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Ztunes: U2 and iTunes

By Sarah Zerwin in Arts & Culture

Recently, every single iTunes user, that’s all 885 million of them, got U2’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence,” for free. According to Apple, “This is the biggest album release in music history.”

In fact, this free gift to iTunes customers is the only way to acquire the album until October 13.

The presumption that they would want this album mysteriously showing up on their iPhone annoyed some iTunes customers. To this, Bono responded in a recent exclusive interview with Irish Radio DJ Dave Fanning, “The same people who used to write on toilet walls when we were kids are now in the blogosphere. The blogosphere is enough to put you off of democracy [laughs]. But no, let people have their say. Why not? They're the haters, we're the lovers, we're never going to agree.”

And yes, the world seems to be divided into the haters and lovers of U2. Which is why I think this unprecedented album release is pure genius. Bono himself explains why (again from the Fanning interview): People really who would not ordinarily be exposed to our music have a chance to listen to it. Whether they hold that to their hearts, we don't know. Whether those songs will be important to them in a week's time, we don't know. But they have a chance, and that's gotta be exciting for a band that's been around as long as we have. Of course, it’s exciting for U2 to imagine that people who would not ever consider purchasing the album are now listening to it. Some of those people will like it, even love it. And it’s those U2 lovers who make the band so successful.

See, U2 fans are die hards.

They drop huge amounts of money on U2 concert tickets.

I know because I’m one of them.

I started listening to U2 in middle school. I own every album. I’ve attended every concert tour since Joshua Tree. That makes six times I’ve seen U2 in concert: Denver, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Denver. As a teenager, I legitimately mourned the fact that I had missed the “Sunday Bloody Sunday” performance at Red Rocks; I was only ten years old at the time, too young to know what I was missing. On bad days in high school, I carried the cassette of “Unforgettable Fire” around in my pocket--not even in my Walkman. I had no way to listen to it. Just knowing the music was on my person seemed to make everything okay.

That first U2 concert was epic for me. I was in ninth grade and U2 was larger than life in my world. I had been to a few other concerts but nothing this huge. The Steve Miller Band at Red Rocks (with my best friend’s nun aunt as our chaperone) was a great way to start my concert going experiences, but that was a far cry from the energy and intensity and huge rock band atmosphere of that Joshua Tree tour show. I bounced up and down for the entire show, screaming along because, of course, I knew every lyric.

To be truthful, U2’s glow has faded for me in my adulthood. I don’t listen to the music often. At the last few concerts, I’ve hoped to have tickets somewhere in the stadium where I can sit and still see the stage rather than having to stand for the whole show--my 14-year old self would be so disappointed.

But I will of course snag tickets the exact moment they are released for sale whenever U2 comes back through town on their next tour. I’ll have to be quick to get the tickets because I’ll be competing with all those new U2 fans cultivated by this unprecedented album release.

This time, I’ll take my kid along to the concert, too.

And if Bono and The Edge and Larry and Adam walked into the room, the 14-year-old version of me would take over.

I’d be the one who just fainted on the floor.

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