Art in U2 : Roy Lichtenstein *

September 26, 2003


By Kathleen Barnes

2003.09

The arrival of Pop in 1997 and the subsequent Popmart tour created new design challenges for U2 and their creative team. With the pop art motif created by Dublin

Analysis : Images in U2 : Fire and Ice *

September 25, 2003


by Kimberly "hippy" Egolf

2003.09


(Photo: U2.com)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice

- Robert Frost, "Fire and Ice"

"Fire and Ice" is perhaps one of Robert Frost’s most famous, and most quoted, poems. It is nearly impossible, short of an interview with Bono himself, to tell if he had read this poem early in his writing career; but, from the songs we’ll explore this month, I hope it becomes apparent that the words in Frost’s poem hold great significance (whether Bono realizes it or not) for Bono’s lyrics.

Fire and ice are two of the basic elements believed, since the beginning of human history, to compose everything found in the world. As Frost suggests, these two elements have also been marked as the most deadly, able to rapidly consume and destroy. According to mythology, the gods never even intended for humans to have fire, keeping it isolated on Mount Olympus until Prometheus stole it and brought it, for good and evil, to the human race. Of course, until the twentieth century humans also couldn’t control ice. And even though we now have some measure of control over these elements, they are still very powerful tools of destruction. Think of global warming and the possibility of continents being flooded or think of forest fires which blaze out of control and you can see how these elements can quickly elude our grasp.

These two elements are also opposites. They rarely exist together. As fire melts ice and ice quenches fire, the two seem mutually exclusive. Yet they often appear in literature (and lyrics) as a pair, as complements to each other. The first time we see Bono using this conceit is on the October album. "Fire" is a frantically paced song full of apocalyptic imagery. Bono speaks of the "sun burning black" and the "stars… falling down." The song speaks of a world in turmoil. But Bono also speaks of the "fire inside," which seems to contrast with the fire of the world outside. Given the history of the October album (discussed in some of my earlier columns and in most biographies of the band), it is reasonable to assume that this "fire inside" is Bono’s faith which consumes him just as the world around him is being consumed by earthly fire.

This intense, consuming passion is balanced by the title track: "October." After the frantic pace of "Fire," "October" is as soothing as a lullaby. The simple piano plays and then the soft lyrics come in, with their assurance of faith even though "kingdoms rise/ and… fall." The passion of "Fire" has been blanketed by the ice of winter. And that burning faith of the earlier song has settled into a calm assurance that faith will survive all the turmoil in the world.

Fire and ice imagery comes up again a few years later in the song "The Unforgettable Fire." The first word of the song is "ice": a direct contrast to the "fire" in the title. As many U2 fans will already know, "The Unforgettable Fire" was an exhibition of artwork inspired by the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. U2 had a chance to view this art exhibit while on tour in the United States. The exhibition had such an effect on them that they wrote a song inspired by it, not to mention titled the album after it. Though the images of the song are just a violent as those in "Fire," the music betrays this violence. While the lyrics speak of a carnival (traditionally a place where everything you know is literally and figuratively turned on its head) and mountains crumbling into the sea, the music itself echoes that of "October," lulling us into a sense of peace and security. As with the earlier songs, "The Unforgettable Fire" presents an image of violence (fire) remedied with ice. The dangerously passionate faith is replaced with a calm assurance that "you go on."

Though ice seems to calm the fires in these instances, it is important to remember that ice has its own deadly power. So how will the world end, in fire or in ice?

Book Review : Willam Burroughs’

September 20, 2003


By Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Author: William Burroughs
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc

Update : Kite Publishing *

September 19, 2003


"Who’s to Say Where the Wind Will Take You"
by Karin Wagenaar

Kite Publishing was started a year ago to publish our first book,

Experience : Rock

September 19, 2003


by Devlin Smith

Jim Morrison was a Cub Scout, that

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