Via Rolling Stone:
Shortly before the Edge got on the phone with Rolling Stone to talk about U2’s upcoming LP Songs of Experience, Bono’s “brush with mortality” that sent the album into a different lyrical direction and his thoughts about the band’s upcoming arena tour, we sent the singer a bunch of questions via email. It was a day off between between shows and he didn’t want to blow out his voice chatting on the phone. Here’s the complete exchange.
You started this album three years ago when the world was a very different place. How did the chaos of Brexit, Trump and everything else shape the eventual course of the album? Would it have been a very different album had those things not happened?
On the latter part of the question, it’s hard to quantify but I would say the emotional temperature is up about 25 percent.
You’ve spent the past few months playingThe Joshua Tree on tour as you put the finishing touches on the album. Has the tour impacted how you thought aboutSongs of Experience? How?
In truth, there’s a couple of reasons why we delayed Songs of Experience. One personal, one political. The world around us was certainly changing out of all recognition, we nearly lost the European Union, something that has helped keep the peace in our region for nearly 70 years. Globalization replaced with localization is somewhat understandable, but the return of hard right views is not to be tolerated. If Marie La Pen had been elected president of France, the whole idea of a European Union would have been vulnerable.
You’ve had the same sort of disaffection in the United States with the rise of a new kind of constituency, people on the both left and right who have lost faith in political process, the body politic, in political institutions. These sentiments are easily played and manipulated by the likes of Donald Trump. In a world where people feel bullied by their circumstance, sometimes people fall prey to a bully of their own. Lots of people around me, both conservative and liberal, feel that this is one of those defining moments in their life and in the storied life of their country. After the election, some people on the left were almost grieving I’d say and when I try to understand this, I realized there was a kind of mourning, a mourning for innocence that was lost.
For the first time in many years, maybe in our lifetime, the moral arc of the universe, as Dr. King used to call it, was not bending in the direction of fairness, equality and justice for all. The baseness of political debate, the jingoism, the atavistic fervor of Trump’s verbiage reminded us that we were dreaming if we thought evolution applied to consciousness. Democracy is a blip in history and it requires a lot of focus and concentration to keep it intact.