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Old 10-08-2008, 07:00 PM   #1
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U2 by U2: another mistake of the 2000's?

I've recently come to the conclusion that U2 by U2 is mainly crap. For a band still relevant and in the mainstream and whose story isn't yet finished, is a book like this not a little premature?

I bought the book right when it came out and was first excited to see the format copied from The Beatles Anthology. The only difference between the Beatles book and U2 by U2 is that the Beatles Anthology is actually interesting.

If I'm gonna nitpick, they don't even know their own history at times! I love the part where edge says that Acrobat never became a live favorite....ummm...is that because it was never played live?

Another annoyance of the book is the fact that U2 seem like they have a self esteem issue about anything POP related. Rather than tell anything insightful or even interesting, most of U2's comments about this era are "it was a good idea that never really became a great song."

U2 At The End of the World was a great book, full of interesting, fun stories but mixed with the serious side of U2. I think U2 by U2 shows a pretty dry, boring version of U2.

What could have saved this book?

Time--U2's story is not complete. Maybe if they'd waited a few years...I mean, how can you put an album that's only been out a couple of years into perspective?

Interviews-- They should have included the people who've made U2 who they are, such as Willie Williams, Eno, Lanios, Flood, Lillywhite...heck I would even love to hear Thomas's take on recording with U2 for HTDAAB. This in and of itself would have given the book a much greater perspective and allowed some outside opinion; much like the Beatles Anthology included George Martin, Derek Taylor...etc. Their perspectives are as much fun to read as those of the actual band members.

Anyway, time for me to shelve U2 by U2...hopefully in 10 years there will be a revised edition that includes the many "5th members" of U2.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:05 PM   #2
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Ahh... it sounds to me like you are simply looking for faults in the book.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:11 PM   #3
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Ahh... it sounds to me like you are simply looking for faults in the book.
No, I tried to like it...I bought it the day it came out and it's been read cover to cover...I just finally come to the conclusion that, in my opinion, it's crap.

They've lived such fascinating lives...this book is like the watered down, semi-history... For comparison, read The Beatles Anthology(the format that U2 copied for their book). The good, bad and ugly was included, and it made the read much more interesting.

As I already said, U2 at the End of the World gave much better insight into the history, psychology, and personality of the band members.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:25 PM   #4
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I think U2 by U2 is a great, holy grail type book for some people while for others it is a mixed bag or less. In the end, that's because people wanted different things. The original poster wanted better stories like those found in previous books. I personally wanted more behind the scenes information of albums and songs.

What you end up getting is a biography with some revisionist history which in the end is what most autobiographies end up having. In my opinion, that's not very good reading because Bono is the only member interesting enough for a biography.

The music and the influences are what is really interesting. The most disappointing thing about the book for me was how little they actually talked about the making of the albums and songs. I don't think you can put that on the band. The questions and ques were pretty boring based on the responses.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
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I found U2 by U2 very interesting. I read it in a few days.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:44 PM   #6
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I think U2 by U2 is a great, holy grail type book for some people while for others it is a mixed bag or less. In the end, that's because people wanted different things. The original poster wanted better stories like those found in previous books. I personally wanted more behind the scenes information of albums and songs.

What you end up getting is a biography with some revisionist history which in the end is what most autobiographies end up having. In my opinion, that's not very good reading because Bono is the only member interesting enough for a biography.

The music and the influences are what is really interesting. The most disappointing thing about the book for me was how little they actually talked about the making of the albums and songs. I don't think you can put that on the band. The questions and ques were pretty boring based on the responses.
You said it better than I was able to put it...my sentiments exactly.

I wanted those behind the scenes type things...I would have loved to hear the perspective of producers and those in U2's inner circle. And yes, I also would have like to hear a bit more of the "darker side" the boozing period where they were hangin with supermodels and presidents alike.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:58 PM   #7
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I very much enjoyed it. It wasn't particularly dark, nor was it highly critical of the band's work, but I find hearing about their spiritual life and inspiration for writing the songs very interesting. That's just me. Like Screwtape2 said, it's all about what you came in wanting/expecting that will dictate your opinion of the book.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:05 PM   #8
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I like it mostly the way it is. It would be boring if they just talked about how they made the albums and I'm glad they didn't get into too much technical detail with how they do that stuff. And, if they talked to other people that work(ed) with the band, the it wouldn't be U2 by U2, would it? If you want people other than the band talking about different things, then you should read U2 Show.

I think they put out the book (and U2 18) in 2006 rather than later was because it was their 30th anniversary of becoming a band. That's a pretty good point to stop and reflect a little, if you ask me. And I don't get why some people are so disappointed that there's not more "dirt." We're talking about U2, you know; they aren't exactly known for that kind of thing and probably wouldn't want to reveal anything shocking while they're still a band.

As LemonMelon stated, I also enjoyed reading about their spirituality and the meanings of songs from the band members themselves.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:11 PM   #9
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I think the problem is that they seemed to have a disproportionate amount of content for each era.

