Surrender - by Bono
Surrender - by Bono
I did not know that the product RED of Apple was because of Bono. Fame is a currency that he wants to spend on the right stuff. He had achieved his goal pretty well: fighting AIDS and bringing peace. His writing is like a lyricist, and many paragraphs are like poems.
Here are some text that I highlighted in the book:
I can’t change the world but I can change the world in me.
A blister that’s about to burst, which would put me in the next life faster than I can make an emergency call. Faster than I can say goodbye to this life.
There is something perfectly imperfect about my da’s exit from this world.
The roar of the crowd rises as we head down the corridor from the dressing room, a roar that turns this mouse into a lion. I have my fist in the air as I walk to the stage, as I get ready to step inside the song. I will try over the next pages to explain what that means. But after forty years, I know if I can stay inside the songs, they will sing me and this night will be not work but play.
A job is a thing where you do something you don’t really like for eight hours a day for five or six days a week in return for money to help you do the stuff on the weekend you want to do all the time. I know I would like to avoid work. I know that if I could do what I love, then I would never have to work a day in my life. But there’s a problem. Even in my pimpled teenage obnoxiousness I know that this is unlikely if I’m not great at something.
You have to be smart as well, and I am smart enough to know I’m not smart.
It’s as if I have my own personal satan trolling at my shoulder, sowing doubt at every turn. The little divil sprays emotional graffiti all over the walls of my self-respect
Iris laughing. Her humor, black as her dark curls.
The Church of Ireland could nice you to death!
The Dalai Lama says you can only begin a real meditation on life with a meditation on death.
The stars are bright but do they know The universe is beautiful but cold.
Songs are my prayers. Songs are also where I live, and if you live in your songs, you want to make sure there’s enough room. The size of the song is important. Your emotional life has to fit into it, and a lot of the emotions that I couldn’t express as a young man living at 10 Cedarwood Road have since found expression in the songs of U2.
Right now he’s listening to La Traviata, eyes closed, lost in reverie.
that’s how these men are trying to deal with their grief. By pretending it is not there.
chess was not a game of luck but a game of strategy and that good strategy usually trumps luck. Even bad luck.
You could say our friendship was sealed because at home we felt we were in exile. In time art became our passport. Music.
Kissing was not on the school curriculum, but I figured it was something you could get better at if you found the right accomplice.
a perfect soul to make my own imperfections my strength.
“Drummer seeks musicians to form band.”
Guitar and bass might have been squealing for attention with their amplifiers and distortion pedals making loud arguments for being there, but it was the drums that filled both physical and musical space.
Like how not to react when there is a crisis. Like how to stay still and maybe even unearth levity from the seriousness of a situation. Edge is the silence inside every noise. He’s the light inside the paint.
he was not playing the right notes in the right order or in any particular key.
It is not an exaggeration to say U2 began to write our own songs because we couldn’t play other people’s.
Her look said I had to be kidding. My look said I wasn’t.
“The elephant in the room” is a phrase I enjoy, having at different times been either elephant or room. We can lose ourselves in situations or conversations and miss the obvious.
The repetition and percussion of “walk away, walk away” is a mantra, is like Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal, a rhythm hook that catches you under your skin.
If you’re where you should be, you’ll meet whom you need to meet.
The train lays down a rhythm track.
I began to understand that the world is not so scary if, around every significant corner, somebody is waiting to walk with you on the next part of the journey.
What was there to fear except failure, and that was mine anyway. I was afraid. Afraid I couldn’t quite belong here.
They enjoyed being as smart as each other; it was a one-plus-one-makes-three situation.
from pretty good to not pretty and not good
Fail. Fail again. Fail better, says Samuel Beckett. Well, I had two out of three.
Failure is when you give your enemies the confirmation they were right all along to have you on their shit list.
This was not just a nucleus of unstable atoms banging into each other; this was a gathering of sentient beings who for those few hours every night played the most important role in the drama, transporting the band and therefore themselves to some place neither had been before. Finding some moment that none of us had occupied before, or would ever again.
After the conquest, the inquest.
It was Roosevelt who claimed, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” but it was Churchill who lived the line.
Success can encourage friends and family to become a little too cynical or too respectful of its nosy gaze.
religious faith can be a problem. Faith divides people. Faith divides people who have faith, and divides people with faith from those who don’t.
