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Old 03-16-2005, 12:01 PM   #1
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Transcript of Springsteen's induction speech for U2

I don't think anyone has posted this yet. I apologize if it has. If not, then enjoy...



Springsteen's induction speech of U2 (3/14/05):
Uno, dos, tres, catorce. That translates as one, two, three, fourteen. That is the correct math for a rock and roll band. For in art and love and rock and roll, the whole had better equal much more than the sum of its parts, or else you're just rubbing two sticks together searching for fire. A great rock band searches for the same kind of combustible force that fueled the expansion of the universe after the big bang. You want the earth to shake and spit fire, you want the sky to split apart and for God to pour out. It’s embarrassing to want so much and to expect so much from music, except sometimes it happens: the Sun Sessions, Highway 61, Sgt. Peppers, the Band, Robert Johnson, Exile on Main Street, Born to Run... whoops, I meant to leave that one out... uh... the Sex Pistols, Aretha Franklin, the Clash, James Brown; the proud and public enemies it takes a nation of millions to hold back. This is music meant to take on not only the powers that be but on a good day, the universe and God himself, if he was listening. It's man's accountability, and U2 belongs on this list.

It was the early '80s. I went with Pete Townshend, who always wanted to catch the first whiff of those about to unseat us, to a club in London. There they were: a young Bono (single-handedly pioneering the Irish mullet), the Edge (what kind of name was that?), Adam and Larry -- I was listening to the last band of whom I would be able to name all of its members. They had an exciting show and a big, beautiful sound. They lifted the roof. We met afterwards and they were nice young men. They were Irish. Irish. Now, this would play an enormous part in their success in the States. For what the English occasionally have the refined sensibilities to overcome, we Irish and Italians have no such problem. We come through the door fists and hearts first. U2, with the dark, chiming sound of heaven at their command which, of course, is the sound of unrequited love and longing -- their greatest theme. Their search for God intact, this was a band that wanted to lay claim to not only this world but had their eyes on the next one, too. Now, they’re a real band; each member plays a vital part. I believe they actually practice some form of democracy -- toxic poison in a bands head. In Iraq, maybe. In rock, no. Yet, they survive. They have harnessed the time bomb that exists in the heart of every great rock and roll band that usually explodes, as we see regularly from this stage. But they seemed to have innately understood the primary rule of rock band job security: “Hey, asshole, the other guy is more important than you think he is!” They are both a step forward and direct descendants of the great bands who believed rock music could shake things up in the world, dared to have faith in their audience, who believed if they played their best it would bring out the best in you. They believed in pop stardom and the big time. Now this requires foolishness and a calculating mind. It also requires a deeply held faith in the work you're doing and in its powers to transform. U2 hungered for it all and built a sound, and they wrote the songs that demanded it. They’re keepers of some of the most beautiful sonic architecture in rock and roll.

The Edge, the Edge, the Edge, the Edge. He is a rare and true guitar original and one of the subtlest guitar heroes of all time. He's dedicated to ensemble playing and he subsumes his guitar ego in the group. But do not be fooled. Take Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Neil Young, Pete Townshend -- guitarists who defined the sound of their band and their times. If you play like them, you sound like them. If you are playing those rhythmic two-note sustained fourths, drenched in echo, you are going to sound like the Edge, my son. Go back to the drawing board and chances are you won’t have much luck. There are only a handful of guitar stylists who can create a world with their instruments, and he's one of them. The Edge's guitar playing creates enormous space and vast landscapes. It is a thrilling and a heartbreaking sound that hangs over you like the unsettled sky. In the turf it stakes out, it is inherently spiritual, it is grace and it is a gift.

