Bono has issued a 6,250 word missive about life, the world, Percocet, family, etc. I’ve bold faced some things. Like: his father in law suffered multiple heart attacks at the same time Bono had his 50th birthday bike crash. Wow. Bono may not be able to play the guitar again, and U2’s world tour starting in May is in peril, depending on his healing. Also: his 15 year old son is a guitar shredder and probably won’t be a student much longer.
And then this bit of news: Universal Music Group is beta testing a system in which “a Universal artist will be able to find out weekly, maybe even daily, on their cell phones, how many plays they’ve had and where in the world they’ve had them; also they can be direct-credited the payment.”
Really? That’s news. and that would bring a massive change to the way artists relate to record companies. Spotify and iTunes.
As usual, Bono is self-critical, self-reflective, and grand. That’s why we love him. Here are his words of innocence. PS He really misses the band’s original manager Paul McGuinness. That’s nice. Paul was the band’s guiding light.
1 January 2015
LITTLE BOOK OF A BIG YEAR: Bono’s A to Z of 2014
It’s January 1, 8pm. I nearly didn’t press go on this, and I am clearly delirious in places. It’s very personal, but I feel in a not corny way that U2 has a very intimate relationship with our audience… so I’m going for it.
This is too long.
You should not have time to read this.
If you do get to the end of it then you are probably on the same painkillers as me.
For the last few weeks I haven’t been able to move around physically so I have more than made up for it by leaving my mind to wanderlust, untethered except electronically…
I have written words for new songs, but I have also had an opportunity to look back and review the year in a way I’ve never had time to do before… there have been more highs than lows, but perhaps the reason for this A TO Z endeavor is an attempt to learn from mistakes – the first of which is the discovery that I am not an armored vehicle. Edge says I look at my body as an inconvenience…The problem, as I see it, is that I think my head is harder than any other surface.
On the day of my 50th birthday I received an injury because I was over indulging in exercise boxing and cycling, which was itself an overcompensation for overindulging on alcohol coming up to the big birthday. I promised myself I would be more mindful of my limits, but just four years on, it happened again—a massive injury I can’t blame on anyone but myself, mainly because I blanked out on impact and have no memory of how I ended up in New York Presbyterian with my humerus bone sticking through my leather jacket. Very punk rock as injuries go.
The consequences of this freak accident are significant enough that I will have to concentrate hard to be ready for the U2 tour in fitness terms… as a result I have cancelled every public appearance and decided this missive is all the communication I can manage for the first half of 2015, beyond muttering and singing to myself of course.
A IS FOR ALI
If her name were Zena I’d start the alphabet with her anyway; everything for me starts with her. Watching Ali this morning as she and a low bright winter sun clean our kitchen from the night before… I’m writing on a long table that was last night ringed by family and friends home for Christmas and New Year… the sea and sky were ink then with spots of little festive lights, infiltrating our winter evening. I didn’t want the night to end, which has not always been the case for me during the last six weeks.
Ali’s take is more deadpan, less obviously romantic. She says winter solstice is her favorite day because after that the nights are getting shorter like me… haha.
I’m hanging on to that thought as 2014 has had its fair share of inclement weather here in Hewsonland. Ali’s father, Terry, had a series of heart attacks at the same time as I crashed my bike in Central Park. They don’t compare but Ali has carried a lot of water for us two men. Terry is a giant who has inspired and challenged this jack for years.
Every single day since the invention of the internet, he has sent me scientific papers or pieces of scripture or dirty jokes ending with the admonishment THINK! Conjuring the famous photograph of Albert Einstein with his tongue sticking out.
B IS FOR BLOGOSPHERE
It’s enough to put a fella off free speech… the problem about finding out what people think is…you find out what they think. Who are these people? Well if they put their real names to their invective then I guess they are people like me—people with the audacity to think they have a thought or a feeling that others should hear about… if they are hiding, I’m not interested.
If you’re in an old pub here in Dublin, in fact most places, walk into the gents and further into the stalls; close the door and study the walls… nothing there… clean as a whistle. Where has all the graffiti gone? The bile and spleen, the grotesque drawing, the sexual meandering, the threats of violence to minorities? Where has it gone? It’s on the blessed Internet. Scroll down… you know you’re looking at your phone in the loo anyway.
