Back in May I had a chat with Ronnie Gurr at Hanging Around Books about a photo of Jim that I would have liked to have gotten a copy of from the photographer who took it, but I looked into their prices (without enquiring with them directly) and saw they wanted over £1000 for a print!! 😱😱
The conversation moved on to the topic of a Record Mirror cover, and the use of a photo of Brian McGee in his undies that Ronnie had taken when with the band on tour in Germany in the late summer of 1980.
He said to me “this (see below) is the photo I submitted for the cover, but they went with the one of Brian instead.”
I sat looking at the screen in a mixture of awe and disbelief. Awe that such a fabulous photo of Jim had been stowed away unseen for so many years, and disbelief that the editor at Record Mirror snubbed the use of this photo for one of Brian in his togs!
Not only that, but the music mag then goes on to erroneously name Brian as “Mike McNeil”. Geezo! They don’t even get the erroneous name correct!
Anyway, 40 years down the line, I was in fangirl raptures to see such a wonderful photo of Jim. Since seeing it, I have been hankering for a copy and over these months I have every now and then been virtually nudging Ronnie for a copy of the photo.
AT LAST! The day arrived yesterday. I received three photos in total. The photo above of Jim which measures 10×8 inches, the black and white group photo below of the band on the flight staircase, which measures 7×5 inches, and the one below that of the band by the Berlin Wall, which measures 6×4 inches.
All three are wonderful, new and fairly rare treasures. All three photos were taken by Ronnie. But of the three, of course that one of Jim (for me) is the most highly prized. It is now in a frame by my bedside. The b&w band photo is framed and sitting atop the other bedside drawer.
If you would like to get prints yourself, you can contact Ronnie via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
All of the photos featured in the Hanging Around Books photozines are available to order as prints. You can view the catalogue of books available by visiting hangingaroundbooks.com (just click the link!)
A new bootleg has been uploaded to YouTube from the ever elusive but ever fabulous Art & Talk. This one hails from the Real To Real Cacophony Tour of 1979/80 and is performed in Hamburg on March 5th, 1980.
And although still seen as the Real To Real Cacophony Tour, there are tracks from Empires And Dance being performed, namely, Capital City and Room.
There’s only part of Capital City that’s been recorded. A shame, really, as I love it. I really do. But…not too much of it is missing, so it’s okay.
The recording is a true bootleg. Done by a member of the crowd, rather than it coming from the mixing desk. So you get a sense and feeling from the crowd – the vibe that they’re feeling. And the general feeling is that they are well up for it. Esp. one very excited, squealy young(?!) woman. Who can blame her? I reckon that would be me too – seeing them back then. I usually feel like that just listening in on a gig like this some 40 years down the line!
Also great to hear such a rousing display from the crowd for encores. And they are treated to two for their efforts. White Light/White Heat and Room.
The highlight of the set for me? Calling Your Name and Citizen (Dance Of Youth). Also had wished Factory had been complete because it was sounding well braw too.
The band were tight, but here and there I felt I detected that Jim wasn’t quite – “on” that night. But…it’s hard to tell without a back up of visuals, etc. The times he did seem “on” though, well…I don’t have to say any more, really. (Cue “squealy girl”. Lol)
I really enjoyed listening to it though. And will give it another play later on today. Put it this way – if TARDIS’s were real and I was allowed to go to one gig in the past and I was told it could only be THIS one – I’D BE THERE IN A HEARTBEAT! I’d bite your hand off – as Jim would say. Lol
There are some photos surfacing showing the way the look and layout of the book “Heart Of The Crowd (A Fan History)” is like. The photos look really lovely, as does the layout of the book. With the release of the book now only a week away, it is getting all rather exciting!
Back in May, Ronnie Gurr messaged me. I had shared a photo of Jim and was saying how much I’d love to get a copy of it from the photographer that took it, but they seemed a pretty big name these days and were asking $1500 a print. And I REALLY don’t have that sort of money.
I didn’t name names. Ronnie was intrigued as to who it was. We got to chatting and somehow ended up on the subject of magazine covers and I mentioned the cover of the Record Mirror from 1980 with an erroneously named Brian McGee (they named him as Mick!) on the cover – in his briefs.
Ronnie told me that the photo of Brian isn’t what he had submitted to be the photo on the cover but it was actually a photo he took of Jim that he thought was better suited to it. And by heck, was it! I was in absolute agreement. I guess the Record Mirror editor thought people would want to see a band member pretty much in their “all-together”…but…well, unless it WAS actually Jim, not me!
Anyway…these photos shared of the book show the photo that Ronnie shared with me. I have just been sitting on this image for months, so desperately wanting to show it but thinking better of it.
