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Old 05-15-2007, 12:10 PM   #1
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Have picture, looking for interview



Does anyone have the interview that goes with this? I don't know if I've read it or not. I like the picture, though. Bono's actually smiling!

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Old 05-15-2007, 12:33 PM   #2
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I have it! I printed it out straight from the Observers website at the time and am scanning it for you right now! It'll take me a while though coz there's 13 pages of text!!
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Old 05-15-2007, 01:36 PM   #3
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Okay, here is the article in full! Hope your all sitting comfortably?!

In a world of their own

Who would have thought it? Twenty-five years on from his first encounter with U2, Paul Morley joins the band on tour in North America to discover the ways in which they're still rewriting rock's rule book

Sunday December 18, 2005

U2: 1

In a vast penthouse suite on top of a hotel that could be anywhere in the world overlooking a city that seems to shimmer out of an endless mist, Bono Vox (Latin for Good Singer, a nickname given to him by his new band mates in U2 back in the Dublin Seventies because it seemed to suit this cocky, stocky kid) serenely pads through a sitting room carved out of gold, mahogany and marble that is a shrill hybrid of Sir Elton John plush and Sir Mick Jagger ornate. He chuckles at the flamboyant surroundings that look a little vulnerable in the harsh yellow light of the day. 'It's the size of a small nation,' he unapologetically grins. A small nation having no problems with poverty. Baskets laden with fruits, chocolates, cheese and champagne are littered across the land. The champagne has been drunk, a few hours earlier, when the penthouse suite at night looked a little prouder. A denim jacket is slung over the back of a chair that Cher would wish to be draped over when she is buried. A badge pinned to the jacket's lapel announces: 'Horses changed my life.'

It's some approximation of midday the day after Bono has performed with U2 in this city located firmly inside the international 21 st century. His dark glasses have yet to be put on, and his penetrating, mesmeric eyes are rubbed, pinched and scraped raw from the performance, on the back of all the other performances, and a late night, possibly the ten thousandth in his life, spent crammed inside a VIP area not the size of a small nation roped off in a local club. When he's in a city, as a visiting star with demotic political power and the unstable charisma of someone who cannot enter a room without wanting to add it to his collection of rooms that he owns, his immediate points of reference are: airport, hotel, venue, local nightclub, possibly the home of the local billionaire philanthropist or the office of an important politician, and the roads that join them up. The rest is filled in with his imagination.

He looks glamorously wrecked, his face beaten by the weather of thought, fame, anxiety, delight and a conscience that endlessly snakes around the globe, a face becoming beautifully lined with the adventures he's had since the stocky Irish kid with a gift on his shoulder became world champion philanthropic fundraising performing playboy poet pop star multi-millionaire philosopher of persuasion with a strong political habit and a halo of lusty pretension.

He's just out of bed where he's been on the phone, to his wife, or the prime minister of a large nation, or Bob Dylan, or Bill Gates, or Paul Allen, or, somehow, himself, some other version of himself he has left in some part of the world at some time that might not yet have happened. He's hurriedly zipped up a black hoodie over a black T-shirt and a largely destroyed pair of jeans. The first thing on his schedule this morning is an interview. Before a question can even be asked, he's talking, answering questions he's heard a million times before, or questions he would like to be asked, or questions he's asked himself in his dreams as he puts off that moment when he wakes up and finds that, in fact, he is still boy Bono in Dublin in 1978, and this penthouse suite, this view of a shining city in the grand middle of everywhere that could make anyone think they can see for miles, doesn't exist, this voluptuous pop star fame, evangelical strangeness and political influence has not happened.

He's talking, sometimes it's like he's growling, as if to himself, but as if the rest of the world might be listening, at least to some of what he has to say.

