Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Off The Record Interview: Bono and the Edge

I finally got to see the recent HBO hour-long interview with Bono and the Edge. Has anyone else viewed it? I'd be very interested in comments and reflections. (It's now available 24/7 on HBO-on-demand.)


One of the most interesting parts for me was having Bono and the Edge describe the genesis of "Bullet the Blue Sky" (see video below). Bono described the trip that he and his young wife took to El Salvador at the time (the Reagan era), which inspired the song. The Edge described the genesis of the eerie, disturbing music that makes the song so haunting.

Seeing the violence, pain, and death in El Salvador, clearly traceable to US involvement, Bono needed a song to critique the very self-serving American politics and religion of the time. Bono recalled the bullets whizzing over the heads of himself and his wife. It was the first time he had actually been shot at. The guide said that the bullets were probably just to let them know they had been noticed. "How will we know that?" Bono asked. "When we get out of this alive," the guide replied.

Why did the US not seem to care about the destruction of so many lives in central America? [In the face of what we were doing, how could our mantra be simply, America is back, America is back? Jeremiah 7:4 quickly comes to mind.] In the interview, Bono admits that Ronald Reagan himself inspired the image of the red-faced man in the song.

Edge describes trying to work out some guitar music with Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., and being annoyed at first that their music was not in sync with where he thought he was going. What Clayton was doing as the bassist wasn't even in tune with the Edge. Then, Bono came out of the control room all excited. "You've got to listen to how this all sounds as it comes together," he shouted.

Here is one live performance of "Bullet the Blue Sky" via UTube:






Here are the Lyrics:

In the howlin' wind / Comes a stingin' rain
See it drivin' nails / Into the souls on the tree of pain.
From the firefly / A red orange glow
See the face of fear / Runnin' scared in the valley below.

Bullet the blue sky / Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue / Bullet the blue.

In the locust wind / Comes a rattle and hum.
Jacob wrestled the angel / And the angel was overcome.
You plant a demon seed / You raise a flower of fire.
We see them burnin' crosses
See the flames, higher and higher.

Woh, woh, bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue sky / Bullet the blue
Bullet the blue.

Suit and tie comes up to me
His face red like a rose on a thorn bush
Like all the colours of a royal flush
And he's peelin' off those dollar bills
(Slappin' 'em down)
One hundred, two hundred.
And I can see those fighter planes
And I can see those fighter planes
Across the tin huts as children sleep
Through the alleys of a quiet city street.
Up the staircase to the first floor
We turn the key and slowly unlock the door
As a man breathes into his saxophone
And through the walls you hear the city groan.
Outside, is America / Outside, is America
America.

See across the field
See the sky ripped open
See the rain comin' through the gapin' wound
Howlin' the women and children
Who run into the arms
Of America.

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