B IS FOR BONO
Talking about yourself in the third person is a little weird… But Bono embraces it. Bono thinks solipsism for an artist is like an overactive thyroid for a comedian; it’s hard to fix if it’s paying your way…
B IS FOR BIRTHDAY
I share a birthday with my daughter Jordan….which means she has to share her birthday party with her father. This year I don’t think she minded, it was a blast. When she was born she was only five pounds… the midwife said it would be comforting for her to sleep on my chest where she would hear my heartbeat like when she is breastfeeding with her mother. She is still there.
C IS FOR CLAYTON
Adam’s bass playing on Songs of Innocence was as fresh and original as his work on our first album, BOY, which was genius as far as I’m concerned. Songs like The Troubles or Volcano, or This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now depend on Adam… to glue together elements that might otherwise fly off in different trajectories.
Adam is also the happiest he has ever been in his life since he married Mariana... she is so special and they share a passion for contemporary art that has them great friends as well as lovers. The only thing that bothers me about Adam Clayton is he seems to buy better gifts than I do. He bought Ali a snowflake pendant that she hardly ever takes off despite all my attempts to ply her with things that shine.
Truth is Ali is too modest and old-school frugal to wear anything showy. Yet another lesson there. (Note to self. Look up “frugal.”)
C IS FOR CEDARWOOD ROAD
Just before Christmas all four of our kids called up to 10 Cedarwood Road to do a piss-take band photo as a present for me; the band released a song this year about that street, the one where I grew up with my best friends Guggi and Gavin on the north side of Dublin.
When the current owner photo bombed my kids by making funny faces at the window, they nearly jumped out of their south side skins. She had no idea that these kids had any connection with No. 10, but invited them into our old family house anyway. And my old bedroom. And into our old BATHROOM where their dad used to sneak back in to the house late at night through the little window. There are some truly spontaneous great spirits in the world and the Ryans living in that house are definitely among them.
D IS FOR DAVOS
I was one of the fat cats in the snow again this year. Ironically but quite brilliantly the 2014 World Economic Forum at Davos started with a message from Pope Francis. And when the Pope speaks to you at a ski resort you put down your gluhwein, Catholic or no. His message: “I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it”.
Capitalism is not immoral, but it is amoral. It gets its instructions from us. It’s an indiscriminate engine, and our obligation is to see that it provides forward movement to everyone, not just to those whose hands are on the levers of the machine.
I went there because Davos gives me a front row view of the power elite at work which I’ve found, well, educational, in my work as an activist… to understand better these forces shaping the world of politics and economics. The world outside U2’s air-conditioned life. I’ve never had a job – I worked part time in a petrol station, a warehouse, and I spent a summer selling cowboy boots …so that makes me an expert in what? High heels ?!!
Artists chase the zeitgeist like dogs chase cars… often we don’t really want to catch up to the speeding wheels, we just want to bark at them. I could spend my entire life in a bubble of songwriting, I’d love that, but I’ve realised that it’s the artist in me that won’t let me. I’ve to accept it’s not just culture that informs the zeitgeist. I want to understand commerce, I want to understand politics. I want to understand the digital revolution as others before us grappled with the industrial revolution. And if I want to learn about something I have to do it, it doesn’t work just to read about it. This didn’t go well for me when I thought I could be a landscape painter… but “KEEP OUT – ELECTRICAL FENCE” my dyslexia reads as “Step Inside!! Free Drink!!”
E IS FOR EDUN
After ten years of hard work and now under the genius eye of designer Danielle Sherman, EDUN finally bloomed. This year Danielle was voted by Vogue one of the 8 designers to watch. One of her proudest accomplishments (and mine and Ali’s) is that now 95 percent of this line is made in Africa, the continent that gave birth to us all.
EDUN supports 8,000 cotton farmers in Uganda. So I include a picture of a cotton field, which I think is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Agriculture is sexy. Check out “Cocoa na Chocolate” with Africa’s funkiest pop stars including His Royal Wonderfulness D’Banj.
