Today we’re fortunate enough to have an interview with Bono, the lead singer of U2. Of course, Bono is world famous for singing songs like “Where the Streets Have No Name”, “Desire”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, and too many other songs to mention.
These days Bono is as famous for his efforts to fight world poverty as he is for his singing. He’s recently met with everyone from Kofi Annan, to Jessie Helms, to even George W. Bush. So how did a rock star become perhaps the world’s foremost champion of the poor? That’s what RWN wanted to find out….
John Hawkins: So Bono, what first prompted you to speak out about conditions in the Third World?
Bono: Well I was watching TV with my guitarist Edge one night and this show about Africa came on. There was this little bag of bones on there, sitting in a creek, covered with flies, looking like he was about to keel over from hunger. So I asked Edge “Why doesn’t someone give that kid a turkey sandwich?” But Edge told me there were no turkey sandwiches in Africa. But I couldn’t understand how that could be?
John Hawkins: How it could be that there were no sandwiches in Africa? OK, so then what?
Bono: We had concert that night and about midway through someone threw a shoe and hit Edge in the head. Well he stormed off stage to get his nose looked at. I waved at him and asked what was going on and he said to “give him 5″. So I had to kill 5 minutes and I started ranting about poverty. I was like “Why can’t the little children in Africa get their sandwiches? Maybe they can’t get turkey sandwiches, but they should be able to get zebra sandwiches….lion sandwiches…snake sandwiches…I want sandwiches for all the children in Africa.” Then crowd just went crazy! They chanted my name until Edge came back on stage. Then we finished the concert.
John Hawkins: So that’s what inspired you?
Bono: Actually it wasn’t then. The next day the local paper had a big front page spread on the concert with the headline “U2 fights against poverty at concert.”
John Hawkins: Uh, so that inspired you to start fighting poverty regularly?
Bono: No, no, it was that night. Edge and I had a couple of prostitutes up to our hotel rooms. This one looked at me and went “You’re the guy who wants to fight poverty right? That’s so sweet, I’m going to give you the f*** of your life.” That was when I knew I was on to something. So from then on out I started talking about global poverty at all my concerts.
John Hawkins: So a HOOKER got you started talking about poverty?
Bono: That and a vision from God.
John Hawkins: Woah?!? A vision from God?!?
Bono: Yes. Strangely enough God spoke to me right after Edge and I drank 3 bottles of whiskey each. That night God told me “fight for the poor people in Africa. In Zimbabwe, Nigeria, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil or wherever it was in Africa that those poor people didn’t have the money to buy our records. He also told me to nail all the furniture in the hotel room to the ceiling which I did as well with Edge’s help. That hotel bill cost me over $4000 but what can you do when God gets involved you know?
John Hawkins: Right, I suppose so. Well how did you get involved with world leaders like Kofi Annan and Jessie Helms?
Bono: Well that Kofi Annan is a funny story. I’m talking about these poor people at my concerts and one day I get this call. Edge picks up the phone and yells over to me
“It’s Kofi Annan on the phone for you.”
I was like “who the Hell is that? Is that the guy that drives the tour bus?”
Then Edge tells me “No, he runs the UN.”
So of course, I have no idea what the “UN” is. I’m thinking he’s left some letters off or something but eventually I talk to him and he explains that he means the “United Nations.” At first I thought the “United Nations” was like a subsidiary of RCA or Geffen records but he explained a little more about it and invited me to do a speech in front of the whole UN about poverty.
John Hawkins: Wow, not many people get that type of opportunity.
Bono: You’re right but one problem. I didn’t know anything about poverty at the time, heck I still don’t. So I had no idea what to talk about. But Edge came to the rescue. He just copied a lot of terms out of an old economics textbook and told me to mix it in with our song lyrics and no one would know the difference. He was right too. I think it’s because most of the people at the UN don’t speak English….
John Hawkins: How could you possibly pull something like that off?
Bono: I wondered that at first but it’s rather easy once you start doing it a few times. Here let me give you an example “So in order to help Africa help itself, we must look to economic indicators, reduce the debt compilation, and work to make socio-economic factors favor the poor instead of hurting them. When that happens, the streets will truly have no names.”
John Hawkins: I have no idea what you just said.
Bono: Oh no one does. But no diplomat wants to look stupid compared to a rock star. So they all just nod knowingly like they understood what I said, tell me they really appreciate my work for the poor, and then have their pictures taken with me so they can try to convince the people where they live they’re not really stuffy old farts. I’ve been all over the world and it works the same everywhere.
John Hawkins: Speaking of older politicians, how did you meet Jessie Helms?
Bono: Jessie Helms (shivers). He’s a nice man but he’s also dreadful and old. Please don’t mention him again or I’ll have nightmares.
John Hawkins: OK, what about George Bush then?
Bono: He’s a very nice man and he’s quite a politician! To be the American president in 1988, lose in 1992 and then come back and win in 2000 was quite the feat.
John Hawkins: He’s actually not the same…
Bono: Oh but I do have scary story about him though. I’m getting ready to meet the American president and I’m asking Edge what I should say. Well Edge is quite the prankster so he gave me a bag of pretzels and told me that I should offer him one. So I do, and he looks p*ssed! Some of those men who protect the president, uh “secret seals”, “space marines”, oh what do you call them? Oh…
John Hawkins: The Secret Service?
Bono: Yes that’s it. Some of them started coming over! Later I found out that a terrorist tried to kill President Bush with a pretzel or something and that’s why he was so uptight but how was I to know?
John Hawkins: Uh, that is quite the story..
Bono: Well John I hate to run, but I have to meet Edge up in the hotel room. We’re planning to get drunk and throw all our furniture out of the window into the pool. I hope you have enough information for your high school paper or pamphlet or whatever it is you write.
John Hawkins: I certainly do. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Bono: Yes there is. There are people out there who need our help. Desperately poor people. People who are forced to watch 18 inch tvs, who have old cars, who don’t even have the luxury of eating sandwiches. Who is looking out for their quasi-GNP couplings? Who is asking if there anti-misery index ratios are within an 80% scale? Who is making them sandwiches? It’ll only be a “Beautiful Day” with your help because we can’t do it “With Or Without You.” Fight poverty everywhere! And buy our new album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind!” I love you all!
Just in case you didn’t notice that this was in the humor section, this is of course, satire.