Larry: How to Dismantle a Drum Kit*

October 31, 2004

By Roland Schulte

The hardest working, coolest playing man in show business celebrates a birthday today, October 31, so it’s time to review some of his highlights. And thanks to his Dick Clark-like ripening, we’ll be able to do this for many years to come.

So here they are, in ascending order, the top-five pounding, bopping, thud-whacking, driving, thundering, stomping beats from Larry…Mullen…Jr…..

5. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – Larry has “kept U2 in their first job”
largely because of the success of this song. Simple and straightforward, the early drum work on this one can be mimicked by any Larry wannabe at the local music store. The drum manufacturers really owe Larry for this one.

4. “Please” – All U2 concert-goers know that the B-stage is usually occupied by Bono and The Edge. This song, however, could probably survive without them. With “Please”, Larry and Adam perforate a plea all their own.

3. “Trip Through Your Wires” – Also know as “Whipped by Larry’s Ire.” If you still have it cranked up after “In God’s Country,” your ears are going to hurt when Larry goes at it. Hard work going on behind the drum kit here.

2. “Bullet the Blue Sky” – One of Larry’s, and U2’s, most recognizable songs, all thanks to a pounding intro. The Edge has a jagged platform from which to pounce as this song kicks off. Again, watch the volume level after “With or Without You.”

1. “Miami” – Listening to this one, you picture Larry rolling down the streets of Miami on a beloved Harley, wearing Ray Bans, and probably smoking a cigarette. We don’t really know if Larry smokes, but he does on this song. Larry’s work paints the picture of Miami, right or wrong, good or bad.

All photos c/o

Experience: Meeting Bono on my 21st Birthday

October 28, 2004

By celia

It was October 16, a day before my 21st birthday, and that morning I found out that U2 was playing on "CD:UK" at the Riverside Studios in London. This could be my chance to catch a glimpse of U2, even from a distance.

I got to the studio at about 11:30 a.m. and met a few other U2 fans, some who, lucky for them, had tickets for the "CD:UK" taping. I was really jealous and did try to see if I could get in without a ticket but was told they were already overbooked and that not everyone with tickets would be able to get in. While I was waiting outside I got to see Maroon 5, Kings of Leon and Westlife. At about 4:45, U2 drove in, one car after the other through the front. The band went right to the back of the studio and I only got a quick view of Bono and Edge before they went in. By this time it was getting very cold so we went off to get something to eat and drink and warm up.

We came back to the studio at 7 and went to the side entrance where the cars and drivers were waiting for U2 to come out. We, and about five other fans who were waiting, got to hear "Vertigo" and a couple of other songs as well, which was great.

At about 8, after watching the cars and all the equipment being brought out, and seeing Kings of Leon again, Adam was first out. I got his autograph and he was lovely and stopped for the first few pp to chat, sign things. He was looking very, very good, I have to say.

Second out was Edge, a large scream of "Edge" coming from all the people waiting. I got his autograph just in time because he nearly went past me as he was getting rushed but I held my bit of paper out and he saw me, smiled and signed it. He was so lovely.

Then third out was Larry. He walked past everyone as if he was just taking a walk along the street, hardly noticing anyone, which made me smile.

And then Bono came out. There was this annoying girl next to me who
didn’t even like U2, she just follows celebrities around to get pictures and autographs to sell, and she shouted out that she had been waiting all day to see him so he came over to her first.

I was trying to take some pictures but my camera was playing up and then Bono was standing right in front of me and I said, "Hi Bono, it’s my 21st birthday tomorrow, could you please write ‘Happy Birthday’ to me on here?" He looked me in the eyes and said, "Can I sing you ‘Happy Birthday?’" Then he put his cheek against mine and started singing "happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you," right in my ear. We kissed cheeks and I laughed because everybody standing behind me suddenly went, "Aw."

I was just in shock. Bono just sang "Happy Birthday" to me. Wow!

I was really lucky because after that Bono only signed for about three more people before getting rushed off. One person shouted out, "I love your shoes Bono," and he said, "That’s shoe business."

Paul McGuiness was also there and I remember getting excited and just shouting out "Paul." Don’t ask why, after having Bono sing "Happy Birthday" in your ear you feel rather strange.

I am still in dreamland and think I will be for the rest of my life. What a great way to remember my 21st birthday, I never ever thought this would happen. The funny thing is the day before I had a birthday cake and made a wish when I blew out the candle that I hoped to see U2 soon, meaning when on tour next year or something. I never thought my dream would come true the day after. How’s that for speed?

