After years of perusing the music sections of various bookstores and letting my eyes pass over the shocking bold KILLING BONO spine screaming from the shelves, I finally gave in and bought the damn book. See, I’m a sucker for a good rock bio, but I have mixed feelings about U2. Well, maybe not about U2, but, more specifically, about Bono. I like U2′s music – their old music and some of their newer music. But there was a period in there where they totally lost me. If you’re a music fan, you can probably guess where that was, and if you’re not a music fan, you probably don’t care, so I’ll just get to the Bono thing.
Bono is a musician. A very good showman. He is an entertainer and there is no arguing that there is a certain amount of power he holds over his audience. My problem with Bono is what he does with all that power. Saving the world is all well and good, but is it really his place to be meeting with world leaders and telling them to cancel debts? I always had a problem with Bono and his political agenda. I became really upset after the last time I saw them live, in 2005, on their Elevation tour, when Bono walked around stage blindfolded, parading around as a prisoner of war or something… but, KILLING BONO gave me a better understanding of what this guy is all about.
KILLING BONO is supposed to be Neil McCormick’s own story of trying to make it in the music business after having grown up in Bono’s shadow. Writers, you may be surprised to know that musicians go through a lot of the same things we go through, only instead of manuscripts they send out demos, and we all get the same frustrating rejections — read this book, you’ll be surprised by the parallels! Anyway, in the course of telling his own story, McCormick reveals details regarding Bono’s religious background, giving clues about his following a bigger agenda than I ever expected. And, so, I learned that Bono may not be suffering from horrible ego issues at all, but actually thinking he is doing things for the good of humanity. Indeed, his ONE organization certainly makes a real difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. I wonder if he knows his music makes a difference — for me, it was his song “Beautiful Day” that made the biggest difference; my first daughter would not sleep without listening to it for a period of time when she was about a year old. Some of the longest and most memorable nights of my life were spent holding her in front of the TV watching that video over and over until she fell asleep.
But, I digress. McCormick’s book is an interesting account of a wannabe musician in Ireland who had the “misfortune” of growing up with a boy named Paul Hewson. His recollection of childhood events stretches the imagination a bit, though in the epilogue, he claims there are letters, recordings, family, friends, and other sources of information that jogged his memory. (I always wonder how people remember long-ago periods of time with such clarity. Amazing.) I took away a better understanding of Bono’s “agenda,” more questions about my own faith, and a new insight into the career of a “rock critic.” This was one of my favorite reads this year so far. Recommended even if you’re not into U2. You can find the book here http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Bono-Was-Bonos-Doppelganger/dp/0743482484
Bono’s organization, ONE, takes on extreme poverty http://www.one.org/international/
You can follow Neil McCormick on Twitter @neil_mccormick
Follow ONE on Twitter @ONECampaign