Above all else E IS FOR EDGE
This year during the recording of SOI the band ended up sharing houses in London. I had the room under the Edge… this was a mistake. The dude doesn’t sleep. When we record, he’s often playing guitar right through the night. I offered him sleeping tablets. He said he’d rather the album be crack than valium.
Edge is not just one of my dearest friends, he, like the missus, remains a mystery to those who know him best…. a paradox… a true gentleman but with the rage of rock’n’roll under quite thick skin…. though he is U2’s lightning conductor, he moves like a very calm breeze…you might not notice it but for the ripples in the sand, the subtleties in his playing, his songwriting hooks… some of them not obvious at first turn out to be eternal. He is the only one who doesn’t know that he is the most influential guitar player in a quarter century.
Edge is very proud, as is the rest of the band, of our involvement in Music Generation…making sure in Ireland that any future Edges can get their hands on a guitar. By November, 19,000 kids had had access to instruments and lessons thanks to the brilliant Rosaleen Molloy who runs the scheme.
F IS FOR FANS
U2 is a band that started out as fans, and with this new album we wanted to remind ourselves and others that we hadn’t forgotten that. We stepped out of the audience of The Clash and The Ramones… In earlier times we had fans sleeping on the floors of our hotel rooms. Later that got weird. But we’ve always understood who was paying our wages.
U2 were the first to use new technologies like a satellite stage and billboard sized videos, to make sure the seat at the back of the house was as good as the front. But now with paparazzi and cell phone cameras it’s harder to hang out except when we’re on tour. The sound of a U2 audience is like the roar of a rocket launch. This time we wont be in space…this rocket is bringing us back to earth.
F IS FOR FRIENDSHIP
Friendship like music is a sacrament to me. I can’t remember who said it; it might even be Nietzsche, who said one other thing – and if I wore tattoos, I would ink this all across my right arm – that to do something really great, there requires “a long obedience in the same direction”.
The other non-nihilistic thing he might have said is “friendship is higher than love”. It’s more consistent. There are fewer highs and lows. But great friendships especially childhood ones have a width and a breadth that some lovers just cannot attain. I like to think I have both with Ali, but my friends Reggie the Dog, who got me in to U2, Guggi and Gavin and Simon have pushed me to write better, think better, be better. That’s what friendship does.
F IS FOR THE F-WORD
Let this be said. But not on live television.
I know this out of order, but there are some things you shouldn’t get completely under control. Expletives, for example. Bob Geldof is a master of the art. Me, I got a US TV network into trouble for uttering an involuntary expletive in 2004 on accepting a Golden Globe. It went all the way to Congress, where the legislation became known as the Bono Bill. Not to be confused with Buffalo Bill. It was a pyrrhic victory, but I’ll take it. I know it’s not cool, this year I managed to keep it clean.
G IS FOR GLAUCOMA
Completely unintentionally, in London in the autumn I confessed to the talk show host Graham Norton the reason that I wear tinted glasses is that I have been diagnosed as having glaucoma for the last seven years, but that I’ve probably had the disease as long as I’ve been wearing these kinds of glasses, which is 23 years!!!!
I think it shocked him a little bit… it certainly surprised the band that I’d gone public, but maybe it is time to be honest about such things. I remember I had the nickname old red eyes. I remember the agony of flashbulb staying permanently in my vision for the rest of the day after I’d been photographed. I had many eye checks over the years but one of the sly things about this “silent thief” is that you can have 20/20 vision straight ahead for some years even after your peripheral vision goes… If it’s not treated, blindness results. I think anyone who reaches 40 should have their eyes properly checked.
H IS FOR THE HEWSONS
I am so proud of our family… our oldest girl Jordan is studying poetry and fighting for the world’s poor as founding editor of Global Citizen. This is a great organisation inspiring a whole new generation to join the fight against extreme poverty.
Eve was the star of the year in our house, even having a billboard to herself in our local village of Dalkey for her role in Steven Soderbergh’s THE KNICK. Eve has discipline and mischief, real depth that she chooses to float above, until it’s necessary to take that dive.
