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The people we'd choose to describe the condition of the world are not often the people God would choose. The chosen may be punk rockers or hip-hop people. But nonetheless, the state of the world will be described.-- Bono, 2004

Week In Review, August 7, 2020

Week In Review Header

Once again, @U2 brings you the latest in U2 news.

John Hume, Architect Of Peace And Cooperation In Ireland, Passes Away

Nobel laureate John Hume, the driving force behind the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought about an end to Northern Ireland’s “Troubles,” died on August 3 after a long illness. He was 83.

A Catholic native of Derry, Hume became involved with the Northern Irish civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was elected to positions in the Parliament of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly, eventually becoming the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, which he helped to found.

Hume was a champion of self-government for Northern Ireland, calling for a fair division of powers between population groups. He spearheaded efforts to establish better relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as between the governments in Dublin and London. Criticized for communicating with Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader, he was ultimately able to draw Adams and the British government into peace talks.

The Good Friday Agreement was approved by voters in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in two referendums held on May 22, 1998. Later that year, Hume was award the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble.

Fr. Paul Farren, officiating at Hume’s funeral, said, “We should never underestimate how difficult it was for John to cross the road and do what was intensely unpopular for the greater good…even in the darkest moments, when people would have been forgiven for having no hope, John made peace visible for others.” Farren also praised Hume’s widow, Pat, who ran Hume’s office while continuing her own teaching career.

Along with such luminaries as the Pope, the Dalai Lama, former US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Bono sent a message for the mourners that was read by Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown:

We were looking for a giant and found a man whose life made all our lives bigger. We were looking for some superpowers and found clarity of thought, kindness and persistence. We were looking for revolution and found it in parish halls with tea and biscuits and late night meetings under fluorescence. We were looking for a negotiator who understood that no-one wins unless everyone wins...and that peace is the only victory. We were looking for joy and heard it in the song of a man who loved his town so well and his missus even more. We were looking for a great leader and found a great servant. We found John Hume.

 

John Hume And U2

John Hume’s image appears (along with those of Gerry Adams, David Trimble and Ian Paisley) on the sleeve for U2’s 1997 single “Please.” The design is a droll take on the cover of the Pop album, which features the band’s own faces. “Please” was written shortly after the breakdown of a short-lived IRA ceasefire. The lyrics suggest sectarian violence (“Your sermon on the mount from the boot of your car”) while decrying sectarianism’s narrow vision (“You could only feel your own pain”).

At a 1998 gig at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, not long before the Good Friday Agreement, Bono welcomed Hume, along with David Trimble, onto the stage. This action resulted in a number of iconic photos.

Bono also paid an emotional tribute to an ailing Hume at SSE Arena in Belfast in October 2018, during his introduction to “Pride (In The Name Of Love”). “From Fitzroy Avenue to Cyprus Avenue; Palestine Street to Jerusalem Street. Blessed are the peacemakers. I remember John Hume and his vision. Let’s sing for him tonight,” Bono said.

 

The Edge To Pay Tribute To John Hume On U2 X-Radio This Sunday

If you’re able, tune into U2 X-Radio this Sunday morning at 10:00am ET for John Kelly’s Elevation show. The Edge will talk about John Hume and John Kelly will chat with poet (and current Young People’s Poet Laureate) Naomi Shahib Nye.

 

In Happier News, Our Very Own The Edge Turns 59 This Saturday, August 8!

“When we started it was hard to get The Edge to play aggressively. He is a gentleman and he plays guitar like a gentleman.”―Bono

When I discovered U2, I thought The Edge was called The Edge not because of how he looked, but because of how he played. I grew up listening to what was then called album-oriented rock, much of it chuggy, heavy-handed and macho. So to my ears, The Edge’s guitar sounded like a peppermint after a ten-course meal―cool, sharp and purifying.

A couple of months ago, I entertained myself by compiling a list of descriptions used by Rolling Stone writers in the 80s and 90s to describe The Edge’s sound: ringing accents, soaring peals, simple single-note riffs drenched in echo and glory. Clanging, fervent, grinding, stabbing. Signature bursts of light. Shimmering washes of color. My personal favorite? “[Edge’s] power chords create a terrifying aural abyss for Bono to plunge into.”

All of this demonstrates the difficulty of trying to write about what music sounds like, but the fact is U2 couldn’t have happened without The Edge. Everyone familiar with U2 understands that The Edge can “shred” if he’s so inclined. He mostly chooses not to. He plays to suit the band he’s in, and to suit the band’s songs in all their remarkable sonic and emotional variety.

It’s also worth noting that when The Edge and Bono sing together, they sound like angels.

The very, very happiest birthday to our cool-mint gentleman guitarist, The Edge, and many happy returns of the day!

© @U2/DeGenaro, 2020