' ... U2 attempt to make ecstatic music, and one of the important factors in that musical crescendo, if it's going to happen, is the crowd. So I would love to say, yeah, U2 are the same thing in an empty stadium, playing for themselves, but it just isn't. The audience are part of the arrangement of the music ... and when we made, you know, our reapplication in 2000 to be the best band in the world, after it seemed we'd gone too far out in the Nineties, so far out we'd disappear, we did all the things we weren't supposed to do, to reconnect with the audience, we did Saturday morning TV shows, and we're not good at TV, and it was even madder to suddenly try to be good at it, but that's what we did. When you believe in your music, in the end you'll turn up anywhere, and we demonstrated yet again that belief, and we pressed flesh, we did the photos, we did the circuit, and we sort of came back even though we hadn't really gone anywhere, even though we were older than we had any right to be, and there were those who thought - hoped - that we'd blown it with the Pop album and the Popmart tour. They thought we were off to the fish farm in Wales, the rock star retirement, or the Betty Ford Clinic, the nostalgia shows, isn't that what's supposed to happen? We succeeded, and they hated us for that - can't you do anything right? Get a fat arse for fuck's sake ... and there we are, it's 2001, and you start to think, what are the possibilities of a combo who have made music together for 20 years but who are now more able intellectually, artistically, musically than they've ever been. Oh boy! This could be very interesting. The four-piece combo if it stays true to itself can still be a very efficient organisation. After doing this kind of thing for so long, it becomes a grudge match ... against your opponent, which is of course your lazy self, or the other self, which fancies the fish farm in Wales, or in my case, in Kenya - go and live on the beach, you've earned it, and for us it becomes a fight against that temptation. But because we formed in the punk Seventies, the smithy of our soul, to quote Joyce, was the British music press, and the intellectual ideas of the time, some of which were preposterous, and people grew out of them, but they were great thoughts, and the memory of not wanting to be in a crap band, not wanting to turn into the pointless two-headed Seventies rock monster, to not become a roaring cliche, that's what makes us resist the temptation to grow fat. And each of us has a version of that stubbornness, and we keep sharp on each other, and we never blame each other. At the heart of this group is love and respect for the people you have travelled so far with and who have seen you at your most naked and raw, and bellicose in my case, and you're still talking to each other, and in a busy room you will always find yourself moving in their direction. Our belief in what we do has not been rubbed away by the business, the routine, the madness, the media, the sheer size. Look, as a band, we've managed to have all this success, never compromise our music, done pretty much what we wanted, and not set fire to ourselves or lose an eye or a limb... and maybe it's because, well, there's a line of scripture ... to be as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a child. You know, we're performers, so there's always an element of insincerity, as well as all the sincerity we can muster.'

He rubs his eyes, which collapse into a black hole, and stares either into the middle of nowhere, or the very centre of the dream.

'Actually, what do you call a person who knows that he has put a rabbit into the hat and who later when the rabbit comes out of the hat is shocked and surprised? A magician! You know what the trick is but you can still be amazed. I know every piece of that puzzle that we performed last night, and sometimes I really wish I didn't know how it works, but I am still gobsmacked when our equivalent of the rabbit comes out of the hat. Every time. I cannot believe that it has happened, even though we are totally prepared for it.'

He puts on some dark glasses - this pair is tinted amber, giving his depleted eyes a quick shot of golden strength - and he's ready once more to look life straight in the face.

U2: 2

It's Saturday, it's just after 9pm, if you are in Montreal, Canada. God knows what time it is in the heads of the four members of U2 who have spent most of the year on tour playing their Vertigo show crossing countries, seas, time zones, a hundred hotel rooms, and the eyes, minds and ears of thousands of fans. They will have completed 110 shows this year, with 25 to come next year in South America, Japan and Australia, before a final show in Honolulu in April, when they finally come down to earth, or completely tumble off the planet.
It's relatively peaceful as a very relaxed looking U2, dressed to perform, as if in a kind of armour, slowly make their way towards the stage at the Montreal Bell Centre. The excited noise of anticipation of 15,000 fans piled high to the ceiling ismuffled by heavy velvet curtains. The group are surrounded by serious looking aides and helpers, and the space they are entering into is cleared by security guards creating a little bubble of empty space around them. Some members of the local group Arcade Fire, who have just played a stunning set of well-mannered mayhem, are about to make their way out front to watch U2. They are held back by the guards from the space U2 are entering, as if that space is in the shape of the moment of truth, but just as U2 make their move to the side of the massive custom-built stage they are about to perform from they spot Arcade Fire. They move over to where Arcade Fire are being held, and thank them for their performance. Each member of U2 shakes the hand of each member of Arcade Fire. There are friendly hugs and happy smiles. In some obvious way U2, nearly 30 years together as a group, are the elders in this relationship, passing something on to the newcomers - the baton, the flame, a musical message, some kind of experience. In another way, Arcade Fire, influenced by the same music U2 were way back at the beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century, are handing something precious and secretive over to U2, as if U2 are the fresh-faced newcomers eager to learn. U2 are the only group of their age and history who you could imagine being supported by such a novel, radical new act and not in any way being shown up.