The boys Elijah and John are men now. I refuse to admit John at 13 is taller than me. I still clip his ear to make him laugh while I can… he’s a natural comedian whose heroes are graffiti and street artists like JR. He plays rugby as I did but he’s better than I ever was. He broke his nose in a match this year. His mother and I were badly shaken. He rolled his eyes, and explained that greatest living Irishman Brian O’Driscoll broke his nose 13 times. So that’s a dozen more to go.
Elijah Bob, or Eli as he’s known, is 15 and already a guitar shredder. Royal Blood is his favourite at the moment and their debut album is quite something. Motorhead is right up there too. I told him that Lemmy once helped U2 unpack their gear into the Marquee Club in 1980. When everyone wondered what he was still doing there mid-morning from the night before he said “playing space invaders”. He wasn’t joking. A master. Our boy Eli won’t be a student for long.
I IS FOR ITUNES
Our album was to be like a bottle of milk dropped at the door of anyone interested in music and iTunes. As I understand it, the journey from the front door to the fridge and into what to some people felt was their bowl of cereal has something to do with a switch called “automatic download” — if you turn it on, you sign up for being pushed stuff.
That’s about it…no flagrant abuse of human rights, but very annoying to people who a) like being annoyed, and/or b) felt it was like someone robbing their phone in the pub and taking a couple of photos before leaving it back on the table… some kind of breach of privacy which was really not intended. I empathise with the b)’s, but for the a)’s I’ve started referring them to the philosopher Jimmy Kimmel.
That Apple remains a music company is the best news for any one who wakes up with a melody in their head or wanting to hear one. Apple is unique in big tech in trying to get artists paid. That they would agree to pay Universal for SONGS of INNOCENCE, and then gift it to all the people who still believe music is worth paying for, both makes sense and is a beautiful thing.
I IS FOR IRISH PRIDE
I broke my hand, my shoulder, my elbow and my face but the real injury this year was to my Irish pride as it was discovered that under my tracksuit I was wearing yellow and black Lycra cycling shorts. Yes, LYCRA. This is not very rock ‘n’ roll.
Recovery has been more difficult than I thought… As I write this, it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again. The band have reminded me that neither they nor Western civilization are depending on this.
I personally would very much miss fingering the frets of my green Irish falcon or my (RED) Gretsch. Just for the pleasure, aside from writing tunes. But then does the Edge, or Jimmy Page, or any guitarist you know have a titanium elbow, as I do now? I’m all elbows, I am.
My deepest Irish pride is seeing the smarts and resolve of the Irish people as our country emerges from the mess of last five years… I said as much in March at a speech in Dublin in front of a load of European leaders: “I want to give an enormous gigantic big up to the Irish people who, a) were screwed; and b) fought back with dignity. Irish people don’t bruise easily, but we don’t like the feeling of being bullied. But when the public sector had to pay for the arrogance of private sector stupidity, we got both bullied and bruised. And that was not fair… we’re coming through, and I’d love to say it was the Troika; but I think, frankly, it was despite the Troika. The way we see it, the Irish people bailed the Irish government out”.
J IS FOR JESUS
At this time of year some people are reminded of the poetic as well as the historic truth that is the birth of Jesus. The Christmas story has a crazy good plot with an even crazier premise – the idea goes, if there is a force of love and logic behind the universe, then how amazing would it be if that incomprehensible power chose to express itself as a child born in shit and straw poverty.
Who could conceive of such a story? If you believe it was the protagonist, as I do, then we should try to be really respectful of people who think the whole thing is a bit nutty or worse… Religious people are the best and worst of us…handle us with scepticism…
Strangely, maybe, some of the most rational thinkers see some kind of cosmic sense in all this… Francis Collins, who led the human genome project, is an obvious one… the language of science and faith are not necessarily at odds….
Earlier this year the Hewsons got to see the view that John had as he wrote the Book of Revelation in a cave on the Greek island of Patmos. I can’t make head nor tail of that book but I love the idea that he was taken by a vision… a poetic rhapsody of man describing what looks like a nuclear firestorm ending the world.
William Blake was similarly seized by visions which he tried to write or draw. We stole the title “Songs of Innocence/Songs of Experience” from Blake. You can’t approach the subject of God without metaphor… literalism like legalism is an attempt to shrink God to recreate him in our own image.
