Bono is a wonderful musician and a great world citizen — but can anyone really make any sense of his latest column in the Sunday New York Times?
It appears to be some kind of a quasi-dream sequence, in which Bono has become a filmmaker examining his own life from the outside.
It's all about the fall of the Berlin Wall and its impact on this "singer," who is of course Bono. He even catches himself writing about
himself in the third person — but I don't know if it works. It all gets kind of weird.
The scene begins when he and his band were apparently living in a house in Berlin at one point . The home was owned by a West German citizen when the wall came down, and he came back to reclaim it — except the U2 boys were there — I think.
Hmm. Then we move onto the creation of the song "One," one of U2's greatest hits. It also apparently occurred in Berlin when the band was in their late twenties and about to break up because of overwhelming egos on all sides. The "musician" and Edge, whose first marriage was going off the rails, were trying to write the song that eventually became "One," 'and which is as much about the band hanging together through a difficult period than any world anthem.
This is the most-coherent part of the piece, and insightful about the probelms the band was going through as they struggled with incredible fame and success.
Then we switch to a conversation between the "singer" and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which the "singer" is incredibly impressed by words that are spoken to him by Merkel.
"My father taught me a very important lesson when I was a girl growing up in East Germany. He said, 'Always be more than you appear and never appear to be more than you are.'"
This is profound? Bono thinks so. He writes "Camera closes in on the 'singer’s' eyes. The black has devoured the blue. He is a flyweight in the ring with Muhammad Ali. He didn’t even see it coming. She has just summed up his entire life in the reverse of her personal proverb."
The final scene has the "singer" with filmmaker Wim Wenders after a recent concert. They talk about the meaning of life and all that guff.
Then the end.
What to make of it?
Bono is a musical genius, an incredible poet of the age, whose music has rocked the world for a generation now. As a columnist for The
Times however, his stuff can appear trite, self-serving, and above all, trying too hard to be "significant." Without all the rock band stuff
in the background, it does not impress in the same way.
He's way better at his day job.