March 31, 2008

Bono gives props to Africa; Africa returns the favor

I was fascinated with this concept album when I first read about it: Twelve artists and musical groups from all parts of Africa gather together to cover U2 songs with traditional African instrumentation, percussion, and even languages. In many cases, the songs are completely restructured into something you can feel rising from the ground up, the beats thumping into your deepest hollows.

In The Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 features artists like Angelique Kidjo (previous post), Les Nubians, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, and an oddly affecting cover of “Love Is Blindness” by Angola’s Waldemar Bastos. Mali bluesman Ali Farka Touré‘s son Vieux contributes a rich cover of “Bullet The Blue Sky” with the spoken bridge segment done in his native language. The songs are really different than how you’re used to hearing them. If you love U2 as I do, sometimes it takes a minute to get past the shock. But there’s a beautiful spirit and soul shining through this amazing collection.

The album is released tomorrow through the good folks at Shout! Factory, and all proceeds will benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Stream samples of all the songs here.

And you know — I think that this is how the type of love that Bono originally sings about is supposed to sound; like a well rising, voices joining together.

Pride (In The Name of Love)Soweto Gospel Choir

NEW CONTEST! One winner will get a copy of In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 just by leaving me a comment with either a good U2 story, a good Africa story, or both. I’ll pick a winner and send the booty on its merry way.

PS – I checked, and I ain’t got a Monday Music Roundup in me.
Not today.

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  • Ain’t got no Africa stories, but I saw U2 at the Boston Garden so long ago it was called the Boston Garden. (The Joshua Tree tour, if that helps.) It was my first real rock concert — previous visits to the suburbs for James Taylor concerts surely don’t count towards the rock roster, and those three Howard Jones concerts are just too embarassing to mention — and though we were way the hell back there, I remember very fondly that the tiny flea that was supposedly Bono was hopping around like…

    Damn it. I’m sure I’d have a better story if I hadn’t managed to block out that entire period of my pimply adolescence. Or maybe it was the drugs. Yeah, that’s probably it.

    The album sounds good. Hope someone’s got a better story — I know most of your readers are young enough to have better memories.

    boyhowdy — March 31, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

  • Wait! I remembered a story.

    My first time around at college I met this girl – she was from Vermont, and a bit…naive. Knew essentially no popular music of any sort, and spent her time either reading or playing classical music on the piano. Tall, kind of gawky, uncomfortable in her body…you know the type. Four weeks into school, she was still just one of the hundreds of new faces.

    Then one night I staggered over to a dorm/house party for my girlfriend’s birthday, only to be confronted by a drunken girlfriend who made it clear that she was having much more fun before I arrived, and it was over.

    I staggered around the dorm for a while, and ended up in this room where the less…social of the froshies were playing a game of pictionary. I joined in, and found myself teamed up with that gawky girl. Someone drew two stick figures superimposed, trying to show the word “pile”, but we were both yelling “sex! Sex!” because it looked like that.

    Happy to have found someone with an equally dirty mind, we left the party together, and stayed up all night, wandering the college gardens in the moonlight together.

    The next morning, we woke up together. Somehow, she had made it back to her own room, and was wearing this absolutely stunning men’s bathrobe — plush, puple and blue stripes, the kind of thing I had been looking for all my life. Before she left my room, I traded her my prized possession for it — a copy of Achtung Baby, which we had been listening to all night, and would forever associate with that first night together.

    I still have the bathrobe, though that copy of Achtung Baby is long gone — packed away in the attic with the rest of the plastic now burned to iPod.

    More importantly, this summer that girl and I will celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary.

    Our kids are adorable. And my little one grins wide and reaches out to dance whenever she hears the screeching opening to Even Better Than The Real Thing.

