Category: U2

Marking Supreme Court's Arizona ruling with songs about immigrants

Woody Guthrie
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of  Arizona's strict law targeting illegal immigrants. When Arizona's SB 1070 passed in 2010, many Latino songwriters in particular used their music to rail against it. But musicians have been singing about the struggles of immigrants ever since the first troubadour packed up his lyre and wandered to the next town over. In light of this latest ruling, here are five great songs about immigration that are worth revisiting. 

Ry Cooder, "Quicksand"

For decades, Cooder has written blues-rock at the junction of L.A.'s Anglo and Latino cultures. "Quicksand" is one of his most vivid character sketches about a harrowing border crossing.

Rage Against the Machine: " Without a Face"

The Angeleno icons have long worked radical politics into their searing noise-funk. This song is one of the band's most affecting, with a spare breakbeat giving way to pure fury that evokes the loneliness and de-humanization depicted in Zack de la Rocha's rhymes. 

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Bono's investment firm rocks Facebook IPO to the tune of $1.5 billion

Bono U2
Bono, U2's lead singer and rocker-in-chief, has a reason to break out in song today: his investment in Facebook could make him one of the richest musicians on the planet, potentially eclipsing Paul McCartney, depending on how the social network's stock performs after its first day of trading Friday.

The musician, however, demurred when asked about how Facebook would affect his net worth. "Contrary to reports, I'm not a billionaire or going to be richer than any Beatle," he told MSNBC during an interview Friday about a food shortage in Africa.

Facebook's stock gained 23 cents and closed at $38.23 Friday, giving the company a $104.6 billion valuation.

Bono's investment in Facebook resulted from his role as a founder of Elevation Partners, a Silicon Valley venture firm that owns 2.3% of the stock, worth more than $1.5 billion, according to the Times' Technology blog. It's unclear how much of Elevation's stake in Facebook can be apportioned to Bono, who struck a humble note in his interview.

"In Elevation, we invest other people's money — endowments, pension funds," he said. "We do get paid, of course. But you know, I felt rich when I was 20 years old and my wife was paying my bills. Just being in a band, I’ve always felt blessed."

We're reminded of Bono's lyrics on "God: Part II" off of Rattle & Hum, released in 1988:

Don't believe in excess

Success is to give

Don't believe in riches

But you should see where I live

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Facebook close to being a $100-billion company

Facebook underwriters prop up stock as shares near break-even

Senators want to prevent Facebook co-founder from dodging taxes

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Bono at a 2005 U2 concert in San Diego. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

U2 is tops again in concert and music-sales revenue

The Irish band tops Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga for concert and music-sales revenues.

Bono-U2
Demonstrating that there's no substitute for the live concert experience, U2 has once again taken the crown in Calendar's annual Ultimate Top 10, a ranking that combines concert revenue with sales of recorded music.

U2 amassed $160.8 million for 2011, well ahead of runner-up Taylor Swift, whose combined earnings came to $126.8 million. Lady Gaga was the only other act to top $100 million, posting $109.4 million to place third. Country music road warrior Kenny Chesney landed in fourth place with $98.5 million. The year's blockbuster album and singles sales champ, Adele, pulled in at fifth place with $92.8 million, a figure that certainly would have been higher if vocal cord problems hadn't forced her to cancel big chunks of her 2011 tour itinerary.

Figures are drawn from Pollstar's recently published tallies of North American box office revenues and Nielsen SoundScan's tracking of retail music sales in the U.S. The Ultimate Top 10 uses figures from North America because they are tracked more reliably than in many other parts of the world. But most of these musicians pulled in even more than these totals with ever-expanding ancillary income sources such as tour merchandise, product endorsements, video game sales, ring tones and clothing and jewelry lines.

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U2, Taylor Swift have highest-grossing concert tours of 2011

U2 has highest-grossing concert tour of 2011. In North America, Taylor Swift is second, followed by Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi.

Taylor Swift, Bono
U2's final spate of shows on its massive “360 Tour” lands as the top-grossing tour of 2011 across North America and throughout the world, according to Pollstar, the concert-industry tracking magazine.

The Irish quartet, which had to postpone a significant chunk of shows that had been scheduled in 2010 when singer Bono injured his back, roared back in 2011, pulling in $156 million from 25 shows in 21 cities in North America. Worldwide the group logged $231.9 million from 34 shows in 26 cities.