Now, all of this has to be held down by something. The deep sureness of Adam Clayton's bass and the rhythms of Larry Mullen's elegant drumming hold the band down while propelling it forward. It's in U2's great rhythm section that the band finds its sexuality and its dangerousness. Listen to "Desire," she moves in "Mysterious Ways," the pulse of "With or Without You." Together Larry and Adam create the element that suggests the ecstatic possibilities of that other kingdom -- the one below the earth and below the belt -- that no great rock band can lay claim to the title without. Now, Adam always strikes me as the professorial one, the sophisticated member. He creates not only the musical but physical stability on his side of the stage. The tone and depth of his bass playing has allowed the band to move from rock to dance music and beyond. One of the first things I noticed about U2 was that underneath the guitar and the bass, they have these very modern rhythms going on. Rather than a straight 2 and 4, Larry often plays with a lot of syncopation, and that connects the band to modern dance textures. The drums often sounded high and tight and he was swinging down there, and this gave the band a unique profile and allowed their rock textures to soar above on a bed of his rhythm. Now Larry, of course, besides being an incredible drummer, bears the burden of being the band's requisite "good-looking member," something we somehow overlooked in the E Street Band. We have to settle for "charismatic." Girls love on Larry Mullen. I have a female assistant that would like to sit on Larry’s drum stool. A male one, too. We all have our crosses to bear.

Bono, where do I begin? Jeans designer, soon-to-be World Bank operator, just plain operator, seller of the Brooklyn Bridge -- oh hold up, he played under the Brooklyn Bridge, that's right. Soon-to-be mastermind operator of the Bono Burger franchise, where more than one million stories will be told by a crazy Irishman. Now I realize that it’s a dirty job and somebody has to do it. But don't quit your day job yet, my friend, you're pretty good at it. And a sound this big needs somebody to ride herd over it, and ride herd over it he does. His voice, big-hearted and open, thoroughly decent no matter how hard he tries. Now he's a great frontman. Against the odds, he is not your mom's standard skinny, ex-junkie archetype. He has the physique of a rugby player... well, an ex-rugby player. Shamen, shyster, one of the greatest and most endearingly naked messianic complexes in rock and roll. God bless you, man! It takes one to know one, of course. You see, every good Irish and Italian-Irish front-man knows that before James Brown there was Jesus. So hold the McDonald arches on the stage set, boys, we are not ironists. We are creations of the heart and of the earth and of the stations of the cross. There's no getting out of it. He is gifted with an operatic voice and a beautiful falsetto rare among strong rock singers. But most important, his is a voice shot through with self-doubt. That's what makes that big sound work. It is this element of Bono's talent, along with his beautiful lyric writing, that gives the often-celestial music of U2 its fragility and its realness. It is the questioning, the constant questioning in Bono's voice, where the band stakes its claim to its humanity and declares its commonality with us. Now Bono’s voice often sounds like it's shouting not over top of the band but from deep within it: "Here we are, Lord, this mess, in your image." He delivers all of this with great drama and an occasional smirk that says, “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” He’s one of the great front-men of the past 20 years. He is also one of the only musicians to devote his personal faith and the ideals of his band into the real world in a way that remains true to rock's earliest implications of freedom and connection and the possibility of something better.

Now the band's beautiful songwriting -- "Pride (In The Name of Love)," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For," "One," "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Beautiful Day" -- reminds us of the stakes that the band always plays for. It's an incredible songbook. In their music, you hear the spirituality as home and as quest. How do you find God unless he's in your heart, in your desire, in your feet? I believe this is a big part of what's kept their band together all of these years. See, bands get formed by accident, but they don’t survive by accident. It takes will, intent, a sense of shared purpose and a tolerance for your friends' fallibilities and they of yours. And that only evens the odds. U2 has not only evened the odds but they've beaten them by continuing to do their finest work and remaining at the top of their game and the charts for 25 years. I feel a great affinity for these guys as people as well as musicians.

