Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bono trying to make a difference

Sean O'Hagan (with the Observer) recently spent 18 months with U2. He ended up writing this article, and including an interview with Bono. He speaks a little about what sets U2 apart:
"What is most intriguing - and, to their detractors, infuriating - about U2 is that they succeeded by ignoring, indeed breaking, most of the unwritten rules of rock stardom. They didn't - with the exception of the pre-rehab Adam Clayton - do sex or drugs and, as their critics pointed out, neither did they really do rock'n'roll. They were not rebellious, nor angst-ridden, nor did they trade on adolescent alienation or anger. Instead, they did joy. And spiritual joy, to boot. This made them unfashionable in Britain, the irony capital of the world, where sincerity, especially sincerity tinged with spirituality, is seen, at best, as uncool, at worst as downright embarrassing.

'One of the reason's for U2's longevity,' says Brian Eno, 'is that they are not in music for entirely selfish reasons. I don't want to make them appear as evangelists, which, of course, they were seen as by some sections of the music media in the early 80s, but I do believe that they really think that what they do serves some greater purpose than simply filling their bank accounts.'"
Here's an interesting part of the interview that reveals Bono's desire to help change the face of Africa:
"SOH From where I'm sitting, though, a lot of the people that you are bargaining with, and who are undoubtedly helping save lives in Africa, have also, by their actions elsewhere, shown a blatant disregard for human life on a grand scale. Surely, that, too, is their legacy?

Bono "Look, it's appalling and shocking and not ever excusable, the waste of human life. But on our issues, all I can say to you is that there are 29 million children in Africa who were not going to school and who now are. That's just in seven years. Now, that's not an excuse for a wrong-headed adventure. It's not an excuse. But I don't believe Tony Blair is evil. I know him enough to know that he is a sincere and serious person who would in any unserious way make those decisions and, though I disagreed with those decisions at the time, I think it's really simplistic to think that he is anyone's poodle."

SOH So, hand on heart, when you are dealing with these political heavyweights, do you ever think you are being played?

Bono "I don't care if I get the results. You have to judge me only by the results. If there were no results and you saw a picture of me hanging out with George Bush or Tony Blair or whoever, that would be a different matter. But if you see a picture of me and Bush and two years later you hear people saying 'How on earth did a conservative administration start the largest response to the Aids emergency yet?' I understand why people threw tomatoes at me at the time but even the worst critics have stopped."

SOH There must be moments in all this when you stop and think, this is too surreal. What the hell am I doing here?

Bono "All the time. I mean, there's me and Bob [Geldof] at the G8, and there's the Japanese and their plane is parked over here, and Air Force One is parked over there, and there's the French, the Italians, the Russians, the leaders and a tight coterie of advisers. And then there's fucking Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men who've somehow been let in. And Bush is going, 'Hey, Bono!' And there's Sarkozy and Merkel, who has given us the keys too because she's heard from Tony Blair that we were the right people to let in. Will we see the likes of it again? I don't know. It still feels mad to me, how that even happened."
Read the whole thing

(HT:Looking Closer)

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