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Old 01-16-2002, 09:53 PM   #1
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O Magazine Interview with Bono

Probably nothing new that we haven't already heard, but still some good reading about Bono and his relief work for Africa.


O (magazine)
February 2002

Elaina Richardson

The self-conscious rebel-rocker transforms passionate intensity into
action that just might change the world.

The idea of the rebel-rocker is sorely tarnished in these days of "pop
lite," but there's nothing sugarcoated about the intensity Bono brings
to the world. Consider these few events from the past year in the life
of U2's charismatic front man: a sold-out tour; the All That You Can't
Leave Behind album went to number one in 32 countries; the birth of his
fourth child in May; talks with the leaders of the world's strongest
economies - the G8; the death of his father in August; countless
one-on-ones about AIDS relief and trade with cabinet officials from
Colin Powell to Condoleezza Rice. Where does his stamina come from?

"God made me stubborn," Bono says with a throaty laugh that tells you
something about the state of his vocal cords. "Stubbornness and Catholic
guilt," he continues. "That'll work for you every time. And I've had the
best life that a man's ever had."

This is how Bono talks - long strings of run-on sentences that can
encompass pub life, the AIDS pandemic in Africa, blues guitar and a
healthy dose of self-deprecation. The bottom line of all his
speechifying is that it's time for a major initiative that would combine
debt cancellation for the world's poorest nations with trade reform and
a commitment from pharmaceutical companies to give free HIV drugs to
African countries. Bono spouts numbers effortlessly and accurately,
noting that sub-Saharan Africa spends around $13.5 billion a year
repaying debts to rich countries, which is more than double what it
spends on health care.

His charm lies in the fact that whether he's at an audience with Pope
John Paul II or singing "Beautiful Day" for 20,000 fans, his need to
communicate is palpable. There was a time when Bono harangued the world,
all the while making it clear that he didn't give a damn if he was. A
decade later he has learned a more effective path.

"Sometimes, instead of climbing over the barricades, you've got to walk
around them, and sometimes you discover that the real enemy is not what
you think it is," he says.

That attitude has led to some strange-seeming bedfellows such as Senator
Jesse Helms, the 80-year-old archconservative from North Carolina, who
became Bono's champion in the struggle to get a debt-relief plan through

According to Bono, "When I first started going to Washington for
meetings on Capitol Hill, I'm sure I looked like a very exotic creature,
but eventually they didn't see me, they just saw the argument. And the
thing about the pictures of me the rock star with, say, Jesse Helms the
politician is - it's really unhip for both of us, you know, it's a bad
look for the two of us!"

"I think that politicians are attracted at first by the celebrity," says
Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Sachs, "but once they meet him, they
find that he is outstandingly capable." Along with producer Bobby
Shriver, Sachs became part of Bono's American kitchen cabinet in 1999 in
the quest to get debt relief on the agenda. In his Class Day address at
Harvard in June, Bono summed up the trio: "Sachs and I, with Bobby
Shriver, hit the road like some kind of surreal crossover act. A Rock
Star, a Kennedy and a Noted Economist crisscrossing the globe like the
Partridge family on psychotropic drugs."

The results have already been impressive: In November of 2000, Congress
passed legislation authorizing $435 million in debt relief. Last July,
President Bush and the G8 countries focused the debate on issuing grants
rather than loans to developing nations, and Bono is sure a lot more is
about to happen. "I'm confident that President Bush has a real feeling
for the AIDS pandemic. Essentially, what we're asking for is a kind of
Marshall Plan for Africa. A few months ago that didn't look like a
possibility, but post-September 11, the comparisons are striking. When
you have nothing, you are easy prey to terrorists and to groups who keep
alive the lie that the West is not interested in your calamity. We've
just seen what happens when one country, Afghanistan, implodes. God
knows what will happen if the entire continent of Africa is left on its
current trajectory, which is disaster."

Born Paul Hewson in Ballymun, Dublin, in 1960 to a Protestant mother and
a Catholic father, Bono is no stranger to the links between economic
depression, bigotry and terrorism. But he has an idealist's faith that
all three can be overcome. The Sandinistas and the troubles in Ireland
were Bono's issues when the band came on the scene in 1978. Five years
later, Bono was married to his high school girlfriend, Ali Stewart, and
both were caught up in Bob Geldof's Live Aid work.

"We went to work in Ethiopia for a month," Bono recalls. "We worked in
an orphanage, in one of those awful camps, and we'd wake up in the
morning to the sight of thousands of people walking through the mist in
the hopes of getting some food. My experience there was very hard to
forget but...I did. We went back to our daily life in Ireland and me
being in a band, but we'd always hoped we might be able to look at the
structure of the problem. There's a certain kind of poverty that is
structural, not just misfortune, and so when I heard about this plan to
use the millennium as an opportunity to give the poorest countries a
chance to start again, I thought, 'This is major, and it's the right
thing to do.'"

Four children and 21 years later with Bono, Ali hasn't lost any of her
ability to roll up her sleeves either. She is deeply involved with the
Chernobyl Children's Project (one of six campaigns highlighted on U2's
Web site and on their albums) - she's even getting behind the wheel of a
truck to drive from Dublin to Belarus with food and emergency supplies.

"Irish women are very informed and very vocal," Bono says, before
releasing his chesty laugh again. "And I should know, because I'm living
with one, and it's hard to keep up."

[This message has been edited by spanisheyes (edited 01-16-2002).]

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Old 01-16-2002, 10:03 PM   #2
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Is Ophrah going to put ATYCLB on her CD list? If so, that would assure that ATYCLB would beat out JT for most sales.


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Old 01-16-2002, 10:14 PM   #3
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I just realized O Magazine was Oprah's magazine. I wonder if we will find a picture inside of Bono laying his head on the maternal shoulder of the queen of daytime conversationalism...now that would be a picture for the ages.

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Old 01-16-2002, 10:32 PM   #4
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That was great! Thanks for posting it; as I would never have bought O magazine myself... unless it was a gift for mother.

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Old 01-17-2002, 12:02 PM   #5
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What a crock, they dont even put him on the fucking cover!!!

(lol, I know, I know)

[This message has been edited by UCLAforU2 (edited 01-17-2002).]
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Old 01-17-2002, 04:57 PM   #6
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"Irish women are very informed and very vocal," Bono says, before
releasing his chesty laugh again. "And I should know, because I'm living
with one, and it's hard to keep up."
Way to go Ali!

Thank You Chris!

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Old 01-17-2002, 06:03 PM   #7
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Great article.

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