So I’ve learned that dreams do come true. Dream Out Loud.

Report: Bono at the World Affairs Council of Oregon *

October 28, 2004

By Andrea Kilgore (drealynn42)

When it was first announced that Bono would speak at the World Affairs Council of Oregon on October 20, I immediately knew that my friends and I would find a way to be in Portland that day. For one thing, my two very good friends have both spent time volunteering in African villages and are quite concerned about the issues affecting those communities. For another, we are all dedicated music fans whose admiration of U2 grew exponentially as we learned more about Bono’s social activism, his commitment to social justice truly inspires us. He is a brilliant speaker, armed with both an intellectual argument and an endearing sense of humor. There is no doubt in my mind that it is Bono’s uncanny ability to connect with an audience, whether from behind a podium or the very top of the stadium scaffolding, that drives his effectiveness as a social activist. As a member of the U2 trading community, I have been able to collect quite a few of his speaking engagements on mp3 and video, so it was quite a thrill to think that I could finally attend an event like this in person.

I also wanted to attend this event to demonstrate my support of both DATA and Bono as its driving force behind. I know that many people question whether or not it is right to ask a celebrity to champion a cause. The truth is, the word "celebrity" is often wrongfully confused with "infamy," while some people do capture our attention for the wrong reasons, we too often forget that "celebrity" is actually the celebration of a person we have come to admire on some level. Bono may have become famous by singing rock ‘n’ roll tunes but he has proven himself capable of doing work that other people have found daunting.

Additionally, those of us who have dedicated our lives to serving our communities as nurses, teachers, activists or community volunteers can tell you that the voice of an advocate is absolutely essential to the work that we do. The attention brought to an emergency situation by an individual of standing in the local or national community can mean the difference between life and death, justice and injustice. Effective advocates are those who break through silence and ignorance. In the end it really does not matter what path led them toward their success, for there is essentially no difference between the work of a high school student, grandmother, city mayor or film actor when they change lives for the better. What is more, successful advocates give us inspiration and encouragement when we get tired carrying on the work ourselves. To be perfectly honest, I did feel a twinge of guilt about driving 300 miles just to see my favorite rock star speak for a couple of hours while the homeless shelter I work for is understaffed. Fortunately, my boss was much more understanding than I had expected him to be, in fact I learned that he is also an admirer of Bono’s activist work. He instructed me to take very good notes for him and I am pleased to share those with you now.

The World Affairs Council of Oregon is an organization that fosters discourse on international issues between renowned world leaders and the local community. Past events have featured, among others, Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama. The representative of the WAC of Oregon joked as she opened the evening that Bono would be the first rock star invited to speak, though some of the past speakers possibly liked to think that they were rock stars. The event was scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m., but the stage, and many of the seats, were still empty at 7:15. It was soon announced that a traffic accident near the Rose Garden had caused much of the audience to be delayed, so the event would be postponed for another 15 minutes. At 7:30, the seats had filled and everyone began clapping and shouting in the hope that things would finally get started. After some introductory remarks, Bono finally took the stage and opened with some friendly banter about his tardiness. "A funny thing happened on the way to the theater…" Yes, he explained, an accident had stopped traffic on the way to the Rose Garden and delayed his appearance. But something even more extraordinary had happened while he was in Portland that day.

Bono began his story by asking whether anyone knew The Foghorn, a club U2 played early in its career. Many people in the audience cheered in response. Bono then joked that it was highly unlikely anyone present actually remembered the gig, for only eight people had attended—four of those people were in the band, one was a bartender, another was security and the other two were thieves. The reason he knew they were thieves was that he had made a special effort to speak with them after the show and, while he wasn’t looking, they walked off with his suitcase. The suitcase just happened to contain the notebook of lyrics he had written for the recording session that would produce the "October" album. The theft caused Bono great distress and has become something of a legend in the U2 fan community for the loss of the notebook is often blamed for the poor quality of the "October" album since Bono rushed to write new lyrics that he claimed were inferior to those he had lost. The disappointment of losing the notebook came to an end on October 20. Amazingly enough, the thieves never sold the notebook though it may have been worth a great deal of money. According to the report from U2Log, two women came across the notebook, recognized it for what it was and decided to return it to its rightful owner. Bono thanked the women and joyously announced: "You don’t know how much this means to me, now I can say I love Portland and mean it."

The surprise announcement of this good deed set the tone of the evening, for the incident seemed to have warmed Bono’s heart and left him a bit giddy. He appeared relaxed and comfortable with the audience. Though much of his speech was more than just a little familiar to those of us who have already heard him speak about AIDS and debt relief, his warm and friendly tone made the usual jokes about mullets and meeting the Pope feel new and spontaneous.

