After my having just wrote my recent iParody, wherein I jokingly referred to Apple CEO Time Cook as “worshipful master”, I almost fell out of my chair today when I heard Bono call Cook “zen master” during their awkward onstage presentation of the new U2 album “Songs of Innocence”, which was (oh so altruistically) “given away free” (or conversely, spammed to, without wanting it) half a billion iTunes subscribers yesterday, in what ultimately has to be one of the lamest corporate/celebrity stunts yet. (I suppose the similar release of the “U2 iPod” ten years ago would still be in the top ten…)
But ok. Since Bono & Co. apparently have absolutely no shame in their willingness to be used as props of propaganda by the iLITES, I can’t feel much shame either about jumping on the bandwagon and pointing out not only the overall hokeyness and tone of desperation such a move conveys, but also of course the deeper, spiritual messages embedded in all of it. Sure, Bono is being “playful” when he bows to Cook and calls him “Zen master”, and makes the comment about “we are the blood in your machines”, but the joking merely a way of glazing over the incredible degree to which all involved parties really believe such concepts to be true. That’s when these kinds of statements can be recognized to be quite prophetic, or creepy, or both.
U2’s monistic spiritual themes aren’t particularly hard to flesh out, but I suppose that’s part of why it’s so disconcerting when you think about the fact that they have long been one of those few, rare groups who have managed to pass themselves off to a good many Christian music fan as being vaguely in line with a Biblical message. In some ways they have been some of the most central icons for the “Emergent Church” generation, who have very much embraced the idea of being “relevant” through social action, enthusiastically embracing/trusting technology, and “inclusive” spirituality.
But is it just a message of run-of-the-mill, worldly relativism, or is there perhaps something more going on? What’s up with all the sun worship symbolism? This new microphone gimmick of Bono’s is quite interesting, to say the least. This new album is supposed to contain songs which by and large talk about significant moments from the band member’s pasts and childhoods, yet much of the lyrics (like most of their material) leaves plenty of room for many levels of interpretation. The song “This is where you can reach me” is supposed to inspired by the time the band saw the Clash play back in 1977, yet I was hard-pressed to find any lines in the song that really made any logical connection to that topic at all, but instead contains lines like:
“We come from an ancient place
Beyond what we can see
We’ve come to colonise your night
And steal your poetry”
I dunno. I honestly can’t figure out if Bono/U2’s obsession with trying to associate themselves with 70’s punk bands like the Clash and the Ramones is really just them being nostalgic about their own rock ‘n roll idols as teenagers, or if there’s something more to it than just that. Maybe it’s just a way of trying to re-inject some edginess back into a band brand that is still trying to do all it can in it’s role as prophets for the New World Order. Bono doesn’t seem ready to retire his sunglasses just yet. (Perhaps he thinks he’s gonna need them for when the sun-god finally rises again…?) Either way, all I know for sure is that I don’t want their “blood” in my “machines”…