The Night Love Rocked

18 Apr 2002
Right down the hall from beatification comes crucifixion, joked Bono, the night love rocked.

Ok, we're a little on the late side getting this story online but we thought you'd want to read it anyway ­ it's the address Bono gave on February 14th, the night Tom Cruise and Kevin Spacey joined Lauryn Hill, Cher and REM in a Hollywood tribute to Bono.

'Thank you so much.

Right down the hall from beatification comes crucifixion, so I'd better enjoy this moment.

[Explaining Cher's appearance with REM] It's, it's a pretty amazing night. Actually, I was in a lift once, and a gentleman got into the lift. I was there with a stranger, nothing was said, we travelled floors, and a rather cross gentleman had gone out of the lift and turned around before he left and said, 'It's Bono.' (pronouncing it 'Bone-o') And I kind of looked at this little old lady who was in the lift with me and she said, 'That's Sonny Bono, who are you?' So, Cher, that's something I wanted to share with you.

I wanted to thank Michael Eisner and the Entertainment Industry Foundation for honoring me tonight, that is a very, very big deal. And also, my friends who've turned up to back me up, in what is an unnerving occasion, really. REM came out a little bit after U2, but I have always looked up to them and they are just the greatest group and it's extraordinary to see them there. In the last year I've looked across to No Doubt because they came on tour with us, and that is quite a carnival to have on tour with you, I can tell you.

And thank you to everybody really for turning up. Sean Penn is here tonight and I want to mention him because he just got nominated for doing something extraordinary, that is an extraordinary work 'I Am Sam.' I want to thank the band because they let me come, actually, that's one thing. And I would like to thank my darling wife, Ali, for coming out with me tonight. Also, Drew Carey for hosting tonight's event. I know he knows, but I wanted him to know I know also, that whatever they may call tonight's event, it's Cleveland Rocks. It's Cleveland that rocks.

Also, the Cardiovascular Initiative, it is a great thing to be in the room with a lot of doctors, and people who have put their life and energy into something as important as life and death. As life transforming and as life changing as I'd like to think a U2 gig is - it's not that. And I just wanted to say that we are dignified tonight by those people who worked on the Cardiovascular Initiative. We are dignified by them being in the room.

And that in a way is a bit of a problem, because, you know, I'm in a rock and roll band, and the band do think that the stuff I'm doing is really important and they really support it, but they do think it is incredibly unhip. And I just think coming from the rock and roll community I want to say that the right to be ridiculous is something I hold very dear.

But there is one thing I am not sure I am going to live down, just the other week your Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, actually referred to me as a serious person. And that's hard - that hurts. I think what he might have meant was a serious pain in the arse. And I certainly was a pain in the arse for the last Secretary of the Treasury, and a thorn in the shoe of this administration, and the next one, I hope.

But they're smart people, they know that it takes people like us to get them to look up from the numbers and put flesh and bones on some awful facts. Like the fact that there are 28 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who are HIV positive and who are about to leave behind 100 million AIDS orphans by the end of the decade. And this looks like the greatest threat to humanity the world has seen since the Bubonic Plague took out about a third of Europe in the Middle Ages. So think for a second what it would have been like if China, say, had had the resources and the technologies to deal with the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages, but didn't share them out. Can you imagine what it would feel like now, or how hard the history books would have been on them? Well, that's where we are right now.

And I was in Uganda a couple of weeks ago and met a load of AIDS workers. They are really the heroes, like the NYPD, like the firemen of their situation. They're going from town to town, right, and they are telling people about what's going on with AIDS, and I'm asking a friend, where do they get their passion from? Where do these people get their passion from? And they say, actually, they're HIV positive. And I said. 'What - these people are HIV positive?' Yes, he said, and they know that they cannot afford the dollar a day that would take to save their life. They know that they cannot afford to live. And I want to say to them, and I want to say this evening, that we cannot afford to let them die.

This is not as a moral imperative, we actually financially cannot afford to fill in for the teachers we lose, we cannot afford to look after their children. I mean, I'm actually trying to convince people that it is more expensive to let them die. And that's just one of the facts that we have to put flesh and blood on.

But you know, this is Los Angeles. I don't want to say I just love this city. More people live off their imaginations in this city than anywhere else in this world and, boy, do we need your imagination on these problems. It's true, the American dream was sold to the world from this city, right here. They had the idea but in order to sort of mythologize it they needed Los Angeles. Los Angeles sent out the idea of the American Dream to the rest of the world. And what was at the heart of the American Dream was equality. That's really what was going on - equality. And it's funny, there's a pain in the arse if ever I heard one, you know, equality. That's a really annoying thing to live with.

You know, you think of 2000 years ago, these Jewish sheepherders, walking with shit on their shoes in front of pharaohs and kings and they're being asked: you really think you're equal to me? And these sheepherders are going, yeah, you know, it says here we're equal, yeah, God made everybody equal, actually. And then they go, okay. And then years go by in the journey of equality, and we accept Jews but not black people, I mean, black people are not equal. Okay, black people, we'll have black people in, but not women. Women are not equal, you can't be serious. Okay, well right. And eventually it gets to the place where behind these borders in Europe and America, we have an idea of equality, but what about the rest of the world ?

So, with the same imagination, with the same brilliant minds, here in Los Angeles, can we make the American Dream a little bigger? Can we make it big enough to fit and affect the lives of the poorest of the poor, the wretched people? Eight million people die every year for the price of going out with your friends to the movies and buying an ice cream. Literally for about $30 a head per year, you could save 8 million lives. Isn't that extraordinary? Preventable disease - not calamity, not famine, nothing like that. Preventable disease - just for the lack of medicines. That is cheap, that is a bargain.

But politicians say there are no votes here - they are wrong! I believe in this country, it is a great country, but it is also a great idea, and I would please just ask you to send that message to the politicians. Actually, America's a big enough country to take on that problem. And I promise you this, that for those lives that were lost on September 11th, this is their only fitting memorial. Not just the pursuit of justice, but the pursuit of a less dangerous, safer, fairer, more inclusive world.

Anyway, thank you very much.

What a night! Thank you.'

More on the Campaign to Cancel the Debts of the Poorest Countries here
More on Artists Against AIDS


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