'Music Can Pull People Together…'

12 Jan 201739

"Thirty years ago, The Joshua Tree found common ground by reaching for the higher ground," explains Bono. "This is a tour for red and blue, the coast and the heartland ... because music can pull people together as surely as politics can pull people apart."

We've got the questions, Bono has the answers.

A tour to celebrate an album from 30 years ago? That’s not like U2. Where’d that idea come from?

Haha, nostalgia is a thing of the past, as Edge is always telling me… and it’s true! As a band we are not known for the rear view mirror… I suppose that changed with the writing of Songs of Innocence. It kind of forced us and me in particular to look back. I began to think that indeed the past is a place worth a visit, even if only a fleeting one, as not to spend any time there can really mess with your ability to deal with the future. Not trying to be clever here, just sometimes, to quote one of my favourite writers – Eminem – you’ve got to go back to tidy your room. The Joshua Tree Tour is a recent idea… it started out as us just doing one or two shows, maybe even a festival for fun, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got, and the more apt the subject matter of those songs felt for these times.

By the way, a lot of fans in South America, in Australia, in New Zealand, in Japan are asking how come Europe and North America get to see U2 again so soon.

It’s not fair… that’s for sure. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the band feel as disappointed as our fans about taking so long to get to some of our favourite places on earth. All I can say is we are working on it! Thanks for being so patient. 

You were pretty outspoken politically at those two US shows in September and October. Some people didn’t appreciate an Irish band ‘intervening’ in their election? Will we see more of that in the Joshua Tree tour?

In the US election… as an Irish band, we clearly didn’t have a vote but we had a voice and wanted to use it to speak out against what we thought was runaway rhetoric, dangerous stuff … But in a democracy the people get the last word - and that's the way it should be.  I opposed Trump while all the time understanding that many of the people who support him are the kind of people I grew up with, and can see myself in to this day. In my head at least the election result demanded I ask myself several questions:

Am I missing something here? 
Am I out of touch with American values?
Am I out of touch with the American people?  

It's clear a giant constituency in the country felt ignored or patronised… they are fearful of the future, as are a growing number of Europeans.  I understand and respect that, and I want to try and understand those fears better. Against type, I’m a rockstar who doesn’t like to be surrounded by people who agree with me (at least all the time), which is why I joined a band and I’m still married! Haha 

Our audience have always been fiesty, they often disagree with us and each other. I would like to think that everyone who loves their country would feel welcome at a U2 show, however differently they love it. And I think a little humility might be important for me here. I certainly want to understand better what just happened, but I’m going to do that without crossing what are bright lines for me, things like standing against the demonising of immigrants or refugees. I’m Irish for God's sake.  

Edge said the world changed irrevocably whilst we were trying to finish off Songs of Experience and that we needed a moment to take that fact in. I think he’s right. He’s also right when he says the reasons our albums have lasted the test of time is, ironically, that the best of them can find a truth in the moment they were made that’s constant in changing times…

As for the Joshua Tree Tour, my hope is that number 1: it is a transcendent night of rock n roll. Number 2, if I were let to have even more lofty ambitions for this rock show, I would love if it became an opportunity for our audience and ourselves to ask the question - what is it these days to be an American or a European?… Thirty years ago, 'The Joshua Tree' found common ground by reaching for the higher ground. This is a tour for red and blue, the coast and the heartland ... because music can pull people together as surely as politics can pull people apart. It’s a great canvas and it would be amazing if it could still be a high voltage meditation on what’s happening now.

What happened to Songs of Experience? I thought it was finished? Can we expect it in the current century?

Ha, yes… possibly even this decade. The band have forbidden me from talking about deadlines and release dates. I can tell you that Songs of Experience is a very personal album, but that intimacy still needs the frame of a more anxious edgy world because that is where a lot of people are at this moment…

Throw us a bone - give us the title of one of the new songs… and a lyric. Are you going to play some of the new songs on TJTT?

Might. My favourite at the moment is “The Little Things That Give You Away”. Here’s a couple of verses: 

"The night gave you a song,
a light had been turned on, 
You walked out in the world
like you belonged there
As easy as a breeze, 
each heart was yours to tease
Is it only me who sees there’s something wrong here
It’s the little things that give you away
The words you cannot say
Your big mouth in the way
It’s the little things that reveal and betray 
Has the hunter now become the prey
It’s the little things, the little things
That give you away
I saw you on the stairs
You didn’t notice I was there
That’s cos you were busy talking at me
Not to me
You were high above the storm
A hurricane being born
But this freedom, it might cost you your liberty 
It’s the little things that give you away
The words you cannot say 
Your big mouth in the way 
It’s the little things that reveal and betray 
Has the hunter now become the prey 
It’s the little things, the little things that give you away" 

Theres a very big tangent at the end of this this, that’s very revealing – but that’s enough for now.

I heard something about another one-off show this year, with the smallest audience ever known at a U2 show… Just Julia Roberts, was it?