Well, there I was sitting down on the couch in my pajamas with my eldest son. He was watching TV. I was doing one of my favorite things: I was tallying up all the money I passed up in endorsements over the years and thinking of all the fun I could have had with it. Suddenly I hear "Uno, dos, tres, catorce!" I look up. But instead of the silhouettes of the hippie-wannabes bouncing around in the iPod commercial, I see my boys! Oh my God! They sold out! Now, what I know about the iPod is this: it is a device that plays music. Of course, their new song sounded great, my guys are doing great, but methinks I hear the footsteps of my old tape operator of Jimmy Iovine somewhere. Wily, smart. Now, personally, I live an insanely expensive lifestyle that my wife barely tolerates. I burn money, and that calls for huge amounts of cash flow. But, I also have a ludicrous image of myself that keeps me from truly cashing in. You can see my problem. Woe is me. So the next morning, I call up Jon Landau (or as I refer to him, "the American Paul McGuinness"), and I say, "Did you see that iPod thing?" and he says, "Yes." And he says, "And I hear they didn’t take any money." And I said, "They didn’t take any money?" and he says, "No." I said, "Smart, wily Irish guys. Anybody – anybody – can do an ad and take the money. But to do the ad and not take the money... that’s smart. That’s wily." I say, "Jon, I want you to call up Bill Gates or whoever is behind this thing and float this: a red, white and blue iPod signed by Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen. Now remember, no matter how much money he offers, don’t take it!" At any rate, after that evening for the next month or so, I hear emanating from my lovely 14-year-old son's room, day after day, down the hall calling out in a voice that has recently dropped very low: uno, dos, tres, catorce. The correct math for rock and roll. Thank you, boys.
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Old 03-16-2005, 12:16 PM   #2
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Absolutely great!
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Old 03-16-2005, 12:31 PM   #3
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Thank you for posting that.
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Old 03-16-2005, 12:38 PM   #4
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That is a really good speech couldnt have done a better one myself.
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Old 03-16-2005, 12:50 PM   #5
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:01 PM   #6
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thanks, that was a good read, couldn't have done a better job myself.
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:04 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting it. Excellent speech!
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:31 PM   #8
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What a great speech! Thanks for posting it.
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:38 PM   #9
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Thank you for posting that
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:40 PM   #10
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Is the boss saying that he is Italian? Wonder what his real last name is then....Springsteen doesn't really convey the images of Sicily...
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:45 PM   #11
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That is so beautiful! It took my breath away.

Bruce

U2
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Old 03-16-2005, 02:02 PM   #12
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Of course you knew Bruce would deliver the best speech for the best band of the evening.. No one else could have done it better, except maybe Bono himself.
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Old 03-16-2005, 02:03 PM   #13
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Old 03-16-2005, 03:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Numb1075
Is the boss saying that he is Italian? Wonder what his real last name is then....Springsteen doesn't really convey the images of Sicily...
If I recall, Springsteen's father was Irish but his mother is Italian.
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Old 03-16-2005, 03:43 PM   #15
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Thank you so much for writing that all out and posting it!
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Old 03-16-2005, 03:58 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by miss becky
Thank you so much for writing that all out and posting it!
Oh, I didn't write that out. Thank goodness for cut and paste.
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Old 03-17-2005, 12:12 AM   #17
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Can someone help me to find a transcription of Bono's induction speech of The Boss, please? I know it has been posted on the forum but I can't find it (no premium member) and Google doesn't work for me either...
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Old 03-17-2005, 12:46 AM   #18
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U2 and Bruce Springsteen...my 2 favorite bands/artists

Can't wait to see the ceremony on tv this weekend


EDIT: And for soulrock...

"He hasn't done the things most rock stars do. He got rich and famous, but never embarrassed himself with all that success, did he? No drug busts, no blood changes in Switzerland. Even more remarkable, no golfing! No bad hair period, even in the '80s. No wearing of dresses in videos ... No embarrassing movie roles, no pet snakes, no monkeys. No exhibitions of his own paintings. No public brawling or setting himself on fire ...

"Rock stars are supposed to make soap operas of their lives, aren't they? If they don't kill themselves first. Well, you can't be a big legend and not be dysfunctional. It's not allowed. You should at least have lost your looks. Everyone else has. Have you seen them? It's like Madame Tussaud's back there.