Even while totally absorbed in all this, I had no doubt that I preferred the company of so-called unbelievers. It’s not just that some of the finest people I’ve known don’t subscribe to any particular faith tradition; it’s more that people who openly profess faith can be—how shall I put this?—such a pain in the arse.
we were trying to find some kind of spiritual home outside the traditional churches.
They say I’m a fool, They say I’m nothing But if I’m a fool for you Oh, that’s something.
I knew I could love at scale, but could I survive the intimacy of the close-up?
I’d have said, “I don’t know how to do this, but I’ve found someone who can teach me.”
completely unprepared for the challenges of their newly shared life in the world. And yet, conversely, in their raw, unsophisticated idealism, two people ready for less obvious but more dangerous threats. Worldliness, world-weariness, the war of attrition the world wages on a couple as they set out to keep their union. The world licks its lips in anticipation of high-minded failure, doesn’t it? Hubris. “They had it all but they lost it.” The universe may marvel at such perfectly imperfect love and the stars light your way, but back on earth, if you heed the statistics, it’s as if the world stands in the way of love. I’m sure the essence of romance is defiance, and what is more defiant than two young hearts, twenty-two and twenty-one, deciding to take on the odds, to challenge the dull-thud facts around an ancient ceremony in a modern world.
From now on Ali and I will be looking for home in each other.
The greatest songwriting is never conclusive, but the search for conclusion.
Rather than falling in love, we were climbing up toward it. We still are.
If we lost our purpose, our band was back where it began: looking for a reason to exist.
Looking back, if it wasn’t for President Bill Clinton’s conscious insomnia and late-night wrangling of the various warring parties or the fastidiousness of his knight-errant George Mitchell, I’m not sure we would have peace in Ireland.
David Lloyd George, the prime minister who’d divided our island into north and south under the threat of war.
“Compromise is a costly word. No compromise even more so.”
Music was oxygen for Danny; without it he would suffocate.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Anger is okay. As John Lydon wrote and sang, “Anger is an energy.” It’s certainly an energy I’ve been comfortable with, hoping and believing it is righteous anger. Sometimes, though, unfortunately, I’m taken with the self-righteous variant, the not-okay anger. The not-pretty anger, the not-good-at-all anger.
Music for me has always been a lifeline in times of turbulence. It still is. That’s enough to justify its existence; the sacred service of getting a soul from there to here is not to be underestimated. Just giving someone a reason to get out of bed in the morning counts for so much. Music as the love that drives out all fear. Music is its own reason to exist.
“reveal rather than conceal.”
We flaunted the odds, made ourselves dependent on the miraculous, and didn’t have far to look to see that though marriage is a great analgesic, it can also be the source of the pain.
Neither of us wanted to lose what we had, even if we weren’t quite sure what that was.
“The Two Americas,” which was to be a clashing, contrasting vision not just of North versus South, rich versus poor, native versus nativist but maybe more important of real versus imagined America.
It’s the yearning for love, or the loss of it, that is the subject of great love songs.
Los Angeles. More people live off their imagination in this city than any other.
as Paul McGuinness reminded us, “it would be a shame to look like a band too stupid to enjoy being at number one.”
an invisible switch got flicked
If I wanted to raise children, I still had some growing up to do myself.
Ali told me that she loved all of me, that even the troubled parts of my soul were her delight.
All the promises we make From the cradle to the grave When all I want is you.
If I was stupid—and I have been—I also had a fear that when you think you’re at the top is when you find you’re at the bottom. I was starting to feel it was time we cut down the Joshua tree, before someone else showed up with their chainsaw.
I can change the world, but I can’t change the world in me.
a little bedsit romance,
maybe being induced is a kindly eviction notice for a child getting too comfortable with its temporary accommodation.
When I drove, Ali would commentate, offering helpful suggestions: “Traffic signals are not advice; they are commands.”
Does a man ever feel any more useless than when he’s watching his partner give birth? At best you’re a pipe player as she goes into battle; at worst you’re the reason she’s at war.
Jordan Joy Iris Still Water Hewson was born at 9:36 p.m., to close a bright and beautiful tenth day in May. On my birthday. And at just five pounds five ounces, what a delicate gift. We named her after the river Jordan, the river of the gospel song, where the sweet chariot swings low, and a band of angels are coming for to carry me home. After she was moved from the incubation room, a nurse suggested she might be a wee bit traumatized by her stressful entrance into this world and that she might benefit from sleeping on her father’s chest. “She doesn’t yet know she is separate from her mother, so your heartbeat will be a sound that soothes her.”