No, there are two different (RED) Omaze experiences – one is tea with myself and Julia Roberts. I feel like I won every competition I ever entered just to be in her company. She’s the real deal. A friend and a comrade for many years. Except she still looks like the first time I met her in the 80s and I, well, I’m happy not to stay in the 80s…
The other prize is the band playing just for you and a friend. Might break our all time record for smallest show, which was in Bristol on our first tour of the UK – 11 people – but we’re happy to break that record for (RED).

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Australia Misses You!
Almost wished I lived in America so I could hear U2 place this iconic album in the country which inspired so many of the songs on the album. One of my favourite U2 albums, (containing one of my all time favourite songs - With or Without You), which flows seamlessly from start to finish. An inspirational album which got me through many hours of study at school and uni. Hope to see you in Australia in the very near future after missing out on the last 2 tours.
Deja Vu all over again...
Thanksgiving night, 1987...Baton Rouge, LA...Pete Maravich Assembly Center...I saw the Joshua Tree Tour as a freshman in college...to this day the greatest single concert I have ever been to. Now, 30 years later, I will be in Croke Park in Dublin to see the same concert again, , with my Irish wife who saw her first ever concert in Croke that Tour. Heady stuff. BRING ON JULY!!
With or Without You
Even though I had been listening to U2 since I was 6 years old (thanks to my cousin who had every record imaginable and me sneaking in his room to listen to them. As you do when you are 6) I never really HEARD a U2 song until WOWY dropped. I was 12 and I was like, WHOA. WHAT?! And then I saw the video and life as I know it now began. I also attended my first U2 show in Vancouver in 1987 with my now husband, and we have not missed a tour since. We have been to MANY memorable shows, but this year will be the one to remember. May 12 in Vancouver will be my husband and I's 30th U2 show on the 30th anniversary tour for TJT where we first saw The Boys. What an amazing time we've had seeing U2 all over the world! This tour is sure to be something else and I CAN NOT WAIT to share it with my hubby and my sister and all of you!
We love bono ❤️ Cannot edit yo set you, again
From Toronto, Canada and having listened and seen you so many times over the last (almost) 40 years I cant wait for the next tour and coming back to TO on June 23. Bono, hope to run into you in person, mono- a mono- with Bono. 'What's Your Name?' Kris, with a K! :)
July 23,2016
It seems silly, indulgent, to be writing this letter to you . However U2, Bono, Larry, Adam, The Edge, you help keep me alive. I've had Mysterious Ways, I have had beautiful days.. Now I live midst a time I don't know how to reconcile. I hate politics yet I love humans. I have seen seen you twice and both times it was an awakening , the kind of church my soul yearned for. I have the luxury to see my 50th birthday as the next one and I want it to be heartfelt and celebrated. I want to give back yet I want. Being wide awake sometimes seems too much. With my humble heart and yearning spirit I hope to grow from your influence. Perhaps I will see you in 2017? Rumor has it another tour is on the horizon... I have only my sincerity to offer. I don't need to be on stage yet I wish to meet my U2 family, because YOU SAVE ME. TOUR ANNOUNCED! I've posted this letter best I knew how to. If only I could have placed in an envelope , stamped and sealed with a kiss... January 9, 2017 Astoria
Hallelujah !
Montreal-born poet, songwriter and artist, the late Leonard Cohen once said, « We are ugly but we have the music.” This fits nicely with Bono’s own statement « music can pull people together... ». Montreal people wish to be pulled together and kept afloat by U2’s music and poetry.
Please add "A Sort of Homecoming" to the
I have never heard my favorite U2 song Live Please add "A Sort of Homecoming" to your Joshua Tree Tour setlist.... at least for Pittsburgh
Desert Trip?
Hmmmm.. Joshua Tree anniversary?.. Desert Trip Festival right next to Joshua Tree? Coincidence?? I think not! From a long time fan who saw you guys at Richie Coliseum at University of Maryland in 1982 before you hit it big with Red Rocks. I cut school to go to that show and have been along for the ride ever since!
Red Rocls
I REALLY wish that the band would play Red Rocks again. I'm just putting it out there in the universe...
Looking back to kiss the future :-)
Great exoectations, we'll never feel old with your eternal music, thx & C U soon in Europe ! x
Longer shows
For every tour I have attended I know the guys can do a four hour show. Why aren't we trying???
Love over fear
Music is stronger than hate! Like you said, love over fear!!!!! Thank you guys, for all my beautiful days listening to your songs. See you in Europe.
The Dalton Brothers!!!!!
Can't wait to see The Dalton Brothers after 30 years! The Joshua Tree tour was my first possibility to visit a U2 show, at the age of 14. Since that time, I didn't miss any tour and I'm so glad that we got tickets again. We'll meet on July 12th in Berlin! So guys, sit right down with me Stay that night, until the morning sets you free I know our love will last forever But will our love, U2, last the night... sure it will!!! Gregor
Met my husband at Rattle and Hum...now 2
Just got tickets to the show in LA for my husband and 3 kids. This is very special to me as I met my husband at the Dec. 19, 1987 concert at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ. It was the first night of filming for the Rattle and Hum movie. This is the only concert I have ever kept my ticket for. We have been married for 27 years and still love to listen to the music where it all started. U2 holds a special place in our lives! Thank you!
When Poland?..
Hi Bono and the band, When will we see you in Poland again? I am getting tried of traveling to Berlin...:)
golden members first
