It’s funny how much my opinion of an artist’s character influences my perception of their art. If I discover that some artist that I’m getting into is a woman-beater, for instance, or a meth addict, it really detracts from my enjoyment of their artistic output. I wrote recently about how I feel a kinship with Bono, and I’ve been thinking about that recently, and about the perception which the public seems to hold that he’s arrogant and self-righteous. I’ve never gotten where those perceptions came from, but I’ve found that people tend to view me the same way.
The truth is that I’m dreadfully insecure and unsure of myself. Based on my observation of last 30 years (give or take) of his public life – music, interviews, public behavior, etc – I think that Bono is the same way. What people perceive as arrogance is the result of the fact that he holds himself to a strict code of personal behavior.
He doesn’t have any interest in living up to the classic rock star cliche of self destruction. He likes to have a good time, sure, but I think that he tries to do so without it ever coming at the expense of others. He loves his family and tries to do right by them, even though it isn’t always easy – selfishness is much easier than loyalty, after all – and he’s got some things figured out that a lot of the world are struggling with. Pretty high on that list seems to be that it doesn’t hurt to try to be kind.
I can attest to Bono’s kindness personally, as I’m sure that a lot of you can, too. The most private and personal interaction that I’ve ever had with Bono came when I was in a place that I had no business being in at a time that was inconvenient and intrusive for everyone else involved. He had every right to, at best, ignore me, and at worst, tell me to screw off. Instead, he was patient and friendly, solicitous, even. He asked me if I’d like a photo, then put his arm around me and snapped a pic that’s still one of my most prized possessions.
To be honest, as much as I love U2’s music, if he’d been a jerk to me, it would have probably lessened my ability to enjoy their art. Instead, he lived up to every expectation and hope that I had, even the most ridiculous ones, and earned my lifelong support and adoration, just by being a good guy. Scratch that – make it a great guy.
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