U2 was the only act to cross the $100-million mark in North America, but pop-country princess Taylor Swift came close with$97.7 million for her “Speak Now” tour, which visited 59 cities for 80 performances.

PHOTOS: Top 10 concert tours of 2011

The rest of the Top 5 for the continent are country superstar Kenny Chesney, who grossed $84.6 million, Lady Gaga ($63.7 million) and the previous year's touring crown winner Bon Jovi. The New Jersey rock band registered $57.1 million during 34 shows in 27 cities, down from $108.2 million in 2010 racked up during a more intensive year of touring that logged 51 shows in 38 cities.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Elton John ($51.8 million), Sade ($48.6 million), Kanye West and Jay-Z's “The Throne” tour ($48.3 million), Lil Wayne ($44.4 million) and Celine Dion ($41.2 million).
Overall Pollstar's preliminary figures for the Top 25 tours showed total gross ticket revenue of $1.19 billion, down about 4% from the $1.24 billion tallied in 2010 in North America. Worldwide, the figures were nearly identical year to year at $2.1 billion.

“Although the overall dollar volume was down in 2011, the industry fared much better doing fewer shows and taking a more cautious approach in its objectives,” Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said in a statement issued along with the revenue figures. Pollstar's complete report on the Top 200 tours of the year is scheduled to be released Jan. 5.

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Davis Guggenheim talks U2's 'Achtung Baby' documentary

FromTheSkyDown_MVI_1531_001
More than two decades ago, the Irish rockers U2 were at one of their early peaks with their fifth album, “The Joshua Tree.” Though they followed with “Rattle and Hum” a year later, the less than steller reception of the accompanying documentary left U2 members raw, and for a band already at a breaking point creatively and personally, it could have been the end. Instead, they ran off to a studio in Germany and went about reinventing and repairing themselves.

The end result was the critically acclaimed “Achtung Baby.”

With the 20th anniversary of the disc approaching, the band allowed Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “It Might Get Loud” and “Waiting for ‘Superman’ ”) to trace the making of the album for the documentary “From the Sky Down," which opened the Toronto International Film Festival and will premiere on Showtime on Saturday.

The film looks back at the album that U2 frontman Bono called “the pivot point where we were either going forward, or [the] moment to implode.”

Pop & Hiss chatted with Guggenheim  to discuss what he learned from the five months he trailed the band, which included seeing U2's blockbuster 360 Tour 10 times.

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Tom Petty & Heartbreakers add second show for KCSN-FM benefit* (Updated)

Tom Petty Tom Petty

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers will play a second small-scale show this weekend at a 500-seat theater in Northridge as a benefit for public radio station KCSN-FM (88.5).

“The reaction has been insane,” KCSN program director Sky Daniels told Pop & Hiss over the weekend, referring to the initial Oct. 29 show Petty and the band announced last week as a fundraiser during the station’s fall pledge drive. Pairs of tickets were being offered to callers who pledged $150 or more during random “cue to call” announcements on the air. “30 callers for every pair [from] all over the globe," Daniels wrote in an e-mail. "People are pledging from Norway, Canada, Boston, Orlando, etc. -- all willing to fly here to see Tom in this small setting.”

Update Oct. 25 at 12:37 p.m: An earlier version of this post gave the date of the first Tom Petty show as Oct. 28. It is Saturday, Oct. 29.

The second show will take place Oct. 30 in the 500-seat Performance Theater at Cal State Northridge. Tickets for the second show were largely distributed over the weekend during additional “cue to call” announcements, but orchestra pit tickets will continue to be available via an auction  running through 5 p.m. Tuesday on the station’s website.

“For them to selflessly want to perform this show speaks volumes for their love of music, and their willingness to support KCSN's effort to build a radio station devoted to breaking new artists, supporting local artists and respecting great legacy artists,” Daniels said in a statement. “Tom and the Heartbreakers recognized the overwhelming demand and wanted to give more fans a chance to see them in this intimate hall, as well as help KCSN and public radio."

In addition to the Petty concerts, KCSN's pledge drive is auctioning off autographed guitars signed by superstar acts including U2, Mick Jagger, Coldplay, Bob Seger, Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge.

RELATED:

Tiny KCSN attracts rock's A-list

Tom Petty on lending a hand to underdog radio station KCSN-FM

Tom Petty's got his 'Mojo' working

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Tom Petty during a 2008 performance with the Heartbreakers at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Los Angeles Times. 