Almost as glorious as that cave is the Matisse Chapel in Vence, France, which we visited this year with a friend on her birthday. The birthday girl couldn’t get over the fact that Matisse designed not only the stained glass but the priests’ vestments which can only be described as, eh, 70s Funkadelic. The chapel opened in 1951.
But back to the Christmas story that still brings me to my knees—which is a good place for me lest I harm myself or others. Christmas is not a time for me to overthink about this child, so vulnerable, who would grow so strong… to teach us all how vulnerability is the route to strength and, by example, show us how to love and serve.
To me this is not a fairy tale but a challenge. I preach what I need to hear…
J IS FOR JIMMY FALLON
He is the second coming of the late show.
But the reasons are very 21st century – a horizontal rather than vertical relationship with his audience. He is not just a friend of the famous he is everybody’s friend. The pain of my bike accident didn’t compare with the disappointment of cancelling a week hanging out on his show. He made it worse by being a better Bono than I could ever be.
K IS FOR KANYE
Kanye is a real innovator… an artist who like a lot of the artists I respect is interested in everything and wants to include that everything in his art. Words, fashion, design, religion, racism, stardom…He blew U2’s mind when he showed up on stage with (RED) in Times Square this world AIDS Day, fighting for an end to the disease.
Yeezus walks, Yeezus talks. Yeezus walks the talk.
L IS FOR LARRY MULLEN
The cover of the U2 album is, I think, our best.
There was a moment when we did the Graham Norton show—a moment that, to keep the pace up, got left out of the final edit, but that really knocked us all out. When Graham asked Larry why he and his son would agree to appear on the album cover (the Mullen Juniors are very protective of their privacy), Larry talked about how he and his son have at times had a stormy relationship—and that beautiful photograph by Glen Luchford meant so much to the two of them in their new closeness. “I’m not sure who is holding onto who,” Larry said. “Check my son’s hand… He’s a tough kid but not so tough that he can’t hold onto his father as his father holds onto him”.
M IS FOR MANDELA
It’s one year on, but I and more importantly the world miss him. “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”
M IS FOR MALALA
Such noblesse. “They only shot a body but they can’t shoot my dreams”.
N IS FOR NOEL GALLAGHER
I’ve heard his new album, this is one of the truly great British songsters. But of course like a lot of them he’s Irish. Ha.
O IS FOR ONE
ONE ends 2014 with over 6 million members, 2.4 million of them on the continent of Africa. Our African members say that by 2030 they’ll be giving us aid, and the job of us white messiahs is to put ourselves out of business. I look forward to that day.
Some highlights… The World Bank says that after the Drop the Debt mob…52 million more children are in school…The Global Fund says that 13 million people with HIV are now on life-saving medication.
It’s bizarre, but there is a new African proverb: “Pray that we do not discover oil”. I want you to know that ONE fights corruption too. There’s less noise about that side of what we do, it doesn’t lend itself to photo-ops or 140 characters. Along with the Publish What You Pay coalition, ONE have helped pass laws in Europe and America which force mining/extractive companies to declare what monies they are paying, to whom. You’d think this would be simple, obvious. Not if you are the American Petroleum Institute, they took legal action to grind the US law to a halt… for the moment.
We couldn’t do what we do without the Gates Foundation. Outside of my parents, Ali, and the band, I don’t think anyone has given me more support in my life than Bill and Melinda Gates. The man who changed the world with his software, is, with his missus, changing the world again with their foundation… which was doubled in size by another family, the Buffetts …who through their own fortunes had even before that been changing the fortunes of so many others.
O IS FOR OSCARS
We came. We lost. We had one hell of a night out.
We got to meet one of our all time idols though.
Well sort of…
P IS FOR PAUL
U2 is like the mafia. You can never really get out. Don McGuinness may be in the back garden petting his cat but he still whispers in our ears. His voice carries, as does that of the irreplaceable Keryn Kaplan. Paul McGuinness is always going to be the fifth member of U2, our Confessor. Maybe it’s more like the priesthood than the mafia. This year, we took on a sixth member, Guy Oseary. Guy “so serious” as my kids call him. He’s not, but I like that in a manager.
