Bono, U2, Red and World Aids Day

Bono (Red) Program

Bono (Red) Program

Today is World AIDS Day, a day of particular significance to Bono, whose (RED) brand launched  years ago to help support the Global Fund in their effort to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa. Since its beginning, (RED) has garnered the support of major retailers like Apple, Dell, Starbucks, Gap, and American Eagle (just to name a few).

Around 100,000 are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

Bono visits Washington


Bono will appeal to Democrats and Republicans during a visit to Washington this week to spare U.S. development assistance programs from cuts as Congress tries to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending reductions early next year.

he U2 lead singer's visit comes as the Obama administration and congressional leaders try to forge a deal in coming weeks to avoid the economy hitting the "fiscal cliff" - tax increases and spending cuts worth $600 billion starting in January if Congress does not act.

Analysts say the absence of a deal could shock the United States, the world's biggest economy, back into recession.

Kathy McKiernan, spokeswoman for the ONE Campaign, said Bono will hold talks with congressional lawmakers and senior Obama administration officials during the November 12-14 visit.

During meetings he will stress the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance programs and the need to preserve them to avoid putting at risk progress made in fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, she said.

Bono, a long-time advocate for the poor, will argue that U.S. government-funded schemes that support life-saving treatments for HIV/AIDS sufferers, nutrition programs for malnourished children, and emergency food aid make up just 1 percent of the U.S. government budget but are helping to save tens of millions of lives in impoverished nations.

The One Campaign would not elaborate which lawmakers and senior Obama administration officials Bono will meet.

Barack Obama's One

(RTTNews) - Mary J. Blige performed at Thursday night's Democratic national convention. She performed a cover of U2's classic track "One." She followed this up with her own hit "Family Affair," leading into the song by asking the crowd to "get it crunk for President Obama!" "One" is featured on U2's album Achtung Baby. "Family Affair" appears on Blige's fifth studio effort, No More Drama. Thursday was the final night of the Democratic convention. It closed with President Barack Obama accepting the nomination for another term in the White House. He will face off against Republican nominee Mitt Romney in November.

Bono Greets African Big Brothers

BONO stunned housemates on the African version of Big Brother – when he appeared on video screen to address them. The legendary rocker was beamed to the house live from Dublin, which contains housemates from 14 different African nations.

“This is your Irish rock star fan, Bono. You are my big brothers and little sisters”, he said.

The U2 front man spoke to the housemates about the garden which they have to cultivate over the course of the series, as part of the new campaign being run by his ONE charity.

“I hear you’re growing and farming the future, and that the fruit is the hope and change that we’re all hungry for”, he told them. The star finished up by telling the stunned housemates: “Big love, big respect from Dublin Ireland and everyone in the ONE campaign”. The housemates were elated by the appearance of the Irish rocker. One said: “I feel like I’m a star”. While another added: “This is so surreal, I cannot believe it”.

The African version of big brother is one of the most popular shows on the continent, attracting participants from 14 different countries and being broadcast in 47 countries.

One Looking for Inspiration

One” is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the third track from their 1991 album Achtung Baby, and it was released as the record’s third single in March 1992. It was recorded at three recording studios, Hansa Ton Studios, Elsinore, and Windmill Lane Studios. During the album’s recording, conflict arose between the band members over the direction of U2’s sound and the quality of their material. Tensions almost prompted the band to break up, until guitarist The Edge composed a chord progression that inspired the group to improvise the song, which was written as a ballad. The band worked on the mix for “One” throughout the remainder of the album’s sessions. The lyrics, written by lead singer Bono, describe fracturing interpersonal relationships, but they have been interpreted in other ways.

“One” was released as a benefit single, with proceeds going towards AIDS research. The song reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart and number ten on the Billboard Hot 100, and it topped the US Billboard Album Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts. In promotion of the song, the band had several music videos filmed, although they were not pleased until the third video was created.

The song has since been acclaimed as one of the greatest songs of all time, and it is consistently featured in listener and critic polls. The song has been played by U2 at every one of their tour concerts since the song’s live debut in 1992, and it has appeared in many of the band’s concert films. In a live setting, “One” is often used by the band to promote human rights or social justice causes, and the song lends its namesake to Bono’s charitable organization, the ONE Campaign. In 2006, U2 re-recorded the song as part of a duet with contemporary R&B singer Mary J. Blige.

Looking for some new inspiration, the guys wrapped up their tour, spent several months at home and headed to Berlin in October 1990, flying into town the day Germany officially reunited.