Live: Bill Clinton's 'Decade of Difference' party at Hollywood Bowl

Former President Clinton takes the stage during the "Decade of Difference" concert Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl

This post has been corrected. Please go to the bottom for details.

Saturday was likely the first time in pop music history that a performer made a pass at a former president and his secretary of State spouse at a live concert.

“I just love you and your hot wife,” Lady Gaga said, writhing like a breathy, smitten Marilyn Monroe on the Hollywood Bowl stage mere feet from Bill Clinton, his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,  and their daughter, Chelsea. Gaga described her life as a screwy embodiment of the American dream in eyebrow-raising language, and she praised the Clintons by promising that “tonight, I thought we’d all get caught up in a little Bill romance.”

And with that she bucked into a Clinton-specific take on “Bad Romance” that left the full house at the Bowl wondering whether this concert celebrating 10 years of the Clinton Foundation’s work to fight disease, poverty and violence had just been scandalized.

PHOTOS: 10th anniversary of the Clinton Global Initiative

The concert, “A Decade of Difference,” doubled as Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday party and brought out a group of activism-inclined singers to fete the initiative and a former president currently on an unexpected tide of nostalgia, based largely on the foundation’s work abroad on a variety of economic and political justice issues and its efforts at combating disease.

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Abbey Road Studios announces online mixing service

Beatles-Abbey Road 
The phrase “Mixed at Abbey Road Studios, London” is no longer the exclusive domain of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, U2, Radiohead, Lady Gaga and other superstar acts that have worked at the famed facility.

The studio has now launched an online service where anyone willing to pay a fee can upload tracks and Abbey Road engineers will start mixing away, with a promised delivery of finished mixes via download within 10 days. Prices start at about $800 U.S. for recordings with one to 24 tracks, and about $1,200 for 25 to 48 tracks. A similar online mastering service also is being offered, with prices starting around $140 per song.

“The online mixing service offers a more accessible alternative to working personally at Abbey Road Studios, providing musicians and producers all over the world with the engineering excellence that makes us the perfect venue for mixing your song,” according to the studio’s website description of the service that launched in August.

Potential clients are also told they’ll have their input in the mixing process, even though they won’t be working in real time with the engineers.

“As our engineers won’t be working with you in person, it’s important for us to gather as much information as possible about how you’d like your song to sound. So please send us your ideas, i.e. ‘I’d really like this to sound like a Pixies song,’ or ‘I’d really like this to sound like a Pixie Lott song,’ ‘give it a long fadeout,’ ‘the vocal needs a slap back echo’ etc.,” the website states.

Customers also get one revision included in the mixing price if they aren’t completely happy with the engineer’s first attempt. Full details on the process are available at the Abbey Road Studios website.

In all likelihood, the move stems from financial problems the studio has been facing from competitors and the rise of home recording technology in recent years, despite its vaunted history and famous clientele. Last year, there was considerable specualtion that the EMI Group, which owns Abbey Road, was considering putting the studio operation up for sale to help ease its own financial troubles. But public outcry at the prospect prompted EMI to back away and issue a statement assuring the public that the historic site was not going on the auction block.

As for aspiring musicians looking for a prestigious studio imprint on their own recordings, Memphis, Tenn.’s fabled Sun Studio, which gave Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and many others their starts, also is available to anyone who wants to make a record there. It costs $100 an hour.

Think of it: You could have a record stamped with "Recorded at Sun Studio, Memphis; mixed at Abbey Road Studios, London.” At that point, who’d care whether it was a hit?

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-- Randy Lewis

Photo of the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album cover. Credit: EMI / Capitol Records.

Lady Gaga, Usher, Bono to play Clinton Foundation concert

Gaga_usher_bono

Lady Gaga, U2's Bono and the Edge and Usher are the first performers tapped to celebrate the 10th anniversary of former President Clinton's foundation with a concert.

Clinton's foundation has teamed up with Yahoo! for the show, called the “A Decade of Difference: A Concert Celebrating 10 Years of the William J. Clinton Foundation,” which is set for Oct. 15 at the Hollywood Bowl. The event will gather "the most influential and socially responsible artists in music, film, and television," with more artists expected to be announced.

