Stories for boys: U2’s first cover outside of Ireland

November 10, 2015 |  by  |  Bono, Design, U2 Memorabilia  |  No Comments

Record Mirror November 10, 1979

This 1979 issue of London-based Record Mirror has been one of my U2 holy grails since learning of its existence. I’d never actually seen the cover, though, and it has never turned up in searches for U2 magazines (my collectible of choice, as vinyl, sunglasses, guitars and inflatable lemons can get pricey). I was on eBay recently chasing something else entirely, and an unfamiliar thumbnail popped into the list. I realized what it was and it spiked a feeling not unlike finally seeing a ticket become available on TicketMaster after hours of unsuccessful refreshing—a lot of disbelief followed by frenzied scrambling for my credit card.
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Young, not dumb: I quizzed my college students on the Songs Of Innocence cover

October 14, 2014 |  by  |  Design, Songs Of Innocence  |  1 Comment

Pop Quiz: Songs Of InnocenceI was curious what non-fans and U2 laymen think of the album art for U2’s “Songs Of Innocence.” My fanatic knowledge of the band frustrates any attempt to read the cover objectively. I was interested to hear interpretations that didn’t rely on a context created by years of fanhood or by the band themselves (revealing that the two figures are Larry Mullen Jr. and his son).  I showed my college graphic design students (the ultimate detached-from-U2 focus group) the cover and asked what they thought the album was about and what might be the relationship of the two people in the image. U2 did not include their name or title on the cover, so I did not reveal either to the class. 

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Naked and not afraid: U2’s Songs Of Innocence cover

September 26, 2014 |  by  |  Design, Songs Of Innocence  |  11 Comments

Songs Of Innocence cover

“Songs Of Innocence” is U2’s most reflexive album to date. It reveals their influences, their innocences, and their loss of both. The band is offering an astounding amount of personal insight with the songs themselves, but Bono’s historically revealing liner notes and stories shared in interviews are especially illuminating. How much does that knowledge, insight and contextualization influence our appreciation for the album? Do I love “Iris” because I know it’s about Bono’s mother, who died suddenly when he was a teen—an event that birthed Bono? Or is it objectively a great song with powerful sound and poignant lyrics? A similar challenge exists with the now confirmed cover art. Read More