The city was joyous. While the Wall between East and West Berlin was falling down, though, new barriers were being built between U2’s four members. Bono and the Edge wanted to explore new sounds, with hip-hop, Madchester and club music serving as good places to start. Adam Clayton, the only one with any real nightclub experience, told the others they didn’t know the first thing about dance music. Meanwhile, Mullen balked at the drum machines that producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois had pulled into the studio. Wasn’t he supposed to be the band’s percussionist?

With U2’s future in doubt, “One” literally brought the band back together. Working one evening at Hansa Studios – ground zero for David Bowie’s groundbreaking work with Eno in the 1970s – the Edge began composing a bridge for the song that later became “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).” He banged out some minor chords on piano, then came up with a major-key resolution. When he switched over to acoustic guitar and starting playing the sections back-to-back, a new song was born. The other bandmates joined in, with Bono improvising some lyrics inspired by a recent invitation from the Dalai Lama, who’d invited the group to attend a festival called Oneness. Within minutes, the framework for “One” was complete.

On an album filled with irony, sex and self-deprecation, “One” cuts through to the heart of a relationship. Each verse poses new questions – Is it getting better? Did I disappoint you? Have you come here for forgiveness? – without offering any answers in return. Keeping things deliberately vague, Bono lobs his inquiries into thin air, aiming them at his band, his spouse, the Edge’s estranged wife, or maybe even none of the above. The addressees don’t matter. “One” isn’t about love, after all; it’s about resignation.

“The song is a bit twisted,” Bono explained in Neil McCormick’s U2 By U2, “which is why I could never figure out why people want it at their weddings. I have certainly met a hundred people who’ve had it at their weddings. I tell them, ‘Are you mad? It’s about splitting up!’”

But U2 didn’t split up. They tied up some loose ends in Berlin, flew back to Dublin and finished Achtung Baby, which reinvented the band’s sound, image and audience. The God-fearing boys who’d appeared so earnest, so unapologetically self-righteous during the Rattle And Hum days had grown into clever, comfortable men who could laugh at their own success. Bono even began hamming it up onstage in leather jackets and oversized sunglasses, finally embracing the “rockstar” persona that his job afforded. The rest of the band followed suit.

Still, “One” is Achtung Baby’s most vulnerable moment, the human heart that beats between the glitzy, industrial gloss of “Even Better Than The Real Thing” and “Until The End Of The World.” Bono sings the lyrics in a half-broken voice, sounding worn out and dejected until the last 30 seconds, where he flips into a gorgeous falsetto. The Edge, who ended “With Or Without You” with a simple guitar pattern instead of a traditional solo, does the same thing here, chiming his way around Bono’s vocals with ringing, slightly delayed quarter notes. The two parts support one another, perhaps taking their cues from the song’s own words (“We’re one, but we’re not the same / We get to carry each other”).

It may have been cooked up in a frenzied half-hour of inspiration, but “One” has enjoyed a long shelf life. Every U2 concert since 1992 has featured the song. Johnny Cash covered it on 2000’s American III: Solitary Man, and Mary J. Blige scored a hit six years later with her own version, which turned the tune’s fragility into an anthem of unity. Recently, “One” has also been linked to Bono’s work as a social activist, even lending its name to the ONE Campaign.

People tend to attribute U2’s success to an ability to adapt, change and reinvent, often one step ahead of the mainstream. “One” was the group’s first major transformation, the song that blasted through a decade’s worth of self-serious rock and roll and signaled something different. Other transformations followed, including an eventual return to the anthems that kicked off U2’s career. But without “One,” there’d be no Achtung Baby … and without Achtung Baby, there’d be no U2.

U2's Best 15 Songs ?

This months Slate magazine has a story U2 The Paradox, which takes a deeper look into the band and the history behind the band. One the interesting comments was the selection of the best 15 songs. Its seems to be a hit list with all of the songs making the charts. However we are sure that U2 has a deeper list to select from. The question, do you agree with the list or can you remove and add a few more songs that define U2 beyond a hit chart? Post your thoughts and comments on facebook or twitter.

The 15 Best U2 Songs

“With or Without You”


“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

“Pride (In the Name of Love)”

“Sunday Bloody Sunday”

“All I Want Is You”



“Where the Streets Have No Name”

“I Will Follow”

“The Wanderer”

“New Year’s Day”


“Miss Sarajevo”



Bono’s star-studded famine commercial has been banned from airing on U.K. TV – because broadcasting officials fear the clip breaches rules regarding political advertising.