“In the past decade, commitments to my Clinton Global Initiative have improved the lives of more than 300 million people around the world," Clinton said in a statement. "We’ve lowered the cost of AIDS and HIV treatment, combated climate change, strengthened economies, increased access to education and healthcare, provided financing and mentoring for small businesses. This celebration marks ten years of these efforts and demonstrates how much we can do to make a difference in the years ahead.”

Yahoo! will stream the concert live and feature highlights and interviews with the artists and other guests during and after the event.  

Pre-sale tickets through Ticketmaster are up for grabs starting Thursday, and tickets will go on sale to the general public starting Monday. Prices range from $62.70 to $273.62 (including fees).

More information on the concert can be found at clintonconcert.com.

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-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

twitter.com/gerrickkennedy

Photos: (From left) Lady Gaga, Bono, Usher. Credit: Los Angeles Times file photos.

Former Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn speaks -- and spins -- on KCSN-FM show

Robert Hilburn and Keith Richards 
Former L.A. Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn will launch his new weekly radio show on KCSN-FM (88.5) on Sunday at 6 p.m. with a program of musical discovery.

The initial "Rock n Roll Times with Robert Hilburn" show will highlight artists who either sparked Hilburn’s passion for music early on or for whom, during nearly four decades covering pop music for The Times, he became an early advocate.

“The first song I'm going to play is ‘Baby, Let's Play House’ by Elvis,” Hilburn told me this week. “It's the record that made me fall in love with rock enough to write about it for 35 years at The Times.... I was getting ready to go to school at high school one morning when I heard it and wham: the youthful voice, the independence, the sense of freedom, the great guitar licks by Scotty Moore.”

Robert Hilburn portrait-LAT From there he plans to take listeners along to revisit what he describes as “favorite moments of discovery: the first night on the job (as a full-time pop critic) ... seeing Kris Kristofferson and thinking he was a modern, young Hank Williams. Then two months later seeing Elton John and thinking he could be the biggest pop star in the world, then a year later John Prine and thinking he was going to be the next Dylan (smile). Well, he did become a great, great writer.”

Other artists he’ll cover include Emmylou Harris, Al Green, Public Enemy, Kanye West, White Stripes and — to the surprise of no one who encountered his many references to the two acts he probably championed more than any others over the years — Bruce Springsteen and U2.

Since retiring from The Times in 2006, Hilburn has been focusing on writing books. His first, “Corn Flakes With John Lennon (And Other Tales from a Rock ‘N’ Roll Life),” was published in 2009, and now he’s researching a cultural biography of Johnny Cash. The first batch of shows will be prerecorded to accommodate his research, but eventually he said he hopes to do some live and take listener requests.

On the appeal of taking on the radio show, he said, “One of my great frustrations for 35 years at the paper was the fact I couldn't play a record for the reader when I was writing about an artist.

“How can you describe the beauty of Emmylou Harris' voice without hearing it, the sensual lilt of a Duane Allman guitar solo without actually hearing it or the growl of Johnny Rotten without hearing it?" he said. "With the Internet today, it is possible to do some mixed media things where you can write about an artist and link to a song or video by that artist. But that was unheard of in the  years I was at the paper. So I secretly yearned to have a radio show.”

In future shows, Hilburn said he plans to highlight artists who he thinks have been underappreciated, such as David Bowie ("Lady Gaga with real songs and an original persona"), to spotlight albums shelved or long delayed by record companies, great songs from the disco era and "the 10 songs that established rap as an art form."

Hilburn's show is part of an expansion of the Cal State Northridge-based station's adult album alternative (AAA) format under new program director Sky Daniels, who also has brought in former KCRW-FM deejay and music director Nic Harcourt, whose new show launches Saturday at 3 p.m., and another former Times staffer, Kevin Bronson, who brings his Buzz Bands column-turned-blog highlighting local music to KCSN on Sundays from midnight to 1 a.m. Monday.

“The idea is to have fun, but celebrate musical excellence,” Hilburn said, “in all styles of music, all generations. I want to reach listeners who went through the last 40 years of music with me and those who are curious about the music that changed the culture.”

RELATED:

KCSN to air 'smart rock'

Nic Harcourt: KCRW misrepresented my departure

In My Life: Robert Hilburn's 'Corn Flakes With John Lennon'

-- Randy Lewis

Photos, from top: Robert Hilburn interviewing Rolling Stones guitarist and songwriter Keith Richards. (credit: RobertHilburnonline.com); Hilburn in later years (Los Angeles Times).

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