Q IS FOR QUINCY JONES
Standing in a garden in France looking out over the sea… my mate Simon says “Ah, it’s great to be alive”… Q looks puzzled. “Great to be alive??? It’s crucial, man!!”
R IS FOR (RED)
These Percocets (painkillers) are pretty perky until they are not… you are in a kind of fluffy land floating till you wake the next morning with a bump …but the evening of World AIDS Day, December the first, before that bump I had a vision …television.
I was watching the giant TV screens of Times Square turn crimson… the ultra vivid advertising morphed from advertising products to advertising Hope… And Gratitude …. Mothers and their kids, nurses and farmers from Accra, Colombo, Phnom Penh holding up signs saying… Thank you New York… Thank you Boise… Thank you Chicago… For those AIDS drugs that mean we are alive… About 8 million people are on anti retroviral drugs paid for by the USA
Thank You America.
Then through the red neon I saw Edge, Adam, Larry play the opening of Where The Streets Have No Name … but I wasn’t there … Somebody much more New York than me was beginning to sing … somebody who had been down many more streets …most of them with names or numbers and particular letters… Either the Governor of E street, Bruce Springsteen, was actually performing with U2 or I’d overshot the runway on the opiates….
It’s said that Frank Sinatra owned four American cities. New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles all felt like hometown crowds to him. Bruce Springsteen has the whole country to call his hometown. He stepped in for the (RED) Times Square show so America could be thanked… he was a real improvement on the original running order.
Earlier I had hallucinated Chris Martin kicking off a beautiful night with Beautiful Day. I imagined I heard him sing With or Without You, but knew that song would be too painful for him to sing this year…. these analgesics can mess with you … But it was actually real… A pregnant Carrie Underwood is singing to stop the HIV virus being passed from other mothers to their children …”You’re just a fool, just a fool to believe you can change the world” she sings.. knowing that only fools don’t try.
The concert wrapped up another bright (RED) year. Some numbers… $10 million from Bank of America to kick off January… in December, news that Apple hit the $100 million mark, taking (RED) to over $300million for the Global Fund. (RED) Belvedere flowed. (RED) Cokes hit the shelves.
But it’s not all about the money – the neon and fizz is just as important. What’s on the minds of the people is also on the minds of the politicians, who can really put an end to this awfulness if they want to. The best news of all in 2014 was that we have reached a tipping point in the pandemic. For the first time the number of people starting on medication outstripped those contracting the virus.
S IS FOR SONGS OF INNOCENCE
So proud of these songs… we really went there. I took the advice of my old friend and producer Jimmy Iovine who told me the person you have to be to write this album is a long way from where you live.
He wasn’t talking about a nice house in Dublin or Nice… he was pushing me/us to drop a deep well and ask hard questions about why you are where you are …I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was pushing me back to the place I used to live, the place I didn’t grow up… 10 Cedarwood Road.
The only criticism that stung is that the album should have had more of the energy of the musicians and those who inspired it… a bit more anarchy, a bit more punk. We didn’t want a pastiche of the era so we put all those 70’s and early eighties influence in the juicer and a blend emerged… more like an Irish whiskey than a single malt.
“We march backwards into the future” said Marshal McLuhan, or maybe it was Michael J. Fox. Either way a highlight for U2 in 2014 was SOI being named album of the year by Rolling Stone.
S IS FOR THE SDG’s
You may not have heard of them yet, but if you haven’t by the end of 2015, we’ve all failed… you may be forgiven for thinking an “SDG” is a new kind of sexually transmitted disease, but the Sustainable Development Goals are actually the next phase of old goals agreed in 2000… the Millennium Development Goals aka the MDGs… yes, they sound like an illegal substance, but despite the wonky name, the really great news this year was that we are on track to meet the main promise — which was to halve poverty by 2015.
It’s possible, if the world makes these SDG’s a priority, then by 2030 we will no longer be faced with images of malnourished children with distended bellies or watch a disease like Ebola, essentially a condition of extreme poverty, cause such heartache and fear. The SDG’s will also wrestle the climate crisis, because by the way, it is one. Ask anyone from Bangladesh for starters.
