U2’s Freebie for iTunes Users: Invasion of Privacy, or Worth a Listen?

  • U2
    U2 (iStockphoto)
  • Garrett
    Greg Garrett, Ph.D.,Baylor English professor and author of book on U2 (Courtesy photo)
Sept. 17, 2014

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Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Sept. 17, 2014)— While some iTunes users debated whether they appreciated finding the U2 freebie album on their computers and phones recently, a Baylor professor who is the author of a book about U2 says the gift — the Irish band’s 13th album, “Songs of Innocence” — is “full of great songs about the bigger things in life.”

“It’s about where we find joy in life, how we get past sorrow, and where we find ultimate meaning. I think it’s their strongest album in years, maybe decades, with a couple of standout songs that people will rank up there with ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ One,’ and ‘Beautiful Day,’” said Greg Garrett, Ph.D., a professor of English in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. He wrote "We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2.”

The book explores the religious and spiritual roots of the Irish band, which, after a five-year recording silence, entered into an agreement with Apple Inc. to release the album for free to all iTunes customers, Garrett noted. The release showed up in users' iTunes music libraries, but many complained via social media, asking how to remove it. While it was already possible to delete the album, Apple's provided a new tool to allow users to do so in one click, even setting up a support website.

The album, to be released on Oct. 14 to the general public, is “intimate and autobiographical,” said Garrett, who met U2 in the early 1980s, when the band was virtually unknown.

The latest album explores the band’s past — “love stories, the death of Bono’s mother, their early visits to America, their Irish heritage and beloved musical ancestors The Ramones and The Clash," Garrett said. "In ‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’ Bono is singing with passion about how we are shaped by the past. In that song, it’s the death of his mother (‘The ache in my heart is so much a part of who I am’), but in almost every song, the band is considering how they came to this place.

“Now the largest corporation on the planet wants to partner with them. How did they get here? How have they had to change? And who are they now? Those are questions with which most of us can resonate, especially those of us who are no longer brash young people.”

BBC Radio has called Garrett one of America’s leading authorities on religion and culture. He is the co-author of 20 books of fiction, nonfiction and memoir, including books on Harry Potter, Hollywood film and comics and graphic novels. He speaks on his work across the United States and elsewhere, including recent lectures at Cambridge University, Kings College London and the American Library in Paris.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 24 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.

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