U2 kick off their Songs of Innocence album with this tribute to one of their earliest influences, the late Ramones vocalist Joey Ramone. "I found my voice through Joey Ramone," Bono told Rolling Stone, "because I wasn't the obvious punk-rock singer, or even rock singer. I sang like a girl - which I'm into now, but when I was 17 or 18, I wasn't sure. And I heard Joey Ramone, who sang like a girl, and that was my way in."
U2 surprised the music world on September 9, 2014 when it was announced at an Apple event that Songs of Innocence would be made available for free to anyone with an iTunes account until its physical release on October 13, 2014. "The most personal album we've written could be shared with half a billion people - by hitting send," Bono said. "If only songwriting was that easy."
The surprise announcement was compared to Beyoncé, who dropped her self-titled album without warning on iTunes in December 2013. Other acts who have used unusual launch strategies for their albums include Radiohead who initially released In Rainbows in 2007 as a pay-what-you-want download, and Prince, who has allowed CDs to be given away with newspapers.
Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh, worked with Apple to gain approval for the use of the late Ramones singer's image without knowing exactly what it was being used for. He told MTV News, "It made me feel so good… [When I] finally found out what it was all about, my jaw dropped right away."
Leigh first heard song at a friend's house. "I had to keep my heart going there, it's so beautiful," he recalled. "I loved it. It's Bono's interpretation and his spirit, but it also captures Joey's spirit. He described my brother's spirit well. I think he got just what Joey would have wanted out of it."
The last song that Joey Ramone listened to before he died was U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind
track "In A Little While
A number of iTunes account holders were unhappy that Songs of Innocence appeared in their music libraries without having the option to opt-out. Bono apologized during a Facebook Q&A session. "Oops. I'm sorry about that," he said. "I had this beautiful idea and we got carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing. Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion, and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn't be heard. There's a lot of noise out there. I guess we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it."
According to Apple, within the first month of the release of Songs of Innocence, 81 million users listened to it and 26 million downloaded the entire record.
Songs of Innocence was named Best Album of 2014 by Rolling Stone. They said: "There was no bigger album of 2014 - in terms of surprise, generosity and controversy. Songs of Innocence is also the rebirth of the year."
"Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. put their lives on the line: giving away 11 songs of guitar rapture and frank, emotional tales of how they became a band out of the rough streets and spiritual ferment of Seventies Dublin. This is personal history with details."
"The four members of U2 went to see the Ramones playing in the state cinema in Dublin without thinking about how we were going to get in," Bono wrote in the Songs of Innocence
liner notes. "We had no tickets and no money... My best friend Guggi had a ticket and he snuck us through a side exit he pried open. The world stopped long enough for us to get on it. Even though we only saw half the show, it became one of the great nights of our life...."
Bertrand - Paris, France