Actually 1978 was a really exciting time for U2. We had just discovered F sharp minor. So we had the fourth chord and we’d only had three up to then.
Actually oddly enough, I think my work, the activism, will be forgotten. And I hope it will. Because I hope those problems will have gone away.
Africa is a continent in flames. And deep down, if we really accepted that Africans were equal to us, we would all do more to put the fire out. We’re standing around with watering cans, when what we really need is the fire brigade.
Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice. It makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties. It doubts our concern. It questions our commitment. Because there is no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa, and if we’re honest, conclude that it would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else.
Africa will thrive.
America is not just a country, it’s an idea, and real Americans are getting busy.
And this wise man asked me to stop. He said, ‘Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing’ – because it’s already blessed.
Anyone that’s involved in development has discovered that all the good work that’s been done in development has been undone by the AIDS emergency.
As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.
As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It’s so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don’t use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I’m the worst example of it, so just kinda keep my mouth shut.
At a certain point, I just felt, you know, God is not looking for alms, God is looking for action.
Because you know when you first become famous, you start walking a little different because people are staring at you.
Books! I dunno if I ever told you this, but books are the greatest gift one person can give another.
Brian Wilson believes in angels. I do too and you only have to listen to the string arrangement of ‘God Only Knows’ for fact and proof of angels.
Celebrity is currency, so I wanted to use mine effectively.
Celebrity is ridiculous and silly and it’s mad that people like me are listened to – you know, rap stars and movie stars.
Distance does not decide who is your brother and who is not. The church is going to have to become the conscience of the free market if it’s to have any meaning in this world – and stop being its apologist.
Don’t believe in the 60’s, the Golden age of Pop. You glorify the past, when the future dries up.
Don’t get me too excited because I use four letter words when I get excited.
Ethiopia didn’t just blow my mind; it opened my mind. Anyway, on our last day at this orphanage a man handed me his baby and said, ‘Would you take my son with you?’ He knew, in Ireland, that his son would live, and that in Ethiopia, his son would die.
Even then I prayed more outside of the church than inside. It gets back to the songs I was listening to; to me, they were prayers. ‘How many roads must a man walk down?’ That wasn’t a rhetorical question to me. It was addressed to God. It’s a question I wanted to know the answer to, and I’m wondering, who do I ask that to? I’m not gonna ask a schoolteacher. When John Lennon sings, ‘Oh, my love/For the first time in my life/My eyes are wide open’ – these songs have an intimacy for me that’s not just between people, I realize now, not just sexual intimacy. A spiritual intimacy.
Even though I’m a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers. They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back.
Every era has its defining struggle and the fate of Africa is one of ours. It’s not the only one, but in the history books it’s easily going to make the top five, what we did or what we did not do. It’s a proving ground, as I said earlier, for the idea of equality. But whether it’s this or something else, I hope you’ll pick a fight and get in it.
Everyone argues, then we do what I say.
God’s Spirit moves through us and the world at a pace that can never be constricted by any one religious paradigm.
Great music is written by people who are either running toward or away from God.
Happy the country that lives on nothing but its wits; cursed be the one that thinks it can get rich by planting or digging or drilling for wealth.
I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable.
I am, as a character, at times, a little overbearing. I recognize that.
I have electrical storms of a different kind now.
I think ABBA have a pure joy to their music and that’s what makes them extraordinary.
I used to love Kurt Cobain, when he was telling people we’re a pop band. People would laugh, they thought of it as good old ironic Kurt. But he wasn’t being ironic.
I want to play the guitar very badly, and I do play the guitar very badly.
I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace.
Idealism detached from action is just a dream. But idealism allied with pragmatism, with rolling up your sleeves and making the world bend a bit, is very exciting. It’s very real. It’s very strong.
I’m never nervous.
I’m not in a position to be seen as a spokesman for a generation. I mean, how can you be a spokesman of a generation if you’ve nothing to say, other than ‘Help!’
I’m the Fidel Castro of speechifying. We’ve got a few hours, don’t we?
I’m the Imelda Marcos of sunglasses.
It costs a fortune to look this trashy.
It’s a privilege to serve the poor, to be servants of noble Africans, but I better belong in the rehearsal room or in the studio with my band. That’s where I want to be and I still wake up in the morning with melodies in my head.
