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Home > Music

Bono: Why?

Bad enough when he picks up the guitar and strums along. Now, for some unholy reason, Bono has decided to pick up a paintbrush...

9 October 2003


A little word, but with so many associations: those funny jackboots and tight, dress uniform trousers he wore during U2's concert at Red Rock. Wraparound shades. The woefully misguided attempt to fuse Maggie's Farm with Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Lyrics like: "Today the millions cry / We eat and drink / And tomorrow they die." The strange greasy mullet. A self-chosen moniker that's just one vowel short of a dog biscuit.

And now some extremely rubbish artwork for the Peter and the Wolf story.

Bono works hard at being an enigma. His real name is Paul Hewson ('The Edge' is actually called David Evans, which is a bit like calling yourself 'Thor the Destroyer' when your real name’s Tim Lightfoot). Pop triv fans will already know Bonio lives in a lighthouse and drives a hearse, but his real claim to interestingness is the way he’s consistently attempted to transcend being a mere pop singer.

Dog Biscuit Boy can, in fairness, write a nice tune, certainly with the help of David Evans, Adam 'World's Most Unambitious Bass Player' Clayton and Larry Mullen Jnr. But a great singer he ain't, as his duet with BB King cruelly highlighted, prompting Barbara Ellen to write that he "sounds like John Boy Walton with a broom handle up his arse." (That was when she was funny, instead of just making spurious generalisations about men and women based on Jude Law and Sadie Frost.)

However, Bono/Paul has never allowed himself to be limited by his limitations. During his one solo line in the Band Aid single, he clearly thinks his rasping, one-dimensional voice is a fusion of the vocal talents of Otis Redding, Steve Winwood, Aretha Franklin and Billie Holliday, and not the sound of someone attacking a piece of wood with a blunt plane.

Lyrically, Bono has likewise never been afraid to tackle the big issues: state-sponsored murder in South America, Bloody Sunday, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and, on The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum, 20th Century American history and popular culture in its entirety. And, of course, Batman.

More recently Bono has dallied with multi-media concepts, saving the world and becoming an artist. His latest project is a series of illustrations to accompany a new recording of Peter and the Wolf. The illustrations are basically badly-painted wolves and other stuff that could be expressionist, or could just be crap. Bono was apparently helped by his children (Cono and Dono?). Curiously, this form of assistance is a temptation that boring mainstream artists from Da Vinci to David Hockney have managed to resist.

Oh Bono, we love your funny little artistic side (we prefer it to your voice, certainly) but why do you stretch yourself so? Why not take a leaf out of Adam Clayton’s book and just hole up in a hotel snorting coke and shagging Naomi Campbell lookalike prozzies?

It's not like you can't afford to.

A nice pithy reason to hate Bono from Geek Noise:

"I guess I just don't really like my music and politics together. It just ends up sounding like I'm paying money to be whined at."

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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