I don’t bow down to Bono’s every move like a lot of people I know. It actually took me seeing the Elevation 2001 / Live From Boston DVD before I even considered myself an actual fan. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor.
Earlier today, I read the U2 interview in the March 19, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone, and the following section really got my attention.
Bono, in response to No Line On The Horizon co-producer Brian Eno’s approach to picking songs for albums, discusses the importance of purposefully working on a big hit.
“We grew up on the rock & roll 45. It is, in an evolutionary way that Brian should, but doesn’t, appreciate, the Darwinian peak of the species. It is by far the most difficult thing to pull off, and it is the very life force of rock & roll: vitality, succinctness and catchiness, whether it’s the Sex Pistols, Nirvana, the Pixies, the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones.”
Bono continues, “And when rock music forgets about the 45, it tends toward progressive rock, which is like a mold that grows on old, burned-out artists who’ve run out of ideas. We have a soundtrack/Pink Floyd side of our band, and it has to be balanced by fine songwriting. And it’s an infuriating thing for me to see indie rock & roll give up the single to R&B and hip-hop. And that’s why I love the Kings of Leon album or the Killers album: These are people who have such belief in their musical power that they refuse to ghettoize it.”
I understand that balancing a respectable art, with putting food on the table, is a high-wire act that never ends. But how often do artists simply go the “respectable art” route and never make a dent? I’m not saying that said artists are purposefully trying to not have a hit, but there is a stigma when it comes to “this is the radio song of the album.”
Risks must be taken. Don’t be so quick to sacrifice that song. And more than anything else, be proud of whatever you decide to share with the public.