(check out ONE’s film on ebola)
T IS FOR THE UNHOLY TRINITY
This year the media was full of stories about ISIS and other groups like Boko Haram, who kidnapped 140 school girls in northern Nigeria… A couple of years ago it was Mali and Somalia all over the news as well Afghanistan. There’s a thread of continuity here, and it’s runs along the border of this map:
The region known as the Sahel goes from west to east Africa and beyond if you look—all the way to Afghanistan, where, though it’s not known as the Sahel, it is roughly the same terrain. Here we see what I have been calling the unholy trinity of the three extremes… extreme climate, extreme poverty and extreme ideology. In this gigantic region, which sends out so many shockwaves, the way the world deals with these three extremes will determine the pace of human progress for everyone on this planet.
U IS FOR U2 LIVE …. We don’t finish our songs, we just put them out. U2 is a live band. Live is where we live or die. The songs continue to grow night after night. We have some extraordinary ideas up our sleeve for this tour I’ve just got to be rebuilt by 14th May.
V IS FOR VISION OVER VISIBILITY
This is my mantra…. but V IS ALSO FOR VIABILITY
We all now understand the Internet is giving us access to information that is mostly flattening an uneven playing field. This is all good except when some technologists think that creative content is only valuable in its ability to show off their wares – hard or soft.
Some say musicians should be pleased with new ways to promote live concerts but I remind people that Cole Porter didn’t play live shows. Songwriters are getting a poor deal right now. The reason I respect for-fee services like Spotify is that they are slowly turning people who are used to getting their music for-FREE, into paying ten dollars a month for a subscription model.
These payments don’t add up to replacement for income from physical or digital sales at the moment – but I think they can if everyone sits down – record companies, artists and digital services – to figure out a fairer way of doing business.
I’m proud of Universal group, not least because Lucian Grainge took at big risk with our Apple release, but David Joseph, CEO of the UK, encouraged by his boss, is beta-testing a fresh approach to transparency … a Universal artist will be able to find out weekly, maybe even daily, on their cell phones, how many plays they’ve had and where in the world they’ve had them; also they can be direct-credited the payment. U2 can survive without these changes but we can’t live with ourselves if other artists cannot.
W IS FOR WEDDINGS
Marriage is a grand madness. It’s like jumping off a very tall building and discovering you can fly. I was at some special weddings this year that reminded me and my missus why we jumped.
W IS FOR WEBSUMMIT
The F.ounders and Websummit in Dublin masterminded by Paddy Cosgrave, a network in himself, were fun this past November, if nearly too well attended. It’s basically a load of nerds surfing their jet lag, drinking pints, and coming up with their best ideas. A great ad for Ireland, a great way to get tech companies to set up shop here.
The really extraordinary thing is the leader of our country, the Taoiseach – or, as he is known during the week of websummit, the “Tech – shock” – seems genuine when he promises that he and the government will be a phone call away from trying to solve any problems along the way to setting up your business here, meaning it’s not just our lower corporate tax rate that’s attractive, our people are great problem solvers. I found myself being more outspoken in 2014 in my support of Ireland’s right to set its own corporate tax rate… and the right of Irish companies to take advantage of the same…then Brendan O’Connor from the Irish Indo got me on it: “We can understand why people, at first glance, get upset with U2 if they mistakenly think we don’t pay tax. We do. Millions of euro in Ireland. But isn’t it absurd if Ireland as a country can have a culture of tax competitiveness but Irish companies cannot? This doesn’t make sense, what also doesn’t make sense are abuses such as the so-called ‘Double Irish’, which is being phased out and rightly so.”
X IS FOR X-RAY
Here’s my titanium elbow for a laugh.
Y IS FOR WHY
Peaches Geldof. Robin Williams. Philip Seymour Hoffman. RIP.
Z IS FOR ZERO GENERATION
Some people call them the millennials. I call them Generation Z… because they can take us into the zero-tolerance zone for a lot of the awfulness in the world right now… As they age, I don’t know if they’ll be playing our music, but if we are still around, I hope to be deafened by the joyful noise of a world unrecognizably better because of the innovations in science, medicine, and equality they bring about. The biggest breakthroughs are always in the way we see the world. We could do with some fresh eyes. On U2 too.