The lights go down in the arena. Audience roars penetrate the curtains. U2 play yet another show. By now - at the end of a hard touring year, after 25 years of being a group always on the edge of making it bigger, always on the edge of crashing in flames, always in the middle of changing direction or changing their minds or sticking to their guns, always fighting for historical rights and reputation even as they top the charts and have the world at their feet or over their shoulders - they should seem beat, dimmed, routine, vulgar, ordinary, even a little preposterous. They should seem a shadow of their former selves.

They are now in their forties, and some of the songs they are playing they have played a thousand times or more, but the show is packed with songs from their latest album, and they're all hits, and they don't sound wrong laid out alongside the songs and hits they wrote when they were younger. In fact, the new songs pull those older songs into the future, freshen up the repertoire. The group that formed because of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, the Ramones and Television, that emerged blinking and fumbling in the light and dark of the post-punk period that produced Joy Division, Gang of Four, Public Image, but who never quite fitted, who never connected directly with anything going on around them, now sound more relevant and fascinating than ever. Now that the time line has picked up from the early 1980s as if nothing has happened, musically, in the meantime, there's U2, still going, still evolving based on those early punk principles, still responding to the absurd, ridiculous demands of late Seventies music paper writers wanting the world to change for the better instantly, facing up to and dealing with artistic, technological, cultural and business challenges that seem like science fiction compared to the almost innocent prehistoric days of 1980.

They sound like the group they always wanted to be, a group you could put between the Clash and Gang of Four as well as between Dylan and Van, Britney and Eminem, Franz and the Killers, Bjork and Beck - without it seeming wrong. At the same time, along the way, while they've been working out just what and who they are, and why it sometimes works, and why it sometimes doesn't, they have become the most successful rock band in the world.

Those who have spent a lot of time on the Vertigo tour as part of the U2 community that creates a kind of mobile
village that helps U2 go to tour decide it is one of the best U2 shows of the year. They get better as they go along. For those of us who have watched U2 on and off for 25 years, our affections turning on and off and on again as the group skidded along a corridor between triumph and failure, folly and fantasy, genius and desperation, it's as great a show as they have ever played, alive with the aliveness, and selfawareness, that with most commercial rock groups has long faded by now. It has the same hunger that was there when I saw them play a support slot at the West Hampstead Moonlight Club in 1980, when their immediate ambition was to top the bill in London, and then maybe get a song played on the radio, when they were a group who wanted to play like Led Zeppelin, the Band or Pink Floyd but barely had the ability of the Ruts or the Lurkers, which meant they couldn't even do the Ramones. They could just about touch the hem of the Skids but not even the shadow of Joy Division. They just made you believe with the sheer vulgar vigour of their own delight in being a group that they might be, could be, should be that good. Nothing was going to stop them.

