By Bob Heaning
In my mind, I am in a parking lot. Not sure if itís SPAC or Hartford or Camden. Although, the smell of urine is particularly strong so itís probably Hartford. The sun is about to set and itís about 20 minutes until showtime. The cooler is being packed back into the truck and the conversation and excitement level is picking up. Itís tour time 2012.
In reality, I just checked the thermostat because Iím freezing my tits off and outside itís gray turning to black. Itís the post holiday, nose running, only seven more football games left blues.
What is causing my mind to wonder to better days? Iím glad I decided to pretend you asked. Itís the (alleged) news that the boys may be back in the studio and they may be there with Steve Lillywhite.
Now, I understand the volatility of such a marriage, but a decade has passed and maybe the slate is clean, if not cleanish. The band has been through tragedy on a personal level and many uncertainties on a professional level. The record industry has tanked. The top selling musical acts are largely bereft of talent and the overall pool of money for the industry to fight for is drying up.
Another uncertainty is that, on one hand, they have a rabid fan base that helps them do things like sell out baseball stadiums and take a ďyear offĒ and still have reasonable expectation that when they return they will be able to do so again. But on the other hand, has a segment of that fan base who thinks a large part of what the band has done in the past decade does not move them like they were moved in 1998. People that wonít acknowledge that the music you banged that hottie you met at the BBQ to is always going to be better than the music you drive the kids to school to.
Itís a segment that would head for the hills if they pursued commercial success and made songs that sound like what Train or Maroon 5 have turned out the last few years. This dichotomy between producing economically viable pop music to people still banging hotties from the BBQ and not alienating their perpetually grumpy (but loyal) following has got to be a point of consternation for the band. They are not the first band to deal with this conundrum, but with the current industry climate there is no textbook on how to handle it.
Maybe hiring Steve Lillywhite is the bandís bouquet of flowers to a dubious fan base standing with itís arms crossed as they wait to see if this break is going to put the spark back in the relationship. The flowers put a smile on our face and not only make us willing to listen, but also make it feel a little like the old days. Maybe itís a sign that the days of flirting with those young thangs is over and the band has decided to settle down and make an honest fan base out of us.
You can call me a sucker. I may come home from work early one day and catch Dave and Jennifer Hudson doing a duet on Ellen. Iíve been hurt enough times to know that. But if they mean it this time think how good it could be. It can be sunset in the parking lot as I put away the cooler in a lively debate about what the band is going to open with instead of cranking the thermostat up two more degrees. I wanna believe thatís what Steve Lillywhite means. Why would you want to take that away from me?
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