“Very good,” Bono says, “is the enemy of great. You think great is right next door. It’s not. It’s in another country.”
This is a fantastic read. I hear great things about the new record, but a couple people I have heard say it’s not all it’s hyped to be. We’ll see – on Tuesday, when it’s released, we’ll see.
The real issue here, though, is that this band is trying, and trying with all they have, to be great every time out. They seem to take very little for granted, and they hold themselves to a much higher standard than most bands these days even dream of. If you listen to college radio, you hear some pretty great stuff from time to time. But you also hear legions of bands who don’t seem to have much ambition. It’s hard to imagine that they listen to their songs and say to each other, “hey, you know, they’ll still be playing this on the radio 40 years from now.” The bar is so low, the attempt so safe and minimal.
I admit it – I like my artists to think big, to dream of the legend they can become if only they’re willing to put their entire souls into the effort.
Put another way, I much prefer the spectacular failure to the mild success.
Rock is like the PGA….
Two points I’d take note of here:
1) Rock has become like the PGA. When you note that bands seem to have little ambition, part of it stems from the money in rock now being like the money in the PGA. Too much of it spread out over too many mediocre acts. As Lord Bruce of Asbury Park notes, “They say you gotta stay hungry….” We’ve seen what the bloated paychecks of the arena period of the seventies did to bands that didn’t make a lot of dough in the sixties – but who made lots of good music. They got fat and happy in addition to old. Now bands are determined to make money instead of music. No good can come of going over to the suits….
2) U2 tries to be great every time out. No one has ever done that, not even – uh, this is difficult for me – The Beatles (genuflect). But when Bono says that, I believe him, and when I listen to them, that belief is confirmed. Eeven the mistakes are great mistakes. And that alone makes U2 a great band for me….