Not enough 90's content.

U2 76-86 seems to be the entire first half of the book, while the second half is 86-05
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:21 PM   #10
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Uhm, U2 by U2 was great. The book about them released in 1987 called Unforgettable Fire was too soon and kind of crap and really premature.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:50 PM   #11
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I very much enjoyed it. It wasn't particularly dark, nor was it highly critical of the band's work, but I find hearing about their spiritual life and inspiration for writing the songs very interesting. That's just me. Like Screwtape2 said, it's all about what you came in wanting/expecting that will dictate your opinion of the book.

I agree here. I think what went into their telling of their story was what is important to them, not necessarily everyone else. Maybe those "dark" times they don't find as meaningful to themselves, but it's the "spiritual" stuff that they felt was important to their story.
And I liked all the pretty pictures.
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:45 AM   #12
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U2 by U2 is a U2 autobiography, it's the band telling their story. There are other books who give "behind the scenes" look or that are about the people and production surrounding U2, their albums and their concerts. This one is a more intimate book and focuses on the history of the band as seen by the band. It's a great, beautiful, insightful, also funny book and it's exactly what I expected it to be. I also found it very sincere. Just because they say something in the book that doesn't fit someone's opinion - e. g. about Pop - it doesn't mean they shouldn't say it that way, because that's obviously how they feel about it. The book isn't bad just because your expectations were different or because you wanted U2 to say other things, it's not the book's fault.
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:03 AM   #13
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I don't think U2 by U2's a mistake, I think its a great read, one of the very best books on the band, up there with End of the World and U2 Live. For a band so reluctant to discuss the past, I found it fascinating.

For years Bono was unable to really appreciate the work they did in the eighties, feeling that the lyrics were half-baked or that he was singing in too high a key and sounded like a girl, he's finally been able to put all that to rest and see its strengths and I think he is really proud of that whole era now. Its also great to hear his thoughts on the songs he wrote when he was a much younger man.

Some of the stories I'd never heard before whilst others were presented in much more detail, like the bands early experiences of touring, the pressures of huge fame, the confusion they felt at the end of the eighties, the lack of the direction in the mid nineties and the personal issues surrounding the Vertigo tour.

Maybe it was a bit premature, but you never know, we might get a updated version one day.
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:50 AM   #14
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It's okay. That's really all I can say about it. It gets some jobs done, it doesn't get to others. I wasn't expecting too much.

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I think the problem is that they seemed to have a disproportionate amount of content for each era.

Not enough 90's content.

U2 76-86 seems to be the entire first half of the book, while the second half is 86-05
I didn't think there was enough 76-86!
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Old 10-09-2008, 05:30 AM   #15
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I liked it. Though it bugs me how I paid £35 for something so huge that it doesnt fit on any shelf, and the other day I saw it for a fiver in HMV in a new "squashed down comfortable bookshelf" size.
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Old 10-09-2008, 06:10 AM   #16
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Seems like the original poster took an awful lot of time to read the whole book if he bought it the moment it came out.
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:06 AM   #17
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No, I tried to like it...I bought it the day it came out and it's been read cover to cover...I just finally come to the conclusion that, in my opinion, it's crap.

They've lived such fascinating lives...this book is like the watered down, semi-history... For comparison, read The Beatles Anthology(the format that U2 copied for their book). The good, bad and ugly was included, and it made the read much more interesting.

As I already said, U2 at the End of the World gave much better insight into the history, psychology, and personality of the band members.
U2 At the End Of The World is the fantasy fun side of U2 and the writer put a lot of that in there. But thats a book that really just explores a few years of the bands career and is essentially one authors creative take on those years.

The books that are more real are the ones that are grounded in facts and go in correct chronological order in terms of events and experiences. I think U2 Live: A Concert Documentary and U2 By U2 are the best U2 books out there. Its true that much of the ground from 1987 onward in U2 by U2 had already been covered by multiple other books, magazine articles and TV interviews. Probably the most revealing thing in U2 By U2 was actually the early years.

Did anyone here actually know that Larry almost left the band in 1978 and that for 6 months they had another drummer sitting in for him sometimes? Although you can't tell in the film, did you know that Red Rocks was more than half empty? Did you know that when Edge returned from the War tour, that is father in Law payed for his wedding? Did you know at the time of Red Rocks, despite being semi-well known on the college rock scene, that 3 of U2's four members were still living at home with their parents? Did you know that U2 almost did not make it home to Ireland after the October tour was over and that Paul McGuinness bought the tickets with his credit card and was unable to pay the bill once he got home?

I think there are a lot of interesting and funny details that were mentioned for the first time in U2 By U2 that had never been discussed before involving the early years of the band.
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Old 10-09-2008, 09:23 AM   #18
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Another mistake ???? ...what?


I felt like sitting very comfortably in a room listening to them talk in a very funny and relaxing way about some interesting facts in their career... Why can´t a book be a little different from the "book rules" ??


