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Go with what you know

Or perhaps I should say, “Stick with what you know.”

I am a big fan of U2 (or at least their early stuff, as I haven’t bought or even heard their last few albums).  Joshua Tree is, in my opinion, one of the greatest records ever made.  It is one of 2 albums I own that I like so well, and like each song so much that I when listening, I never, ever skip a track.  (The other is Between Nothingness and Eternity by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but it only has 3 tracks, each an extended jam, so I’m not sure it should really count.)

However, Bono’s “save the world” shtick leaves me cold.  You want to write songs that express a particular social viewpoint, fine.  If they are good musically and interestingly crafted, I’ll listen.  Given that I have a hearing problem that leaves me unable to distinguish the words of most songs, even sappy, ridiculously “rainbow and unicorn fart, peace and grooviness, love is all you need” Utopian navel-contemplation nonsense don’t bother me all that much.  So, you write ’em.  You sing ’em.  Hell, I may even buy ’em.

Just don’t lecture me about your social vision (I’m thinking here of the finely crafted, pretentious stage sermons in the Rattle and Hum concert video).  And don’t pretend that because you’re a rock star (and you’re really sensitive and socially aware and more politically correct than me and you really, really care) that your opinion on anything other than your music is inherently, intrinsically more valuable than mine.

Oh, and unless you’re planning to quit your day (night?) job and work at it full time, don’t go around starting Foundations to help people.  Your high profile fundraising may be impressive, but providing an opportunity for fans to donate their money to your cause so they can feel better about themselves because they are “helping” is just plain slimy if your Foundation sucks at, you know, actually helping people.

Apparently, in 2008, Bono’s Foundation collected £9.6 million in donations while distributing the sum of £118,000 to good causes.  I’m sure all the fans who donated feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that 1.2% of the money they donated went to organizations that actually help people.  Of course, each of those organizations has their own administrative costs, so I think it’s safe to say that for every dollar donated because Bono said it was important, less than a penny actually helped a poor person.  I’ll bet the fans also feel all warm and fuzzy inside about the £5.1 million that went to pay the salaries of the Foundation staff.‡

(via Borepatch)

‡Actually, I’d bet money, even my own money, that the vast majority of the people who donated to Bono’s charity don’t know about the efficiency of the organization and if they did they wouldn’t care and would still feel all warm and fuzzy because it’s like, Bono, dude.

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