Someone else may be able to provide a more accurate transcript than I, but I would like to share some of the notes that I was able to scribble down. Quotation marks indicate phrases that I believe were copied down accurately, while phrases not in quotes indicate my paraphrasing of what Bono said.

In addition to the story about the returned notebook, Bono began the evening with the traditional greeting "I am a rock star," only he altered it by saying, "Tonight I am an ice skater." I really have no idea what he was talking about, I was just happy to be in the same room as he at this point.

One of the more playful moments of the evening occurred when Bono noticed that the crowd was willing to participate. After repeatedly emphasizing that the AIDS crisis in Africa is an emergency that needs immediate attention, Bono found that the crowd would finish his phrase on cue.

Bono: "It’s an…"
Audience: "…emergency."

After leading us through several rounds of this, Bono was quite satisfied and joked, "I’m feeling a little black tonight. It’s like being in church, thank you for that. It won’t fly in Dublin, though." He then did his impression of what would occur if he tried to recreate this moment with an Irish crowd.

Bono: "It’s an…"
Irish audience: [gives a very rude two fingered salute and mouths "F--- you."]
Bono: "That’s what they do to me in Dublin, you’re going spoil me here."

Throughout the evening, Bono emphasized that the crisis of AIDS and poverty is a challenge that this generation must face. He acknowledged that the problem may appear insurmountable at times and he could very easily "go back to throwing TV’s out windows, inviting the entire ladies soccer team round to the hot tub… You know, rock star stuff…" But we are on the verge of a great achievement that is attainable in our time if we would only work toward it. Later he would say, "This is our Omaha Beach…our moon shot…"

Bono also emphasized the ties between terrorism and severe poverty. "The war against terror is bound up in the war against poverty," he said. "Africa is 40 percent Muslim and we know they [Islamic extremists] are making progress there." He then said that "Brand America" is tarnished throughout the world. "The neon sign is crackling and fizzing, someone threw a rock through the storefront window," he said. "Brand America needs some polishing." If Americans were to show interest in the Third World, even by painting the medicines red, white and blue, we would effectively thwart terrorism. He explained, however, that his metaphor of "Brand America" should not be taken as criticism of American capitalism. He admitted that he buys the brands, too. After listing off some of the luxury items that he enjoys as much as the average American, he called out: "I buy the iPods. I want my MTV."

Bono then compared debt relief to the Marshall Plan. "This argument is dirtier than that," he said. "It’s rooted deeper than that, it’s rooted in the dirty battlefields of Europe in WWII. They built a bulwark against the extremism of the Soviet Union, now we can build a bulwark for half the cost."

"The Clash wore army boots, not Birkenstocks," Bono shouted above the cheers. "I wanted to say that in on the West Coast." Bono then explained the difference between idealism and pragmatism. "Idealism isn’t being played on the radio these days," he said. "Knowingness, the smirk…I got quite good at it myself…" So, he said, choose to be pragmatic rather than idealistic. "Roll up your sleeves, apply muscle and bend the world a bit."

"Ireland is a great country, France is a great country, but they are not ideas, America is an idea," Bono said. "In 1771 Benjamin Franklin spent three months in Ireland and Scotland. Could Americans remain part of the British Empire? Very upset by what he saw. Not a happy camper, Benjamin Franklin. Neither were the people. Exploited by the British, they subsisted on potatoes. Not the American dream…So America became the model for Ireland. And when the potatoes went, they showed up here, on these shores…"

"The presidential election is on everyone’s mind right now but in two weeks it will be over," he said before pausing and adding, "Well, we hope it will be over…" After the crowd stopped laughing, he continued, "I can’t vote here, but I do come lecture here, in your country. I keep waiting for someone to say, ‘Go home.’ No one has told me to go home yet, so I stay…" You can do your part. "Tell whomever wins: do right by Africa, do right by America, you do right by the world."

