BETWEEN MUSIC AND COLLECTIVE EMPOWERMENT: U2’S BONO VOX TURNS 60 – LISTEN TO HIS LIFE-SAVING PLAYLIST
Text by Text by Chidozie Obasi
Paul David Hewson, aka Bono Vox, turned 60 on March 11 – Here’s a little recap of the music maven
Leader and frontman of the Irish band U2, over the years the singer has also stood out for his philanthropic commitment: he is an activist, involved in the campaign for the debt cancellation of third world countries and the difficult conditions within Africa’s landscape.
Bono joins U2 in 1976 when Larry Mullen jr. hangs an advert on the notice board of his school, Mount Temple in Dublin, aimed at finding companions for a rock band: singer Paul Hewson (Bono), guitarist David Evans (The Edge) and bassist Adam Clayton answer. In 1980 the first album titled “Boy” was released, followed by “October,” recorded during the summer at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin by Steve Lillywhite.
The album reached 11th place on British charts and, although it failed to make the Top 100 in the States, it received exceptional reviews. The final version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, is the opening track from their 1983 album War released as the album’s third single on 21 March 1983, and first heard by a live audience in December 1982 in Glasgow, Scotland, on a twenty-one show “Pre-War Tour.” The band were particularly nervous about playing the song in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Introducing the song, Bono stated “It’s not a rebel song,” attempting to further clarify this point by reciting the entire second verse (“Broken bottles under children’s feet…”), and added as a final note, “If you don’t like it, you let us know”. The Bloody Sunday mentioned in the song called back to the 1972 incident in Derry, where British soldiers fired on a crowd of unarmed civil rights protesters, killing 14 of them. 1983 is the decisive year for U2’s musical career and discography. In January “New Year’s Day” was released, the first single from the new album “War”. In November, the hit was “Under a Blood-Red Sky”, and in the following year “The Unforgettable Fire”.
Four years later, “The Joshua Tree” reached number across British and American charts. In October 1988 – after winning the Grammy – comes the double “Rattle and Hum,” film and soundtrack that documents the group’s US tour. “Achtung Baby” was released at the end of 1991, preceded by the single “The Fly”. 1992 is the year of the Zoo TV tour.
In 1997 “Pop” was a new chapter in the U2 discography, this time signed with Howie B. After the publication of a collection and the production of the soundtrack for Wim Wenders’ film “The Million Dollar Hotel” (2000), U2 returned with a new album, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” in which, after the experimentations of pop, the band found a sound closer to U2’s original discography.
Then, looking for a more hard-hitting sound, 2004 is the moment of “How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb” produced by Steve Lillywhite, the one who accompanied them in the early 80’s. Bono described the album as “our first rock album. It’s taken us twenty years or whatever it is, but this is our first rock album.”
In 2009 at the beginning of March comes “No Line On The Horizon,” a new studio record in progress since 2006. Between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, the band issued two unreleased songs: one “Ordinary Love,” for a film about Mandela titled “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, which was nominated for an Oscar. The new album “Songs of Innocence” was released on September 9, 2014.
Launched at the end of the year 2017, precisely on December 1, “Songs of Experience” is the 14th U2’s studio album, thematically a collection of letters written by Bono to people and places closest to his heart. The album features guest appearances from several musical acts, including Haim, Kendrick Lamar, and Lady Gaga.
As a soloist, Bono Vox joined in 1985 the project Artists United Against Apartheid. In particular he wrote and recorded the song “Silver and Gold” for the album “Sun City,” in protest against the apartheid policy in South Africa. Bono has set up an organization called “DATA”, (Debt, Aids, Trade in Africa), whose aim is to raise awareness about Africa’s immense foreign debt, the uncontrollable spread of Aids and the laws of the market that actually strangle and impoverish the inhabitants of those states.
On March 18 last, Bono wanted to pay tribute to Italy and its people, amidst the Coronavirus emergency, with a song dedicated “to the Italians who inspired her, to the Irish, and to anyone who, on this St. Patrick’s Day, is in trouble and continues to sing”.
It’s the dedication of Bono Vox in the video of the song “Let Your Love Be Known” posted on the official Instagram channel of her band, U2. “For the doctors, nurses, caregivers on the front lines. We sing for you,” says Bono.
And in occasion of Bono Vox’s 60th birthday celebrations, the artist has stacked-up a playlist with the 60 songs that saved his life. Dive below and peek the dripping hit-list to groove your soul away.
Listen now and thank us later.