Thursday 29 June 2017

'I inspired pal Bono to strive for perfection,' says Jay-Z

Beyonce with husband Jay-Z and Bono
Beyonce with husband Jay-Z and Bono
Bono and Jay-Z perform at a concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 2009

John Spain Books Editor

HE has been a global star for nearly 30 years, but even Bono feels under pressure to deliver, according to fellow pop sensation Jay-Z.

An unlikely friendship between the rapper from a housing project in Brooklyn, and the rocker from Ballymun, has led to them sharing stories about the impact of mega fame on their lives.

And Jay-Z, who has sold 50 million albums and is worth around €500m, inspired Bono to return to the studio in a bid to perfect the songs that became 'No Line On the Horizon'.

In his autobiography 'Decoded', the rapper remembers how he was asked by a journalist about the forthcoming U2 album.

"I said something about the kind of pressure a group like that must be under just to meet their own standard.

"Bono (later) told me that my quote had really gotten to him. In fact, he said it got him a little anxious.

"He decided to go back to the studio, even though the album was already done, and keep reworking it 'til he thought it was as good as it could possibly be.

"I really wasn't trying to make him nervous with that quote -- and I was surprised to find out that at this point in his career he still got anxious about his work.

"What I thought I was doing was expressing sympathy. Here he is, Bono, star, master musician, world diplomat, philanthropist, all of that."

The two musicians first became friends some years ago when they spent a night together in the company of legendary producer Quincy Jones in the cigar room of a bar in London.

"I'd spent most of the night quizzing Quincy about 'Thriller', the greatest album ever made," Jay-Z wrote in his book.

Humble

"Bono was beaming and laughing the whole time. I liked him right away. I knew who he was, of course, as a musician and philanthropist and human rights activist.

"I knew U2's hits like everyone else on the planet, but I was completely unprepared for what a genuine, humble and open person he is.

"Bono's got such a pure soul and positive energy -- his eyes almost literally light up and dance when he's excited. He's one of those people who always seem hungry -- for new information and experiences, and then impatiently generous to share the things he's consumed."

In the book, Jay-Z said that after Mr Jones had talked for more than an hour, Bono pulled out a song U2 had recorded earlier in the day.

"I was travelling with one of those boomboxes that are built into backpacks.

"At three in the morning in that cigar room Bono played his new song for us on that box, eager to hear what we thought -- including me, even though he'd never met me before.

"Later, when he heard me tell Quincy I was going to meet some friends in the morning and head to the south of France for the first time, he offered to fly me to Nice in his plane.

"I didn't tell him just how many friends I was travelling with -- which was a lot, too many for his plane -- but I really didn't want to impose."

Jay-Z said he later tried to explain to Bono that he didn't mean to make him nervous with his quote about the new album.

"We ended up trading stories about the pressure we felt, even at this point in our lives."

Jay-Z said he and Bono became friends and the friendship lasted.

"Years later, we became investors in a restaurant in New York, the Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village."

Last year the pair collaborated on a benefit song called 'Stranded' for victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Irish Independent

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