It’s not about politics, or religion, or the economy. It’s not about borders, history, trade, oil, water, gas, mineral rights, human rights or animal rights. It’s not about global warming, global pandemics, globalization, GDP, NATO or Kyoto.
It’s not enough to rage against the lie. You’ve got to replace it with the truth.
It’s so sweet, I feel like my teeth are rotting when I listen to the radio.
It’s stasis that kills you off in the end, not ambition.
Look, I’m sick of Bono and I am Bono.
Making records is like making hot dogs. You’ll probably enjoy them more if you don’t see how it’s done.
Marriage is this grand madness, and I think if people knew that, they would perhaps take it more seriously.
More than anything else, for the British folks Irish people were all terrorists. So when we went to Britain, it was always a lot of resistance to U2. And that’s why we came to America.
Music can change the world because it can change people.
My heroes are all alive. I never have worshipped at that altar of burnt-out youth.
My heroes are the ones who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them.
My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ.
Never trust a man who tells you it’s from the heart, never trust a man smoking a cigar, never trust a cowboy or a man who wears shades.
Overcoming my dad telling me that I could never amount to anything is what has made me the megalomaniac that you see today.
Particularly conservative Christians, I was very angry that they were not involved more in the AIDS emergency.
Perspective is the cure for depression.
Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building.
Rock music is niche.
Rock ‘n’ roll is ridiculous. It’s absurd. In the past, U2 was trying to duck that. Now we’re wrapping our arms around it and giving it a great big kiss.
Selling out is doing something you don’t really want to do for money. That’s what selling out is.
So what we’re talking about here is human rights. The right to live like a human. The right to live, period. And what we’re facing in Africa is an unprecedented threat to human dignity and equality.
So you cannot, as a Christian, walk away from Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also home to 400 million of the world’s poorest people.
Teenage kids have no sense of mortality – yours or theirs.
The Clash was the greatest rock band. They wrote the rule book for U2.
The extraction of oil, coal and minerals brought, and still brings, a cost to the environment.
The fact is that ours is the first generation that can look disease and extreme poverty in the eye, look across the ocean to Africa, and say this, and mean it. We do not have to stand for this. A whole continent written off – we do not have to stand for this.
The French are so into themselves that they don’t even notice you.
The great moments of rock ‘n’ roll were never off in some corner of the music world, in a self-constructed ghetto.
The less you know, the more you believe.
The right to be irresponsible and stupid is something I hold very dear. And luckily it is something I do well.
There are potentially another 10 Afghanistans in Africa, and it is cheaper by a factor of 100 to prevent the fires from happening than to put them out.
There’s a point where you find yourself tiptoeing as an artist, and then you know that you’re in the wrong place.
There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.
There’s the country of America, which you have to defend, but there’s also the idea of America. America is more than just a country, it’s an idea. An idea that’s supposed to be contagious.
To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.
U2 is an original species… There are colours and feelings and emotional terrain that we occupy that is ours and ours alone.
U2 is sort of song writing by accident really. We don’t really know what we’re doing and when we do, it doesn’t seem to help.
We actually aren’t able to play other people’s songs. The one Stones song we tried to play was Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It was really bad. So we started writing our own – it was easier.
We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.
What turns me on about the digital age, what excited me personally, is that you have closed the gap between dreaming and doing. You see, it used to be that if you wanted to make a record of a song, you needed a studio and a producer. Now, you need a laptop.
When a nation is over-reliant on one or two commodities like oil or precious minerals, corrupt government ministers and their dodgy associates hoard profits and taxes instead of properly allocating them to schools and hospitals.
Whenever I see grace, I’m moved.
With Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.
Yes, I sometimes fail, but at least I’m willing to experiment.
You have permission to call me anything you want – except sir, all right? Lord of lords, your demigodness, that’ll do.
You know, God has some really weird kids, and I find it hard to be in their company most of the time.
You know, on a long tour you do hear people saying they miss their pets. I never have. But last night I started really missing my dog. It’s very odd, ’cause I don’t have a dog.
You put on the leather pants and the pants start telling you what to do.
You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that as you sow, so you will reap stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.
You’ve got to watch the politics of AIDS. The politics of AIDS can work both for and against the victims of AIDS.