Freedom of Speech

On Tuesday, U2 released a new CD. Before you push away from your desk and bolt for the nearest record store, or fly over to the iTunes Store, know that it’s a collection of their singles. There are two new songs, one a collaboration with Green Day to benefit Music Rising. and the other new song is “Window in the Skies.”

Being the raving U2 fan that I am, I bought it Tuesday morning on iTunes and it came with a bonus “disc” of several live tracks from their Vertigo stop in Milano. It’s great. Not just the live tracks, but hearing the singles they’ve released over the years. Do you remember where you were when you first heard some of these songs that have become so much a part of our lives?

I was listening to KFOG on my way to work on Tuesday morning and Matt Nathanson was on as a guest host of their morning show. He told a story about The Dixie Chicks’ movie. We all know about the controversial comment that Natalie Maines made, but regardless of what side of the aisle you sit, making death threats to someone is no way to deal with an opinion you don’t agree with.

Where is this coming from in a post that seemed to be about U2? Having just downloaded U218, I had U2 on the brain and so when Matt Nathanson talked about death threats, I thought of a story that I didn’t hear until U2’s induction to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

As Bono talks about each member of the band in a series of vignettes described as “Kodak Moments,” he gets to Adam Clayton and tells this story:

“Third Kodak moment. 1987. Somewhere in the south. We’d been campaigning for Dr. King, for his birthday to become a national holiday. In Arizona, they are saying no. We’re campaigning very hard for Dr. King. Some people don’t like it. Some people get very annoyed. Some people want to kill us. Some people are taken very seriously by the FBI. They tell the singer that he shouldn’t play the gig because tonight his life is at risk, and he must not go on stage. And the singer laughs. Of course we’re playing the gig. Of course we go onstage, and I’m singing “Pride (In the Name of Love)” — the third verse — and I close my eyes. And you know, I’m excited about meeting my maker, but maybe not tonight. I don’t really want to meet my maker tonight. I close my eyes and when I look up I see Adam Clayton standing in front of me, holding his bass as only Adam Clayton can hold his bass. There are people in this room who’d tell you they’d take a bullet for you, but Adam Clayton would have taken a bullet for me. I guess that’s what its like to be in a truly great rock and roll band.”

In this day and age, when The Dixie Chicks and Michael Richards can be a barometer for where we still are as a country, the synchronicity of the stories can’t be overlooked. This band that I’m not along in my love for, is still not afraid to represent those who can’t represent themselves. One of the themes that has followed with them through all their years is the idea of love and equality winning out. Whether it’s “F*** the Revolution” or “COEXIST” or Product Red or the One Campaign, the band actively lives out the words of their sometimes idealistic songs.

And while I believe the freedom of speech this country grants us protects Natalie Maines and Michael Richards the same, and allows other people to exploit the internet to cast a poor light on a hero like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., you can make a difference by clicking the links below in an attempt to Google bomb the hatred.

Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King

Buy the CD too, if for nothing else but the amazing live performances of “Miss Sarajevo,” “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” and the song that’s become my favorite live song to come off of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, “City of Blinding Lights.”

And while this will be the last time I will ever compare the Dixie Chicks to U2, give “Not Ready to Make Nice” a listen, because it’s pretty close to brilliant.

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  1. Hi! I work with the ONE Campaign and I just came across your blog,where I saw your post on Bono, and I wanted to say thanks for mentioning ONE. I also wanted to see if it might be possible for ONE to add your blog to our list of supporters? We’re currently in the process of updating and restructuring our blog page and we would love to add yours to our list as one of our supporters. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have, at: Thanks again for your support, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    Meagan McManus
    The ONE Campaign

  2. I probably won’t rush out and buy the U2 album, although I agree with alot of what you said, they truly turn their message into practice. I bought the ‘how to dismantle…’ album a while ago, I haven’t quite learned to appreciate it that much. I love ‘all that you can’t…”. But this last one(atomic bomb) leaves me thinking, “come on, they can do better than that.”

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