Joy as an act of defiance

Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., Bono and the Edge. Photo by Sam Jones, New York Times

It appears at a moment when popular culture is gathering its spirit of righteousness and resistance — a moment that could well be suited to U2, whose pealing guitars and martial beats have, through the years, become rock’s sonic signature of idealism. “Songs of Experience” merges personal reflections with tidings from the wider world, and it calls for compassion, empathy and rectitude. “The wickedness in the world, we just let it perforate the album,” Bono said. “But it still had to be a very personal album, not a polemic.”


“You’re putting out a song about your girlfriend when the world is on fire?,” Bono asked, anticipating one reaction. “Yes. Joy is an act of defiance.”


Many of the songs, Bono said, are like letters addressed to specific recipients: his family, his friends, the audience, America. Above all, the new album posits “joy as an act of defiance,” Bono said. “That’s the heart of rock ’n’ roll, that’s its life force.”


“What’s the difference between ‘Innocence’ and “Experience’?” Bono said. “The core of ‘Innocence’ to me is a lyric from our second album, which says, ‘I can’t change the world, but I can change the world in me.’ The core of ‘Experience’ is — and this is cheeky! — ‘I can change the world, but I can’t change the world in me.’ And so you realize that the biggest obstacle in the way is yourself. There are things to rail against, and there are things that deserve your rage, and you must plot and conspire to overthrow them. But the most wily and fearsome of your enemies is going to turn out to be yourself. And that’s experience.”

To read an entire New York Times article, click HERE

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