By Brendan O'Connor
NO DOUBT the usual cranks and begrudgers will be bitching about Bono over the Christmas. "Man of the Year?" the taxi-drivers will say, "Time fecking magazine? I'll give him Man of the Year. And Time magazine. It's far from it he was reared."
It's easy to have a pop at Bono. It's practically an instinctive reaction at this stage. "Oh, he might fool that crowd of Yanks at Time magazine and that George Bush fella, but he can't fool us. We knew him when he hadn't an arse in his trousers."
Frankly, that kind of thing reflects more on the people who say it than it does on Bono. Because, if you think about it, Bono hasn't actually done anything wrong. And it's not as if you could disagree with most of his causes. He's often compared to Jesus, in a negative kind of smart-arsey way. But, in fact, he is a bit of a Jesus - though in a good way.
Whatever your personal opinions about Jesus, it'd be hard to disagree with most of his messages: Don't kill people and be nice to the poor and so on. And Bono is pretty much the same. The message is inherently sound: Cure Aids, be nice to black people and eliminate poverty. You can't fault that kind of thing.
And in fairness, his heart seems to be in the right place. There are people who claim that he does it all as a big PR thing to sell even more records, but that doesn't really stack up. If anything, the preaching is probably putting people off the records.
But for the other members of the band it has a musical benefit. Larry Mullen broke ranks recently to say it was handy when Bono headed off out of the studio and let them get on with theirwork. He'd go off and meet George Bush or whatever and they'd get on with making the album, and when it was all nearly ready he would come back in and do his singing thing.