Take me higher

Community, transcendence, and the music of U2.

“Music’s powerful. It’s probably in all of us more than we realise. You’ll be humming (the songs), you’ll be thinking about them. So there is something I think is special about that art form, that it touches something very human and spiritual in everybody. And, I don’t know, there’s a great power that music has then maybe even watching opera, or reading a novel, you know, there’s some portability of music. Not that you’re carrying it around physically, but it’s inside of you.”

What is it about music that is so emotionally powerful in matching and even shaping our moods? Can music change how we view each other and our place in the world?

Scott Calhoun, creator of the U2 Conference, believes in the power of music to create community, an identity and a sense of emotional understanding. He thinks the ambiguity and mystery of the music of Irish rock band U2 helps explain the breadth of their appeal over four decades.

Here Scott discusses the traditions of the psalms, gospel and blues as key influences in U2’s music, and the way this has resonated for so many people – where joyful music becomes a means of processing life’s pain.      

“You can see over the 40 year career that human rights issues, the dignity of the individual, the freedom to choose and control and sort of be in charge of your own life, for better or for worse, but giving the human being freedom, that’s the through line in all their messaging.”