I could have asked Ronnie’s permission to post it here but I really didn’t think he’d be wanting me to share it. And, I still have a clearer version of it (still just a snap of it he took on…his living room floor, I guess, considering the carpet I can see in the image I have of it). I still won’t share that one though. It isn’t mine to share. But I hope you can see from how it has been photographed in the pages of the book that it is well braw.
Jim looks gorgeous, as always. I just want to run my fingers through all that hair! OMG! You beautiful man, Mr Kerr! 🥰🥰🥰
Just ONE more thing to be excited about the book for. And I await the chance of getting a really decent copy of this photo from Mr Gurr. He tells me the New Year. I’m counting the days! Tick tock, Ronnie!
UPDATE: currently (and as much as it pains me to link to this site) the book is showing at a discounted rate of £31.19 on Amazon – click HERE to pre-order from the site.
I was pretty much a U2 fan from the get go. My brother, Quince, is only a few weeks younger than Bono…so U2’s debut release was as about as contemporary as it could get for him!
I was half the age, only just coming up to my 10th birthday, but the album spoke volumes to me too. Possibly more so because I feel, in retrospect, Boy was a VERY aptly titled album. It denotes all those elements of the first U2 release. Bourgeoning, adolescent, insular, self-absorbed, centred on school and friends and the opposite sex…grappling with the things we all go through in adolescence. Trying to make sense of our place in the world and what we’re here for.
I listened to Boy last night. Has it aged well? I’m not sure. It has an immaturity about it. It mostly looks inward and hardly projects outwards. And I can still hear it with the ears of my early teenage self. I was very aware of U2 in 1980 but it wasn’t until 1983/4 that I really got into them myself. And that is when I got heavily buried into the early albums. Boy is very much my early teenage album. And it takes me back to all those things I was feeling then. All those hang ups and stuff. Thinking that Bono was the best thing I’d ever seen – but he was just one on a list.
It is a good album. I can see why they got early plaudits for it, but I can also see why it was just an early stepping stone and not an absolute breakthrough. I feel it is age-defining and age specific. It is very much rooted in the feeling of 1980 and one’s teenage years.
Alert: I am about to make THE “comparison”. It can’t be helped.
Compare it to say, Simple Minds’ Empires And Dance and well…there is no comparison! Compare I Travel to I Will Follow:
I Travel – European dance. Pulsing energy. Dazzling with lights of cars, planes, trains. Cities cruising by in a head of haze. Exposing you to the dilapidation of the east and the extravagance of the west.
I Will Follow – a boy grappling with becoming a man “a boy tries hard to be a man, his mother takes him by his hand / if he stops to think, he starts to cry – oh, why”. Chalk and cheese! And barely a year in age difference between the lyricists.
What would I have listened to more then – Empires And Dance or Boy? Well, it’s easy to say that Boy won out as I only vaguely knew who Simple Minds were in 1983/4 and I certainly didn’t know of them at all in 1980!
What do I listen to more now? The most rhetorical of questions! We all know! This blog isn’t “Larry-elle’s U2 Space” that ‘may contain a heavy dose of Paul Hewson’ after all now, is it?!
For me, Boy is now definitely “of its time”. A nostalgia trip. There were obviously hints of the maturity of the band there. I hear it in different songs now to what I used to. Songs that I probably didn’t like as much or felt a little more indifferent to back then. I have always loved An Cat Dubh (it took YEARS for me to find out it meant “The Black Cat”. You gotta love pre-Internet days. Lol) and its segue to Into The Heart. Into The Heart these days makes me cry. It’s so tender! It has hidden maturity because it is an adolescent mind already feeling nostalgic for the innocence of childhood. Probably a marker on Bono thinking of his mum. That yearning of her still being present.
The last time I was a bit harsh on Shadows And Tall Trees – I guess because that line of “Mrs Brown’s washing is always the same” is the most dominant line in the song for me – because of the way Bono delivers it. But it is a rarer one on the album as it projects outwards rather than looking as much inwardly to the self. But when it does look inwardly, it’s more about how is one going to face up to life and what to do about it “do you feel in me anything redeeming, any worthwhile feeling / is life like a tightrope, hanging from the ceiling.”
The musicality of it is barebones, and raw. Like skinny kids that are slightly malnourished and thirsty for water, food – knowledge. Experience. “Songs of innocence.” It’s very sparse but very bright. There can be darker elements too. There has always been a dark mood to The Ocean. And there is darkness or at least dullness and greyness to Shadows And Tall Trees.
I enjoyed listening to Boy again last night. I don’t visit U2 often these days, but when I do, I still have an “experience”.