I´m looking forward to more U2 mistakes...


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Old 10-09-2008, 11:44 AM   #19
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For a band still relevant and in the mainstream and whose story isn't yet finished, is a book like this not a little premature?
Well, but where do you draw the line? They've been together for 30 years -- probably long enough to have a retrospective. Should we wait until they're 65 to do it? What if one member leaves the group, passes away unexpectedly (such things do happen), or whatever? The Beatles' Anthology has no contemporary comments from Lennon (for obvious reasons). Imagine a U2 by U2 with no new comments from Bono... it would be pretty lame.

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I bought the book right when it came out and was first excited to see the format copied from The Beatles Anthology. The only difference between the Beatles book and U2 by U2 is that the Beatles Anthology is actually interesting.
As a Beatles' expert, I may be qualified to comment on this. I agree that the Beatles' Anthology thing was probably (a) necessary, and (b) interesting (more or less), but it is also referred to by many Beatle-fans as Mythology -- that is, The Beatles are such prisoners of their own fame and legend that they themselves often cannot separate fact from popular belief, or they simply can't remember from the haze of pot smoke they were in. I think, by comparison, U2 did a very good job of remembering small details accurately... Sometimes, when they don't, their mis-remembered comments are actually more revealing than accurate ones. Nevertheless, I think U2 have clearer memories of their more recent (and less chemically influenced) history than do The Beatles.

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If I'm gonna nitpick, they don't even know their own history at times! I love the part where edge says that Acrobat never became a live favorite....ummm...is that because it was never played live?
I don't understand your nitpick -- if they never played "Acrobat" live, then in fact it "never became a live favorite." Where's the problem?

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Another annoyance of the book is the fact that U2 seem like they have a self esteem issue about anything POP related. Rather than tell anything insightful or even interesting, most of U2's comments about this era are "it was a good idea that never really became a great song."
I think their commentary on Pop, from 9-10 years distance, is fascinating. You're quite right -- they do seem to have a self-esteem issue about it, which is itself very interesting. If you like the album more than they do, that's fine, but don't act as if you're right and they're wrong. It is their band, you know, not yours!

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U2 At The End of the World was a great book, full of interesting, fun stories but mixed with the serious side of U2. I think U2 by U2 shows a pretty dry, boring version of U2.
I know where you're coming from, but there are two issues you have to keep in mind: (1) U2 are a bit dry and boring, as people -- they're not (Bono aside) the most entertaining or charismatic personalities in rock. This is revealed, to an extent, in the book, but that's just accurate to who they are. (2) The Beatles had been broken up for 25 years when they did Anthology. This means that they have free-reign to say anything, without worrying about the "beatle-machine" and its active components. Besides which, as the most analyzed pop-culture phenomenon of the 20th century, the Beatles story has been dissected into such lurid details by historians and biographers that nothing they say could possibly out-do popular products already long-since on the market. In short, they were free to say anything, U2 are not. Maybe if U2 did this book after breaking up and shutting down their activities, it would be more candid.

Agree that At the End of the World is the best book on the market, but it's also just one person's perspective, and it's completely out of date. I think U2 By U2 is a nice complement to a book like that.

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Interviews-- They should have included the people who've made U2 who they are, such as Willie Williams, Eno, Lanios, Flood, Lillywhite...
Think you're missing the key premise of the book: U2 by... U2 (not U2 by various producers and hangers-on). The idea is that the 4 guys alone (okay, and McGuinness) can tell their own story at last.

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Anyway, time for me to shelve U2 by U2...hopefully in 10 years there will be a revised edition that includes the many "5th members" of U2.
You raise an interesting point: could the book be simply updated in the future? It's certainly possible, but I doubt it will happen. When the time comes, I think they would rather take up a totally new project rather than go back in the past to recycle an old one. There's also the problem that comments you made in 2006 might not match how you feel about things in 2018 or whatever...


By the way, did anyone else find Bono's comments in the book to be a bit off-base? For the most part he seemed to either wander off topic, or just repeat things he's said a million times. I actually skip over his comments when I pick up the book, because they aren't very interesting -- and he mostly talks about himself, as though he's trying to account for his actions of the past!

On the other hand, I thought Adam's (briefer) comments were the most revealing. I recommend reading only his comments in the book because they seem to say the most, with the fewest words!
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:32 PM   #20
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Seems like the original poster took an awful lot of time to read the whole book if he bought it the moment it came out.
Naw...I've read the book multiple times..the first time strait through and later readings were more selective.


Eh, I see I'm in the minority here which is fine. While there are parts of the book that are good, I think that overall it's not up to U2's high standards.

BTW, the title of this thread says "another mistake of the 2000's"....that doesn't mean that I think they've made mistakes with their music--I love ATYCLB and HTDAAB and the DVD's. The major mistakes come mainly from poor decisions on the two greatest hits albums and the fact that we've had only 12 album songs plus 4 non album singles released in the last 8 years since ATYCLB.
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