    Some things you never forget, I guess.

    boyhowdy — March 31, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

  • Here is my U2 story… I went to college in St Peter, MN, about 1.5 hr south of Mpls… Went to see U2 play the metrodome for the Joshua Tree concert. Loved it, Bono taking a big flag from someone in the audience and laying it down on stage, then lying on it to sing “sunday bloody sunday”. So I hitched a ride with some random dude I didn’t know from my school and met up with a friend from high school who went to St Catherine’s… We arranged to meet at some certain “sign” at the Metrodome after the concert… Except he thought we meant the sign INSIDE and I thought we meant the one OUTSIDE… So my high school pal and I stood outside the metrodome fruitlessly waiting for him for 45 minutes. During this time, we saw the same car pass us about 45 times…with a guy from the audience — who had caught the Edge’s shoes he had thrown into the audience at the end — waving the shoe out the window and screaming… Finally we realized a miscommunication had happened and we wound up going back to St. Cate’s at some ridiculous time of night, waking up her entire dorm, and convincing a bunch of girls to road trip me back down to school, listening to U2 all the way of course. It was an awesome night! :)


    carolyn (@ — March 31, 2008 @ 11:59 pm

  • a girl i think the whole world of sent me the lonely planet africa for my birthday. i read it and dream of spending nights under the stars. that’s all i got.

    oh…also…I’m kind of friends with Bon-almost.

    Anonymous — April 1, 2008 @ 12:16 am

  • I don’t personally have an Africa story but know one that is amazing. My church supports a missionary who does not think we should support him for long. He has set up an amazing idea. He and his wife and several other missionaries have set up a cafe which teaches classes, serves coffee, has the only internet access besides the capital and they have just started the first free lending library in the entire country of Uganda. This is their purpose statement, “We exist for one reason: to empower children through literacy. ” I think this is amazing and worth all the advertising possible…
    also the group with more details on what they are trying to do…

    token.crip (at) gmail (dot) com

    Rollerpimp — April 1, 2008 @ 5:25 am

  • Oh, I was about to post something but I think nothing can beat Boyhowdy’s beautiful story… That’s totally amazing!

    Pete P. — April 1, 2008 @ 7:35 am

  • Boyhowdy, that was a great story, thanks for sharing.

    - Neil

    Anonymous — April 1, 2008 @ 9:11 am

  • Neat post I enjoy that sound, must have been all the Paul Simon in my youth.

    No contest entry here. I have never been lucky enough to see U2 live, and can’t afford to go to Africa.

    I can tell you that I wore out 2 copies of Rattle and Hum on tape (you remember tape don’t you) while mowing lawns in the summer. One of the few times I ever felt safe belting out to Bono, damn the man can sustain a bitchy little note like no one’s business.

    kired — April 1, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  • Back when I was…eight, nine maybe I was into “Heavy Metal” AC/DC, Motley Crue, Guns n’ Roses. Mainly it was that the cool kid with the BMX bike down the street was into them, so my sister and I were to. Went back to Indiana for a family reunion and got into an argument with my…probably six years older cousin about music. He was big into U2 and was disparaging my love of all things jean-jacketed.

    I’m sure our musical tastes are more similar now…especially since the wife is such a big U2 fan, it’s kind of rubbed off on me a little bit.

    JJ — April 1, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

  • It’s more of a story about seeing U23D and then about seeing U2. . . it’s from a blog I posted.

    Sooo.  U23D, then.With all-due respect to the back of Larry Mullen Jr.’s head, THAT is the way I was meant to see the Vertigo tour.

    If you saw the Vertigo tour, U23D is like that, only with better seats.  I don’t care WHO you are.

    I was very lucky in that my very first (and only to-date) U2 concert was during the Vertigo tour.  I bought my ticket in March for the show in November.  The only thing I had to say post-show then was:

    Dear Santa,
    All I want for Christmas is a diminutive Irishman who walks like a cowboy riding a duck.



    Quit looking at me like that.

    Let me explain. . .

    November 13, 2005

    U2 has rescheduled their tour due to a family illness (we don’t need to get into all that again, do we?) and the Miami, FL, date, which was to kick off the tour, was moved back a considerable amount of time.

