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In his notes for the new U2 album, the forward-facing, life-affirming Songs Of Experience, the singer mentions his “brush with mortality,” a health scare that rocked him to the core. the force screaming at me not to move.” As we now know, life goes on for the 57-year-old Irishman who commands the world stage yet suddenly feels so vulnerable. In a reality TV world of minor/major melodrama, I can spare everyone that.” We must respect his right to medical privacy but its clear Songs Of Experience is a different album because of what happened.
“I was on the receiving end of a shock to the system myself, a shock that left me clinging on to my own life like a raft,” he writes. I was arrested.” He describes “facing a wall with my hands up over my head . Bono’s keeping a firm lid on exact details but has allowed me access to his stream of consciousness thoughts about his trauma of body and mind. Though he feels “fantastic now, stronger than ever,” he suggests the songs have an impetus behind them that demonstrate “the turbulence I was feeling at the time of writing.” The album reflects a crisis of faith in Bono that he had “to fight even harder for” and it recognises a world shifting on its political axis, where extremes are replacing tolerance, where democracy is under siege.
He explains: “We’d been rushing to get Songs Of Experience out by the end of 2016. “We just thought, ‘We’ve got to give ourselves a bit of time here.’ We needed to be certain the album was right.” Clayton, dapper and charming as ever, also alludes to Bono’s turmoil but widens the discussion to the whole band.
The Edge says: “We knew we wanted something that chimed with Songs Of Innocence, which featured Larry and his son. If it had just been the two of them, it would have been a little too sleek but the military helmet gives it that little tension.
“It also gives us a connection back to the War album so U2 iconography is being reused.
“There are a lot of songs about light in the U2 repertoire.
It’s an image of faith and obviously people having near-death experiences describe seeing a bright light.