If Jordan was born in a storm, her sister, Eve, was the storm.
we called her Eve because “Eve” is at the center of “seven.”
But above all, be useful. That was his modus, it always seemed to me, a modus that became a prayer in our family. Simple. Direct. Make us useful, dear God. We’re available. How can we be useful in this world where we find ourselves?
Your kids take you back to being a kid.
It’s true what we’re told that kids teach us to grow up, but ours also taught us not to go too far. They inspired a certain playfulness, childlike and childish.
I was no longer concerned with the looks of other drivers with other kids in other cars. Self-consciousness was the only enemy because if I could be free, then maybe so could our kids. I let them dare and provoke me into some stupid fun, like getting out of the car in the middle of a traffic jam and dancing to the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody.”
In school Jordan met a teacher who would explain to her (and us) that even in primary school the key was to get her teaching herself.
No explanation offered. Performance art.
I hope I have been a good parent, but others will have the better view. I’m not proud of the times when I wasn’t a good parent, when I lost my temper, when I couldn’t control my anger. The girls have seen that. The boys more rarely. Was that going back to my father and my relationship with him? I was conscious that I did not want the kind of relationship with my kids that I’d had with my father and maybe it was the silliness that saved me.
I might have gotten a little too good at the good life, a little too free with the freedoms, but we didn’t let the spoils of success spoil our family life.
We who love what we do, and would do it for free, should never forget that we are 1 percent of the 1 percent of people who have ever lived. In history we hardly exist. To be this free of financial worry is the gift our audience gave to our band. To be free. To do what we love, to love what we do. Hardly anyone has lived like that. History has been a hard climb for our ancestors and getting up on two legs in black plastic pants doesn’t really compare, but I don’t want to forget that U2’s story is a freak of nature. A black swan event. Worlds have come crashing around the ears of more talented people than me, but since success first arrived for this band in the late 1980s, freedom has been our story and the story of our families. We owe a lot of that to you, whoever you are, reading this book.
That was the kind of news that messed with your sleep patterns.
As one by one the kids reached twelve years old or so, I’ve had a conversation with all four about how they are now supposed to become troublesome teenagers and how that’s fine with me. “You torture me. I try to control you. We fall out. We don’t speak, and then we go through difficult years. You come out of those years, and then we meet up in your twenties, and then we get close again.” That’s how it often goes, I explain. On the other hand I will add, “We could just, say, skip all that.” And all of them went, “Yeah, let’s skip that.” And they did.
[出风头]This is not a curtain call this is the greatest act of all A stand up for freedom…
I cannot describe them to you without risking my own mental health.
“What God does he pray to?” I wonder. “Vladimir Putin,” he replies.
In my lifetime no one person has had the impact on the world of Mikhail Gorbachev.
“No need to arrange anything,” I’d said. “It’s open house on a Sunday.” Accompanying him was Nina Kostina, his translator; a good translator makes conversation between foreign tongues not just possible but somehow more enjoyable. After a while your brain has tricked you into thinking you speak each other’s languages. Or was that the whiskey? With everyone around the table, no question was off the table.
Question: “Do you believe in God?” Answer: “No.” (Long pause.) “But I believe in the universe.”
But if she was nervous, she was not unnerved.
It is both humbling and invigorating to notice all the ways in which your partner is tougher than you.
the voice of Mikhail Gorbachev quieted to a murmur as he explained that it was that 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl that convinced him the Soviet Union could not continue as it was.
The world is more malleable than we imagine, and things do not have to be the way they are. History is clay and can be pummeled or punched, corralled or even caressed, into a whole new shape.
“My father taught me never to appear more than you are and always to be more than you appear.”
“Has she no life to go to?” I joke. “No,” replies our driver. “That’s why we vote for her.”
Germany now, a reason for many of us to believe the European Union was a thought that had become a feeling and Angela Merkel had become the head and heart of Europe.
“It’s really a kind of dance.” And so is politics, a dance. You find the steps that take you to common ground. It’s choreography, and I am being moved by it.