"Then there's Bruce Springsteen. Handsome mother with those brooding brown eyes, eyes that could see through America. And a catastrophe of great songs, if you were another songwriter. Bruce has played every bar in the U.S.A., and every stadium. Credibility -- you couldn't have more, unless you were dead. But Bruce Springsteen, you always knew, was not gonna die stupid. He didn't buy the mythology that screwed so many people. Instead he created an alternative mythology, one where ordinary lives became extraordinary and heroic. Bruce Springsteen, you were familiar to us. But it's not an easy familiarity, is it? Even his band seems to stand taller when he walks in the room. It's complex. He's America's writer, and critic. It's like in 'Badlands,' he's Martin Sheen and Terrence Malick. To be so accessible and so private ... But then again, he is an Irish-Italian, with a Jewish-sounding name. What more do you want? Add one big African sax player, and no one in this room is gonna (mess around) with you!
"In 1974, I was 14. Even I knew the '60s were over. It was the era of soft-rock and fusion. The Beatles was gone, Elvis was in Vegas. What was goin' on? Nothin' was goin' on. Bruce Springsteen was comin' on, saving music from the phonies, saving lyrics from the folkies, saving leather jackets from the Fonz. (Sings) 'Now the greasers, they tramp the streets and get busted for sleeping on the beaches all night, and them boys in their high heels, ah Sandy, their skins are so white. Oh Sandy, love me tonight, and I promise I'll love you forever.' In Dublin, Ireland, I knew what he was talking about. Here was a dude who carried himself like Brando, and Dylan, and Elvis. If John Steinbeck could sing, if Van Morrison could ride a Harley-Davidson .... It was something new, too. He was the first whiff of Scorsese, the first hint of Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and the Clash. He was the end of long
hair, brown rice and bell bottoms. It was the end of the 20-minute drum solo. It was good night, Haight- Ashbury; hello, Asbury Park.

"America was staggering when Springsteen appeared. The president just resigned in disgrace, the U.S. had lost its first war. There was going to be no more oil in the ground. The days of cruising and big cars were supposed to be over. But Bruce Springsteen's vision was bigger than a Honda, it was bigger than a Subaru. Bruce made you believe that dreams were still out there, but after loss and defeat, they had to be braver, not just bigger. He was singing 'Now you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore,' because it took guts to be romantic now. Knowing you could lose didn't mean you still didn't take the ride. In fact, it made taking the ride all the more important.

"Here was a new vision, and a new community. More than a community, because every great rock group is kind of like starting a religion. and Bruce surrounded himself with fellow believers. The E Street -- it wasn't just a great rock group, or a street gang. It was a brotherhood. Zealots like Steve Van Zandt, the bishop Clarence Clemons, the holy Roy Bittan, crusaders Danny Federici, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent and later Nils Lofgren. And Jon Landau, Jon Landau, Jon Landau, Jon Landau, Jon Landau. What do you call a man who makes his best friend his manager, his producer, his confessor? You call him the Boss. And Springsteen didn't just marry a gorgeous red-headed woman from the Jersey Shore. She could sing, she could write, and she could tell the Boss off.

"For me and the rest of the U2-ers, it wasn't just the way he described the world. It was the way he negotiated it. It was a map, a book of instructions on how to be in the business but not of it. Generous is a word you could use to describe the way he treated us. Decency is another. But these words can box you in. I remember when Bruce was headlining Amnesty International's tour for prisoners of conscience, I remember thinking 'Wow, if ever there was a prisoner of conscience, it's Bruce Springsteen.' Integrity can be a yoke, a pain...when your songs are taking you to a part of town where people don't expect to see you.

"At some point I remember riding in an elevator with gentleman Bruce, where he just stared straight ahead of himself, and completely ignored me. I was crushed. Only when he walked into the doors as they were opening, did I realize the impossible was happening. My god, Bruce Springsteen, the Buddha of my youth, is plastered! Drunk as a skunk! ... I have to go back to the book of instructions, scratch the bit out about how you held yourself in public. By the way, that was a great relief.

"Something was going on, though. As a fan I could see that my hero was beginning to rebel against his own public image. Things got even more interesting on 'Tunnel of Love,' when he started to deface it. A remarkable bunch of tunes, where our leader starts having a go at himself, and the hypocrisy of his own heart, before anyone else could. But the tabloids could never break news on Bruce Springsteen. Because his fans... he had already told us everything in the songs. We knew he was spinning. We could feel him free-falling. But it wasn't in chaos or entropy. It was in love.

"We call him the Boss. Well that's a bunch of crap. He's not the boss. He works for us. More than a boss, he's the owner, because more than anyone else, Bruce Springsteen owns America's heart."
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Old 03-17-2005, 01:05 AM   #19
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Thanks very much Catman! Really appreciate it! :-)
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Old 03-17-2005, 02:18 AM   #20
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Both speeches are amazing! Thanks for posting!
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