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"We're a lot tougher than we were when we had an open face to the world. I don't have as many flowers in my hair, but I am still moved when I sing with this band." — Bono

Ahead Of His 60th Birthday, Bono Chats With RTE Radio 1's Ryan Tubridy

Bono 2019

U2 fans woke up to a pleasant—and much hoped-for—surprise this morning: a half-hour interview with Bono, conducted by RTE Radio 1’s Ryan Tubridy.

Good-humored as ever, Bono admitted up front that he is not very good at hoovering or making beds. Fortunately, he does have a few other skills.

Through contacts he’s made fighting the HIV pandemic with ONE and (RED), he’s been able to source personal protective equipment for Ireland’s hospital workers, including N95 masks, goggles, visors and gowns. As a band, U2 have contributed 10 million toward this end.

The current pandemic, Bono said, is not the great leveler some thought it would be. “We’re not all in the same boat, but we’re going through the same storm.” He expressed concern about how Covid-19 might affect countries south of the equator, many of which do not have the social or medical infrastructure to cope with it.

He praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a degree in physics and has been a research scientist, but was somewhat more guarded about the possibility of dealing with the United States. He expressed hope for Ireland’s future, as a part of Europe and beyond. “If you really love your country you should think bigger than it,” he said.

Like everyone else, Bono seemed unsure about how concerts will be played in the future. His son Eli’s successful band, Inhaler, is “raring to go, kicking the walls.” He talked about the possibility of shows being played in stadium parking lots, in the style of a drive-in movie. Whatever happens, he said, “it will be very different for a while.”

U2 had been touring heavily for the last several years and had planned to take a break anyway. Bono suggested that U2 fans need a break from U2 (but this is fake news). “We haven’t learned to phone in our shows,” he said. “They’re full-tilt for us.”

Bono is still on his own personal pilgrimage, and hasn’t yet come up with all the answers he would like. He plans to take a long walk for his birthday, on May 10. “This is not really the moment for a big celebration,” he said. As always, he declined to discuss his “brush with mortality,” except for this familiar refrain: “Edge tells me I look at my body as an inconvenience.”

On turning 60, Bono said, “I’m just really grateful that I got here.” He expressed gratitude for the people who helped him along the way, for his band and for his family, and for Ireland, for “putting up with my sometime avuncular self.”

Bono hopes at some point to put out a list of his top 60 favorite songs. He sang the praises of Billie Eilish, Hozier, and “the opera of Elvis.” He described hearing the Beatles for the first time as a three-year-old, while lying in the freshly-cut grass behind his house on Cedarwood Road. It was “the feeling of being really alive […] and thinking it’s a really good idea to be alive.”

If you can, tune in to RTE's "Late Late Show" tonight for an interview with the man Bono calls “a sage,” U2’s own Adam Clayton.

(C) @u2/DeGenaro, 2020