Ken is working with Bill Gates, who’s good with numbers and says the climate emergency comes down to two of them: fifty-one billion (tons of greenhouse gases we annually add to the atmosphere) and zero (tons we need to add to avoid climate disaster).
if we are to avoid our latest extinction event.
Arrogance is the exit and entry point to the humiliation that art requires. Not unrelated is a dubious courage that when you find yourself out of your depth in troubled waters, you will discover how to swim.
What could possibly go wrong? How about everything?
It’s male egos rubbing up against each other.
Achtung Baby had a difficult birth. We almost lost her. But when the baby arrived, we soon forgot the pains of the labor. The waiting, the wanting, the longing for the music, imbues the final songs with something other. It’s a kind of summoning.
Without the band, I can’t make the music I hear in my head. Without my partner, I can’t be the man I aspire to be. I succeed only through collaboration.
How I understood that in the end I am one quarter of an artist without Edge, Adam, and Larry. How I am one half of a person without Ali. Exit signs flickering up in the stands, I looked around the stage at my co-dependents and noticed my own gratitude. We’re one and for a split second we’re the same.
Had we committed to each other too early or made promises that we didn’t understand the cost of keeping?
Insecurity is our best security.
This was our “stealing from the thieves” period, so we were unembarrassed to play him an album so obviously influenced by him.
We rarely notice how lucky we are to be in the orbit of certain people until their presence is no longer present.
There are only two feelings. Love and fear. There are only two languages. Love and fear. There are only two activities. Love and fear.
“I have a vision, a television.”
less is more…more is even more
Life imitates art. Art irritates life.
All good fun but a highly regulated and heavily edited version of reality.
Drugs had prolonged his ability to stay up late and still halfway function—enough to drink more.
In the cycle of this band, like in all creative cycles, there is birth, death, and rebirth. Making a band, breaking a band, remaking a band. Generate, degenerate, regenerate.
This envelope pushing, where was that coming from?
Is it obsessional? That I keep feeling our reach is far from our grasp?
That’s been Adam’s steep climb to recovery, his personal regeneration, for three decades. I’ve never been to AA, but I get a sense of the spirituality of the 12 Steps in the idea of “breathing underwater,” a phrase I heard from the Franciscan friar Richard Rohr. Taking responsibility for yourself is one of the most important steps, along with surrendering to your higher power.
The moon became mine in a different way ever after, a symbol of romantic pursuit, pushing and pulling the tides of our human nature.
And yes, Radiohead, you’d almost want to take your shoes off to listen to such sacred talents. Radiohead ruled certain hours in our house parties, usually at the end of the night, when people were more meditative, ready to calm down. Their music tended to be in more minor keys.
Gravity was getting a little too heavy. I longed for weightlessness.
We expressed a lot of that through dancing, and in our heightened state we had the great advantage of not knowing we couldn’t dance. I used to say that the Irish are like Brazilians except for three damning differences: we hardly ever qualify for the World Cup; we avoid our own nakedness; and you might not always recognize our dancing…as dancing.
Mentoring is foundation, pillars, and roof of any successful organization.
we’d go to any lengths to make each other laugh.
Either way I got a poke in the ribs from a visiting priest who thought it disrespectful to drop off in the pews. I thought it respectful to be so comfortable that I could fall asleep in the arms of this place.
“Life’s too serious to be so serious.”
I know people can be in such a dark place that they’ll do anything to escape it, including escaping this life itself. I know it’s not a loving response, but that was the furious me writing the lyric of “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.”
Living well, as someone put it, is the best revenge. Come to think of it, just living will do.
We search for a light without which we only half see ourselves.
If you’re a rock band that formed in the late 1970s, you have a Beatles view of the world or you have a Stones view. Though Mick Jagger was the greatest frontman ever, we wanted to be The Beatles more than we wanted to be the Stones, in the sense that The Beatles changed their sound on pretty much every album.
If a solo artist like David Bowie can use different musicians to create different sounds, how does a band like ours, a band of the same four people, create enough variety to keep an audience interested? To keep ourselves interested? How do we do this over twenty years?
What am I so scared of ? I’m scared of breaking the promise we made to each other as kids, that we wouldn’t sell out our vision of music for an easy life. I’m scared we’re becoming the enemy of who we used to be. It’s not even the fear of being a has-been. It’s the fear of having been and gone and not deserving your place.