U2: 3

Up in the penthouse, because nothing can stop him, Bono is kissing the sky, he's pouring the coffee, the light is sliding off his restless eyes and bouncing around the room, he's wondering what the 21st century equivalent of E = MC2 might be, it's all about understanding everything and finding symmetry, all the sciences aspire to the condition of mathematics, he's saying the rich have feelings too, it's a sexy but sexless age, I'm over the concept of rebel music but I'm not over the idea of rebellion, especially against yourself, U2 are so lucky as a group it's like we've robbed the bank of Monte Carlo, it's been a bit of a charge and plenty of people have fallen off the wagon train but the important people are still on board, it's not about getting bigger it's about getting it right, but I've a hunch it's going to get even bigger, I think it might be time for a departure with the next album, I think we can make some extraordinary music, get some of that otherness back we had in the Nineties, the pot-smoking fans of Sixties psychedelic music are dreaming up the 21st century, he's quoting Keats, that truth is beauty, beauty truth, and there's a place on the Spanish steppes where Keats died, and you can see that line written in ink by Keats's own hand and you can feel the chill in the room, and it's 1999 and he's in the Oval Office with Bill Clinton, and Clinton's smoking a cigar, and that's a scene, and he's challenging the President of the United States to come up with a big idea, he's talking in billions, he's banging heads together, forcing nations together, as if for real, he's talking off the record ...

U2: 4

Bono, a few hours before, or after, he performs one, or other, of two particularly intense Montreal shows. Outside the light is either fading or growing, it's just before dawn, or it's tea-time. Through the windows we can see a crowd of fans waiting outside the hotel, unaware that just a few yards away Bono has slung his left leg over the side of an arm chair and is chatting away as relaxed as if he's on holiday, not in the shifting, chiming midst of a world tour where he plays a number of roles ranging from earnest lecturer via master media manipulator, defiant fantasist, de termined realist and compassionate monster to spaced out rock'n'roll superhero. Today his hoodie has been pulled on over a bare chest, and wiry grey hairs tumble out into the open.

I first interviewed Bono a quarter of a century ago in a small hotel in Ireland as U2 began a journey that's never stopped since. Nothing much has changed in the way he talks, and what he talks about, and his curiosity, and wonder, and need to find answers, and his search for the fresh moment, the new thought, the unexpected idea. He always wants something to happen that hasn't happened before, and he'd like it now, please, quickly, before he's moved somewhere else, to look for something else. When I interviewed him in 1980, to call up some of the old style NME arrogance and narcissism, a journalist from the London music papers would have been about the most famous person Bono had met. Now Bono has met poets, presidents, major players in world politics, business, art, science, economics, social engineering, entertainment and he mingles with those who have made it their job to plan, for better or worse, how the 21st century might evolve. If pop culture is a nation, he is its president, democratically elected because of the number of records U2 sell, a bit of a dictator who doesn't care that might not be the case. He represents, as a politician you love or hate, laugh at or with, mock or respect, the abstract dimension, the imagination, the fifth province, the world of dreams. As he says, it's unhip, it's uncool, it makes him look silly even while he's carrying the weight of the world along genuine corridors of power, but, quite simply, he can't stop himself.

'We began as a group not being able to play that well but having great ideas, and a badly played song with great ideas is better than a well played song with no ideas. That's punk rock. And my activism, which I admit is probably basically just the Catholic guilt I feel being so rich and famous, is like that. I've got an idea about how to make things better, and OK, I'm not as educated or able to execute the idea as I should be, but it's a better idea than that one over there, so let's go after it. Let's find out how to do it properly later - first, the idea.'

Meanwhile, he seems very at ease with the Elvis side of things.

'It would be awful to have all this thrown at you and not a) find it absurd and b) enjoy it. I have now reached a stage where I can completely forget that I'm in a band - unlike the guy in the Eighties, who was just so self-conscious about it. I felt it painfully back then, which is why I want to give myself a slap when I see myself from that time. Self-consciousness can make the face ugly. I don't really notice that side of it any more, the need to act out some kind of role. I've found a way to be completely myself. I think I'm over being a rock star.

I'm at ease with the idea. I've got used to all the lifestyle contradictions that as a young man you think you have to resolve. You realise that the contradictions are what make it interesting - not just wealth versus starving Africans, but singer in a band versus political activist, flesh versus spirit, left versus right, art versus business, family versus U2. I love those tensions now, rather than being intimidated by them. They're what leads to the creative tension that makes things work.'

We never imagine that this kind of thing could be done at 45.

