If Bono comes over for dinner and stays his welcome, there’s an easy way to get him to leave.
Turn up the speakers and blow up the U2. Your guest in the black leather and enclosed fly shadows will look like Usain Bolt as he curls up, covers his ears, and rushes out the front door. Imagine if Pillsbury Doughboy had a gluten allergy. Or if Tony the Tiger went on a podcast to reflect on 70 years of Frosted Flakes, only to conclude: “They are GROOOOOSSSSS. “
I apologize for eating the top of this column with so many food analogies. I think it’s because I’m now being psyched up for a February breakup to see if I can get even more extreme with my intermittent fasting, going from the current cure with a meal every day for a meal every other day. I feel so much better when I’m not eating.
Similarly, Bono feels so much better when he is not listening to Bono.
The overwhelming frontman from one of the most successful bands in history made headlines this week after throwing himself. I can not decide whether we should find this self-criticism refreshing, or whether we should initiate a class action lawsuit against U2 to expose our ears to decades of music, of which the main creator now considers “embarrassing”.
Bono and guitarist The Edge – come to think of it, these stage names is a little embarrassing – was interviewed on the Awards Chatter podcast this week. The Irish band, which has sold more than 175 million records and collected 22 Grammys, has been nominated for an Oscar this year.
It’s good that Bono is not on the judging panel.
“I’ve been in a car since one of our songs came on the radio and I’ve been the color of, as we say in Dublin, the scarlet,” Bono told the podcast. “I’m just embarrassed. And yes, I mean, I think U2 is pushing the boat out of embarrassment quite a bit. And maybe this is the place to be as an artist, you know, right on the edge of your level of pain. to embarrassment… ”
I’m not quite sure what he means. But it’s hard to “embarrass” with a group that has released 14 studio albums over the last four decades. For Bono, this “embarrassment” extends to the band’s alphanumeric name and his vocal styles, especially in the early years. Bono believes his voice is “very strained” and “in a way not macho.”
U2 has released nearly 300 songs, and he can only praise two: “Vertigo” from 2004’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” and “Miss Sarajevo”, the 1995 collaboration with Brian Eno and Luciano Pavarotti. That’s the song Bono can listen to the most. I agree. It’s beautiful and joking. It never gets old. All these years later, “Miss Sarajevo” still gives me chills.
Is Bono one of the greatest frontrunners ever? No, of course not. He never had the opera area as a Freddie Mercury or the pitch command as a David Bowie. I’ve only seen U2 to a concert once. But yes, during that show, there were moments when Bono’s “strained” vocals occasionally turned into a poodle-only-hearing area as he jumped around the circular stage and sounded as if he was swirling his middle-aged hips with thumb in his underpants.
That said, I think Bono’s self-excerpt this week is too harsh. U2 is a fascinating case study in the tectonic shifts of popular culture. In the early 80’s, this band was all the cool kids loved. Just look at the giant flags of Live Aid. In around 2014, when “Songs of Innocence” was automatically uploaded to all iTunes customers in a shockingly unwise global cross-promotion with Apple, which Bono would later apologize for, U2 became the band all the cool kids loved to hate. That polarization drums on to this day in time with “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
But Bono, along with his three bandmates who met as teenagers at Dublin’s Mount Temple Comprehensive School, are among a sonic race now facing extinction: rock gods. They write their own music. They play instruments. They understand the sweep and history of music, including their perch within the genre-silo taxonomy. For U2, it was never about social media or playing on Billboard charts. And once you’ve thrived for close to half a century without the “Spinal Tap” snuff to the original lineup, there will be clumps in the discography.
U2 has released a lot of clunkers. The first time I heard “Lemon”, I remember fighting the urge to call the UN and report a crime against humanity. “Big Girls Are Best”, “The Playboy Mansion”, “Miami”, “If God Will Send His Angels” – these are songs you will never hear at a wedding, a ball, a sports arena, a grocery store or even while you is on hold with sadistic customer service.
When you are as productive as U2, for so long, the bad comes with the good.
Even Shakespeare had his sips.
So stop beating yourself up, Bono. It is inappropriate for a sexager. You have earned the right to perpetual curtain calls. There is no need to set fire to the curtains. During a career that few other musicians will ever match, you gained fans on every continent. I have heard your music at the foot of Darjeeling and cafes in Lausanne. The strained and not macho voice has been heard everywhere.
And while it is far from tonally perfect, it has resounded.
There is a lot for U2 to feel proud of, even though Bono still has not found what he is looking for.