Bono finished by telling the story of a congressman who had survived the concentration camps of WWII. The most horrific part of the experience was not the camp itself, but the fact that ordinary people did not question where the trains were going. "We will not let the trains go by," he said. "We will go down to the tracks and lay a line across them…"

Bono then invited special guest Agnes Nyamayarwo to tell her story. Her husband died of AIDS in 1992, leaving her alone to raise their 10 children. She decided to have herself tested and learned that she too had contracted HIV. Her oldest son experienced the full force of stigmatization at school, being bullied by the other students and repeatedly told that he would be a failure and an orphan. He suffered a mental breakdown and later disappeared from boarding school, never to be seen again. Agnes’ youngest son tested HIV positive when he was 5 years old and later died of pneumonia. Agnes herself was weak at the time she first met Bono and Paul O’Neill during the pair’s tour of Africa in May 2002, but she is feeling better now that she has been receiving treatment. She is glad that her surviving children will not be orphaned, however, it is difficult for her to take the medications while her friends are dying. Her story illustrated the importance of treating the adult population so that they can continue to raise their children. At some point during the evening, Bono remarked that the missing generation of parents has created a "Lord of the Flies" situation as orphaned children are left to raise other children.

Question and Answer Session

The audience was invited to submit questions for Bono before the event. The moderator was rewarded with a kiss on the cheek whenever Bono was pleased with the question she asked.

Are drug companies willing to lower prices or provide free medication? If not, how can we afford it?

"They are slowly coming on, but we can’t wait for them. If you’re dying, you don’t care about the brand name, just that they work. We are telling them that…" Bono went on to say, "The top down approach doesn’t work, where you parachute down ideas… We must listen to what Africans themselves are telling us about their continent." Some have suggested that Africans do not deserve to be given the drugs they need because they are not capable of following the drug regimen but studies show that Africans are actually better at following their drug regimens than people in the United States and Europe. We must listen to what the patients are saying about what they need.

What do you think of the Bush administration’s Millennium Challenge Account?

"Absolutely brilliant idea, and we helped think it up." Bono then said he had bad news about America, Americans are great, generous people, but number 22 in per capita spent in the world. They do not like it when they hear this. "Americans don’t like coming last, is my impression of it." Many Americans believe money they have given to the Third World is wasted on corrupted governments, he continued, but we must change this perception by showing results and being careful about which countries receive benefits. "They are slow, don’t want to cash the check, but it’s coming."

How has your faith influenced your work?

Bono remained silent for a moment and allowed the irony of this question to sink in. He then joked that it would take a very long time to explain all that. "I generally find it hard talking to people who can sum up their faith or their entire world view in three minutes." He paused and added sheepishly, "Though I do try to do so in a pop song." He then said, "People ask me, ‘Are you right with the Lord?’ Ask him, he’ll probably say, ‘No, but I love him anyway.’ And that’s why I love Him, He’s very patient."

"Scriptures talk about what you do with the poor," he continued. The scriptures do not talk about the things that have become religious issues." This comment drew a huge response from the audience.

Describe your meeting with the Pope.

Bono seemed flabbergasted that someone would actually ask this question. "We swapped rosaries for sunglasses, what can I tell you?" He joked that the two swapped pics, then we went out for a pint of Guinness and the photos were never seen, because they could see the T-shirts. "In Ireland, we have very strong feelings about the Pope, particularly women, concerning contraception issues, so I had to tread carefully," Bono said. "As a man, I don’t agree with everything he believes but I found him to be a beautiful man." Bono then explained that he was still honored to meet the Pope despite his personal feelings toward him and found him to be a great ally. Adopting a very humble and reverent tone, Bono said, "I thank you, Holy Father."

Bono repeatedly emphasized his commitment to bipartisanship throughout the evening, but the people who submitted questions seemed determined to get him to reveal his actual opinion. Each question became more loaded and difficult to answer without revealing too much information about his personal feelings. Bono had been very friendly and open all evening, and his light-heartedness continued even as he and the entire audience realized he was fighting an uphill battle against some very determined fans.

Does George II answer your calls? What are your impressions?

Bono chuckled as he realized the question had backed him into a corner. After stalling for a bit, he finally said, "Well, you couldn’t come from somewhere more different than me and George." The audience laughed while he began to stammer and stall again, trying to choose his words carefully. "He didn’t want to meet me…but I did feel he was moved at a deeper level." At the meeting, Bush had said the situation in Africa was genocide, but, according to Bono, his aides advised him not to use the word as it implied that we were complicit. "We know where he parks his car. We will make his life miserable if he doesn’t follow through." He then added that the same will apply to Kerry if he wins.

Why did you pick AIDS as your cause?

After reading the question, the moderator paused and said, "I know you don’t like that word, but I know what the questioner meant." Bono quickly interrupted her, saying emphatically, "No, I do not like that word ’cause,’ I have other causes. Everyone has their causes, some people’s causes are their pets…"

As a father of four, what is your best parenting advice?