Artists are the worst for blaming the exterior world for their interior failures. It’s the radio programmers, the record company, the press. It’s my gallery, my agent, my partner. It’s the artist’s dilemma: the problem isn’t out there but in here. We confuse our self-esteem with our self-expression. We confuse our life with our work when the work isn’t working out. The painter rarely blames the canvas. It’s the muse that takes the blame for disfiguration.
Marlon Brando described acting as lying for a living.
Almost as much as honesty, deceit is a key component of being a performer, and the greatest deceit of all is authenticity.
The years will always steal your glory as they offer you longevity.
Pavarotti had good English, but there was one word he never seemed to understand. The word “no.”
“Wonderful. So you have time with your lovely wife and children…without pressure.” “Yes,” I said. “I’m worn out.” He said, “Perfect, so you have time to write the song then.”
Question: What do you call a person who before the magic trick sees the rabbit being placed in the top hat and is still surprised when the rabbit is revealed? Answer: A magician.
A moment on the way to surrender. It’s the song’s instruction that matters most, the lyric and melody. If you obey the song, you will get to that place that all of us singers live for. The experience of being sung. The experience of not carrying the song but being carried by it.
My brain was atomizing, but my first reaction was to try to slow down the molecules in the air.
The most powerful man in the world was discovering how much power he didn’t have.
“Fame is currency,” I told anyone who’d listen. “I want to spend mine on the right stuff.”
The city was to be arranged around two institutions: the president’s house and Congress. Two great axes crossing at right angles so each could keep an eye on the other.
through the choppy waters of the U.S. Congress
“We blow more money than this in Washington just leaving the lights on at night; so to spend less than a billion dollars to help people improve their economies and to help people dying before our eyes is just the right thing to do.”
Over time he’d become comfortable with his son being loved and loathed, which is the price of popularity in Ireland.
In relationships, I’ve observed that a partner can start out as a friend, then become a passion, then a co-parent, a mother or a father of your children, and if you’re really fortunate, the partner remains—or returns as—a friend. It’s a lower-temperature take on a romantic life, but it’s enduring. I have been so fortunate.
“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth.”
I’ve spent a life trying to understand my own rage and if it’s possible trying to rewrite it.
I sat there and apologized to my father, Bob Hewson. I had forgiven him for his own crimes of passion, but I had never asked his forgiveness for mine.
Dr. King, said Harry, had heard enough and adjourned the meeting. “Gentlemen, I’m releasing you into the world to find one positive thing to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that one positive thing will be the door through which our movement will have to pass.”
The search for common ground starts with a search for higher ground. Even with your opponents. Especially with your opponents. A lightbulb moment for me and a conviction that’s informed my life as a campaigner ever since. The simple but profound idea that you don’t have to agree on everything if the one thing you do agree on is important enough.
“Absolute nonsense, you’re reading the wrong newspapers.”
As the secretary and I hugged and went our separate ways at the airport, I knew that despite our differences we now had an ally in the Bush administration. We left the continent starting to believe that the Bush White House might make a serious move on AIDS in Africa, and I was excited back home in Dublin to tell Edge all about it.
That these expensive pills were prolific in the rich world but denied to the poor world seemed to physicalize inequality. To actualize global injustice.
“Where you live should not decide whether you live.”
Sitting next to Rupert is Roger Ailes, who will be forced to resign as CEO of Fox News, but not before he will help transform Donald Trump from a reality TV star in The Apprentice…to a reality TV star in the White House.
“Hey, Karl, here’s a surprise: Rupert Murdoch has just told us that if your guy goes big on the AIDS emergency, he’ll be all over it with his support. Come on, man, you can do this.”
Turned out that the Bush administration was a lot less interested in Africa and an AIDS pandemic than in the march of freedom, from Afghanistan to the Gulf states, especially Iraq.
it was a new kind of relationship with America, away from patronage and toward partnership.
I explain that I understand that our honor as an organization—and my honor as an individual—is on the line, but I believe it’s a risk we should take. The reputational risk to us is nothing compared with the risk to the lives of the people we claim to be working for if we lose our relationship with the White House.
the murder of his uncle Jack—JFK—in a presidential motorcade in Dallas, an ambulance always travels in the motorcade. Just in case. An eerie thought.
“Yup,” he says, sighing. “It wasn’t always that way. When I came here first”—he pauses—“people used to wave at me with one finger.”
the scale of the response matched the scale of the problem.