    On October 24, 2005, Hurricane Wilma kicked South Florida’s ass.

    The kids and I moved in with my parents because there was a generator, and eventually, electricity there.  Electric would not be restored to my home for 11 days.  Phone and cable much longer.  Luckily, we had an uncharacteristic cool snap, which made days with no a/c bearable.  However, it did make laundry a daily chore, since the kids had like 2 cold-weather outfits (that still fit them) apiece.  Laundry, without the benefit of the electric appliances, I might add.

    “I’m hanging out to dry
    With my old clothes

    I am cranky from living this way.  Out of a laundry basket in my old bedroom at my parents’ house, shared with two fish-out-of-water-sleeping children who give me a nightly thrashing.  Even as I was complaining out loud to myself about living out of a laundry basket, the words floated in my mind:

    “Where you live should not decide
    Whether you live or whether you die
    Three to a bed
    Sister Ann, she said
    Dignity passes by”

    And I thanked God that my house, powerless as it was, was still standing.  Because the people who had suffered through Katrina two months before were still displaced.  The ones who survived, I mean.  And they weren’t living with their mom.  They were living in heaps with strangers and no dignity at all. 

    Living out of a laundry basket was looking better and better.  And besides, my concert was coming up.  November 13, 2005 – the day after my birthday.  The first time ever I would see U2.  So I had a crap seat?  I would still be in the same room as Bono.

    Six days before my birthday, my husband of seven years announces to me that he thinks we should separate.

    I’m ’round the corner from anything that’s real
    I’m across the road from hope
    I’m under a bridge in a rip tide
    That’s taken everything I call my own”

    I stumble through the next few days.  My birthday comes and goes without event, and to borrow from Jason Mraz: “It’s my birthday and I cannot find no cause for celebration.”  Not even tomorrow night’s U2 concert.  Not anymore.

    The day of the concert, I leave 2-1/2 hours early.  Traffic lights all over the tri-county area still are not up and running, and many of those areas don’t even have power yet.  I have developed a migraine.  I find my nosebleed balcony seat (front row!  of the balcony.  seven hundred miles north of the stage) and position myself there and wait for the concert which hasn’t started yet to be over.

    Then it happens.  The music starts, the guys come out, and they are there.  Tiny from my hot-air-balloon view of them, but alive in front of me nonetheless.  That’s frickin Bono down there.  I calculate the trajectory of where I would land were I to catapult myself onto the stage.  I figure that I would fall far short of Larry’s drum kit, and I decide I had best leave my attempt to tackle Bono for another day.

    Despite my hunger, my sore head, and my sour mood, I am being entertained. 

    “Everything was ugly but your beautiful face.”

    And even as I sat there, marinating in my misery, Bono slid the headband down into a blindfold.  I stumbled and fumbled with him to the microphone, awe-stuck.  This man is a genius.  Even as I sat there, he erased my virus and reformatted my brain. 

    “In a little while
    This hurt will hurt no more”

    My small personal tragedies didn’t matter anymore.

    “So love is big
    Is bigger than us”

    It didn’t matter that the stage was the eye of a needle.  There was no one else in the room but me.

    “What you got, they can’t steal it
    No they can’t even feel it”

    When I left the concert

    (I feel numb.
    Too much is not enough”

    to return to real life, it was with a different view.  There was positive among all the negative.  There was healing among all the hurt.  There was optimism among all the oppression.

    “Take this heart
    Take this city’s heart
    And keep it safe.”

    Sooo.  U23D, then. It was like all that.  Only SO much better.

    Natalie — April 1, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

  • Heather, I don’t got nothin’, but this post reminded me to say thank you for recommending “Fools Rush In.” I did read it and enjoyed it. It just made me feel like a lazy ass. I gotta do something.

    Russ Campbell — April 1, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  • Boyhowdy – you sure must be in trouble for that first comment…….