'That was a juvenile thought. To think of the music as juvenilia. I mean, Bob Dylan is much more interesting with age, not less interesting. Some pretty boy face on the cover of a style magazine, or him! I want to stare at Dylan's face and I want to hear what he has to say because he has travelled a long road and he's got something worth hearing. I'm also interested in the new arrivals, the exploding stars, but this is not just about being young. I was thinking yesterday - in 10 years time, I'll be 55. What will it be like to stand on a stage then? And then I thought - the Chieftains! Kris Kristofferson is 65 ... and I saw the Who play a 9/11 benefit with such unspeakable authority, they were real MEN, with such hard-earned experience, and such colossal understanding, and I thought, there's a clue there to how we can age with dignity. Some of course might say, we've already ruined that possibility. You know what - I don't agree.'

He is a face and voice of radical ideas, the kind of rock dreamer not seen since Lennon. Hanging outside the hotel, I can see a few likely characters who might love, or hate, Bono so much they want to make him a martyr, or absorb some of his power by destroying him. Does he ever fear for his safety?

He is a face and voice of radical ideas, the kind of rock dreamer not seen since Lennon. Hanging outside the hotel, I can see a few likely characters who might love, or hate, Bono so much they want to make him a martyr, or absorb some of his power by destroying him. Does he ever fear for his safety?

'Every so often something comes up and you have to be a little bit careful. I don't really have any fear in me on that level. I'm not going to take silly chances, but I suppose t don't really think about it. For such speechifying maybe I deserve not to be shot but to be clipped around the ear. Nothing more than rotten eggs, perhaps. I don't think my crimes are punishable by a bullet.'

U2: 5

I have been able to procure the correct combination of passes, laminates, wristbands, badges, stamps and code words, so I get to watch U2's show from inside an inner
circle where fans who queue early or win competitions or just pray enough get to stand, as close to the group among 15,000 people as I was when I was among less than 10 people at the Moonlight. (Four of them were U2 on stage.)

Nothing has changed about the way the group commit to their performance, about the way they push themselves into the audience and then pull the audience away with them, except the context and size of that performance. They now fit, they belong in cultural time and musical place, better than at any time during their history. Their peers - give or take the anti-U2, the Fall - dropped the past, died, ran out of things to say, had nothing much to say in the first place. U2 alone take on the ideas and ideals of the late Seventies and early Eighties, a period that we can now see, sonically, philosophically and artistically, has more actual truth and meaning than most, and thrust them deep into the dissolving new century. It shouldn't have happened, and deep into the Nineties when they seem ultimately carried away by their ambition it didn't look like it would happen, but U2 have ended up everything they always sort of said that they were, or wanted to be, even when people felt they were melodramatic sellouts, misfits, freaks, charlatans, bloated, boring, self-important, wrong, even when the group themselves wondered it they were all huff and puff, smoke and mirrors, a deeply dysfunctional band that couldn't decide exactly what it was they were and hadn't quite got the hang of how to write song.

They have become the biggest and best contemporary rock band in the world, because they believe that actually matters, and they're shinier and showier than they ever were, shifting shape in front of our eyes as they smartly, quickly respond to whatever's happening around them, whether that's musical, visual or to do with the way music is commercially distributed. They used to be shadows of what they are now. It's the way that it should be, but it very rarely is.

U2: 6

U2 seem to own the hotel they are staying in, as if no one else is staying there but the group and their entourage, as if, like the Rolling Stones a few weeks before them, they have booked every room in the place. When I turn on the television in my room, I see Bono on the steps at the front of the hotel, a few floors down, surrounded by media and fans, holding court in a large cowboy hat, charged with passion about some issue, or problem, or solution. Through the night as the television murmurs in the background, Bono pops up all the time. At some point he seems to be having angry words with the Canadian Prime Minister. Bono doesn't look pleased, but he seems to be in his element. In most countries around the world, when U2 come to town, it's an event, it makes the front pages of the newspapers, and it's an event based around substantial ideas, and argument, and passion, not about their gossip status as celebrities.

At some point, I watch Bono on the television, put down a copy of a Canadian national newspaper with him on the cover, and join him, the real him, as far as I can tell, as he walks through the hotel, his own private mansion, on the way to his next appointment. He's about to burst through the front doors of the hotel, where the cameras and the fans are gathered in the snow, probably to appear on the television again, with some warning, or demand, or request. I'm not in my room to watch this appearance. I'm lurking behind him as he signs autographs for fans who shake so much they drop their pens, photographs, cameras.