Thirty years ago yeah I was there like all the golden members here. The Joshua Tree Tour 1 9 8 7 was my 1st U2 show and the audience was So incredible... I miss the U2 crowd & shows of 80's 90's 2001 & U2360 too .... Not going to See U2 this summer that S . . . . s
A world in turmoil
Thank you for sharing this interview which gives the context and mood from which the 2017 tour was born. It's not a question of being out of touch. World events are out of control and we must all unite through love, music, positive action, tolerance and generosity of thought. I work for the UN and I see ugly things but I also see miracles done by normal hardworking folk . See you in July in Rome then Dublin. Can't wait! !
Don´t forget Latin America!
Dear U2, please come to Latin America, I wanted with all my heart the JTTour! Please don´t forget us. With all my love and admiration. Vanessa your U2Girl. Hugs and love from Guadalajara, Jal. Mexico.
Love from Brazil
Thank you for asking about South America! I'm sad to miss this tour because it was with TJT that all started to me. So, I've been U2 fan for 30 years now! Hope one day to be with you again! LOVE YOU!!
Ask- What Do You Fear?
Your thoughts as always are heartfelt. I think that in order to understand individuals fears you need to ask them directly - As you do in many poverty stricken places around the world. When you travel on this great and wonderful tour - take time to randomly stop in the heartland of this country America and small towns in Europe and have a coffee in a cafe or pint in a pub and randomly ask ask a person "what do you Fear". Anonymity is difficult for you guys but try some places out of the public eye. Away from NY and California - middle class people suffer greatly of late - you might not understand why until you ask. We American's moral and value systems are for the most part true and just I believe. Listen to what all the people have to say - not just a few. I would love to join you for a chat over a coffee or a pint - In my hometown of LI NY or in Miami this June or in your hometown of Dublin where I will be seeing the greatest band in the world for the 3rd time there! Cheers!
This is gonna be amazing!
Thanks for sharing the lyrics! I'm sure that SOE will be amazing! And the TJTT too! XD Love you!
I believe in LOVE
Bono - Thank you for these words for they come at an important moment for me. I've been a hardcore fan since you wrote "The Refugee." Lately I have felt isolated because of your more openly vocal political views. (But, I give you much grace here.) Your right about America being the promised land to so many. I believe in legal immigration and the American Dream for everyone. Politics has made our coasts blue and our heartland red. I feel like a red soul in a blue state. Yes, our country is divided. I look forward to seeing you in Boston and NY this summer. My hope is that your music can be fresh and unite a divided people. I believe in laws. I also believe in the higher law. I believe in grace and mercy and justice. I believe in LOVE I still believe in God's Spirit that moves through you. Like you said, the songs are our parents, they tell us what to do. May it be so with The Joshua Tree Tour 2017.
Thor future that repeats the past
I liked of these last statements about what led to the return of "TJT Tuor". This line of understanding that the tour has peculiar motivation that goes well beyond celebrating the thirty years of the album is formidable. I interpreted this choice this way: The tour is not only to return to the past, but also to use the past to explain the future that repeats the past. Therefore, it is something singular and understandable to raise the same flags again. U2 really does have very brash fans, but this is a result that the band has been motivating everyone's own opinion on each album. Some of these fans are really impatient and demanding new content always with full belly (like me), but it is something natural when expectations are directed to U2. I was struck by this part of the new song: "It is only me who sees there is something wrong here / It is the little things that give you away / The words you can not say / Your big mouth in the way." With these lines, I remembered from a quote from the English writer Aldous Huxley: "After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music." That's it! There is in silence always a universe of unspoken words that could rescue the understandings that were thought to be lost. And nothing is better than music to break this silence.
Music brings us closer
During the Innocence Tour, you sang about your beautiful Mother and how you missed her. I stood with my 26 year old son and took his hand and held it for a moment. It's funny you stop holding your children's hand and yet they still belong to your heart. It was a moment I'll always cherish, you remembering your Mother and her love and I reminding my son of a Mother's love. It was beautiful. I'll be working on attending my 6th U2 concert for the Joshua Tour. Thanks for making Toronto a stop, we do appreciate it.
Rock and Roll stops the traffic.
Thank you!
Thanks for sharing the lyrics. Of course I am eager to hear the song and the whole album, but looks like there's other things important right now. Guess the decision to go for the tour was right - whatever that means. I look forward to seeing the band in Berlin - and hopefully also in Amsterdam.
I love this JT idea
Can't wait for the New album!!! Thanks for the lyrics preview:) and for taking South America into account. Regarding US elections, you are not missing anything; is the beggining of North American populism. It occured to me that the same demon that possesed Chavez here in Venezuela just jumped into Trump, so God help that country
There is a light
This tour has already put a big shining light into 2017 - something to properly look forward to Holiday plans in full flow Coming to Vancouver, London,Rome, Barcelona and Dublin Thank you - turned 2017 into the real deal!!
And you are not out of touch of American values. See you at the Bowl.
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