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An Open Letter to Bono - by Brian Phillips

Dear Bono,

I write this with love in my heart. This is not trolling, but constructive criticism. 

When I was 17 I heard "New Year's Day" on MTV and ran down to the only record store in my small Washington State town to buy the 45. I played it over and over. I bought "War" soon after. My sister gave me "October" for Christmas. I was hooked. "Boy" soon followed and I was caught up. Over and over... over and over. Those three records ushered me through that universal period when "boy meets man." 

By the time I got a chance to see your band, in the Tacoma Dome 1992, your show was an "outrageous" $28 (seems quaint now doesn't it?). It was a night I'll never forget. For us now-greying old farts U2 was our Led Zeppelin, our Who, our Beatles. I love all those bands, but  you need your own.... bands that come of age when you do. Many years before my first U2 show I saw "Red Rocks" on Canadian TV (an advantage to growing up 20 miles from the border) and I thought it was the most amazing, revolutionary thing I'd ever seen. In my world, far from New York, far from London, (hell, it took two and half hours to get to Seattle) there was nothing like U2 until there was U2. You opened my mind to The Clash, R.E.M.... I could go on as my record collection will attest. U2 were my gateway drug. 

Getting to my point then... I have a big problem with what U2 pulled off today. People don't see this thing as "free, but paid for," as you put it, but "FREE." You've devalued what some of us still value, but more importantly, you've devalued a lot of hard work put forth by others. Just today a lot of cool artists released albums.... Delta Spirit, Interpol, The Kooks, Death From Above 1979, Vance Joy, and Ryan Adams to name a few. Their records cost money to make as yours did. The difference, of course, is they have to take their records to a brutal marketplace and you don't. To cut to the quick, you're not competing.....you've taken the easy way out. 

Also, and more selfishly I'll admit, you've cut radio out entirely. I've been in the radio business for my entire adult life. You helped light that fire! Hell, for me this goes back to college radio. When The Joshua Tree came in the mail we were beyond excited. It was an event. It went right on the air. By the time Achtung Baby rolled around I was working in Seattle and "The Fly" went from the UPS guy right to air. Ah! Those were the days. Opening the box and banging that record right on the airwaves for the people to hear! 

I've got news for you, my radio station still lives by those values. CD1025 in Columbus, Ohio has been here 25 years... predating even this old warhorse. We would have made your record an event! Out of the..... email... and right on the air. Apple can't match that brother. No way. There's no soul there. Radio has soul. Anyone can turn on the radio. It's democracy!

This whole thing bums me out, Bono. I play your music on the radio all the time, and I've been talking about how you've been working with Dangermouse on a new album. It was supposed to be an event. Instead it's a phone. Granted, a cool phone that can churn out amazing HD footage of a U2 show.... from the front... where it costs way more than 28 bucks. 

Sincerely,

Brian Phillips,

Lifer

Here's a link that helps explain this:

http://pitchfork.com/news/53827-u2-release-new-album-songs-of-innocence-for-free-on-itunes/