Then Oprah cuts to the chase: What does AIDS in Africa have to do with her ten million viewers, a lot of them, she says, women at home worried about their own children?
“You guys turn up the heat, as you call it, and I’ll turn up the cold science.”
“Just don’t mention guns. One killer is enough for a trip like this.” Americans, it seemed, have the same problem with firearms that we Irish have with alcohol. The problem being that we don’t think we have a problem.
On disappointing people: “My favorite word is ‘no.’ I really do love the sound of it.”
On giving his fortune away: “I’m not giving away anything that means anything to me. A personal fortune has no utility for me.”
“People don’t trust you if you ask them to do stuff that’s too easy. Ask them to do more difficult things, and you’ll increase your chances.”
“Don’t appeal to the conscience of America,” he replied. “Appeal to the greatness of America. That’s how you’ll get the job done.”
Unlike Europeans, and especially Irish people, Americans are not motivated by attempts to guilt them into action. But offer them the role of the cavalry, and they’re right there with you.
Standing ovations followed her around.
“Dear Madiba,” she later wrote, “you made it possible for so many people like me to reject impossibilities and understand our capabilities. We have made your dreams our own…your work and your sacrifice were not in vain.”
It would be called PEPFAR—the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—and I watch as the president asked Congress to commit $15 billion to fight AIDS starting with fourteen of the hardest-hit countries. Until COVID-19, it would turn out to be the largest health intervention to fight a single disease in the history of medicine.
In the coming years, more than $100 billion of U.S. taxpayer money would be invested to ensure those children, women, and men did not lose their lives to a preventable, treatable disease. The scale of the response will almost meet the scale of the emergency.
U2 live to be live.
Jony was Steve’s secret weapon. English. Art school type but studied industrial design. Deadpan humor and the good looks of a Buddhist monk on steroids.
He was trying to pursue a path of simplicity at the same time as leading what was becoming the biggest company in the world. He was a maximal minimalist, a man who lived small while thinking large.
Later Steve advised myself and Bobby Shriver on the setup of (RED), our attempt to take our HIV/AIDS activism into the world of commerce, of giant companies and big brand communications.
Some days my ability to shape-shift was leaving me out of shape. Exhausted.
I’m taken aback by the relentlessness of these people who’ve committed their lives to social justice…policy wonks, agitators, irritators, and history makers. And humbled by how little they need me.
“very good is the enemy of great.” Neither good nor bad, is this just very good?
Maybe “Vertigo” would have been a big song for us anyway, but I ended up grateful to Steve Jobs for all kinds of reasons, not least because this was when culture and commerce collided for us, a relationship I’m still experimenting with.
In 2010, I’d been hospitalized in Germany for emergency back surgery, and no sooner was I home than a treasure chest of books and movies turned up at our door, along with a jar of homemade honey. That would have been thoughtful enough, but it came with a handwritten note. “This honey is from our garden. Our neighborhood bees.”
In burning winding-sheet he lies, And his grave has got no name.
I can’t fight you anymore It’s you I’m fighting for.
Nelson Mandela. This giant of the twentieth century, silver-white crown and smiling, his good humor lifting him head and shoulders above his times. If laughter is the evidence of freedom, then Madiba, the clan name that he encouraged his friends to call him, was freer than the rest of us. A wellspring of joy that defied the weight he carried. “Why would a young man like you want to sit here and be bored by an old man like me?”
The scholar was not afraid of hard work and saw his body as a machine that needed to be oiled and maintained. He was in great physical shape, having run on the spot for forty-five minutes every day, before doing two hundred sit-ups and one hundred fingertip push-ups. At the same time, brutalized and beaten, he’d seemed only to grow as a person and a leader.
The answer, he told me, was to be found in reading. Can it be that simple? It was books, he said, that made him a better man.
I was intrigued by his natural grace and self-assurance. It was as if, after twenty-seven years, fear had lost interest in him.
“Like slavery and apartheid,” he said, “poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became the first female president in Africa. “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.”
UK would commit 0.7 percent of its national income to overseas aid.
Just standing on a street corner is a double-espresso shot.
We’d always seen aid as an investment—the idea being that the business of aid is to put itself out of business.
