Me and Bono

Last Sunday Bono was 60 and in celebration, or reflection, he released a playlist on Spotify called “60 Songs That Saved My Life”. As I listened to it I kept thinking , ‘That one’s on my playlist too’, when it was finished I had a look at my own playlists and out of the 60 songs he picked 23 are on my own playlist and a further 28 artists of the artists are on my playlist. He only had 9 songs picked that I hadn’t.
Which set me of all the other times that our lives intertwined….

Growing up as a teenager in Monaghan in the early 80’s we had very few Irish musicians to look up to, sorry Big Tom ! And then we heard ‘Fire’ and ‘Gloria’ and we loved them immediately and THEN found out that they were Irish ! And I have loved them ever since.

There was a spiritual tone to that album ,October, certainly for me, if not for Bono himself. I had that one on tape and listened to it incessantly as I wandered the grounds of Kimmage and Kilshane wondering if the life of a Holy Ghost Father was really for me. I thought of Eileen every time “Tomorrow” played.
I actually wore out two copies of WAR on the record player in my room. And then the Unforgettable Fire came out and there was the concert in Croke Park “ The Jacks are back and what an All-Ireland we have for you tonight !” the crowd went in to such a frenzy that I don’t think I actually heard what they sand until about the 4th song in.

As teenagers in Monaghan ,getting McConnon’s bus up to Dublin for the day was always something to look forward to. The bus always dropped us off on O’Connell St. at The Gresham and my friends always went straight to Burger King, even though it was only 10 in the morning. One such  Saturday morning we saw Larry Mullen sitting on his own across from us at the window, as we munched on our Whopper meals. My friend Micky nudged me and nodded in his direction. I looked up , mid munch, and just as Larry Mullen Jr., the coolest person I’d ever seen in real life, looked at me , a half chewed piece of Whopper fell out of my gaping mouth. He smiled. I was mortified. We whispered to each other, should we ask for an autograph, which was the analog version of a selfie, for younger readers, or at least say ‘Hello’. Micky thought that it would be cooler to just nod and leave him alone. Which we did. After a few moments he got up and walked outside, and we watched in amazement as he met Bono and they walked off together.

We bought bootleg tapes on O’Connel St. bridge later than same day of various ‘live’ U2 gigs from the lads with the wooden cases.

The songs from The Joshua Tree provided sustenance and hope for us throughout our brother John’s six months in Beaumont.

And then they exploded into the zeitgeist with their Live Aid  performance and The Joshua Tree and they were no longer ours but everyone’s. And we still went to all of the concerts , and I think the last ever screening in the Castleblayney cinema was Rattle & Hum which we went to, but they were now bigger than us and , for me, a bit remote. I remained, and remain, very proud of them, but just not as connected.
And yet there were always connections.

In my first job in a shoe factory in Mullan I met a chap in a neighbouring footwear wholesale business who was Bono’s cousin. Later I worked in Hairy Legs on Liffey St. and hung out on Saturday nights with the crew from Moore St.’s  Banana Republic , spending my entire weeks wages. One of the gang was going out with an engineer from Windmill Lane Studios and appeared to know the band well. I was offered an autograph and a chance to meet them, but I pretended to be cool, and said no, when in actual fact I would have been too terrified.

Later still I got a few pairs of oxblood  Dr.Marten’s for Harry Crosbie and got a spin in his partner Rita’s Porsche to the Point Depot and an offer to see them backstage, at that point I was very tempted, being a bit more comfortable in my own skin , but still said no. I think it was a fear of meeting someone who had been so important, influential, inspiring to you that you’d rather have your image of them than the reality for fear it wouldn’t be the same.

My Soulmate and I lived in Clane at one point and her Mum & Dad would stay overnight with us while her Mum underwent her chemo treatment. We’d have dinner together, a few drinks and I would play ‘If God Will Send His Angels’ over and over again for Rita until my SoulMate told me to stop. I still think she really liked it.
                                             I have vivid memories of dancing around our kitchen with Jake as a newborn, roaring along to ‘Beautiful Day’ , and lifting a giggling Jake skyward, Simba fashion, at the chorus.
Life speeds up.

I hadn’t thought of Bono or U2 in a while when one day I found myself in Slane Castle attending a Coder Dojo conference. While attending one talk I got a sense of déjà vu , I’d been in this room before. It freaked me out a little. And then I realised I was sitting in the room they’d recorded some of The Unforgettable Fire in, and shot the Pride video here.

I’ve met and shook hands with many famous people over the years, John Hume at a Monaghan United match, Seamus Mallon at a petrol station in Middletown, Martin McGuinness in a tiny lift in Jurys, Kensington, Yazz in Dan Foley’s bar in Annascaul, Thom Yorke at his after party in that London, Pat Kenny , who asked me to get out of his seat in the VIP bar in the POD, Michael Flatley in the Westbury where I had to tell him that my Soul Mate and Linda were with me and could he leave them alone,Joey Elliott in the Pink Elephant, Ronan Keating at both of the Marron girls’ weddings, I had a great chat with him at Edel’s at the bar where we smoked cigars and and had a great long chat about Jeff Buckley, who he’d met, and then I was made  apologise to him  at Cecily’s wedding because  that chat at Edel’s hadn’t been as wonderful for him as it had been for me, David Bowie on the bus to Galway, Ana Matronic at Badam’s award ceremony in Belfast, who showed me how to take a selfie properly, Michael D.Higgins in his bar in Galway the day Nelson Mandela was released. And others that will come back to me as soon as I hit submit.

I think if I had the chance to meet Bono now I’d take it.

I’d simply like to shake his hand, and say thanks.

That’s it.

Thanks Bono.


P.S. Especially for Tomorrow which got me through a very lonely , confusing time.   

Author: paul

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