Bono pretended to have nothing to say, implying that he had no parenting advice to share. "Ask the parent of 10," he exclaimed and quickly handed the mic to Agnes. Her advice was that it is important to teach children morals, no matter what those morals are based in. It is also important to "show them that they are not different from children in other parts of the world." The crowd cheered at this and Bono took his turn. "I have two little boys, 3 and 5, two girls, 13 and 15. I say to the boys: don’t smoke in bed, don’t torture your mother, don’t sing in the bath, put your dirty clothes away…oh no, that’s me." Taking a serious tone, he added, "I listen to my children as much as I listen to me." This drew perhaps one of the most enthusiastic responses of the night. "Ditto what Agnes said."

What keeps you up at night?

"Nothing keeps me up at night. I am getting up early, changing my ways. I meet the muse on her way back from work when she’s beat and run circles about her."

Lots of people in this audience want you to answer: If you could, who would you vote for?

Bono sat silent for a moment as the audience laughed, then gathered up all of his resolve to remain bipartisan. It’s very hard for an Irish man to keep his mouth shut but I am not allowed because I will have to work with both of them," he said. "The president is not important, congress is important and must be dealt with in a bipartisan way. When I first came to Washington, I asked, ‘Who is Elvis?’ At the time, the president was known as Elvis because he ‘talked like this,’" Bono said in a very good Clinton impersonation. "Actually, congress is Col. Tom Parker. So I can’t answer your question." After a moment, he added, "Kerry knows his stuff. His wife is African. He is not just briefed but is passionate about these issues."

How can we be involved?

In any way you wish," he said. "There are sides to this problem that should appeal to any interest, whether it is social justice, AIDS, women, etc…Choose which one interests you, because each aspect of the problem is just as important as the rest."

After the last question had been answered, everyone immediately rose for a standing ovation. The moderator thanked everyone for attending and asked if the ladies in the audience might wish to touch the cheek that Bono had kissed. Bono thanked everyone for supporting DATA through their attendance. "The next time you see us," he closed by saying, "we’ll have a new record out."

Experience: Bono Receives the Freedom Award in Memphis*

October 25, 2004

By Debbie Kreuser

On Monday, Oct. 18, Bono and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) were honored by the National Civil Rights Museum with its annual Freedom Award. Past recipients include Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. This was not the first time that Lewis and Bono had met, both were present when Bono was honored by The King Center in January as the international recipient of the Salute to Greatness award.

The first event of Bono’s day in Memphis was a free public forum held near the National Civil Rights Museum at the Temple of Deliverance, a name that impressed Bono. The program opened with a performance by Watoto D’Afrika, a local youth African-inspired singing and dancing troupe. After the opening prayer, the forum began with a recognition ceremony of local students who won the "Keeper of the Dream" poster art competition and students that were recognized for their personal courage and community service. Next, Lewis was recognized with a brief video introduction of his life and his contributions to the civil rights movement.

Lewis spoke about his life growing up in rural Alabama in segregation during the 1940s and 1950s. He talked about being inspired by Rosa Parks’ and Martin Luther King Jr.’s examples of nonviolent protest against segregation. Lewis joined the civil rights movement as a student activist in the early 1960s, participating in Freedom Rides. He described how he was nearly beaten to death several times by police. He talked about how he thought that he was looking death in its face on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965 when a group of nonviolent protesters were brutally attacked by local police authorities in order to stop them from marching. Known as Bloody Sunday, that vicious attack in part lead to the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson a few months later.

On a lighter note, Lewis talked about how, as a boy, he raised chickens and would gather them in the family barn and preached to them. Lewis joked that he felt that those chickens listened to him more than his fellow congressmen in DC. At least, he continued, they were more productive than congressmen because they lay eggs.

After a beautiful performance by the Stax Music Academy, it was Bono’s turn at the podium. A short video highlighted Bono’s humanitarian efforts beginning with his lifelong respect and love for King and how Bono clung to the philosophy of nonviolence during his formative teenage years after Ireland’s Bloody Sunday, Jan. 29 1972. This coincidence of these two men—one black, one white, one older, one younger, united by their adherence to the nonviolent philosophy of King and united by these two different Bloody Sunday events—definitely struck the audience in the Temple of Deliverance.

After the video, Bono approached the podium. Dressed in a red velvet striped jacket, pink shirt, jeans and, in his words, rose-colored glasses, Bono started his talk by praising Lewis and stating that he is one of the congressman’s "chickens" to the applause of the audience. Bono thanked the pastor of the Temple of Deliverance for allowing him to take over the podium and stated how much he enjoyed being in a preacher’s podium.