    Stories for Boys……

    U2 were the first band I ever saw.At the Lyceum in the Strand in 1980.I remember the joy of the que;punks,mods,weird older guys in leather jackets and struggling youngsters in Italian combat trousers.The variety of fan was so good;so unhyped or deconstructed.

    The Edge’s first chord just lifted us up(Bono was always exerting ‘Up,UP”) into another world of existence;I had chosen them and they were a bloody good choice;electric company.Boy – a band that made the world as dramatic as a late night play.Such fire and drive.There was real glory in an Edge solo – a dazzling scattering of light and energy that detonated dreams.Exhiliration. Running from that concert in the rain, to catch a late night train, remains vivid and gleaming:music mattered,life mattered everything was potentially magical.

    I am so bloody proud of them…….once more in the name of love,,,,,

    Russell — April 1, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  • My wife and I honeymooned in Morocco, but I will skip past the stories from North Africa to a recent U2 story. The last time the band was in Detroit Michigan, I started talking with the couple beside me before the show. I quickly discovered it was their first time out on the town in many months, she had recently finished up yet another round of chemotherapy for breast cancer, and he had come out of hospital after treatment for a brain tumour. Then they explained that one of the things that had gotten the two of them through all the treatment and time in hospital was listening to U2. Specifically, “Miracle Drug” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own”. Well on that cold night on October 25, 2005, right after playing “Beautiful Day”, Bono introduced the song Miracle Drug this way- “this is a band that has faith in the future, faith in science, in God, …. we want to dedicate this song to the doctors and nurses (especially the nurses) who keep us alive to see the future”. I looked over at them with tears in my eyes – they were not crying, just looking transfixed at the stage, knowing that Bono was speaking to them directly. His next song was “Sometimes you can’t make it on your own”, making the message complete. My wife and I went home that night thinking about that couple from Michigan. Music – the fuel we need to heal.

    Thanks for your Fuel.
    Jeff from London, Ontario, Canada

    Anonymous — April 1, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

  • I went to Morocco two summers ago to stay and work at an orphanage. My favorite story isn’t a story at all, but rather a person. We stayed with a Berber family who opened their house as a bed and breakfast to traveling locals. The father’s name was Hassan, and every morning he would sit with us as we ate the breakfast that he prepared. Attentively swatting flies away from our boiled eggs, Hassan topped off our mint tea every time our cups left our hands. He spoke no English, and we spoke no Arabic, but his hospitality and kindness transcended the language barrier each morning.

    phoebe — April 1, 2008 @ 9:17 pm

  • Snopes has got a good one, albeit, an untrue one. Hysterical, nonetheless:

    Bono, whilst playing a gig in Glasgow, got the whole crowd to be silent and then began slowly clapping his hands. He got the crowd to clap along for a while, the stadium quiet except for the rhythmic clapping…

    After a short period Bono spoke, saying that every time he clapped his hands a child in Africa died…

    Suddenly, from the front row of the venue a voice broke out in thick Scottish brogue, ending the silence as it echoed across the crowd, the voice cried out to Bono “Well stop ****ing doing it then!!”

    Bob... — April 3, 2008 @ 12:23 am

  • Lets see the Unforgettable Fire Tour I was asked,

    No, I’m Not a U2 fan I said, and I passed.

    When I saw the LIVE AID on MTV,

    Then I knew forever a fan I would be!

    I know wish their tours didn’t sell out so fast!

    Java John — April 3, 2008 @ 2:41 am

  • Hi Heather,

    Thinking to tell one story…this is hard like choosing a favorite child.

    U2 and their music is so interwoven in my life that it is embarrassing. Here I am married with children and I still dream of U2. I dream of talking to them as if we’re friends, talking about music, religiion, and politics. I analyze their lyrics , their song structure, their track order. Perhaps I’m obsessed. Hopefully, in a positive way. I find their music inspirational. Bono’s charity work too. How many of our childhood heroes are great human beings (Which includes recognizing their own flaws?) I found the book, U2 by U2 intimate and revealing.

