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Bono about music, activism and faith

In more than four decades as U2’s frontman, Bono led one of the world’s biggest rock bands on the world’s biggest stages. But this stage (if you can call it that), in the schoolyard at Mount Temple Comprehensive in North Dublin, will be their first.

Taking the stage with CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell, Bono recalled, “Yeah, I mean, most people were looking that way if they had ears. But wow, how good was it to be here !”

U2 frontman Bono with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell on stage at the North Dublin school where he and his bandmates performed for the first time.

CBS News

It was 1978. The boys who weren’t yet on their way to superstardom – Bono, Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton – were called The Hype. The name hadn’t caught on, but Bono already had a vague feeling they could live up to it.

O’Donnell asked, “Do you remember that feeling when you’re here on stage?”

“I remember that feeling of, ‘I can do this,'” he said. “It’s a thing. That’s when you find the thing.”

Born Paul David Hewson, his childhood best friend christened Bono and he found “the thing” early on.

Early days for The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Bono and Adam Clayton.

Patrick Brocklebank/U2

It wasn’t obvious even to his high school music teacher. “I remember one moment when he said, ‘I’m going to find you people who can play an instrument to write a piece of music,'” Bono said.

– But you didn’t know how to play an instrument?

“No, so I was in another part of the class. But I remember that feeling, you know, because I knew I could do it. I know I can’t play an instrument sir! But I have these tunes in my head and I have words and things I want to say.

U2 was formed after 14-year-old Larry Mullen Jr. posted an ad on his school’s bulletin board: “Drummer wanted musicians for band.”


“How random our destiny comes,” Bono writes in his new memoir, “Capitulation: 40 Songs, One Story,” published this Tuesday by Knopf.

The idea of ​​how the band started was “preposterous”, he said, “but there was magic, you know, that’s all we had. And of course there was a desperate desire to make something of our lives.”

“In those early days of the band, did any of you have any idea of ​​a superstar?”

– It would be me! he laughed. “It’s so embarrassing! Sometimes I try to figure it out when I look at the absurdity of my life… We have some feelings. We have our own tone. So, there is something here.”

With that tone — that unique sound — U2 rose to the pinnacle of success, the only group in history to have No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 for four consecutive decades, dating back to 1980’s “The Joshua Tree.”

U2 perform “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” from “The Joshua Tree”:

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Official Music Video) by

They have sold around 170 million albums and won 22 Grammys – more than any other band.

It was a long way from Cedarwood Road, where Bono grew up. While we visited the family who live in his childhood home (“It was never our house, it was always, ‘Was it Bono’s house?’,” laughed Mrs. Ryan), a crowd gathered outside to see the local the boy who became good.

Bono visits his old neighborhood, Cedarwood Road in Dublin.

CBS News

As part of our tour of Bono’s Dublin, we stopped for a pint at Finnegan’s of Dalkey for a rare interview with Bono’s wife of 40 years, Ellie Hewson.

O’Donnell asked, “So you call him Bono? Not Paul?”

“A lot of things – I call him different things!” Ali laughed.

– And Pavel is not one of them! Bono added.

Bono and his wife Ali Hewson.

CBS News

They started dating the same week U2 became a band, and she inspired them to create some of their biggest hits.

Blue-eyed boy meets brown-eyed girl
Oh oh oh, the cutest
You can sew it up, but you can still see the gap
Oh oh oh, the cutest
The child has a blue sky ahead
And in this I am a rain cloud
Oh, this stormy love
Oh oh oh, the cutest

When asked what she was thinking while reading Surrender, Ali said, “I was really nervous about what was going to happen in this book. But I think he’s an incredible writer. It just seems like he can do anything he touches, which is very annoying most of the time!”

O’Donnell asked: “Which of you first saw what U2 could become?”

“I don’t think any of us really saw it coming,” Ali said. “I mean, there was a lot of confidence as a teenager.”

“Front” is another word for it, Bono said. “Frontman. Yes. It’s probably more of a look than a being… and a faith.”

I believe not only in myself, and not only in my group.

“You talk a lot about faith; are you religious?” O’Donnell asked.

“I don’t know. I’m like a stray dog. I go to a Catholic church. I would be in the synagogue. If someone were to say here right now, “Would you give your life to Jesus?” I would: “Me!” And I’m not one to flip through a picture of the Pope before doing something funny. I take God with me wherever I go. And that’s why God saw me in a certain state, I’m sure.”

Singer and activist Bono.

CBS News

Early on, U2’s involvement with a Christian group led to some questioning whether they could be a band and to be believers. Bono said: “What purpose can music have – what purpose? The world, you know, is on fire. What are we doing here? At that point, Edge began working on a song called “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” And it opened for him. And it opened us up because we realized that our songs could talk about the situation and maybe be useful.”

And the battle has just begun
They lost a lot, but tell me who won?
Trenches are dug in our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters are torn apart
Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday
How long, how long must we sing this song?
How long? How long?

Sunday Bloody Sunday by
U2 – Theme on

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” was a condemnation of the bloodshed in Ireland at the time. And, Bono said, even though it was tested, they didn’t lose faith. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, we’ve grown out of it, it was a bit crazy.’ This was a little crazy. But really the scriptures, the sacred texts, are still very important to me and very important to the band.”

Which might explain his decades-long fight against poverty, his meetings with popes and presidents, lobbying heads of state around the world, largely through the work of his organization One. “Our motivation is justice,” he said. “We canceled $130 billion in debt. Another 54 million children went to school. This is a big thing in my life. Especially in the fight against AIDS, for me, outside of my family, our music, that’s what I’m most proud of in my life, even as a tiny part, a catalyst.”

Whether it’s music, politics or activism, for Bono, the frontman, it all boils down to one thing: “Whatever it is, I’ve always been looking for the ultimate melody.”

“Describe what you mean when you say top line melodies?” O’Donnell asked.

“It’s something that rises above the noise and chatter in the room,” he said. “That’s my job. I’m a songwriter. I look for a clear point in most things I do. But the best stories win. The best tunes are the ones you hear around the corner and go, ‘What what?’ Top Line Melody’.

O’Donnell said, “I mean, we’ve got to get it over with, I mean that . . .”

“For the hell of it.”

“Damn it. It’s so good. Don’t use me to say it!”

– Give this woman a drink! Bono laughed.

READ THE PASSAGE: Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono

For more information:

The plot was prepared by Michael Buffon. Editor: Stephen Tyler.


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