It's Bono madness over at Rolling Stone, which is presenting the long Jann Wenner interview with U2's frontman from its new issue in podcast format (though there's an excerpt online as well). Bono talks at length about a wide array of topics, including his religion, his childhood and the role his father played in his life: "By not encouraging me to be a musician, even though that's all he ever wanted to be, he's made me one. By telling me never to have big dreams, or else that to dream is to be disappointed, he made me have big dreams. By telling me that the band would only last five minutes or ten minutes -- we're still here." He also talked about his lack of anxiety over meeting President Bush at the White House to talk about AIDS and debt relief -- the interview happened before this Wednesday's lunch meeting between the two -- saying, "I'm representing the poorest and the most vulnerable people. On a spiritual level, I have that with me." Bush, apparently also had some pressing questions for Bono: Afterwards, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said, "they also talked about the concerts that U2 was preparing to put on at Washington's MCI Center Wednesday and tonight." So it was good P.R. for both -- and as Jon Stewart pointed out on "The Daily Show," Nixon and Elvis also once staged a meeting at the White House, and nothing bad ever happened to them.
Other music interviews: In honor of the debut of her new documentary, "I'm Going to Tell You a Secret," check out this chat (Real Audio, 37:12) Madonna had with BBC journalist Simon Bates back in 1986, the year of both "True Blue" and "Shanghai Surprise," when she was 28, still married to Sean Penn, and still had an unmodified American accent. It's a long, revealing and seemingly honest interview, with Madonna being realistic about the nature of her own success in pop -- "I have a commercially creative mind" -- referring to her nascent desire to make "Evita," and, like Bono, giving her father back-handed credit -- "He thought that we should always be productive and make good use of our time." Bates and Madge find a rare balance for a celebrity interview, trading directness and candor instead of slavish worship and pre-produced answers. Bates: "Final question: I was surprised, I think -- in fairness -- we were expecting you to be very difficult, very awkward, very stand-offish, and you've been very charming. Are you always like this?" Madonna: "Charming? Hell no. No one can be charming all the time -- but most of the time I think I am." There's also a review of the album in the Sun -- tastefully trumpeted as the first "IN THE WORLD" -- and you can listen to the ABBA-sampling single off the album, "Hung Up," at Madonna.com.
Also, the Times has a longish profile on David Berman, the only center that holds in the constantly widening gyre that is the band Silver Jews (whose newest album, "Tanglewood Numbers," came out on Tuesday). Berman, a failed poet who became a successful indie rock star and then a successful poet, proves he's quick with the allusions. "Like they used to say about Joe Montana, he threw soft because he couldn't throw hard," he says. "I couldn't rock out harder than everybody, or overpower people with mastery like Jack White of the White Stripes, so why try? That's why I've always worked harder on words." Or as pal/ex-roommate/quirk-rocker Stephen Malkmus puts it: "He could see himself as a Kris Kristofferson type, a drinking poet."
What's going on with the leaky new Stokes album? So far, four songs off the album, "First Impressions of the Earth," have been leaked online. Is it digital thievery or some advanced form of an online marketing spin? A suspicious, punning Stereogum reader, noting that all four will be performed when the band appears in South America over the weekend, writes: "The band wanted the produced/album versions to be the 'First Impressions...' of the songs that the public at large had of the album (i.e., not shoddy bootlegs)."
As it turns out, the rumors earlier this week that the remaining Van Halen members would be turning to reality TV to replace their lead singer -- or singers, as they've been fronted variously by David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, and Gary Cherone -- were nothing more than that. MTV has retracted an earlier story that said the remaining members would be appearing on the next season of "Rock Star," which CBS is yet to renew: "MTV News erroneously reported Wednesday that a source close to the program claimed that if 'Rock Star' does return for a second season, that the core Van Halen trio -- Michael Anthony and brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen -- would be the band auditioning potential singers. The band flatly denies any involvement in the show."
"Oh bring us some figgy pudding": Brian Wilson's Christmas album, "What I Really Want for Christmas," features the Beach Boy's take on traditional yuletide tunes as well as a few new ones of his own. Wilson has a blog up for the record, just out on Tuesday, including some "behind the scenes"-type footage -- QuickTime high or low; Windows MediaPlayer high or low.
1. "It's My Life" - Mariah Carey
2. "The Jump Off" - Lil' Kim feat. Mr. Cheeks
3. "You Be Illin'" - Run D.M.C.
4. "Where the Party At" - Jagged Edge feat. Nelly
5. "In Da Club" - 50 Cent
6. "Get Ur Freak On (Remix)" - Missy Elliott feat. Twista
7. "Thug Lovin'" - Ja Rule feat. Bobby Brown
8. "Triple Trouble" - Beastie Boys
9. "Jack the Ripper" - LL Cool J
10. "Don't U Know" - ODB feat. Killah Priest
(via Brooklyn Vegan)
-- Scott Lamb