    I remember riding my bike on my paper route every day at 13 listening to War on one side of a cassette and The Unforgettable Fire on the other. Delivering papers in pouring rain to Drowning Man.

    I remember bleaching my jean jacket, with ruinous effect, trying to spell U2 to mark me as a fan of a then unknown “British” band in 1985.

    I remember as a junior in high school taping U2 to my stomach and staying out in the hot Alabama sun on the beach too long. Expecting to see instant tans lines, the definition was in fact bright red and white for the letters. Somewhere I have a picture. It took a year to fade completely.

    I remember going to my first concert to see Joshua Tree. And them playing my favorite song at the time The Unforgettable Fire and then “40″ in the end (Before retiring the song for quite some years.)

    I remember wearing that lucky JOshua Tree concert t-shirt underneath suits for momentous events; such as college graduation, my first job interviews.

    I remember playing Achtung Baby after a particular heartfelt break-up.

    I remember watching my kids picking their favorite songs as they became captive listeners in my car. My son liked Elevation at 5 years old and my daughter loved Even Better Than the Real Thing at 3 years old.

    U2 have so many great songs that there is one or more for almost every occasion of life. Loss – Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, Love is Blindness. Joy – Three Sunrises, Beautiful Day. Anger – Bullet The Blue Sky, Sunday Bloody Sunday. Heartache – Acrobat, So Cruel. Spirituality – Until The End of The World, Bass Trap. The list goes on and on. Plus individual songs have meant different things at different times in life.

    Their music has been a wonderful companion through life, celebrated alone or with friends and loved ones.

    My favorite song is still 60 Seconds In Kingdom Come, an obscure b-side from The Unforgettable Fire sessions. To me, it sounds exultant like the best church music.

    Thanks for this entry to remind me of the great memories and for sharing your blog with us.

    Matthias — April 3, 2008 @ 7:07 am

  • After missing the tickets that sold out in minutes, I wore a tee shirt saying “I need U2 Tickets: Seattle-Vancouver.” for 2 months.

    It paid off. I saw U2 Vertigo Tour in the Key Arena in Seattle. To this day I call it the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in the United States. #2 is a Mountain Biking Trip to Moab i took this last October.

    (My parents used to live in Africa, and it has always been a mecca like destination for me. I’m certain I will get there someday.)

    Andrew — April 3, 2008 @ 10:17 am

  • I don’t have a story, but I have something that you can do to help that won’t cost you anything.

    As we all should know, Malaria is rampant in Africa. There is a distributed computing project called malaria@home ( that uses spare cpu cycles on your computer to model the transmission dynamics of malaria. These models can be used to determine optimal strategies for delivering mosquito nets, chemotherapy, or new vaccines which are currently under development and testing.

    The project is run by the Swiss Tropical Institute and again, is a totally free ( except for the electricity your computer uses) way to help.

    Please consider volunteering some cpu time to this project.

    stwainer — April 3, 2008 @ 10:20 am

  • Hopefully I’m not too late; family was visiting and internet time was curtailed.

    First time I saw U2 was on the Joshua Tree tour in Vancouver. I was a shooter for a daily paper in Edmonton and used that to wangle a photo pass, even though the paper would use an agency for any shots (and here I need to note that too many moves have hidden the shots – I need to dig them out some day). The photographers (and there were quite a few of us) got to stand on a sub stage for all of the Bodeans and Los Lobos and then the first three songs of U2′s set, and then back into the regular seats for the rest of the show. It was an incredible evening.

    On the 14 hour drive home two days later, I hit ice on a curve in the highway and hit the ditch sideways at about 90 km/h. Rolled 1.5 times and ended up on my roof with two women in the car I’d just met before the concert and was driving them home. The girl in front became my girlfriend for a short while, but then we lost touch. The girl in the back I lost touch with, and then reconnected through work a number of years later, and we still talk now and again.