The U2 rocker shot the minute-long advert with a slew of his celebrity pals, including George Clooney, Jessica Alba and Colin Farrell, to raise awareness about the famine crisis sweeping across Eastern Africa.

The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity, which was produced by Bono’s One charity, is aimed at urging government officials to do more to tackle the hunger issue, but the TV commercial has now been taken off the airwaves by bosses at governing body Clearcast amid worries its message could potentially conflict with the terms stated in the 2003 Communications Act.

A Clearcast spokesperson tells BBC News, “These rules ensure that adverts aren’t being broadcast by bodies whose objects are wholly or mainly political.”

“One (charity) appears to be caught by this rule as they state that part of their raison d’etre (reason for existence) is to pressure political leaders. It also appears that a number of the claims made in the version of the ad that we have seen are directed towards a political end, which is again against the rules.”

Amnesty International and U2 Fans

Eric Shivvers Chicago :

When U2 played here in Chicago two nights ago, I was asked to take some pictures of the show and I did. Yeah, I have a great shot of Larry playing his djembe and a couple of the Edge, both of which will make great mementos but as I stood against the rail behind the stage taking in the show, I turned around and observed a group of One campaigners and Amnesty International volunteers lining up to go onstage.  I thought to myself, if Bono Edge, Adam and Larry are the generals of philanthropy and we are the army of followers, then these are the lieutenants. Night in and night out on this tour, local volunteers give up their time to sign up us fans for these causes. Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry know that we are a community of good-hearted people, willing to join a cause they promote. 

As stage crew handed out the props that these good Samaratins were going to walk with onstage, I knew this would be the one photograph that no one else would take. The smiling happy volunteers were excited to go onstage, even if it was just to stand for five minutes or so, representing their great organizations. It didn’t matter that they weren’t going to play along with Edge or sing with Bono. What they were doing was more important. They were speaking to us in silence for those who don’t have a voice. The people they represent are the AIDS patient waiting to die in a hospital in Central Africa or a political prisoner such as Aung San Suu Kyi. Both of whom need these organizations to set justice straight.

I thought it was a little camp the first time I witnessed this on the 360 tour, but after seeing their smiling faces in these pictures, I have greater respect for this spectacle during the show. U2 keeps teaching me something new about the world every time they go out on the road. With these volunteers and our passion for the band, we have made a difference. Aung San Suu Kyi was finally freed from house arrest and 4 million lives were saved from AIDS with anti-retroviral drugs. These two accomplishments came from rock stars that didn’t have to take up these causes, but they did and they made a believer out of me when I joined their army 25+ years ago.   

In closing, these pictures will never grace the entertainment section of the Chicago Tribune, but the opportunity to represent their cause for five minutes onstage will last a lifetime. They will tell their friends and family about standing shoulder to shoulder with U2 on a hot July night in 2011. There may be no photographs of witness to their triumph but that’s okay. They are volunteers who will slip back into their day-today world unrecognized as the rockers they shared the stage with, but recognized, through their passion, as the keepers of the flame, telling us that we can change the world one U2 fan at a time.


ONE Campaign Under Fire

The non-profit ONE campaign, which was co-founded by U2’s Bono, has come under fire over a series of lavish gifts sent to journalists.

The organisation sent items including a $15 moleskin leather notebook and a $20 bottle of water to New York newsrooms.

ONE aims to increase government funding for and effectiveness of international aid programs.

The gifts were timed to arrive ahead of the UN’s Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, which began yesterday (September 20).

According to the New York Post, all of the packages were delivered by courier. Other items included  a small tin of Band-Aids and two syringe-style pens.

A spokeswoman for ONE declined to comment on how much money had been spent on the gifts, but said they were aimed to attract journalists’ attention.

“We think it’s important enough to try and break through the clutter,” she said. “That’s why we sent the boxes.”

Daniel Borochoff, from the the American Institute of Philanthropy in Chicago, said the PR drive as a “risk”.

Bono's Special Video Message

Bono: “Here’s a thought to leave you with: By 2015, we could live in a world where no kids are born with HIV. The first born AIDS-free generation of our lifetime, by 2015. That’s a thought, right? Every day, 1,000 mothers give birth to a child with HIV. And it doesn’t have to be, so sign up to the ONE Campaign, choose RED, support your First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and the Global Fund. They’re here tonight. This is for them. Thank you, you’re our heroes.”


