Friday 18 October 2019

Bono has 'brush with mortality' as new album reveals moment he realised he 'wasn't going to live forever'

REFLECTION: Bono had a significant moment which made him realise he wasn’t going to live forever. Picture: Getty
REFLECTION: Bono had a significant moment which made him realise he wasn’t going to live forever. Picture: Getty
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Mystery surrounds details of Bono's recent "brush with mortality", after it was revealed the singer had a significant moment that made him realise he wasn't going to live forever.

The experience spurred him to write a series of love letters to his family and friends in the form of songs on the band's latest album, Songs of Experience.

The incident is also said to have been significant enough to send the album in a different lyrical direction.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, The Edge said: "He had a brush with mortality.

"He definitely had a serious moment, which caused him to reflect on a lot of things."

Speaking to the magazine about the theme that ties the tracks on the new album together, Bono said: "I know U2 go into every album like it's their last one but even more this time I wanted the people around me that I loved to know exactly how I felt, so a lot of the songs are kind of letters, letters to Ali, letters to my sons and daughters, actually our sons and daughters."

One song that Bono singles out is The Blackout. He said that when he originally put pen to paper the track was about a "personal apocalypse".

The singer said "some events in my life" had "more than reminded me of my mortality".

He also described how the band's desire to create songs of joy had "something to do with the spilling over of gratitude for just being alive".

Asked about Bono's "brush with mortality", The Edge said the incident had affected the band's work. "We were well into the process of making the album and it kind of influenced the lyric direction and where he ended up," he said.

"It was sort of taken from a Brendan Kennelly quote. He's an Irish poet and he once said to us as a piece of advice that he always found it useful to write as if you were dead. The inference is that it frees you of having to justify later or be delicate or be anything other than a pure expression of your essence and what's crucial to you.

"Bono held onto that quote, that idea, and he wrote a lot of these lyrics as letters to certain people that are very important people in his life, the U2 fans being some and his family being others, friends, whoever. These became like a series of letters in the back of his mind. He was thinking, 'If I'm not around, what would I like to leave behind?' And these lyrics have a certain power to them. I think it clearly brought him to a place where he wanted to write about the essential things.

"Of course, by the time we finished the record the political aspect started to be brought back into it more, so it became a synthesis of very personal lyrics with political references about what's going on."

In 2014, Bono's had a brush with death aboard a private flight to Germany when the plane suddenly shed its rear door at 15,000 feet but no one was injured.

Three years earlier, the Sunday Independent exclusively reported how Bono had suffered a health scare after experiencing palpitations while on holiday in the south of France.

The star spent a number of hours at the Princess Grace Hospital Centre in Monaco but did not require an overnight stay.

"As I understand it he was seen by a doctor - he is okay now but he got a fright," said a source at the time.

Also in 2014, Bono broke his arm in six places and suffered a broken eye socket after falling off his bike in New York.

None of these incidents are said to be linked to the singer's "brush with mortality".

However, Bono is said to be taking a leaf from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who reasoned: "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger" and is preparing for another world tour with the Songs of Experience album. The European leg will include an Irish headline show, possibly as early as next summer.

Sunday Independent

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