Just before we leave the hotel, he stops to introduce me to someone he says I really have to meet. I imagine it might be a local up-and-coming politician, or a fellow activist, or an artist Bono's taken a fancy too. In fact, it's a member of staff, a petit young girl called Maud Champagne-Joly. She's wearing a dinky, lacy hotel uniform, and is so cute you think both her parents must be buttons. Bono is concerned that she didn't come to the show the night before, and that she must come the next night. She blushes, and explains that she will be on duty.

Bono is in full flirt mode, in some deeply charming place between the ripe, royal rock superstar and the smooth beguiling politician, explaining that he wants some members of staff to come to the show, as a special treat, as a thank you for looking after U2. He especially wants Maud Champagne-Joly to come, if only for her name. He cannot believe she will be made to work! She blushes even deeper, and explains it is up to the manageress of the hotel, whose name appears to be Madame Formidable. Bono puffs out his chest, and goes in search of Madame Formidable, another challenge for his well-honed powers of diplomacy.

U2: 7

I ask U2 manager Paul McGuinness if he ever gets embarrassed at Bono's ceaseless lobbying activity, the unlikely buddy bonding with George Bush, the religious wrestling with right-wing ex-senator Jesse Helms, if it gets in the way of the idea of U2 as evolving artistic business.

'In Marxist terms, Bono is a syndicalist. He will work with whoever he must to get something done. He will go into the fire. And he doesn't care if he doesn't share their views, not at all, so he will often find himself in what seems like strange company. But he has achieved extraordinary things again and again, changed people's minds, forced real practical change in the world of debt relief and Aids, and in the end it seems better that he tries than that he does not. If you've ever seen him with Clinton or Mandela, well, there's something that links him to them, an incredible talent at communicating, at making the world bend to their will, some kind of force that wins votes and sells records. And it gives him great material for songs, so it's a good bargain.'

U2: 8

Towards the end of the Saturday show, Bono takes longer than usual for a specifically political speech, connected to the Canadian election, and the importance of the backing of Canada in his quest for finance, and influence. Larry behind the kit looks at his watch, and times how long Bono is taking.

U2: 9

Minutes before U2 are due on stage one night or another in Montreal, drummer Larry Mullen Jr, who founded the group and in a gang of strong, proud characters is the most erratically protective of the idea of U2 as Great Rock Group on a wild perfectionist mission, ponders the issue of Bono as ubiquitous world saviour, or high-concept heckler, or plain old busybody.

'Sometimes I really wish he would do something that we could punch a big hole into. I'd really enjoy that - to go up to him and say, you fucker. Sometimes, it's just so constant, the meetings, the speaking, the mouth, but in the end even I have to say he's doing a great job, and he's getting things done. Look, if it was possible to have a really good kick at what he does, as a band we would have done it before anyone else. During the recording of our album, he'll be away on a venture, and it's like, great, peace. He gets impatient in the studio, and we tell him to fuck off, go and meet George Bush. And he does! Maybe it's our fault! And then he comes back and he's been working on a lyric and he's fresh and really into it. So it does work out.'

Adam Clayton, U2's bass player, whose unhurried approach to being in U2 has been whittled down to something approaching a kind of Zen, marvels at Bono's pugnacious resilience. The Edge, the guitarist who still has Magazine, Television and Echo and the Bunnymen ringing in his ears, concedes that if, after everything, 30 mad years of making music, it comes down to the fact that U2 music is merely a soundtrack to Bono's epic campaigning, it wouldn't be as awful as he once thought it might be. 'We began really as a band who believed that music mattered, that it could change things, and whatever you think of Bono, whether you think he's right or wrong, he's proved, as a musician, on the world stage, that music really does matter as something that can have a profound impact on the way things are.'