Spin 25 Ranks U2 #1

Achtung Baby is the seventh studio album by rock band U2. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it was released on 19 November 1991 on Island Records. Stung by the criticism of their previous album, Rattle and Hum (1988), U2 shifted their musical direction and incorporated alternative rock, industrial, and electronic dance music influences into their sound.

Thematically, the album was darker, more introspective, and at times more flippant than the band’s previous work. The album and the subsequent multimedia-intensive Zoo TV Tour were central to the group’s 1990s reinvention, as U2 replaced their earnest public image with a more lighthearted and self-deprecating one.

Seeking inspiration on the eve of German reunification, U2 began recording Achtung Baby in Berlin’s Hansa Studios in October 1990.

Conflict arose over their musical direction and the quality of their material. After weeks of tension, arguments, and slow progress, the group made a breakthrough with the improvised writing of the song “One”. They returned to Dublin in 1991, where the majority of recordings were completed. The album title and colourful multi-image sleeve were chosen to confound expectations of the album and the group.

Achtung Baby is one of U2’s most successful albums. It earned favourable reviews and produced the hit singles “One”, “Mysterious Ways”, and “The Fly”. The album has sold 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. One of the most acclaimed albums of the 1990s, Achtung Baby is regularly featured on rankings of the greatest albums of all-time.

To produce the album, U2 employed Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, producers of the band’s albums The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree Lanois was principal producer, with Mark “Flood” Ellis as engineer. Eno took on an assisting producer role, working with the group in the studio for a week at a time to review their work before leaving for a month or two. By distancing himself from the work, he believes he provided the band with a fresh perspective on their material each time he rejoined them. As he explained, “I would deliberately not listen to the stuff in between visits, so I could go in cold [… ]”. The “oblique” strategies of the Lanois-Eno team contrasted with Rattle and Hum producer Jimmy Iovine’s direct and retro style.

Berlin sessions

The band believed that “domesticity [w]as the enemy of rock ‘n’ roll” and that to work on the album, they needed to remove themselves from their normal family-oriented routines. With a “New Europe” emerging at the end of the Cold War, they chose Berlin, in the centre of the reuniting continent, as a source of inspiration for a more European musical aesthetic. They recorded at Hansa Studios in West Berlin, near the recently opened Berlin Wall. Several acclaimed records were made at Hansa, including two from David Bowie and Eno’s “Berlin Trilogy”, and Bowie’s and Iggy Pop’s collaboration, The Idiot. U2 arrived on 3 October 1990 on the last flight into East Berlin on the eve of German reunification. Expecting to be inspired, they instead found Berlin to be “depressing”, “dark and gloomy”. The collapse of the Berlin Wall had resulted in a state of malaise in Germany. The band found their East Berlin hotel “bleak” and the winter “inhospitable”, while the run-down condition of Hansa Studios and its location in a SS ballroom added to the “bad vibe”.

Morale worsened once the sessions commenced, as the band worked long days, but could not agree on a musical direction. The Edge had been listening to electronic dance music and to industrial bands like Einstürzende Neubauten, Nine Inch Nails, the Young Gods, and KMFDM. He and Bono advocated new musical directions along these lines. In contrast, Mullen was listening to classic rock acts such as Blind Faith, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix, and learning how to “play around the beat”.He and Clayton were more comfortable with a sound similar to U2’s previous work and did not understand the proposed new direction. The Edge’s interest in dance club mixes and drum machines made Mullen feel that his contributions as a drummer were being diminished. Lanois was expecting the “textural, emotional, and cinematic”

U2 of the The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree, and he did not understand the “throwaway and trashy things” on which Bono and The Edge were working. Compounding the divisions between the two camps was a change in the band’s long-standing songwriting relationship. Bono and The Edge were working more closely together writing material at the exclusion of the rest of the group.

U2 found that they were “under-rehearsed and under-prepared” and that their ideas were not evolving. For the first time, the group could not find consensus during their disagreements and felt that they were not making progress. Bono and Lanois, in particular, had an argument that almost came to blows during the writing of “Mysterious Ways”. Mullen thought it “might be the end” of U2. Eno visited for a few days, and understanding their attempts to “deconstruct” the band, he assured them that their progress was better than they thought. By adding unusual effects and sounds, he showed that The Edge’s desire for new sonic territory was not incompatible with Mullen’s and Lanois’ desire to retain solid song structures. In December, a breakthrough was achieved with the writing of the song, “One”. The Edge combined two guitar chord progressions, and finding inspiration, the group quickly improvised most of the song. It provided much-needed reassurance for the band and re-validated their long-standing “blank page” approach to writing and recording together.