Happy Anniversary, Boy. You make a girl feel old! Lol
“He don’t say much. He’s bored with the fans.“ – it’s how it feels anyway. And if I hear one more “he’s a busy man” excuse, I’ll scream! Because…HE IS ALWAYS BUSY! He is Jim fucking Kerr – apart from me using “fucking” just now – “busy” is his middle name – for want of him actually having one (a middle name, that is).
Even at his most busiest, back in time…back to those halcyon days I REALLY need to move on from that have well and truly died and aren’t coming back any time soon, it seems – he would reply to people. Not just me!
The slow death of the visitor wall just kills me. He actually used to seem to take a vested interest in what people were posting to the visitor wall. Like certain things and even respond to people there. If someone had a question about the music or lyrics and he felt keen enough to, he’d respond to people there.
I mean, heck…without his interest there, the whole “art” thing of mine would have NEVER happened. I almost feel like I want to bang his head against a wall just…so he can see how important this aspect of the fandom is to some fans. It goes beyond the music! You inspire so many of us, Jim! When you respond to people it…here’s a favourite word of yours – it TRANSCENDS mere “music and listener”, mere “songwriter and fan”, mere “singer and swooning ninny”. Lol
And I miss it. Not just for me, but for other fans too!
A case in point: last night on SMOG, a fan asked about Today I Died Again – whether it was about domestic violence – quite how they reached that theory I do not know entirely (I guess just from the interaction that happens between the lead couple within the song lyric?) but I shared what I felt was my interpretation of it, and linked to my post on “Why I love…” about it.
Another fan later replied with a quote from Dream Giver Redux with this excerpt: “This song’s reincarnation theme was inspired from Jim’s reading of the Bhagavad Gita.”
Really? Okay, well the only thing that actually alludes to reincarnation within the song IS the title itself and the singing of it – and maybe the line of “back to a year, back to a youth” – even then, that’s tenuous. Also, I am not sure about whether Jim would have read Bhagavad Gita at that point. I am sure he said he first read the book in 1982 in a recent post (recent being…within the past couple of years). I know it subsequently became a much favoured book of his. As a consequence I tried reading the book. I didn’t get very far with it to be honest. I basically read this whole preamble about the book’s translation which was quite a few pages long (about 40, if memory serves). It just felt too taxing in the end. The only thing that stuck was the gained knowledge of learning it was a source of inspiration for Gandhi, which I find beyond perplexing that one of the world’s great pacifists was inspired by a book about war. Well…at least had a scene of battle as its main focal point.
Today I Died Again is penned in 1980, obviously, so I would think that predates Jim reading Bhagavad Gita? Perhaps I have my info wrong and he did indeed read it back then? I still see little evidence of the influence of the book on the song. But perhaps that’s just my interpretation of it?
Anyway, (sorry, I went off researching, and now I feel as if I have worked on this post for much longer than I intended to)…back to the fan enquiry and pondering of the song.
There would be a time, not that long in the past, in which I would have said “you could ask Jim – he might give you a reply. Who better to ask?” And that’s where I return to the special! Being able to ask the man who wrote those amazing lyrics. Okay, he may not have always replied even when I came into the fandom, even to me, but there was a heck of a lot better chance of a response six years ago than there is now! And it really, REALLY saddens me.
I was about to go off on another angry rant but…I guess I just need to give up. “No one likes a quitter”. Well, great then. No one will ever like me. Stellar. I can live with it. When you feel you’ve done all you can and you’re getting nowhere, you have to “embrace the suck” and just…walk away, I guess? Am I right, Jim?
Perhaps it is better we all ponder it amongst ourselves? There was a time, pre-Internet, where we’d had little choice to do so. The fans wouldn’t be interacting with each other as we do now. There’s no way we could pose a question to you like that unless there was luck and/or special circumstances. We wrote to you (old fashioned “snail mail” style) and you took the time to reply. Or we’d have thought to ask you backstage, had we been lucky to see you after a gig. Back then I’d guess you’d have been very reluctant to share or offer up such tokens of openness anyway. “Interpret them as you see fit.”
Admittedly, that is the beauty of your songwriting – particularly back then. Just how much they could be open to interpretation. Your very own Burroughs technique. “I’ve always liked ambiguities and fragments and things with a bit more of a mystery to them”, you said in an interview for Dutch TV in 1983.
“Out of the mouth of babes“ – and what a babe! Lol. (Yep. I’ll never stop adoring you, you gorgeous man. Fuck, I’m a hopeless case!)
So…what exactly IS Today I Died Again about? You can search for my “Why I love” piece on it and see what you think. I may just read over it again myself and see of my idea about it has changed.
“She can’t remember before the heat” – bloody hot flushes, hey hen?! Lol