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"Maybe that is the step forward on this record, to be able to have the freedom to have humour sitting alongside songs that are deadly earnest, and the two actually balance out each other."

-- Edge, on All That You Can't Leave Behind

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The Bible, According to Bono

The Irish Echo, August 04, 1999


Anyone worrying that the church is losing its influence in Ireland need look no further than the country's music elite for a bit of that old time religion.

First, and most famously, you have Sinead O'Connor and her notoriously volatile relationship with Catholicism. O'Connor's actions have ranged from ripping up a picture of the pope on American television to taking holy orders and becoming a priest named Mother Bernadette Mary. Next, you have U2 frontman Bono, whose strong commitment to Christianity has manifested itself in many of the band's songs, from "40" to "Sunday Bloody Sunday" to "Wake Up, Dead Man."

Now Bono is taking the plunge into religious commentary. In an upcoming paperback edition of the King James Bible from Grove/Atlantic Press, the singer weighs in with an introduction to the Book of Psalms. Specifically, Bono confesses to a lifelong obsession with psalm writer, giant-slayer and, apparently, early rock and roll-model King David.

"At age 12 I was a fan of David," Bono confesses in his essay. "He felt a pop star could feel familiar. The words of the psalms were as poetic as they were religious and he was a star...the Elvis of the Bible."

Now, we shouldn't quibble, but as much as we love Elvis, that particular King didn't write songs, so David's at least one up on him there. Bono goes on to praise David's physical beauty (as interpreted by Michaelangelo) though he questions certain physical attributes on the statue that don't sit easily with David's Jewish heritage, if you catch our drift. But then, longtime readers will recall Bono's -- well, we won't say obsession -- preoccupation with matters below the belt. Anyone remember the rather naughty self-portrait that he donated for a charity art auction a couple of years ago?

And just in case you thought that it's only rock stars who are writing intros in this edition of the Bible, there are also contributions from Ragtime author E.L. Doctorow (Genesis) and How the Irish Saved Civilization author Thomas Cahill (Gospel according to Luke). To quote Luke Kelly, "Glory-o, hand me down me Bible."

© 1999 Irish Echo. All rights reserved.

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