U2 returned to Dublin for Christmas, where they discussed their future together and all recommitted to the group. They briefly returned to Berlin in January 1991 to finish their Hansa work. Although just two songs were delivered during their two months in Berlin, The Edge said that in retrospect, working there had been more productive and inspirational than the output had suggested. The band had been removed from a familiar environment, providing a certain “texture and cinematic location”, and many of their incomplete ideas would be successfully revisited.

Spin Magazine Article

With the middling reaction to last year’s better-than-you’ll-admit No Line on the Horizon, U2’s chest-heaving big-box spectacle seems to be fatiguing more of pop’s body politic than it’s inspiring. Weirdly, this was exactly the case more than 20 years ago.

After the critical and commercial sweep of Joshua Tree, the Irish conglomerate followed its bombastic muse with the ponderous 1988 docu-fiasco Rattle and Hum, which featured a Bono mot that would haunt many of us for years to come: “Okay, Edge, play the blues!” Flailing and directionless, the band retreated and reconsidered whether it was time to fold up their flag for good.

Instead, three years later they emerged with the album — Achtung Baby, cheekily titled as a nod to German reunification — that would energize their career and genetically engineer rock music into the hybridized mutant we know today. Initially recorded at Hansa Studios, a former SS ballroom near the reopened Berlin Wall (and later completed back home in Dublin), Achtung was an effort, stoked primarily by Bono and the Edge, to “deconstruct” the band and rewire it with jolts of beat-generated clutter and collage, nicked from industrial music, hip-hop, dance remixes, and the Madchester scene. That method almost collapsed the band — bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., as well as coproducer Daniel Lanois, were left bewildered and cranky.

But the frisson found expression in U2’s most immediately dynamic music since 1982’s War, and its most emotionally frank songs to date, capturing that particular early-’90s rub of boundless possibility and worn-down despair. Bono’s lyrical flights had a battered grit, like a defrocked cleric stirred to regain his flock without the usual trick bag of bullshit. “One” became an indelible anthem because it admitted “we’re not the same” but urged that we’ve gotta “carry each other” nonetheless. The squalling swagger of “The Fly” resonated due to the rock star at its center confessing he’s a liar and a thief. And for “Mysterious Ways,” the Edge somehow concocted a jubilantly snarling riff that transformed Bono’s gospel come-on so it didn’t feel gross the morning after.

Unlike Radiohead with OK Computer and Kid A, U2 took their post-industrial, trad-rock disillusionment not as a symbol of overall cultural malaise, but as a challenge to buck up and transcend. Their confessions of frailty and blindness amid murky atmospherics (no doubt egged on by coproducer Brian Eno) had an air of cleansing rather than whining. That the album trails off introspectively is brave in its own quiet way.

Though they continued to bumble through periods of bloat and self-delusion and irrelevance, U2 became the emblematic band of the alternative-rock era with Achtung Baby. Struggling to simultaneously embrace and blow up the world, they were never more inspirational. — Charles Aaron

Achtung Baby has sold 18 million copies, including eight million copies in the US. It is the group’s second-highest selling album after The Joshua Tree, which has sold 25 million copies. The success of Achtung Baby prefigured the group’s continued musical experimentation during the 1990s. Zooropa, released in 1993, was a further departure for the band, incorporating additional dance music influences and electronic effects into their sound.

In 1995, U2 and Brian Eno collaborated on the experimental/ambient album Original Soundtracks 1 under the pseudonym “Passengers”. For Pop in 1997, the group’s experiences with dance club culture and their usage of tape loops, programming, rhythm sequencing, and sampling resulted in their most dance-oriented album.

U2 Song "One" Modern Art

New York, NY, March 20, 2010 —(— cNoteART is pleased to announce the introduction of its cNOTE (100) SERIES. U2’s “One” is one of only six songs featured in this premium, fine art collection. The other songs are Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

“U2’s artistic and commercial success is only matched by its altruistic achievements,” Erik Rosen, Founder of cNoteART, said. “ Their song, ‘One,’ reflects their multifaceted success. It is one of the Band’s most admired songs and a certifiable commercial success. The band also uses the song in concert to promote human rights causes and the ONE Campaign is the name of Bono’s charitable organization.”