I know that targeted interventions can save many lives, but I also know that unless they help a country to move away from poverty toward prosperity, they perpetuate dependency and can even undermine democracy.
But if Nelson Mandela was right, that living in poverty is a human construct which must be dismantled by humans, then how we dismantle it becomes the most pressing question of our shared history.
He taught me that prayer is not an escape from real life but a passage toward it.
We are wounded and scarred and divided but we need to see ourselves, in all our brokenness, before we can mend. Every one of us needs truth and reconciliation.
“You cannot transform the society of people if the people are not part of the change.”
If you don’t have a seat at the table you’re probably on the menu.
The selling of diamonds is the selling of dreams that don’t really exist.
“imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life,”
America, let your road rise Under Lincoln’s unblinking eyes.
Ireland is a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain is a great country, but it’s not an idea. America is an idea. A great idea.
“it’s no secret that a liar won’t believe anyone else”
The protagonist will never admit he is wrong and will double or treble down when challenged.
Waking to news of his election, I felt more nausea than shock, but like so many others I was already coming to understand that Trump is not the problem. He’s the symptom of the problem. He’s not the virus. He’s the super-spreader. The virus is populism, and it’s deadly as the plague.
The arc of the moral universe does not bend toward justice. It has to be bent, and this requires sheer force of will. It demands our sharpest focus and most concentrated effort. History does not move in a straight line; it has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, all the way down the line.
“What’s the maximum number of terms you can run as the singer in U2, though? Ha-ha!” me: “Every new record is an election, I always say. Two crap albums and you’re out.”
The president woke me up, and as I came around, I tried to laugh as hard as he and Ali. He doesn’t for a minute believe I have this allergy. He thinks Ali made this up to cover for me. He tells people he can drink me under the table. Rubbish. But he does make a strong martini.
In 1968 The Beatles, who would become Steve Jobs’s favorite band, founded Apple Records. By April Fools’ Day 1976, Steve wanted the same independence for his Apple as The Beatles had had for theirs. A symbol of desire and temptation. A symbol of the Tree of Knowledge, Steve took a bite out of the Apple. The Beatles sued.
In show business you need a great entrance and a great exit.
I believe that genius is not a person but a process, a process in which someone determines to uncover their gift and, for a period, is able to step inside it.
“I do not own my master tapes. I do not own my copyrights. The record label owns them. If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you. Therefore, I am a slave.”
So many bands, formed with the most communal of intentions, dissolve in fights over who did what and what for. But as Paul never stopped banging on, “It would be stupid to be good at the art and bad at the business of art.”
Maybe there are some arguments that just by being in them you have already lost.
For all the success of these endeavors, at the time of writing, the worlds of tech and music still fail to fairly reward those countless musicians who are not mega pop stars.
It still galls me to meet so many songwriters whose songs are sung but whose bills are not paid.
What works? That’s what I’m always asking. When whoever said the job of the artist is to describe the problem, not to solve it, I wasn’t paying attention. I want to be with the people who follow through and actually make things actually better. Actually. I like functionality.
When I’d first gone after Bill and Melinda Gates, I was trying to slip my hand into an inside jacket pocket to redistribute some of their substantial resources to what would become the ONE Campaign. But what was in that pocket turned out to be less valuable than what was in their brains. And in their friendship.
Warren Buffett, one of history’s most successful investors, has an unusual demeanor, the student rather than the professor. Always humble, inquiring.
he world’s first- and second-wealthiest families combining fortunes to improve global health and fight deprivation among some of the world’s poorest families.
When I wrote my first song as an eighteen-year-old, money was the last thing on my mind. What was on my mind was making something from nothing. What was on my mind was music.
The non-shouty words. The quiet words that turn the world right side up.
“The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.”
Is a friend made enemy
If this is what you’re thinking, then maybe this is the time for me to move on.” We both take a breath.
“I can’t go on the next part of your journey if your journey is to rearrange the music business.”
His parting line? “I can’t go there, but I’ll always be here for you.”
“The free U2 album is overpriced.”
Probably instinctively conservative, he was ready to try something different to solve a problem. When it went wrong, he was ready to take responsibility.
