In 1983 I sat on a cruise ship deck with a Sony Walkman on. I found a place—for authorized people only—and broke the rules. I sat on the port side of the ship and listened to a cassette tape of an album called War. Sure, I had Boy and October but War was new and in relative age, so was I.
Sailing calmly on Caribbean waters, I recall listening to Drowning Man relentlessly. I was capturing every aural nuance and as a musician, that’s what I do. Those memories are so seared in my brain that I can smell the ocean when I hear that song today.
What the heck brought these two things together?
I was walking today while listening to Unforgettable Fire and it reminded me of the journey the band U2 have experienced. The humble beginnings and raging success to the aging icons they have become. Like life, it most surely has had its victories—transient as they are—and failures that define this single-act play. It also occurred to me that F1 has had a similar path but it missed the plot somewhere with the aging icon stage.
I have assembled three things F1 can learn from U2 because, quite honestly, it’s my prerogative and I happen to enjoy the music of U2—having grown up with them and tried in vain to get the same sound as The Edge with a Strat and a old Silver Anniversary Marshal 25/50 switchable single 12”… yeah, that didn’t happen.
Lesson 1: As you evolve with time and technology, don’t betray the core DNA of what made you successful even if the product you produce sounds different than before.
Your passion for creating something from nothing is admirable but if you compromise your integrity for a fad or pop-culture notion, you compromise everything you stood for in the beginning with your humility-fueled quest for excellence and admiration.
U2 strayed from their original sound during the 90’s and while they sounded completely different, their molecular-level fabrication was still weaving nuance that complimented their desire to create and their humble beginnings. F1 would do well to avoid faddish notions and cling to what its original concept was… the art of racing, not the art of entertaining at the cost of integrity. F1, like U2, can certainly make a statement with their change but not at the risk of erasing who they are.
Lesson 2: If your product allows you to reach more diverse cultural and political issues, be sure to always favor the universal humanitarian causes and leave despotism for those who would oppress their common man.
U2, unlike F1, have championed the human condition and cause—what’s the last humanitarian charity you saw F1 endorse and give too? U2 have favored health, life and liberty over cash, cache and oppressive regimes. Some may say shut up and play your guitar and that’s okay but to risk all they built for hunger, AIDS, peace, Africa and other noble causes proves their desperate and humble beginnings resonate more than the success they so desperately desired. Sure, they lost fans from their political views but they gained more as individuals than they ever lost in CD sales.
F1 would do well to work with the teams and the FIA to stop blathering about “greenwashing” F1 and start using their presence in emerging and oppressive nations to bring the beauty and freedom of pure motor sport to the indigenous people. They should work with those nations—who host a race for legitimacy—in continuing the humanitarian cause of liberty and free market that has so richly blessed them. The FIA’s Safe Road program was spot on; their new desire to use more batteries does little for emerging nation’s current condition.
Lesson 3: U2 was once voted the best band in the world. They detoured from their traditional sound (which is often referred to as October through War) and applied their trade to new technologies. They created music in the same passion-driven vain they used on War but the new sound was perhaps premature for an audience that had not yet tired for the original U2 sound. When they returned to the studio to visit their past, Bono said that they were effectively “reapplying for the job of best band in the world”.
F1 has strayed from its original sound as well. They have embraced new technology and applied their passion-driven efforts for the past two decades. They too have detoured from their original element and perhaps fans were not tired of their product in the first place.
F1 should stop considering themselves beyond reproach and start reapplying for the job of the pinnacle of motor sport. They lost that crown in many people’s estimation. They can have all the swagger they want but truth is, processional racing is not the pinnacle of anything nor is manipulated overtaking for “the show”. F1 needs to re-visit their history, find their original passion and craft the real F1. The one that enchanted people the world over regardless of nation or location.
Okay…this is BS!
Sure, it’s a stretch but I think F1 could learn a thing or two from U2. This is what happens when I walk and listen to U2 while thinking about F1… it’s a Frankenstein post of two completely disparate worlds mashed together in nonsense but then it does give me a good reason to rebuff F1 for the things I feel put upon by as a lifelong fan… oh, and it’s my blog.
Meanwhile I’ll be over here trying to get The Edge’s sound with a ’57 Strat reissue and that same Marshall. I do have an Explorer but it’s an ’82 and not in working order. Maybe if I could get The Edge to give me his black strat and I bought an AC30 with a couple TC-2290’s that would help? Come to think of it, that might help F1 too.