fire touring in June in the U.K. and the new Coldplay album Ghost Stories that will be released in May.


And finally, in honor of St. Patricks Day, here is a wonderful clip of U2 on MTV in 1982 in celebration of the Docklands area of Dublin. You can tell by watching the video that this is where the album sleeve for October was shot. Also, at the 45-second mark, the video clearly shows the building where U2's own studio, Hanover Quay, is based.


(c) @U2/Govern, 2014.



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Happy Birthday, Adam Clayton!

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Everyone's favorite bassist turns 54 on Thursday! Please join us in wishing Adam Clayton a happy birthday.

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, dear Adam!
Happy birthday to you!

Feel free to join fellow fans in wishing Adam a happy birthday in our forum!

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Like A Song: Please

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Like A Song[Ed. note: This is the 83rd in a series of personal essays by the @U2 staff about songs and/or albums that have had great meaning or impact in our lives.]

When my son was born, I made a solemn pact with God to protect this precious new life with every fiber of my being. We already knew when he was born that there might be issues, and as it turns out he was diagnosed with a mild form of high-functioning autism. Fortunately for us, we live in an area where we have some of the best experts in the field, including therapists and service providers. I stepped away from my career to be able to devote what was needed to assist him through his developmental delays. We did what the experts told us to do. We followed their plan to the letter. We partnered with early intervention service providers and with the local public preschool program. When it was time for kindergarten, we were told that he had progressed to a point where he could attend a mainstream, fully integrated classroom.

So you never knew love
Until you crossed the line of grace

We were given every assurance that his new school had implemented a transition plan for our son. He had a clear Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and after spending his past four years in early intervention and the public preschool program, we thought it would be a smooth transition. Enough people knew our son’s quirks and we provided all of the medical and developmental evaluation reports for everyone to review. He would go to this school for kindergarten only as it was the closest one to our house that offered a full-day program, which his IEP called for.

Even though the educators had all the information at their fingertips, we found ourselves in a tailspin within three weeks of the start of kindergarten. Those working with him in the kindergarten program at this new school did not have adequate training or prior experience with children like our son. When he was still building his trust with new grownups, understanding new authority rules and grasping social skills, he was subjected to his first unwillful seclusion by a teacher who should have understood his disability.

An unwillful seclusion is when a child is held back and secluded in a room against his will. This violation broke any trust that our son had with his teachers in the school environment. Through meeting with the school administration, we found their story changed depending on who you spoke with. We demanded a team meeting where everyone responsible for our son’s IEP joined us at the table to discuss this situation. Our son had never been subjected to such a protocol, nor were we aware that this method could be used. Apologies were issued and assurances given that it would never happen again.

Those were hollow assurances, as over the next several months, he was subjected to longer and more frequent seclusions. The more I searched for answers and questioned the school’s authority, the more evasiveness I encountered.

And you never felt wanted
Till you had someone slap your face
So you never felt alive
Until you almost wasted away

By the end of November, we had a certified behaviorist (BCBA) consulting with the family and the school district to produce a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). This is the stage where families who have been down this road call it alphabet soup because everything has an abbreviation. As our son’s trust continued to erode, he developed symptoms most closely related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He became anxious about school, showed trepidation about stepping onto the school property. His drawings used dark colors with the good guy in a box, his eyes crossed out, and large stick figures pointing at the box with mean faces. He cried about school. He couldn’t be in a room with a closed door, and was overcome with fear once he got to school and wouldn’t walk into the building.

As we kept digging for answers, we discovered that he was being removed to a room that would be classified as a scream room or a timeout room. There was no furniture, no outside light, no rug, no padding, nothing on the walls or anything that could be deemed calming. Worse than that, I found out that he was being locked in the room.

You had to win, you couldn't just pass
The smartest ass at the top of the class
Your flying colours, your family tree
And all your lessons in history

I couldn’t understand how this was able to happen. Believe it or not, it’s perfectly legal. School districts hide behind the notion of general safety, and if the child has a behavioral outburst (which most younger children on the autism spectrum do from time to time when things get overwhelming for them) the student would be forcibly removed out of general safety to a room such as this. The kicker is that parents do not need to be notified when such a situation occurs in the school environment.

