For Bono, the reason he wanted to get involved with what would become Broadway's most-expensive and extraordinarily complicated musical is pretty simple.
“U2's best work is done when we don't know what we're doing,” he said last night, at a special listening party for the soundtrack to “Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark.”
Alongside the band's guitarist The Edge, who also worked on composing the musical's songs, Bono explained how he had talked with Paul McCartney about how songs from Broadway musicals and The American Songbook had helped The Beatles create their own varied catalog. He wanted U2 to grow creatively in that way as well.
However, it turned out that the duo, who live “about 300 yards up the road” from each other, also enjoyed the process. “Writing the songs,” Bono said, “was just so much fun.”
The Edge said that their Broadway experience didn't turn out the way they planned. They thought that their rock background would roll over the Great White Way. “It's been a 50-50 thing,” he said, adding that they relate to U2's new work in Broadway musical terms, finding “10 o'clock songs” and “11 o'clock songs.” “It's been an education for us too.”
Bono also credited the show's initial director Julie Taymor, who was fired after the early run of shows drew near-universal pans, calling her a “card-carrying genius.” “Perhaps she got so close to it, she couldn't see it,” said Bono, adding that he spoke to Taymor yesterday. “Not that she would admit that.”
As far as the soundtrack, Bono and producer Steve Lillywhite said they put a great deal of thought into the album's sequencing, which differs from the way the songs run in the show. The soundtrack has a more traditional rock sequence, with its potential hits “Boy Falls From the Sky” and “Rise Above 1,” the first single which features Bono and The Edge supporting “Spider-man” star Reeve Carney, right at the start.
Before starting the listening party in the lobby of the Foxwoods Theater, Bono said that he hoped people would enjoy the soundtrack. “It is a musical after all,” he said, with a smile. “If you don't like this, we're -----.”
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BEST BONO JOKE: “Mary Jane from Queens? With the red hair? Gotta be Irish!” (on yet another U2 link to Spider-man)
BEST EDGE JOKE: “I know what you're thinking, 'They're so much taller in real life!'” (after he and Bono, both under 6 feet tall, entered the room)
The soundtrack to “Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark” (Interscope) is in stores Tuesday, the same day as the show's long-awaited opening.