U2: 10

'They're very tolerant,' smiles Bono, remembering sullen meetings where no one would look him in the eye because of some wild, wonderful mad-hearted scheme about Africa or Aids he wanted to lash to the back of U2. 'It's not that they don't agree with the issues, I just think they sometimes wish it could be someone else doing it all. I'd love there to be another Bono who doesn't go to the meetings with Blair and Bush, who can have a gigantic sulk and a tantrum and it really mean something and change events. We could use one of those characters right now. It would be great to have someone banging the dustbins and chaining himself to the railings, as well as me meeting with the politicians. I'd love to do both, but I can't, but I don't think even my worse critic would say that things would be better if I didn't take those meetings and make those speeches. And we make our audience feel powerful, like they're part of something, and that doesn't often happen with a rock band. You know me, I like a bit of a row. It keeps you sharp. To be honest with you, I expected far more bile and spleen than I actually get. I'm used to that. Oddly, in the last few years it's died away a bit, people have been quite generous and prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt for my work. I expected a hail of blows, and I'm up for it!'

U2: 11

Up in the rock star penthouse, overlooking a city dreaming itself awake, or peacefully asleep, Bono is still talking and thinking and asking himself questions. 'You know, that idea of me being like the leader of the nation of the imagination, that's interesting, it's like there are four provinces in Ireland, and the fifth province is the province of the imagination, and it is as important as any physical constituent. It should be represented. The American constitution was really a poetic tract, full of wild imaginings. Ideas about how the world should be run should come from a place other than conventional politics. The whole of society should have the din of argument as much from musicians and film-makers and writers as anyone else, That's what makes every thing better. In a way, the hardest place in the world for what we try and pull off as U2, with my stuff stuck on the side, is the UK, where the arts and politics are very separate and people don't like you to cross over disciplines. They like the politics in one place, pop in another, art over there. But it's better that they all rub against each other, that's when things can really start to happen.'

U2: 12

In the library, closer to the pavement, it's getting darker, and soon Bono will be whisked away back into the calm moving fury, or repetitive cracked everydayness, of the U2 machine. The crowd outside waiting for a sign, or a signature, is steadily growing, but Bono is for now oblivious to them. I tell him that the Sex Pistols have just been inducted into the American rock'n'roll hall of fame. Does he feel that such institutional actions sanitise pop music, turn it into something meek and ordinary?

'I shouldn't in some ways be put out by the idea ... but yet I am .., and some of the best nights of my life have been spent at Hall of Fame induction evenings. We give awards and honours to film-makers, authors, poets, artists ... why are rock'n'roll people meant to be more rebellious than filmmakers? Are they truly more wild and frightening? Ultimately, this is another really juvenile idea. Maybe because me and you came to life during punk there's a bit of us that resists rock being like any other discipline. We believe that music is some kind of sacrament, it's special, it's like they say, all art aspires to the condition of music. That's why zealots like you and me will cut off someone's head defending it. We're on a crusade. This is not just a business, or fun, or fashion, this is the holy cup ! There is something about music that unlocks our spirit in ways other drama cannot... not on a daily basis ... not unless EastEnders has got really incredible while I've been away. That's what it is - it's not about feeling that these ceremonies betray some irrelevant notion of rebellion, it's that they threaten to take away the mystery. They're fun, but you don't really want the smoke and incense to be taken away.'

It's dark in the library, the only light coming from a crackling fire. Bono, in the twilight, is wearing those damned dark wraparound glasses. His dad hated them when he was alive - Bono takes them off when he sings on stage the song he wrote for his father'Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own'- his brother hates them, and during my own arguments with non-believers, I find opponents scoffing at this middle-aged man apparently making such a prat of himself.

'Well, I'm quite happy for it to offend the kind of people who find it offensive. I understand why people get upset - it's like, you look at Jack Nicholson in the front row at the Oscars, that's something where you laugh with him, and I suppose some people just don't want to laugh with me. They're always going to laugh at me, whatever happens. Look, there are practical reasons, it's body armour, it's a note of necessary insincerity, and the eyes are a giveaway, and although I have got used to the stares I get, I quite like not having people who I don't know looking right into my eyes, as if they might find something out about me. They do, they walk right up to you, and stick their head right into your face. So it's good that there's a barrier. And of course, the light, and the drink, makes my eyes go red, there's bit of vanity there, I don't want people to see me all puffy. Yeah, they're really handy, for a myriad of reasons. You go and tell people that!'

