Five years of standing in a room with three other men to try and make a more emotional album than your last one can be hurtful and brutal, U2 tell Brendan O'Connor. But when you dig back deep into grief and adolescence, God walks through the room and brings the opera.
by Brendan O'Connor, Independent.ie
We are talking about Bono's late mother, who died when he was fourteen and set him on the path to becoming an artist, because after grief, he says, comes rage, and rage led him to punk which led to U2. We are talking about her, because she, and grief, pop up a bit in U2's brilliant new album Songs of Innocence, along with friendship, mortality and love.
We are talking about her because one of U2's mentors, Jimmy Iovine, told Bono some time in the difficult five year gestation of Songs of Innocence that he needed to go back to the roots of why he started doing this in the first place. And so Bono looked at first journeys, and made an album about the forces that shaped him 40 years ago. A 54-year-old man, having a crisis of the relevance of the greatest rock and roll band in the world, made a teenage angst album, an album about home. A friend joked to him in an email recently that it took U2 all this time to make their first album.
One of the strongest tracks on the album, Iris, an instant U2 classic, is about Bono's mother. She also appears in another song. I wonder if Bono thinks his mother knows what happened to him, how his life turned out.