It seems Bono can do no wrong lately. I haven’t really bought into the hype surrounding his recent interview with Andrew Denton (which I’ve heard is “really good”). I am going to see the band – to fulfil a promise I made to myself nearly 10 years ago when I missed their last tour – but I’m not a real big fan of their last few albums.
However, I was killing time yesterday and came across this interview when I was rustling through a paper left at a local cafe. I had a bit of a read, and this passage stood out for me.
“Intimacy is a great word. A lot of people are listening to music through earphones [these days] and you know, you’re whispering into people’s ears. It is a very intimate relationship and I think the place where it flowers is, of course, at these shows. You realise that people are not screaming their lungs out for you – I’ve kind of known this – they’re screaming for themselves. And they’re screaming for the moments they attach to those songs, the lives. Our songs tend to be with people at either the best of times or worst of times. When things are going normally, I’m not sure people listen to our band very much ,” he said, laughing again.
I mentioned this to Ang, suggesting that it was a pretty humble response to the kind of hysteria that he probably witnesses at shows and elsewhere. Ang wondered aloud if it was just an act?
And so a great discussion ensued. It really challenged me to think about how we idolise people.
I figure that Bono has worked out that some people do hang on his words. That doors open for him that are not open to many people. That what he says has massive influence on people (whether that influence is warranted is open to debate). And with all that I get a sense that he recognises this as a great responsibility – and therefore measures his words and uses the airtime he gets to put forward ideas that may otherwise be lost in the noise of the media.
Some other questions that came up: why do we/how can we idolise people when we don’t even know them? Is the hype around U2 the hype around Bono? Is it true, as he suggests in the interview, that the band wouldn’t work if one of the members stopped playing? Does he warrant the attention – is there something truly special about this one person? Are his words any more valid than the next person’s? Is it all an act? (I personally don’t think it is – there seems to be a consistency in what he’s been saying the past few years that would be hard to maintain unless it’s authentic.)
Anyways, the conversation challenged me for a lot of reasons, and I wanted to share some of the thoughts around it – I don’t quite know why. What do you think?