In the U.S., education is a state’s rights issue, so the federal government does not like to get involved as much as it should. Currently, the U.S. Congress has stalled the Keeping All Students Safe Act (HR 1893), which would enact minimum standards to protect children like my son from these seclusions or physical restraint. The states would then take these federal recommendations and integrate them at the state level. Unfortunately, lessons in history indicate that politicians believe the federal government should not dictate to the states how to handle their education system and the states are not taking a proactive approach to protect these developmentally delayed students. If you do an Internet search for “scream rooms” or “seclusion” you will find that this is a universal issue across the U.S.  Advocacy groups and families are fighting hard to stop the use of scream rooms, with very little being changed.

Please, please, please
Get up off your knees
Please, please, please

I became almost paralyzed by the disbelief that this was happening to our son. Our family did so much damage control and engaged more therapists to bring our son back to some form of trust. The more I pleaded with the school district, the more I was dismissed and told they were better advocates for my child than we were. Our son received four days of school suspension while in kindergarten, and received very little educational benefit as the school felt it was better for him to be removed from his least restricted environment than to help him understand what was going on.  All I could keep thinking is, “Please stop hurting my son. Please stop secluding him behind a locked door. Please stop this pain to our family. Please show some understanding. Please!”

So you never knew how low you'd stoop
To make that call
And you never knew what was on the ground
Until they made you crawl
So you never knew that the heaven you keep
You stole

While on a family vacation, we were notified by the school that our son would not be welcome back to school until we met as a team once again. During this meeting, we were informed that he was no longer welcome to attend the school and the district tried to force us to agree to remove him from the least restrictive classroom environment. The school knew we were on a dream vacation to Disney World, and to receive a phone call with such devastating news stole whatever joy we were having. For the rest of that vacation, we were on the phone to behaviorists, lawyers and advocates to see how we could preserve whatever rights and legal protections our son had.

Please, please, please
Get up off your knees
Please, please
Leave me out of this mess

For the next 12 months, we battled the school district and their handling of our son’s situation. Our family struggled to keep up with the financial burden this situation was placing on us – lawyer fees at $$200 an hour (which was cheap), constant meetings that required my husband to be out of work, and childcare costs for our daughter. Through this journey my marriage suffered, our family’s trust in the school district eroded and our free time was spent in constant damage control. We could not believe we were in this mess as we did everything the experts told us to do. We trusted “the system” and were burned by it badly. The more we sought compassion and understanding, the more we were told how wrong we were.

So love is hard and love is tough
But love is not what you're thinking of
September, streets capsizing
Spilling over, down the drain
Shards of glass, splinters like rain
But you could only feel your own pain
October, talk getting nowhere
November, December
Remember, are we just starting again

Our son’s time in first grade has been one of constant transition. After the school district requested a period of time for in-school evaluation at an out-of-district school over 20-miles away from our house, the decision was made that our son could go to his districted school, which was the school he should have been going to at the start of first grade. Throughout the fall, I kept replaying the previous year: September trust capsizing and going down the drain; October talks still going nowhere; November, December – are we just starting again?

Please, please, please
Get up off your knees
Please, please, please

So love is big, it's bigger than us
But love is not what you're thinking of
It's what lovers deal, it's what lovers steal
You know I found it hard to receive
'Cause you, my love, I could never believe

After 19 months, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Those who were pivotal in this disagreement are no longer employed by the school district. The new people working in those roles are showing much more understanding and compassion. However, that precious time in our son’s life was stolen. The child-like innocence was stolen from our son by the treatment he suffered at school by adults. Our family’s ability to trust the educators in our town is severely compromised. A lot of healing has to happen.

“Please” resonates with me as a mother angry by a system that caused such unrest within my family, broke my son’s trust and compromised that solemn vow I made before God. We followed what the experts told us to do, and yet we still found ourselves in this situation. I know our family is not alone in this as I’ve heard from countless families who have been down a worse path than we have. As difficult of a situation we found ourselves in, it pales in comparison to others’ stories. “Please” demands an emotional outcry. I’m a mother with a sharp pain in my heart, and the song allows me to own that anger that causes the pain. It also challenges me to get off of my knees and change the system so other families don’t have that pain that I do. Please just do the right thing.

(c)@U2/Lawrence, 2014

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‘Invisible’ at #1 in Adult Alternative Songs chart

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"Invisible" has hit No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Alternative Songs chart.

Billboard says U2 has passed Coldplay for the most No. 1 hits in the 18-year history of the Adult Alternative Songs chart, with 11 songs versus 10 for Coldplay.

It's been a little bit more than a month that "Invisible" was released with a commercial during the Super Bowl as part of a project to raise funds for (RED) in partnership with Bank of America. For each download of the song, the bank donated $$1 to help to fight AIDS.

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