- Acid Free, Archival, Museum Quality Materials
- Hand Signed and Numbered
- Limited to 100 Collector Prints
- Size: 11” x 14”


The Gospel According to U2

Image by Dave Long 2009 U2 360 Tour Tampa Florida We had talked about starting a U2 book Club. We thought we would select the first book and see if we have an interest. We will have a link for threading the conversation. If you don’t have a copy of our first selection you can pick up a copy via the enclosed link.

We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2 (Gospel According to U2)

The title of Greg Garrett’s book about the spiritual side of Bono and U2 proclaims his central argument from the front cover. The book is called We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2.

Do you know those famous words?

Rolling Stone ranks “One” (the song in which this line appears) as No. 36 among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was released way back in the early 1990s, when the band was at a crossroads and nearly broke up. Depending on your age, you might recall the more recent Mary J. Blige version of the song, which also was a hit.

The words that end the song — which prompt men and women around the world to “sing along” — are:

One love, one blood, one life. 
You got to do what you should. 
One life with each other: sisters, brothers. 
One life, but we’re not the same. 
We get to carry each other. 
Carry each other. 
One, one.

And, in singing along, we’re essentially joining in a global hymn, Greg argues. He writes, “The meaning of life, U2 ultimately reminds us, is not in how much gold you pile up, how many mansions you build, how many people you can order around, or even how loudly and devoutly you pray and proclaim your salvation. It is in what we get to do for each other. 
“This is U2’s faithful message to the world.”
 Did you catch that key phrase, “get to,” in the lyrics and in Greg’s book? That phrase means that it’s one of life’s great privileges that we get to help each other. Wow! That’s a sermon that’ll snap your head around, if you stop to listen to the lyrics!

Our spiritual mission doesn’t lie in graciously deciding that we’ll donate a little bit of money or expend a little effort on behalf of the needy — when it’s convenient for us. No. The orientation here is waking up in the morning and feeling thankful that we get to help out wherever we can.


DAVID: We’ve told readers about your work before, Greg — especially your earlier book on the spiritual lessons of comic book super heroes. You’re always drawing creative connections between spirituality and popular culture. Tell us what you do for a living - beyond writing books.

GREG: I am professor of English at Baylor University and I’m writer in residence at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin and I’m a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church. Mostly, I’m known as a writer and a teacher.

DAVID: We should explain to readers that, in addition to attending U2 concerts and following the band’s work over the years — you once had an opportunity to sit down with these guys and interview them.

GREG: I did. It was back in the days when I was a rock journalist. I interviewed them after they had recorded their second album.

DAVID: These guys are not card-carrying members of any particular religious group, are they? They’re not regularly practicing Catholics, for example.

GREG: No, they absolutely are not. The interesting thing for many of your readers is that they have been people of faith — but outside of almost any organized religious tradition for more than 30 years. 
They grew up in Ireland and saw the people of Ireland blowing each other up over divisions of faith. They’ve felt they could live out their lives of faith more authentically outside of any organized tradition. Three of the four members would think of themselves as Christian but they have not been part of a formal Christian organization for more than 30 years. They seem to be very much in tune with various faith and wisdom traditions, though. They have worked with the Dalai Lama and with Jewish leaders and many others — so it’s a very ecumenical understanding they have about how we are called to be the face of change for the world.

We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2 (Gospel According to U2)

DAVID: In a way, they’re a voice for the “Nones” — the growing ranks of Americans who answer with the word, “None,” when pollsters ask them for their “religious affiliation.”

GREG: Yes, Brian McLaren talks about them in this way. In a very real sense, they model new ways of being a faith community. The have a very clear sense of mission — we are called together to help people. And, as they work out this mission, they seem to be modeling a new way to be people of faith.

DAVID: Why are they so enduring in their popularity?

GREG: Not only are they a band with incredible longevity, so they have lots of sales and awards and fans who follow them, but they’re also a band that continually reinvents itself and keeps itself relevant. The new album, No Line on the Horizon, has new sounds and ideas. 
I don’t want to criticize other bands by name, but people know which bands only go back to work when they need more money. U2 was freed from that necessity very early in their career because of some smart business decisions they made. They’re free from having to worry about making more money. So, in an album like No Line on the Horizon, there are elements of their past albums — but you also hear some new Eastern stuff that comes from recording in Morocco. It’s recognizable as U2, but they’re still exploring new music. They’re not resting on their laurels.

DAVID: They started out with some concerns very close to home, but they’ve become world citizens. That’s a pretty surprising transition for four guys from Dublin.