He asked if anyone had seen the Jay-Z concert in Memphis the night before and thanked the hip-hop community for its help in the AIDS struggle. Bono commented on the musical contributions of Memphis,- of how the blues (the father) had married gospel (the mother) and created rock ‘n’ roll (the child). He talked about his admiration of the three Kings of Memphis—Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Martin Luther King Jr. And then Bono turned a bit more serious and said that he wanted to take us on a journey to Africa and asked if we wanted to come along. The audience answered yes.

Bono talked about the AIDS pandemic in Africa and of how the world would not allow this to happen anywhere else. He questioned why the greatest health emergency in history is not covered on the evening news. Bono spoke of his and wife Ali’s trip to an Ethiopian refugee camp shortly after Live Aid and how it changed his life. Then, to the delight of the audience, Bono introduced Ali and daughters Jordan and Eve who were present in the audience.

The forum closed with a gospel rendition of "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by the young women of the Stax Music Academy, with Bono being the first one to rise to his feet in a standing ovation for them.

A special highlight of the day came about two hours later when Lewis, Bono and family visited the National Civil Rights Museum and saw the room that King stayed in the night before his assassination. Then, in an honor reserved for the most special of guests, the entourage got to stand on the balcony at the exact spot where King was shot. Bono would later call it "consecrated ground."

The evening’s activities for the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Awards commenced with a dinner held in honor of Bono and Lewis at the Cook Convention Center downtown Memphis. Neither honoree addressed the audience during the dinner. After the dinner, everyone moved to the Cannon Center next door for the event that everyone had waited for all day, the awards ceremony.

There was an introductory speech by Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Whip and longtime AIDS advocate with Bono, to welcome everyone to the evening’s activities. There was a musical selection from the National Civil Rights Museum’s choir. And then, after the same short video introduction played again that had been shown earlier in the day, Lewis was asked to come up and receive his award.

Lewis talked about similar themes as he had discussed earlier in the day—segregation, the Civil Rights Movement and nonviolence—but this time with more stridency, maybe caught up in the magic of the moment. He praised Bono’s efforts to highlight the AIDS pandemic in Africa and called him "a brother," to which Bono quickly jumped to his feet and gave a closed-fisted salute to the applause of the audience. Lewis ended on a rousing note when he encouraged us all not to give up the struggle for freedom and justice. He stated that although we may have all come over on different ships, we’re all in the same boat. Lewis left the stage to a standing ovation.

Then, it was Bono’s turn. The same short video was shown again from the morning highlighting Bono’s humanitarian efforts. Bono took the stage this time wearing what appeared to be a maroon jacket, purple shirt with a grey tie and slacks. It was the first time that I had ever seen Bono in a tie—very impressive. He started off praising Lewis as he had done earlier in the day and then cracked a joke about how following a man like Lewis was like the Monkees following the Beatles. A little while later, to stress his point, Bono broke into "I’m a Believer" to the delight of the audience.

Bono’s voice almost broke at one point while describing the AIDS pandemic in Africa, this time placing special emphasis on the 11 million children already orphaned by AIDS. Maybe this emphasis on AIDS orphans came from the fact that Bono’s family had accompanied him on this trip so children were in the forefront of his mind. He spoke as he had at The King Center in a traditional call and response pattern when he repeated several times that the AIDS crisis in Africa was not a cause, to the audience’s response of "It’s an emergency," to which Bono simply stated "Amen." In his speech, Bono described himself as "a rock star with an emergency."

Bono talked about one of King’s favorite Bible passages about Jeremiah and how Jeremiah witnessed so much injustice in the world. Bono talked about "the Balm in Gilead" that would heal the sin-sick soul. He talked of how there is a woman dying slowly from AIDS right now in some remote part of Africa, forgotten by world, wondering who will help her, who will be her "balm in Gilead". Bono stressed that we are the balm to bring healing to Gilead (Africa). Bono challenged us once more with his "journey of equality" for Africa and brought us another step closer up to King’s mountaintop.

Bono left the stage to rousing applause and a prolonged standing ovation. His magnificent day in Memphis was almost over.

Through the generosity of a friend, I was able to attend the V.I.P. reception held for the honorees after the ceremony. Amid the throngs of evening-dressed men and women thrusting CDs, U2 pictures and evening programs in front of Bono’s face to sign, I managed to approach Bono cautiously during the reception.

I did not want to take anything away from Bono, I did not want an autograph or a picture from him. I had simply come to present him with small pin that I had purchased at a global AIDS conference the year before, the proceeds of which would go to support a community of AIDS women and children in Zambia. The pin said "Hope Is Vital—HIV," a wordplay that I knew that Bono would appreciate.

