Bono memoir Surrender book review

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In a book written by journalist Bill Flanagan after jamming with Irish rock group U2 during their heyday, 1995’s “U2 at the End of the World,” Flanagan told a joke about why James Joyce had to travel to Ireland to write “Ulysses.” ”: For if he had sat he would not have sat he spoke it.

I found myself reminiscing about this excerpt from a book I read a quarter of a century ago as I walked through Bono’s “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story,” the fascinating (and sometimes maddening) memoir of the former U2 frontman, the 62-year-old rock star almost famous. as bad for his speech as he is for his singing. The man with the face always covered in sunglasses and the booming voice is also, as you may know, a bomber who has spent at least his 21st century hours on AIDS, debt relief and anti-poverty campaigns as needed in music.

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That successful second career is why the rabid non-U2 fan will find value in his book. Famous people who do good will and should be accepted with skepticism, but it is difficult to name one who has successfully progressed from happy but mostly ineffective public judgments of bad behavior, to doing things that are boring, unpleasant, year after year, management on top – management work to build relationships with people who hold power levers. whenever, especially when, those people are George W. Bush or Rupert Murdoch.

“You don’t have to agree on everything if the one thing you agree on is important enough,” writes Bono, a lesson he learned from one of his mentors, singer/songwriter Harry Belafonte. Love the guy, hate him or wish he’d shut up – sentiments common to even a jaded U2 fan like your humble observer – you can’t say his activism is of the lapel-pin variety.

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He has angered people, not always for noble reasons, ever since he jumped into the audience during U2’s set at Live Aid in 1985. And after hearing that the wealth raised by the star-studded romantic concert was not enough to cover. per week interest its African beneficiaries were paying their Western creditors, he changed his strategy. His humbling (really!) account of how he and his partners, in a two-year lobbying effort, got the 43rd president to ask Congress about the history of $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa – and how he refused. from criticizing Iraq’s 2003 invasion of Iraq into a bargain – make two compelling book chapters. (At a moment when it looked like the Bush administration had not given up, George Soros accused Bono of “selling a plate of lentils.”)

But that’s not what most readers will be here for. And they won’t expect, or get, much of “Hammer of the Gods”—a sleazy take on the memoir of a guy who was in a band with the same three dudes for 45 years and married his high school sweetheart for 40 years; both relationships show openness and humility. Like the memories of his pals Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen, “Surrender more introspective than paying attention or putting notes, and proof that the tunesmith who wrote it also speaks sophisticated prose.

Most of it is known, the author shared many anecdotes – similar phrases, even – in concert introductions to songs such as “Iris,” about the mother who died suddenly when he was 14, and “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own,” about and my father who died shortly when Bono was 41 years old. His story of sleeping with whiskey in his lap at Frank Sinatra’s house and being afraid to pee his pants in front of the Chairman is a classic. – a basic test of his set list. But did you hear the one about how Bono wandered off while he and his wife were drinking with Barack and Michelle at the White House, and the president found him sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom? I didn’t do it.

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There are already many tiles in U2’s mosaic: The documentary “From the Sky Down” recounts their origins while looking back on the birth of their landmark 1991 album, “Achtung Baby.” 2015 Innocence + Experience Tour – a road show built around the album “Songs of Innocence” that made your iPhone before September, a digital entry in which Bono takes responsibility only, in a way, releases his companions / companions and the CEO of Apple Tim Cook – had a lot of autobiographical reporting, too. Then there’s the lengthy Rolling Stone interview Bono sat on from 1987-2017. This is not someone who has been silent when it comes to him.

Surprisingly, the 560-page memoir is a safe place where no one can finally accuse him of being long-winded. Or at least, he shouldn’t have heard the eyes of U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. bored into the back of his skull as the timekeeper puts down his drums, discovering that the singer he recruited for his band in 1976 has relapsed. another dance song started.

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Well, what about those songs? Any fan familiar with U2’s catalog will recognize that the 40 songs that provide the titles for the book’s 40 chapters are not listed in chronological order. That’s because the story told in these chapters is not linear. Starting with an account of the important heart surgery Bono carried out in 2016, the book bobs and weaves between subjects and time, guided by links that have more than temporal characteristics.

The technique in which Bono moves from songwriting mysteries to dissertations, for example, what he read when Mikhail Gorbachev came to his house in Dublin for Sunday dinner, is variable. There’s more than a hint of ambition you’d expect from a man who once wrote a song with Salman Rushdie. Bono knows his way around a joke, and he’s well aware of his unsavory tendency to distort an honest discussion about any subject. isn’t it music in a TED Talk.

That doesn’t mean he can always refrain from doing it or even try. It means that the book is a representation, not an ideal. Bono does not describe himself well when he talks about “putting i dirty to the messiah,” but you can be. This phrase is glib, but very beautiful. Anyone who thinks about it should try to be a songwriter.

Chris Klimek works for Smithsonian magazine and is the host of the podcast “Degree Absolute!”

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