We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2 (Gospel According to U2)

GREG: The four did grow up in Dublin. Ireland was what they knew. But they soon had some powerful experiences of the world. 
Particularly, Bono traveled to Central America and Africa. In Ethiopia, he had a father hand him a starving child and tell him: “Take him home with you, please. If he stays here, he will die.” That’s powerful stuff. 
Their consciousness expanded so greatly that they came to see the whole world needs help — not just the people in Ireland.

DAVID: Is this spiritual mission we’re talking an effort by the entire U2 band? Or is this really Bono we’re talking about in terms of these spiritual commitments?

GREG: That’s a cool question and difficult to answer. From years of following U2 and from my research for this new book, I would say: Bono is the point person, but he is representing the band in concerns they share. 
When we look at the benefit concerts they do — or the benefit tour they did for Amnesty International — you can see this is a thrust they’re making together. It’s like they’re part of a family and they make these efforts together. 
 Here in America recently, the guitar player The Edge partnered with Gibson guitars to help get instruments back into the hands of musicians along the Gulf Coast who lost their instruments in the big hurricane. So, the whole band obviously cares about these issues.

DAVID: With so much music released over the years, what albums would you suggest that newcomers pick up to familiarize themselves with U2?

GREG: The obvious and perhaps the easiest answer is to get one of the Best Of albums. If you listen to some of the music from early to mid career, a lot of people will say: “Ohhh, that song is by U2?”
 Another good first choice is All That You Can’t Leave Behind. This is the album that came out in October of 2001.

DAVID: Rolling Stone called it the band’s “third masterpiece.” Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby were the first two in Rolling Stone’s list.

GREG: This is the album associated with many of the things we were dealing with after 9/11. Then, early the following year, they performed at the Super Bowl. So that album is a good choice. 
But I also recommend the new album, No Line on the Horizon, because it’s as intentionally spiritual as anything they’ve ever written.

DAVID: In Part 1 of this U2 story, we shared some of the words from a song on that new album, “Cedars of Lebanon.” The song warns people to “choose your enemies carefully, ‘cause they will define you.”

We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2 (Gospel According to U2)

GREG: Yes, they’re warning that we can be defined by our hatred. The album has allusions to the Middle East adventures of Great Britain and America. 
U2 has been standing up against practices like torture and rendition that are just now coming to light more fully. In a very real sense, they’re saying that your enemies will define you. You’ve got to be cautious about how you combat evil — because it can make you evil yourself.

DAVID: They seem to be stepping into the classic tradition of the ancient Hebrew prophets — these courageous figures who stood up to powerful figures and called for justice and a return to basic religious values.

GREG: One of the sections of my book deals with the tradition of prophetic voices and I take a look at the idea of “prophetic” as not referring to “predicting the future,” which is a definition a lot of people know from popular culture, but “prophetic voice” as a phrase really describing someone who speaks truth to power. For Bono and U2, this isn’t about religious propositions or orthodoxy — it’s about deep spiritual truths like standing in solidarity with the poor. Bono describes what he is doing now as serving as a lobbyist for the poor.

DAVID: You’ve traveled widely, Greg. You’ve heard many of the world’s great preachers — yet your book explains that you’ve been profoundly moved, over many years, by the spiritual messages preached by this rock band.

GREG: I wrote this book because I do have a profound personal connection with the band. And it’s not just that I sat down with them for an interview 27 years ago. It’s because their music and their lives have shown up in my life over and over again. 
 All the work I have done in writing and teaching about religion and culture has grown out of this kind of experience. 
U2 is one way that many people feel God moving in their lives. For so many people, they don’t feel it in organized religion but in experiences like turning on the radio and hearing a song they desperately needed to hear at that moment. I have a passion for this particular book and this group — because these musicians have set out on an authentic spiritual quest and have told the world about it honestly. 
They are reaching out to millions through their music — letting us know we are not alone in our journeys.

This article was originally published at Read The Spirit.

We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2 (Gospel According to U2)

Bono and Geldof laud Queen's speech

Bono He may have been showered with accusations of electioneering from opposition parties and a mixed bag of reactions from the unions, but Gordon Brown managed to get the thumbs up from Bono and Bob Geldof for including a “wonderful thing” in his last batch of bills before the general election – the enshrinement in law of a funding promise to the world’s poorest people.

International aid campaigners welcomed the prime minister’s decision to include in his legislative agenda the international development spending draft bill, which will put the government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on development from 2013 on to the statute books.

But opposition parties accused the prime minister of watering down a promise to enshrine the commitment in law by reducing the bill to draft status only.

