U2 at the Grammy Awards 2001

21 Feb 2001
U2 perform at the 43rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles tonight, February 21st.

Ahead of the awards, at which U2 are nominated in three categories, the band have been rehearsing for their performance and conducting interviews.

* Visit the official Grammy site at http://www.grammy.com/ to watch the band's pre-show video interview.

* See, left, a collection of live shots from yesterday's rehearsals.

* For a special CBS Sixty Minutes TV profile of U2, Bono spoke at length about their roots, the new album and his work on global debt relief.

Here we carry two extracts and links to the full stories.

* (CBS) As lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, Bono is one of the biggest — and most mispronounced — names in music. He and the other members of the band have survived more than 20 years without a change in personnel and sold more than $100 million worth of albums.

For most rock stars that would be enough, not for Bono. At age 40, he's also co-written and co-produced a movie, and spent the last few years on a crusade to save the world, as Correspondent Vicki Mabrey reports.

And now he's back to his roots, back to some good old rock 'n' roll, and tomorrow night at the Grammys, that just might win U2 some awards.

U2's song, "Beautiful Day," is up for three Grammys: best record, best song and best performance by a rock group.

Their focus has been anthem rock as they tour with big songs about heavy issues: topics like civil rights, with lyrics about the assassination of Martin Luther King and civil war, with words from the headlines in Northern Ireland.

"You can't escape the politics if you're Irish. It's like the two subjects you can't talk about anywhere else in the world: religion and politics. It's all Irish people talk about," Bono says.

"I was taught that if my opinion was informed, then I had the right to express it and not to be afraid of who else is in the room," Bono says. "I'm just going to be mouthing off anyway. That's who I am. It's just somebody gave me a microphone. I'm just a lot louder now."

Given his background, Bono's mouthing off about religion and politics makes even more sense. He was born into a particularly Irish controversy. "I come from both traditions, Protestant and Catholic," Bono says. "My mother was a Protestant, my father was a Catholic; no big deal anywhere else in the world but here."

It was on Dublin's streets as a child that Paul David Hewson got the nickname Bono. He met his future wife and the other members of U2 in high school. They recorded their first albums in a studio in a rundown part of town. It's become a mecca for U2 fans.

On St. Patrick's Day, Dublin awarded U2 the freedom of the city and with it the right to graze sheep on public land.

But for the most part, members of the band are ordinary citizens there. They send their kids to the local schools, drink in the local pubs and give free concerts for their neighbors.

"The greatest gift the city gave to us here was a life," Bono says. "We get to live a life. Irish people have this kind of irreverence toward success anyway....I'm good at smug actually; it's a shame I can't use it here."

He can't be smug in the studio; the other band members won't let him... But recently Bono has been as likely to step to a microphone to talk politics as he is to sing.

His dedication to helping the poor started in the early 1980s with Live Aid, the benefit that led to "We Are the World" in America.

Rock stars banded together to raise millions for starving people in Africa. "It was $200 million we raised for Africa there. And we were jumping around the place; we felt we'd cracked it," Bono says.

He then discovered that this is what Africa pays every week servicing its debts to wealthy countries.

Read the rest of this story at http://cbsnews.com/

* In another segment of the same interview for CBS's Sixty Minutes, Bono talked of his travels from Ethiopia to Sarajevo and where his political activism stems from.

'...... He thinks his activism stems in part from his heritage. "It's in the folk memory of Irish people; it's famine in...the 19th century," he says. "In mid-1800s, we lost 2 million people to starvation."

"Irish people are quite informed on political matters," he observes, citing Irish women in particular.

One of Bono's most visible political gestures came in the early 1980s when he and U2 joined forces with Irish musician Bob Geldof for the Live Aid extravaganza raising relief funds in connection with the Ethiopian famine.

After Live Aid, Bono spent a month in Ethiopia. "It was a deeply and profoundly moving experience to be that close...in the eye of the storm of famine."

Even before that U2 aligned itself with causes: In 1983, its hit "New Year's Day," took inspiration from the Polish Solidarity Movement. The album War included "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," a reference to the Northern Ireland conflict. U2 also made a guest showing on the "Sun City" single opposing apartheid.

In the mid-'90s, as Bono accepted an MTV award in Paris, he chastised Jacques Chirac on nuclear testing. Last year's movie The Million Dollar Hotel, scripted by Bono, includes U2's song "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," with lyrics by Salman Rushdie.

Recently Bono has been involved with the Jubilee 2000 project, which earmarked the millennium year for cancelling the debt of poor countries (adopting the biblical custom for jubilee years, every 49 years). This has allowed him to take a deeper look at the framework of poverty, the staggering debt owed by some Third World countries to wealthy Western nations, he says.

Canceling the debt is not a matter of altruism, he declares. "It's about justice. These people were lent money under false pretenses."

"Before the Cold War had thawed out,...the West supported regimes financially to keep back...the threat of communism," Bono says. "The money's never got through to their people."

"The double injustice is (they're) still repaying those...loans," Bono says. "Most of the debts are unpayable."

Bono even met with political heavyweights like Bill Clinton.

Of course, politicians mixing with musicians can be like oil and water, Bono observes: "They're suspicious of us." Yet he points out, "Politicians are performers if they're any good."

Bono praises Bill Clinton - not because he plays saxophone - but for his foreign policy, for taking a leading role on the debt issue.

Yet years ago, one U2 album was critical of America. "In the '80s, the...America that we travelled through, I was both a fan or...a critic of. And our album The Joshua Tree describes both of those feelings, of foreign policy in Central America, everywhere; America seemed to be putting its big foot in everyone else's mess."

Today, though, Bono feels America intervened at the right time - at least on one occasion.

"Clinton came through in Bosnia at a time when Europe...was impotent and...indecisive," he says.

Read the rest of this story at http://cbsnews.com/


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