Bono: 'I May Never Play Guitar Again' - Rolling Stone
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Bono: ‘I May Never Play Guitar Again’

Singer expounds on his bike injury, Kanye West, Jimmy Fallon and bloggers in 6,000-word A to Z post


Bono in Berlin on November 12th, 2014. The U2 singer posted a A to Z 2014 guide about his bike injury, his philanthropy and 'Songs of Innocence,' among other topics.

Michael Gottschalk / Getty Images

U2 frontman Bono posted a 6,000-word A to Z summation of 2014 on, revealing that the massive bike injury he suffered last year may prevent him from ever playing guitar again.

“Recovery has been more difficult than I thought,” the singer wrote. “As I write this, it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again. The band have reminded me that neither they nor Western civilization are depending on this. I personally would very much miss fingering the frets of my green Irish falcon or my (RED) Gretsch. Just for the pleasure, aside from writing tunes. But then does the Edge, or Jimmy Page, or any guitarist you know have a titanium elbow, as I do now? I’m all elbows, I am.” As proof, the singer used his “X” entry to post a X-ray photo of the titanium rod currently inserted in his elbow.

The singer, who’s prepping for a multinational tour beginning May 14th, opened his post looking back on the injury that left him with multiple fractures in his face, shoulder and arm. “For the last few weeks I haven’t been able to move around physically so I have more than made up for it by leaving my mind to wanderlust, untethered except electronically,” he wrote, adding that the post was an “attempt to learn from mistakes – the first of which is the discovery that I am not an armored vehicle.

“The consequences of this freak accident are significant enough that I will have to concentrate hard to be ready for the U2 tour in fitness terms,” added the singer. “As a result I have cancelled every public appearance and decided this missive is all the communication I can manage for the first half of 2015, beyond muttering and singing to myself of course.”

The singer expounded on a wide range of issues, including the support and achievements of his wife and children, his various philanthropic pursuits and Jimmy Fallon (“The second coming of the late show.”) With Bono himself writing, “This is too long. You should not have time to read this,” here are some of the most insightful things we learned from the post:

On Bloggers
It’s enough to put a fella off free speech… the problem about finding out what people think is…you find out what they think. Who are these people? Well if they put their real names to their invective then I guess they are people like me – people with the audacity to think they have a thought or a feeling that others should hear about… if they are hiding, I’m not interested…Where has all the graffiti gone? The bile and spleen, the grotesque drawing, the sexual meandering, the threats of violence to minorities? Where has it gone? It’s on the blessed Internet.

On Capitalism
Capitalism is not immoral, but it is amoral. It gets its instructions from us. It’s an indiscriminate engine, and our obligation is to see that it provides forward movement to everyone, not just to those whose hands are on the levers of the machine.

On The Edge
The dude doesn’t sleep. When we record, he’s often playing guitar right through the night. I offered him sleeping tablets. He said he’d rather the album be crack than valium. Edge is not just one of my dearest friends, he, like the missus, remains a mystery to those who know him best…He is the only one who doesn’t know that he is the most influential guitar player in a quarter century.

On the Word “Fuck”
I got a US TV network into trouble for uttering an involuntary expletive in 2004 on accepting a Golden Globe. It went all the way to Congress, where the legislation became known as the Bono Bill. Not to be confused with Buffalo Bill. It was a pyrrhic victory, but I’ll take it. I know it’s not cool, this year I managed to keep it clean.

On Songs of Innocence’ iTunes Release
Our album was to be like a bottle of milk dropped at the door of anyone interested in music and iTunes. As I understand it, the journey from the front door to the fridge and into what to some people felt was their bowl of cereal has something to do with a switch called “automatic download” – if you turn it on, you sign up for being pushed stuff. That’s about it…no flagrant abuse of human rights, but very annoying to people who a) like being annoyed, and/or b) felt it was like someone robbing their phone in the pub and taking a couple of photos before leaving it back on the table… some kind of breach of privacy which was really not intended. I empathise with the b)’s, but for the a)’s I’ve started referring them to the philosopher Jimmy Kimmel.

On Kanye West
Kanye is a real innovator… an artist who, like a lot of the artists I respect, is interested in everything and wants to include that everything in his art. Words, fashion, design, religion, racism, stardom…He blew U2’s mind when he showed up on stage with (RED) in Times Square this world AIDS Day, fighting for an end to the disease. Yeezus walks, Yeezus talks. Yeezus walks the talk.

On Songs of Innocence Criticism
The only criticism that stung is that the album should have had more of the energy of the musicians and those who inspired it… a bit more anarchy, a bit more punk. We didn’t want a pastiche of the era so we put all those Seventies and early Eighties influence in the juicer and a blend emerged…more like an Irish whiskey than a single malt.

On Streaming Music
Songwriters are getting a poor deal right now. The reason I respect for-fee services like Spotify is that they are slowly turning people who are used to getting their music for-FREE, into paying ten dollars a month for a subscription model. These payments don’t add up to replacement for income from physical or digital sales at the moment – but I think they can if everyone sits down – record companies, artists and digital services – to figure out a fairer way of doing business.

In This Article: Bono, U2


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