Podcasts about music tend to be pretty uneven and largely inessential. That’s primarily because licensing fees make it prohibitively expensive to include actual music in podcasts. It’s kind of unsatisfying to listen to people talking about a song without ever actually playing the damn song they’re talking about. If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, then podcasting about music is like dancing about architecture for the blind.
There are exceptions here and there, of course. For instance, I really like this new podcast called Start Today. I admit, however, that might be a personal-taste kinda thing. Because, you see, the Gorilla Biscuits’ 1989 LP Start Today is one of my favorite albums of all time, and the first episode of the Start Today podcast is an hour-and-40-minute-long breakdown of “Start Today”: the title track off the album Start Today. Would I recommend that podcast to you? I think the answer to that question would depend on how you feel about Gorilla Biscuits. This, in my opinion, speaks to the larger issues facing podcasts about music.
But there is one podcast about music that transcends any such issues. It also transcends the very form of podcasting. In many ways, it transcends music. That podcast is U Talkin’ U2 To Me? — “the comprehensive and encyclopedic compendium of all things U2.” That is how the podcast is billed by its co-hosts (and co-creators) Scott Aukerman (Mr. Show, Comedy Bang Bang) and Adam Scott (star of Torque), dba Scott & Scott. That description is hilariously inapt. Scott & Scott are obsessive music nerds who genuinely fucking love U2, but U Talkin’ U2 To Me? rarely stays on topic. To wit: There are now 23 episodes of U Talkin’ U2 To Me?, and one of them is dedicated to Staind’s 2001 LP, Break The Cycle. That ep — “Staind Glass” (featuring special guest Todd Glass) — runs well over two hours, and I’d say maybe 10 minutes are spent talking about Staind. It is one of the funnest things I have ever experienced, in any medium, in my life.
Now I don’t really like U2 at all, but as far as I’m concerned, U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is the best podcast ever made. Or maybe I should say it WAS the best podcast ever made, because there was good reason to believe it was over forever after Episode 22, “U2 Talk 2 U” (in which Scott & Scott interviewed the band U2). Scott & Scott had claimed they would end the series if they ever actually got to talk to U2, and it seemed they were making good on that claim. “U2 Talk 2 U” came out 22 months ago, and since then … nothing.
So it’s been awhile. But last week, Scott & Scott went to the Rose Bowl to see U2 on The Joshua Tree Tour, and they’ve now released a new ep of U Talkin’ U2 To Me? If you are a fan of the series, this should be cause for pure, unfettered joy. (Even Scott & Scott sound ridiculously giddy about being back.) If you are not a fan of the series, DO NOT START WITH THIS EPISODE. It will make no sense and you will hate it. Start at the beginning — Episode 1, “From Boy To Under A Blood Red Sky” — because there are unreasonably complicated in-jokes that evolve over the course of the show’s existence. It’s worth it. Every goddamn second of this whole entire series is a gift. There are some eps I’ve listened to dozens of times. I can quote long stretches verbatim. I crack up just thinking about certain exchanges. I am in fact cracking up right now.
As the Washington Post wrote at the time of the release of Songs Of Innocence: “The return of U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is the best part of the new U2 album.” That statement was 100% accurate in 2014. And I would say right now, the return of U Talkin’ U2 to Me? is the best part of 2017. Listen.