Bono on…

Selected excerpts from “Pure Bono,” an interview with U2’s Bono in the May 1, 1989 issue of Mother Jones magazine:

Bono on hereos: “My heroes are the ones who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them.”

On drugs: “I am the sort of person who needs to take drugs to make me normal.”

On the term “born again”: “I never really accepted the whole ‘born again’ tag. It’s a great term, had it not been so abused. I accepted it on one level, in that I loved the idea of being reborn…I think people should be reborn every day, man! You know, every day again and again and again! At 20 years old, this idea of ‘surrender every day,’ this idea of ‘dying to oneself’ … was so exciting! Then I came to America in 1981, the land of milk and the .357 Magnum. It blew my mind that this word reborn meant nothing. … It had been raped of its real meaning, of its spiritual significance, and instead a political significance was left.”

On rock vs. the church: “I think the most important thing, the most important element in painting a picture, writing a song, making a movie, whatever, is that it be truthful. A version of the truth as you see it. Rock ‘n’ roll, and the blues, they’re truthful. It says in the Scriptures, ‘Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ So, there is this feeling of liberation in the blues for me. There is salvation in the blues.

On U2’s music: “We always had this belief that there was something sacred about our music, that it was almost holy”

On Gospel vs. Blues: “Gospel music is about a step of faith, which is a whole different concept. The idea is that you step into a world where, if you like, the kingdom has come. You step into it, and you affirm that. You step into that and you sing! You know, people singing gospel music, they crowded into the churches from the ghettos, to make that ‘Joshua fit the battle of Jericho/And the walls came tumbling down’ step of faith. In their real life, they were living in leaky, rainy conditions, they were living in a sewer. So that’s not the truth of their own experience. The blues is the truth of their own experience, therefore closer to this idea of ‘knowing the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ In the Psalms of David, there is this powerful wailing against God. You know, ‘You call yourself God!’ and ‘Where are you when I need you?’ The Psalms of David are the blues, and I get great comfort from that.”

Are people getting numb? “That is the word I would use. And I think they need a really strong stimulus. … It just seems that a pinprick will no longer pierce. They need a shock treatment.”

On what U2 writes songs about: “There aren’t enough minutes in the day, or days in the year, for us to approach every abuse of human rights, and because, in the end, that isn’t our job anyway. Our own way of dealing with it is to try to get at what is essentially behind all abuse of human rights, to go to the heart of the problem, to the kernel rather than the husk. And that, of course, will always bring me back to the idea of love. Spirituality. That God is love. That love is not a flowers-in-the-hair situation, that it is something you have to make happen. It has to be made concrete.”

On the next album (what would become Achtung Baby): “I have this feeling of starting over, that things have reached their end,” he says after a pause, “and also this notion that while people always talk about being joined in common wants and aspirations, I’m finding the reverse. Finding we’re united in desperation.”

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