    My only injuries were some cuts and bruises, including a touch of bone showing in a knuckle. The girlfriend-to-be was shaken up, and the other gal was hanging upside-down from a lap belt and rather freaked out, and it turned out she had some internal injuries and needed a two week hospital stay. Camera gear was scattered everywhere, but my main camera still worked when the EMS guys brought it to me. The only other thing I insisted they bring to me was the photo pass I had from the concert. Wouldn’t let the ambulance drive away until I got it.

    Still the best big stadium show I’ve seen, even if about once a year I flashback to that “Oh shit” and “Hang on, ladies,” followed by the thumping roll into the ditch.


    Derryl Murphy — April 7, 2008 @ 11:22 pm

  • I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of “In the Name of Love” – which is terrific – so please don’t send it to me; make sure someone else gets to enjoy it.

    My story is small, but I’m thrilled that it happened. I’m a newspaper reporter in Nashville, and in December 2002 I was scheduled to work a Sunday shift as part of a then-regular rotation among us city-desk scribes. Early that week, I read in the paper’s celebrity news column that Bono would be speaking at a predominantly black church in town as part of his efforts to raise awareness about AIDS in Africa. (This was the “Heart of America” tour.) I thought this was pretty clearly a story worth covering, even if I am a massive U2 fan and not especially objective about Bono’s activism, the way we journalists are supposed to be. Fortunately, my editors agreed, and I was good to go.

    Cut to that Friday or Saturday, when the same celebrity news column informed me that Bono had to cancel his Nashville appearance so he could get to some urgent U2 recording sessions (in New York, if I remember correctly; I’ve always wondered what song or songs from “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” they were working on that day). Subbing for him here in Music City? None other than Chris Tucker of “Rush Hour” fame.

    I really cursed my luck when I heard that news. I had been primed for an interview with Bono, even if only for a quick minute or two, even if a bunch of TV crews would be trying to elbow me out of the way. Now I would have to settle for a funny but much less inspiring comedian.

    So I covered the church service, which included some good remarks by Tucker and great, energetic dancing by some adorable children from Ghana. And afterward I got a quick one-on-one interview with Tucker in the back of an SUV, just before he and his handlers hustled off to Atlanta (where he’s from) or somewhere. Again, not what I was hoping for a few days earlier, but what can you do?

    But I still had a chance. Bono was coming back to Nashville the next day to make his case for funding AIDS-relief programs to a large group of health-care executives and non-profit leaders. I couldn’t cover that event (our health-care reporter was on it), but I had the day off after working Sunday, so I decided to drive over to the hotel and see if there might be an empty seat I could slide into at a table in the back of the ballroom. No, sorry, the nice woman at the sign-in table told me. But you never know, she said; someone might not show up. So I hung around, making sure she knew I was there. And before too much longer (and before Bono started speaking), that opening appeared and I got in the room.

    I was definitely at the back, but I could hear Bono loud and clear.

    Anonymous — April 9, 2008 @ 10:16 pm

  • Thanks for posting. bought the album thanks to you.

    cjl — April 12, 2008 @ 11:08 am

  • Senior yr of high school i totally got shut out of the 3-17-92 boston show – so when summer shows were announced – i ended up with horrid nosebleed foxboro obstructed view seats, 8-20-92. I wont bore you with the bootlegs i had collected back then (tons!) I ended up seeing a special needs section with the friend who drove me down. I think at the time you needed a credit card to buy tickets and i had to basically sell my soul to my mom to go to the show but it was beyond words. ALL of my friends the day after I got my U2 tickets told me to just shut up about it already, cuz they, you know weren’t as good as the big hair metal bands that everyone else was into. Saw them in 97 again at foxboro, saw 3 of 4 shows at the garden in 01 (and got some bootleg video from that run as well) still havent met the band, but it aint from a lack of trying. And yeah, I’d Love the cd.

    Uppity Disability — April 13, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  • “His native language”

    That would be French

    Herb Caudill — August 7, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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