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"I can go on a bit, can't I?" — Bono

With or Without Ewe, Bono Finds His Grazing

Now that U2 has been bestowed with the freedom of Dublin city, Dan Collins examines the many privileges which are now afforded the world famous rockers
Irish Examiner
Bono has always seen himself as something of a shepherd, but this could prove a flock too far even for this most audacious of rock stars. With the city of Dublin set to bestow its highest honour on U2, the fab four are now free to graze their sheep on St. Stephen's Green without fear of legal reprimand. This is one of the obscure rights that goes with the Freedom of the City.

You can keep your hall of fame gongs, your triple platinum discs and your teeming groupies this is as far as a rock troupe can go, in Dublin's city centre anyway. A special bash will be staged in Smithfield on Saturday night when Bono, Larry, the Edge and Adam and their manager Paul McGuinness are formally presented with Freedom of the City. Insiders suggest this may feature an impromptu showcasing of never before aired U2 songs from their forthcoming album.

The award coincides with the release of the soundtrack to Bono's first project in celluloid The Million Dollar Hotel, which has been declared a no go area by critics despite winning a Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.

The soundtrack features a few new U2 songs but the cream of their latter day compositions are being fine tuned at Windmill Lane studios in Dublin where Bono and the boys have been taking time out from their Jubilee 2000 campaign to abolish third world debt activities. A free download of the new U2 song, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," has been available from online retailer Amazon.com. The track is included on the soundtrack to the film released this week. The 16-cut soundtrack, recorded in Dublin, was produced by Hal Willner and includes several tracks with the Million Dollar Band, which comprises Bono, producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, Jon Hassell, Greg Cohen, Brian Blade, Adam Dorn, and Bill Frisell. Bono co-wrote and performs three other new tracks.

Additionally, Milla Jovovich, who stars in the film with Mel Gibson, provides a cover of Lou Reed's "Satellite Of Love," which Reed has performed in concert with U2 in the past. The 10th new album is due for release in the coming months and has already been described by bassist Adam Clayton as their best yet. Well, he would say something like that, wouldn't he?

A strictly controlled audience of 12,000 will attend next Saturday's star-studded soiree in Smithfield.

It is more than likely the boys will bash out a few of the new tunes U2 have never been shy of a prime opportunity for an extra bit of media exposure.

Apart from the right to graze their goats in the city centre, holders of the Ancient Freedom of Dublin can also have the right to a trial by jury (but we will firstly wait and see what the new album is like before passing judgement); have the right to hold municipal office, and are exempt from serving as city coroner or city bailiff.

But there's no such thing as a free soiree and as Freemen of the City, the lads could be called upon to join the city militia at short notice. They will also be expected to have in their possession a coat of mail, a longbow, 12 arrows, a light helmet and a sword, which, incidentally, would have been regarded as sartorial splendour in the days of mythical rock warriors, Led Zeppelin.

When not making movies or working on new albums, Bono has recently been pouring his high profile energies into the Jubilee 2000 campaign to stamp out Third World debt.

In the course of this work he has recently interfaced with U.S. President Bill Clinton, British PM Tony Blair, billionaire David Rockefeller and Pope John Paul II.

His effectiveness as a lobbyist for Jubilee 2000 could see Bono securing at the very least a future career as goodwill ambassador or, at the very least, the job of Pope.

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