Tmatt at Get Religion has a terrific post about U2, which includes his reminiscences about interviewing the band 22 years ago for a local paper. He links to a fascinating L.A. Times article that looks closely at U2's songwriting process:
"Songwriting comes from a different place," he [Bono] continues. "Music is the language of the spirit. I think ideas and words are our excuse as songwriters to allow our heart or our spirit to run free. That's when magic happens." ...
Bono and guitarist the Edge bring ideas into the studio -- a title, the trace of a melody or a catchy riff -- then bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen join in the actual construction of the songs. The grueling give and take sometimes stretches for weeks as the musicians toss ideas back and forth, equal partners in the search for an emotion that seems fresh and deeply rooted.
When the marathon sessions are going well, Mullen says, the rehearsal studio feels like a playground. When they're going badly, it feels like a boxing ring.
"We're tough guys," Clayton says. "We know we'll get there eventually. A lot of it is perspiration. You just have to put in the hours and do your time." The Edge is fond of repeating the band's private joke that it's "songwriting by accident."
I wonder what this means for how long the music will outlast the band itself. A good melody becomes a folk tune, passed around for centuries, and I suspect a lot of Beatles songs are headed that way. On the other hand, a lot of classical music has hung around quite a while relying on sound and mood without any particularly strong melodies. Will my grandchildren be interested if I tell them I saw U2 in the Oakland Coliseum in 1997? We'll see ...Posted by Camassia at August 20, 2004 01:48 PM | TrackBack