Harder for me to write love songs to men than to women. We’d done it with “Bad.” The Beatles had “A Day in the Life.” The Rolling Stones, “Waiting on a Friend.” The Clash, “Stay Free.” On Songs of Innocence we had more male protagonists than on any album before. “Raised by Wolves” and “Cedarwood Road” gained extra momentum as we played them live, but personally, the sirens “Song for Someone” and “Every Breaking Wave” rocked my house in a different way. One, a naïve portrait of two lovers committing. The other, a more cinematic depiction of lovers way further down the road running out of rhythm and momentum.
Ali says, “Don’t look up to me or down on me; look across for me. I’m here.”
Something in me always goes looking for the despair underneath the joy or the bitter in the sweet, maybe because I know that no relationships can avoid that kind of complexity. Great relationships, like great songs, deserve better than sentimentality.
“You’re the Best Thing About Me,”
Were there days when both of us might resent the obligations our marriage makes of each other? Sure, but neither of us would want to live outside each other’s love as expressed through this old-fashioned but still functional construct called marriage.
But she’s right: love is work. Good work. We may let the scaffolds fall, but we have built our wall.
I’d had that blood-brother compact with my childhood friend Guggi to never grow up, but as Ali and I had kids, I slowly understood that you can’t have a child and remain a child. I really don’t like goodbyes, but sometimes you have to say goodbye. Even to yourself.
The rabbinical Bob Dylan was already there. “He not busy being born is busy dying.”
If science is how we navigate the physical universe, then religious texts offer to navigate the more than physical, the existence we can’t even prove exists.
In the ancient-wisdom literature known as the book of Ecclesiastes, written several hundred years BC, there is a wanderer I borrowed from, a sojourner who discovers that sex, drugs, money, fame…are apparently not the promised land. Instead, says the writer—maybe Solomon—these are the vanities of vanities. The best thing in life, he discovers, is to enjoy your work. To do what you love.
A great boxer, they say, is made by his ability not to throw a big punch but to take one, and the same is true of a great person.
Later, after all our success, maybe I was looking for it again in the world of activism and politics. Looking to be needed.
The time it takes to stop time. To squeeze the eternal out of the instant. The time it takes to stretch time. Now, time has vanished, and everyone with it.
“Wisdom is the recovery of innocence at the far end of experience.”
I now know that this band is not a collection of songs. It’s more like a single song, an unfinished song. It’s why we keep returning to rehearsal room, to studio, to stage, to try to finish this song, to complete U2. Perhaps ever since we started this band, we have been trying to finish it, to complete it. This song that has become our life. To be released from it. This must be it. As good as it gets.
The best albums are often the hardest to complete. The best songs are often the most costly because four creative people are fighting for them. Fighting in a family can leave scar tissue, but sometimes it’s when you stop fighting that you stop functioning.
A good strategy for me is to continually go back to the source. To drop my bucket in the well in hope of a refill.
I’ve never quite found a church I could call home, and I tell the kids to be wary of religion, that what the human spirit longs for may not be corralled by any sect or denomination, contained by a building. It’s more likely a daily discipline, a daily surrender and rebirth. It’s more likely that church is not a place but a practice, and the practice becomes the place. There is no promised land.
I am persuaded by the thought that the only true way to be victorious is to surrender. To each other. To love. To the higher power.
I know a girl, a hole in her heart She said infinity is a great place to start.
Islam has sometimes been translated as “surrender.”
In my notebook I jot down, “Some people sing for a living / some people sing to survive / I sing cause I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
I’m experimenting with different sides of my voice, and as I push myself into new territory, I find new characters to explore.
I get older, I see the danger in this desperate desire to get out of my depth. Slowly, reluctantly, I am learning to let go. Because if you do, then that may be the very moment when you discover that your spiritual potential lies not in what you have, but in what you have not. That the trouble or torment, the weights you cannot carry, that these may carry you. Your afflictions and addictions are some kind of gift. They brought you to the empty place that you are compelled to fill. You almost want to thank them.
Carl Jung observed that the very things that made you successful in the first half of your life not only no longer work for you in the second half; they positively work against you. The Franciscan friar Richard Rohr put it to me like this: “It’s our strengths rather than our weaknesses that often hold us back.”
When you’ve won the argument you now understand you never needed to have. The argument with your life that’s no longer necessary.
What would Edge, Adam, and Larry do with their lives? More to the point, what would I do without them?
Leaving home to find home. How far am I from home?
Not for the first time, all the errors here are mine. I have a pretty good memory, except for the things I’ve forgotten.