Bono, the lead singer of U2 and co-founder of the campaign group One, hailed the decision and urged parliament to ensure the bill is pushed through.

“The proposal to make the 0.7% pledge legally binding is not just a great announcement, it is transformative of real lives, by a government that has led the world in keeping its promises to the world’s poorest people,” Bono said. “The next step is making sure this becomes law as soon as possible, in 2010.”

Bob GeldofFellow One campaigner Geldof said the legislation could be “a rare but wonderful thing” if political parties allow the bill to go through.

“The gains African countries have made over the past decade are under threat from two crises not of their making: global recession and climate change. It’s good to see the British government taking steps to mitigate the impacts of these predicaments, which is why it is important that this legislation is enacted sooner rather than later.”

In principle such a bill should have little problem being pushed through as the Conservative party has also pledged to meet the UN target of 0.7% of national income spent on international aid, though a spokesman for Douglas Alexander, the international development secretary, claimed that the Tories would not back the draft bill.

“Andrew Mitchell has repeatedly refused to back legislation to enshrine our commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on international development from 2013,” he said. “Only Labour has committed to legislate for this promise.”

However, a spokesman for the Tories said the party “would support a bill on 0.7% but clearly the government have stopped well short of doing this themselves”.

The Liberal Democrats pointed to the bill’s draft status, which reduces its chances of becoming law in this session.

Michael Moore, the Lib Dems’ spokesman for international development, accused Brown of stepping back from a promise made at the Labour conference in September to push this piece of legislation through.

“Gordon Brown made a firm commitment to enshrine the 0.7% target for aid spending in statute, but just seven weeks on he has abandoned that promise,” Moore said.

“With a general election only months away, and the Tories’ commitment to development issues far from certain, this Queen’s speech is nothing but another broken promise to the world’s poorest people.”


One Series IV: Fans Feel One

The song has since become regarded as one of the greatest songs of all-time. It was ranked #36 in Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, the highest ranked U2 song. The track was also voted #1 on Q’s “1001 Best Songs Ever” list, VH1 ranked the song #2 in its list of “Greatest Songs of the 90s”, and voters in an April 2006 poll on VH1 named the song as having Britain’s number one lyric – “One life, with each other, sisters, brothers”. The song is currently ranked as the 94th greatest song of all-time, as well as the fourth best song of 1991, by Acclaimed Music. A listener’s poll conducted by the popular Israeli radio station Galgalatz ranked “One” as the best song of the 1990s.

Performed Live

Since its first live appearance in 1992, the song has been played at every concert of U2’s subsequent tours. It has also been played at several benefit concerts, including the 1995 Pavarotti and Friends concert in Modena, the 1997 Tibetan Freedom Concert in New York, the 2003 46664 concert, at Live 8 in 2005, and with Mary J. Blige on Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast. The song took on an even more emotional meaning at a Popmart Tour show at Mexico City in 1997, as featured on PopMart: Live from Mexico City, where the tearful rendition was dedicated to the late Michael Hutchence of INXS. Live performances of the song are also depicted on the concert films Zoo TV: Live from Sydney, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, Vertigo 2005: Live from Chicago and U2 3D. Until the second leg of the U2 360 Tour, One was played live in the key of A flat minor, while the recorded version is played a semitone higher.

Mary J Blige:

After being invited to join the group on-stage at a New York concert in 2005, Mary J. Blige performed the track with U2 and received a standing ovation. A recording of the song was later created, with Blige on lead vocals, Bono supplying additional vocals, and the band performing the music. This recording was featured on Mary J. Blige’s multi-platinum album The Breakthrough, released in late 2005. It was released as the album’s second international single in April 2006, having already been featured heavily on BBC Radio 1’s playlist, and it has been a staple record on Capital FM’s playlist since late January 2006. In May 2006, Blige performed the song at the finale of American Idol with finalist Elliott Yamin, ahead of its full release to American radio. It was also used by Fox for its end-of-season montage after game five of the 2006 World Series.

On December 31, 2006, “One” was announced by BBC Radio 1 to be the thirty-fifth highest-selling single of 2006 in the UK. It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in December 2006.

Did you know this?

In late 2006, a Bank of America employee sang “One” with lyrics modified to refer to the Bank of America and MBNA merger. The video subsequently became an Internet phenomenon. Universal Music Group, the copyright owner of the song, posted a cease and desist letter directed at Bank of America in the comments section of Stereogum, one of the blogs that posted the video.