I guess you deserve a little kink of Howard Hughes behaviour this far in.

'It should be OK, for God's sake! But, you never know, it might be time for the naked face. It might be coming. The naked stare.'

U2: 13

After the interview is over, I follow Bono out of the library into the lobby of the hotel. He spots the blushing Mademoiselle Champagne-Joly, and asks if she's coming to the next show. No, she admits. Bono is puzzled. Hasn't it been arranged? Yes, some people from the hotel are coming to the show, but she isn't one of the chosen ones. Why not? She does not know. Bono promises to find out what is going on. She thanks him, and for a moment I swear she curtsies. In the lift, Bono worries that she has been picked on because he showed favouritism towards her, anticipating all manner of shadowy, intriguing hotel politics. No cause is too big, or too small, for Bono.

I leave the lift when it reaches my floor. As the doors shut, we salute each other, for old times' sake, or even new times' sake. 'See you along the road,' he says. That could mean next year, in five years, or 10 years. It might even be that U2 will still be touring, and getting better, and Bono wilt still be talking, and rearranging the world, in another quarter of a century.

The lift doors shut, and Bono rises to the sky.

Yes, we love him ...


'Bono has a willingness to lead, to achieve what his heart tells him, and that is nobody - nobody - should be living in poverty and hopelessness.'
George Bush, 2005

'I think that politicians are attracted at first by the celebrity, but once they meet him, they find that he is an outstandingly capable interlocutor.'
Harvard economics guru Jeffrey Sachs, 1999

'You have made people listen. You have made people care, and you have taught us that whether we are poor or prosperous, we have only one world to share. You have taught young people that they do have the power to change the world.'
Kofi Annan (UN secretary general), 1998

'He's a poet. He's a philosopher. And last night, I think I saw him walking on water.'
Mick Jagger introducing Bono as he received his MTV Free Your Mind award, November 1999.

'When we get the Pope and the pop stars all singing on the same sheet of music, our voices do carry to the heavens.' Bill Clinton, 2000

'He's somebody I admire. He does a lot of good in this world of economic development.'
US. Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, on rumours the U2 front-man should become President of the World Bank in 2005

He's charming, he's persuasive. And the politicians can go home to their daughters and say : I had a meeting with Bono today".
Bob Geldof
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Old 05-15-2007, 02:53 PM   #4
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Thanks for that!! Awesome reading I hadn't seen that one before.
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Old 05-15-2007, 06:40 PM   #5
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Thank you! saved it so I can read it later!
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Old 05-15-2007, 09:19 PM   #6
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Thank you hcb , that was alot of typing .
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Old 05-15-2007, 09:22 PM   #7
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anyone have a larger pic ?
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Old 05-15-2007, 10:37 PM   #8
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Thank you, hcbiggs! Lots of work for you... but what a great read!
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:16 AM   #9
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Re: Have picture, looking for interview

Quote:
Originally posted by Rachel D.


Does anyone have the interview that goes with this? I don't know if I've read it or not. I like the picture, though. Bono's actually smiling!

Thanks!
I think the one I have is slightly bigger....



But if any one has the actual magazine and is able to scan it and post it, that would be much appreciated too!

And I actually didn't have to do much typing, I just scanned the printed pages I had, converted them in Word documents and then copied and pasted each page! The miracles of modern technology and all that!!
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Old 05-16-2007, 04:04 AM   #10
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Thank you! I haven't read it before.
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Old 05-16-2007, 05:12 AM   #11
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thanks, haven't seen that one !!
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Old 05-16-2007, 05:55 AM   #12
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I love this article, I read it after it came out. It's written with a lot of wit and irony, a beautiful, quite philosophical and also funny piece of writing and very insightful.
Thank you for posting!
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Old 05-23-2007, 12:08 AM   #13
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Wow! A belated thanks! I actually forgot that I started this thread and haven't been here for a long time. Silly me!
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