Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Meeting God in the Sound: The Seductive Dimension of U2’s Future Hymns"

Beth  tips  us off to what sounds like a great chapter by Deane Galbaraith in the new book,
The Counter-Narratives of Radical Theology and Popular Music: Songs of Fear and Trembling.  
How can you go wrong with a chapter called Meeting God in the Sound: The Seductive Dimension of U2’s Future Hymns?

Beth notes that Galbraith "employs Jean Baudrillard's distinction between the production of meaning and the seductive capacity of text' and uses such as a grid for the U2 discussion.

How have U2 achieved popular and economic success in a music industry which, on the face of it, is not terribly receptive towards pop-stars who like to write hymns and - as on their U2 360 tour - build cathedrals? This paper examines the role played by U2’s emphasis on the formal, mystical, and experiential aspects of their music, and how that emphasis coincides with a religious trend which since at least the 1960s can be located throughout the arts, popular music, and—in a perhaps surprising association—charismatic and evangelical Christianity. To do so, the paper concentrates on the manner in which the sonic fabric of U2's 2009 album No Line On The Horizon is subtly interwoven with Christian hymns, in ways that are suggestive, evocative, and usually highly ambiguous. When—as often in U2 songs—the song’s seductive form takes priority over the production of content, and evocation takes precedence over precise meaning, U2 manage to open up a space for what, to many listeners affected by a prevalent neo-Romanticism, will count as a spiritual experience.
More Info: in The Counter-Narratives of Radical Theology and Rock’n’Roll: Songs of Fear and Trembling. Ed. Mike Grimshaw. Radical Theologies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.  link

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