Bono Reveals What He Learned from 'Almost Dying' – and Says 'Music Has Gotten Very Girly'
Bono's latest inspiration for his most recent album Songs of Experience came from a near-death experience
The U2 singer, 57, revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone for their January 2018 issue that he almost died — but refused to divulge details about the event.
Despite refusing to speak on the incident, the star did say the 22-time Grammy-winning band’s latest album explores the theme or mortality.
It’s just a thing that … people have these extinction events in their lives; it could be psychological or it could be physical. And, yes, it was physical for me, but I think I have spared myself all that soap opera,” Bono said. “Especially with this kind of celebrity obsession with the minutiae of peoples’ lives – I have got out of that. I want to speak about the issue in a way that lets people fill in the blanks of what they have been through, you know?”
He continued, “It’s one thing if you were talking about it in a place of record like Rolling Stone, but by the time it gets to your local tabloid it is just awful. It becomes the question that everyone is asking.”
His latest incident was not the first brush with illness or death for the iconic frontman. In 2000, Bono was checked for throat cancer, which turned out negative.
And in 2015, he broke his arm in a bike accident, which he told the magazine was a “comic tragedy.”
“But the thing that shook me was that I didn’t remember it. That was the amnesia; I have no idea how it happened. That left me a little uneasy, but the other stuff has just finally nailed me,” he said. “It was like, ‘Can you take a hint?’ ”
The band’s song “Jesus, What Have You Got For Me?” explores some of the themes that Bono has been contemplating since his mortality was tested.
Bono admits he had previously thought he’d “let go” of his fear of death, but reveals it was the exact opposite.
“I thought I already had, but this was the next installment in trust. You know, people of faith can be very annoying,” he said. “Like when people on the Grammys thank God for a song and you think, “God, that is a shite song. Don’t give God credit for that one – you should take it yourself!” I am sure I have done that myself. And someone’s like, “I got this directly from the mouth of God!” And you’re thinking, “Wow, God has no taste!”
As for today’s music, Bono said he gets his education from his four children.
“The band is always listening to music, and I have got my kids. Jordan is a music snob, an indie snob. Eve is hip-hop. Elijah is in a band, and he has got very strong feelings about music, but he doesn’t make any distinction between, let’s say, the Who and the Killers,” he explained. “Or, you know, Nirvana and Royal Blood. It is not generational for him. It is the sound and what he is experiencing. He believes that a rock & roll revolution is around the corner.
Bono’s own take on today’s music can be called mixed.
“I think music has gotten very girly. And there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment – and that’s not good,” Bono said. “When I was 16, I had a lot of anger in me. You need to find a place for it and for guitars, whether it is with a drum machine – I don’t care. The moment something becomes preserved, it is f—ing over. You might as well put it in formaldehyde.”
He added, “In the end, what is rock & roll? Rage is at the heart of it. Some great rock & roll tends to have that, which is why the Who were such a great band. Or Pearl Jam. Eddie has that rage.”