Standing right in front of him for a moment, I took the plunge and simply said "Bono, this is for you. HIV—Hope Is Vital." He took the pin, looked at it and then, while smiling at me said, "Absolutely. Thank you," gently squeezing my hand before the next CD was thrust in his face to sign.

Ali was at the evening events with Bono and I got the chance to meet and talk with her. She was warm, gracious, affable and very friendly to everyone. I thanked her for all that she does to help children around the world and thanked her for being such a great mother and wonderful friend/spouse to Bono. It was a truly magical ending to a truly magnificent day with Bono in Memphis.

For more information on the National Civil Rights Museum, visit

Connections: U2 and Salman Rushdie*

October 25, 2004

By Sharon Swadis

When Salman Rushdie joined U2 onstage at Wembley Stadium in 1993, he needed no introduction. The well-known author, in hiding after an Iranian death threat, waved a finger at Bono, dressed up as the devil MacPhisto, and, as recalled in “U2 at the End of the World,” exclaimed, “I’m not afraid of you! Real devils don’t wear horns!”

Four years earlier, Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” had so enraged Iran’s leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that he issued a fatwa, or decree, imploring “all zealous Muslims” to execute Rushdie and his publishers. U2 wanted to make a show of solidarity with the author and the 80,000-plus Wembley audience joined in cheering him on. In an interview with BP Fallon, Bono and Edge called Rushdie the most inspiring person they met on the Zooropa tour.

Rushdie is a man of extraordinary talent and imagination and “The Satanic Verses” bears this out. It begins with the novel’s two main characters, Saladin and Gibreel, falling 29,000 feet from an airplane blown apart by an explosion—and surviving. Their fall from grace, i.e. the sky, is a life-changing event—one man becomes a devil, the other an angel, and neither is quite prepared for the consequences.

Before the fall Saladin was an Anglo-Indian actor who eschewed his Indian background, grows horns, a tail and animal-like hair, then loses them and eventually returns home to his Bombay roots. Gibreel, as a result of his miraculous survival, begins to believe he is an archangel and, in extended dream sequences that eventually overtake his life, questions the divinity of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, the portion of the book that incurred the fatwa. “The Satanic Verses” is a complex story of love, redemption and metamorphosis, and stands as one of Rushdie’s best works to date.

It wasn’t “The Satanic Verses,” however, that first drew Bono to Rushdie. In 1986 Rushdie visited Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua and wrote “The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey,” a portrait of the war-torn country. Bono, who had also visited the county, read the book and found he and the author had a common interest in politics. In his non-fiction collection “Step Across This Line,” Rushdie recalls his first meeting with Bono: “My friend the composer Michael Berkeley asked me if I wanted to go to a U2 ‘Achtung Baby’ gig. In those days it was hard for me to go most places, but I said yes. Backstage after the show I was shown into a mobile home full of sandwiches and children. Bono came in and was instantly festooned with daughters. My memory of that first chat is that I wanted to talk about music and he was keen to talk politics—Nicaragua, an upcoming protest against nuclear waste at Sellafield, his support for me and my work. We didn’t spend long together, but we both enjoyed it… I think, too, that the band’s involvement in religion—as inescapable a subject in Ireland as it is in India—gave us, when we first met, a subject and an enemy (fanaticism) in common.”

U2 is well known for its opposition to Ireland’s Catholic/Protestant conflict and songs including “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” and “Like a Song” are impassioned pleas for peace. Rushdie, born in India in 1947, grew up Muslim in mostly Hindu Bombay. India’s endemic conflict between Islam and Hinduism is a common theme in his works, just as the Irish conflict between Protestant and Catholic has been a driving force in the lives and work of U2. Rushdie’s prose uses religious references. He addresses religion in essays and articles and in the books “Shame,” a critique of Pakistan, and “Midnight’s Children,” taking place in 1947 post-independence India.

After spending his youth in Bombay, Rushdie experienced culture shock as a teenager when he attended school in England. He idealized British society but found he was considered an outsider, a social pariah. When he returned to India he felt no more at home. The Bombay of his youth, which Rushdie writes about with nostalgia, had changed and most of his family had moved to Pakistan. The feeling of being an outsider runs deep in Rushdie’s writings, and, considering the fatwa he endured for many years, his life. Bono, in his own life, knows what it’s like being an outsider. He was born to a Catholic father and a Protestant mother in a country where religion matters very much. Their upbringings, and the fact that they were both raised in countries vulnerable to religious fanaticism, have given them a unique perspective on life and a common bond. These men refuse to stand quiet or let intimidations keep them down.

