Bono Memoir ‘Surrender’: Best U2 Stories


Photo: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Abandonment gives an instructive title to Bono’s memoir. There’s a lot to let go of in this book, the first from lead singer of arena rock giants U2. It’s over 550 pages; the prose goes from deep to clunky; there are prolonged diversions from U2 to talk about his family and his political work; passages praise personalities such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates; and, to top it off, the chapters come with 40 charming, lo-fi sketches. Of course, Bono has earned the right to write his memoirs however he sees fit – he’s one of rock’s finest singers and songwriters and has lived a full life. But if you’re not ready to take that leap of faith, don’t worry: we’ve got what you’re looking for with 13 of the best U2 stories Bono reveals in his memoir.

U2 faked their first audition with a Ramones song.
Abandonment explains early on that Bono had that bravado from the early days of U2. An example: the band’s first audition, for a children’s TV show called Young Linein 1978. U2 had original songs at the time, but the band had argued over what to play – so when the producer asked for an original song, Bono passed off “the Ramones song not very but famous enough ‘Glad to see you go'” as a U2 cut. The band made their debut on the show, where they performed “Street Mission”, one of their first songs. “No one noticed “, writes Bono. “Another miracle attributable to Joey Ramone.

Bono wanted John Lennon to produce Boy before he dies.
Speaking of trust, how is it going? Bono had written a letter to Lennon in 1979, months before his assassination, asking him to produce the band’s first album, Boy. “We had written a song called ‘The Dream Is Over’ triggered by his throwaway explanation for the demise of the Fab Four. Now, as our dream began, the Beatles dream was over,” Bono explains. 1980s Boy began U2’s first partnership with Steve Lillywhite, who also produced the next two albums, October and War.

The Edge thought God wanted him out of U2 – but their manager said he didn’t.
U2’s struggles to reconcile their Christian faith with their rock star life, particularly in the early years, have been well documented. But Abandonment highlights when their guitarist, The Edge, felt God was calling him to leave the band before the 1981 release of October. Bono decided he wouldn’t stay in the band without Edge, but what ultimately kept them together was a quick-witted response from their longtime manager, Paul McGuinness (an atheist). Here’s how Bono tells it:

We went to see Paul, who listened to us. There was a pause, the room quieted down, and then Paul spoke.

“Do I take it that you spoke with God? He asked.

“We think it’s God’s will,” we sincerely replied.

“So you can just call God?”

“Yes,” we intoned.

“Well, maybe next time you’ll ask God if it’s okay for your representative on earth to break a legal contract?”

” I beg your pardon ? »

“Do you think God would want you to break a legal contract? A contract that I signed, on your behalf, a legal contract for you to go on tour? How is it possible that your God wants you to break the law and not fulfill your responsibilities to do this tour?

What kind of God is this?

Good point. God is unlikely to make us break the law.

Edge agrees and maintains that he was still looking for some sort of signifier to carry on.

Brian Eno won’t talk about “riffs” — but will talk about sex.
Studio whiz Brian Eno was initially skeptical of working with U2 and, claims Bono, said he hadn’t heard the band’s music until Bono asked him to produce material from 1984. The unforgettable fire. Eno was finally convinced when Bono agreed to attempt “an album without minor chords”. In the studio, writes Bono, Eno had a particular way of talking about music. “Brian abhorred ‘muso’ speech,” he wrote. He called the riffs “figures” and preferred the term “sounds” to sound. As for what he had no problem discussing? “Brian liked to talk about sex, not in just any locker room – which we thought was uncool – but in a scientific way,” Bono continues. This dirty boy would go on to make an immaculate masterpiece of Joshua tree in 1987 and continued to work with U2 through the 2009 album No line on the horizon.

Jimmy Iovine dissuaded U2 from using “Where the Streets Have No Name” in this car ad.

Another story Bono tells is that the band received a $23 million offer from an automaker seeking to use “Where the Streets Have No Name” in a commercial circa 2000. He turned down the offer – on the advice of Interscope co-founder Jimmy Iovine, of all people, he writes. Bono remembers Iovine saying, “You can take the deal. But you just have to be prepared for that moment where you say “God crosses the room” instead being known as “Oh, they’re running that car ad.”

