“Music can change the world because it can change people.” — Bono
Paul David Hewson (aka Bono) was born on this day in Ballymun, Dublin, Ireland in 1960. He is 53 years old.
Paul was born to Bobby Hewson and Iris Rankin. He is the second of their children, his brother Norman is eight years his senior. His parents were unusual in their Dublin neighborhood as his father was Catholic and his mother was Church of Ireland (Protestant). He walked the fence between the two religions, attending services with his mother and brother and starting his education at The Inkwell (a Protestant school) before transferring to the Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir School. His tenure in the Catholic school was not long as the “precocious, outspoken” [atu2.com] boy acted up once too often and was asked to leave after “throwing dog feces at his Spanish teacher.” [Ibid] He found his feet at a non-denominational, co-ed high school, Mount Temple Comprehensive.
At 14 Paul’s mother died of a brain hemorrhage. Life with his father was difficult.
Despite his father’s attempts to hold the family together, Bono claims that he and Bob Hewson “didn’t get on very well.” As a result, father and son never enjoyed a particularly close relationship. In fact, Bono would later claim that the inarticulate Bob Hewson’s unspoken message to his children was “to dream is to be disappointed.”[Ibid]
Paul rebelled against his father by dreaming big and trying everything.
At Mount Temple “he had a flair for history and art, and became a keen and expert chess player” [Ibid]. It is there that he met his wife to be Alison Stewart, his eventual U2 band mates, Larry Mullen, Dave Evans (aka The Edge), and Adam Clayton, and picked up the name Bono.
At first the group did covers, but then they started to write and perform their own music. Their first album was 1980’s Boy. The LP featured the post-punk Twilight and I Will Follow.
October came out in 1981 and touched on the band’s spiritual side, especially with Gloria, Tomorrow and With a Shout (Jerusalem).
1983’s WAR reached #1 in England and #12 on the US charts. Bono said of the recording: “‘More than any other record, ‘War‘ is right for its time. It is a slap in the face against the snap, crackle and pop. Everyone else is getting more and more style-orientated, more and more slick.” [U2.com Discography] Stand out tracks (on a very strong album) include 40, New Year’s Day, and Sunday Bloody Sunday.
U2’s fourth album, The Unforgettable Fire was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Pride (In the Name of Love), one of the groups biggest hits, came from The Unforgettable Fire.
[As much as I love the bass and drums on the earlier stuff — and I do — the guitar on this one just kills.]
If you STILL haven’t found what you’re looking for… maybe you need to pull out 1987’s The Joshua Tree. [Because, frankly, I’m about to give up being an objective blogger and just gush with fan girl admiration…With OR Without You.] Here’s Where The Streets Have No Name…
Rattle and Hum came out in 1988. It combines covers, new original music and concert recordings of some of their most famous songs. A documentary film directed by Phil Joanou was released at the same time as the album. Here’s All I want is You [My personal favorite U2 song.]
Achtung Baby was the band’s 7th release. It saw a shift to a more industrial rock and electronic dance music. Zooropa (1993) and Pop (1997) followed.
2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind marked a return to a lyric/melody driven style. It boasted successful singles Beautiful Day, Elevation, Walk On and Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.
Bono said of How To Dismantle an Atom Bomb “‘It’s just such a personal record. It may just be our best.'” [Um yeah!] This time Vertigo, All Because of You, Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own, City of Blinding Lights, and Yahweh stood out.
No Line on the Horizon came out in February of 2009 along with the companion film Linear. Get on Your Boots and Magnificent both charted in the US (Boots, with its awesome bass and guitar riffs, was #1 in Ireland) Here’s the band playing Magnificent on Letterman:
Bono is still writing, recording and performing. If you are in the New York area and have a cool $3000 to donate to a good cause you can see him on Monday (May 13) as part of the Robin Hood Foundation Gala at the Javits Center. A more affordable option may be a trip your local movie theatre to see U2-3D, a concert film that comes out May 30th.
I could write another 500 words on Bono’s charitable works, but that would put me over the limit.