When asked about life under the fatwa, Rushdie once told an interviewer: “If somebody’s trying to shut you up, sing louder, and, if possible, better.” Rushdie refused to become timid or embittered, and was determined to write “the very best books I could find it in myself to write.” Bono, at the same time, was also determined to sing louder and better, and made the transition from “The Joshua Tree” into superstardom with “Achtung Baby.” Rushdie put a pen in his hand and wrote the beautiful fable “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” Bono put on Fly shades and wrote “One.”

“The thing about U2—and it was the same with the Beatles—is they never do the same thing twice,” Rushdie said in “U2 At The End of The World.” “That’s what interests me about this band. It seems to me they have that capacity to constantly reinvent itself that the great bands of the ‘60s did. I haven’t seen a band since that did that.” Bono’s interest in Rushdie, according to the author, is need. “Bono is very needy,” Rushdie said. “He needs food for his mind all the time. I think that one of the reasons he may be interested in meeting people like me or like Wim Wenders or many of the other artists that are around here is that they give him food. I like that hunger in him because it means that he won’t stand still.”

Bono certainly doesn’t stand still while there are worthy causes to fight for, and neither does Rushdie. Bono works for DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), seeking to raise awareness and spark responses to crises engulfing Africa, including debt, unfair trade rules and the spread of AIDS. Rushdie is the president of the American Center of International PEN, a fellowship of writers who work to advance literature, promote a culture of reading and defend free expression. Bono and Rushdie’s talents and strong beliefs make them impassioned and effective advocates.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, in 1999 Rushdie turned his talents toward the world of rock ‘n’ roll. “I am a child of the rock ’n’ roll era,” Rushdie said in a 1999 interview with Pat Kane. “I did Elvis impressions with a broom handle in my Bombay bedroom. I wanted to write about rock not just because I’m a fan. I wanted to find a way to write about the modern era—what the last 50 years has been like for us all. And the tale of two mega-rock stars from Bombay seemed like an original way to do it.” The resulting tale, “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” became one of Rushdie’s bestselling novels and the catalyst for a U2 song featured in “The Million Dollar Hotel," a film co-written by Bono.

“The Ground Beneath Her Feet” tells the story of Ormus and Vina, two lovers and aspiring rock stars who exceed all expectations. Their group, VTO, or Vina to Ormus, becomes a worldwide sensation. After Vina dies on Valentine’s Day 1989 (not coincidentally the same day the fatwa was imposed on Rushdie), the story traces the obsessive fan worship that follows her death, and Ormus’ eventual downfall.

Bono read the book pre-publication with the eye of a policeman, Rushdie said in “Step Across This Line.” “That is, to save me from my mistakes. Fortunately the novel passed the test.” In a 2000 interview on Yahoo! Bono said: “What I was surprised by in the novel was not the minutia, the detail, of the so-called Pop Life, which was pretty good considering Salman Rushdie is not known to hang out at raves or own a Marshall stack. But what he captured was the heady confusion between the real and the surreal, between the imagined and the actual… and believe me, I would love to tell him if he flunked.”

The genesis of the U2 song “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” came soon after Bono read the novel, and Rushdie talked about it in “Step Across This Line:” “Deep inside it is the lyric of what Bono called the novel’s ‘title track,’ a sad elegy written by the main male character about the woman he loved. Bono called me. ‘I’ve written this melody for your words, and I think it might be one of the best things I’ve done.’ I was astonished. One of the novel’s principal images is that of the permeable frontier between the world of the imagination and the one we inhabit, and here was an imaginary song crossing that frontier.”

When Wim Wenders, director of “The Million Dollar Hotel,” heard the song, he asked Bono if he could use it. “The movie is a love story, quite a tragic love story… and the song just fitted it perfectly,” Wenders said on the DVD “U2—Best of 1990-2000.” Bono played it to me before it was ever recorded and I just knew this had to be in the film.” The video for the song intertwines scenes from the film with scenes of U2 and Rushdie appearing in windows from the hotel featured in the film. Rushdie’s lyrics had undergone quite a metamorphosis from their original appearance on page 475 of “The Ground Beneath Her Feet.”

In 2003, Rushdie was in attendance when Bono received the Person of the Year award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science’s MusiCares program. Although the Iranian government has said it won’t support anyone trying to kill Rushdie, isolated Islamic groups believe the fatwa is still in force, only Khomeini could revoke it and he died in 1989. Rushdie continues to be a prolific writer who passionately defends literary freedom.

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