Flood once convinced U2 to perform a nude studio session.
A producer using unconventional methods is nothing new. But that’s still very much the case: Bono remembers Flood, one of the band’s main producers, one day suggesting that they record a nude session “to inject lightness into the moment.” The band (and production crew!) played with nothing but duct tape over their “bits and pieces” – “All in the cause of the art, y’know,” Bono writes.

Bono considers “Mysterious Ways” the band’s “sexiest” song.

And he attributes the sound to Edge’s fascination with funk and dance music. “These new demos had the joy we were looking for in our music but with a funkier background,” Bono wrote. As for her favorite single? “Vertigo”, “even if it’s far from being a pop song.”

Jeff Koons almost designed the cover of Popular.
For U2’s controversial 1997 album, the band took inspiration from Andy Warhol and tried to work with an artist they saw riffing on his Pop Art, Jeff Koons. “I loved his boldness and biting humor,” Bono writes. When they met Koons, he spoke “in precise, academic tones” as he introduced the band to his concept for the album cover: four kittens in socks hanging from a clothesline to represent each band member. “We wait for him to laugh. The signal we could,” Bono writes. calls “brilliant”.

Iovine did not like PopularThat is.
U2 have expressed their disappointment with their ninth album. And they weren’t the only ones. “Jimmy Iovine corners us; he says the moment an artist changes is the moment they stop putting recording first,” Bono wrote of a harsh reviewer. “He was thinking Popular might be the most expensive demo set in music history. The demo did not work.

U2’s ‘Ordinary Love’ acoustic performance at the Oscars was “last minute” – and controversial.

When U2 returned to the Oscars for their second nomination, for the song ‘Ordinary Love’ from the Nelson Mandela biopic long walk to freedom, they worked for weeks to plan a performance the size of U2. Then, Bono writes, they changed their minds “at the last minute”, opting instead to do the song acoustically. (This performance is not available on YouTube, but there is a similar one on The show tonight.) “Among the world’s most popular awards show marching band and parade, maybe we could poke the showbiz bubble and create a more meditative moment,” he reasons. Bono calls the performance his “favorite version” of the song, but not everyone agreed. “A producer thought not and launched a ‘You’ll never work in this town again!’ on us,” he wrote. “After all this time, it was quite nice to hear one of those lines.”

Bono was playing Barack Obama’s new U2 songs.
Bono’s background in the rock world would help him achieve success in politics in his second career as an AIDS advocate. (He might be the only person to link up with famed curator John Kasich on Radiohead, he reveals in Abandonment.) After meeting Barack Obama as a senator, Bono befriended him during his time in the White House – even playing him mixes of new U2 songs (to lobby for him to be included in his playlists, surely). “I was taken by his intellectual curiosity about how the music was composed,” Bono writes.

McGuinness made a perfect comeback when he heard Bono was courting Guy Oseary as the new manager.
McGuinness quit working with U2 in 2013, but not without some final blows to the band. When Bono told McGuinness that Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary was open to working with U2, he responded in characteristic fashion. “Would Guy Oseary understand that you can’t manage U2 on a BlackBerry?” he said, by Bono. “That managing you four is not managing Madonna. That he manages four Madonnas. Since then, Oseary has managed five Madonnas – U2 and the woman herself – after Live Nation acquired both her company, Maverick, and U2’s management company, Principle Management.

And yes, Bono takes “full responsibility” for giving you this album against your will.
Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for: Years after releasing an iPod with Apple, U2 returned to the business with the idea of ​​distributing their 2014 album, songs of innocence, on every Apple device for free. “What is the worst that can happen? Bono remembers thinking, comparing the album to a bottle of milk the band left at Apple users’ doorsteps. “On September 9, 2014, we not only put our bottle of milk on the doorstep, but in every refrigerator in every house in town,” he wrote. “In some cases, we poured it over good people’s cornflakes. And some people like to pour their own milk. And others are lactose intolerant. Bono says he takes “full responsibility” for the stunt, not the rest of the band, Oseary, or Apple CEO Tim Cook (who, he notes, “never blinked an eye when it was poorly received). “The part of me that will always be punk rock thought that was exactly what The Clash would do. Subversive,” he wrote. largest in the world.”


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