U2 explained in a recent interview that the recording of “Ordinary Love,” their soundtrack contribution for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, greatly slowed down the recording of their next album, which now has a tentative summer release date. “We were on a roll – it was clear where we were going,” drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. told The Hollywood Reporter. “And a decision was made to abandon ship, more or less, to focus on this.” With a Golden Globe win and now an Oscar nomination adding to their touching tribute to the South African president whom they called a friend, the band does not regret the decision.
The group had originally hoped to release its 13th studio album, which it had been working on the album in New York last year, with producer Danger Mouse by December 2013. Things seemed so clear that bassist Adam Clayton had even said it would contain 12 songs. But their schedule changed when movie producer Harvey Weinstein called the band on behalf of Mandela’s producers.
“When we got the call from Harvey to say, ‘It’s happening, are you in?,’ it was like, ‘Oh man, really? Now?'” guitarist the Edge said. “But we just had to do it, with the history that we have with the man and the cause.”
“This was the one project you just couldn’t say no to,” bassist Adam Clayton said. “For our generation, South Africa was a real illustration of how music could affect change in the world, and it was a rite of passage in terms of our political awareness.”
Bono said that he rewrote the song’s original lyrics after reading love letters Mandela had written to his wife Winnie. “Maybe the reason they asked us was to do a kind of ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’ moment, but it just did not seem correct,” Bono said. “The only place in his life he felt that he was the loser in the conflict, that his enemies had prevailed, was in his marriage. He just couldn’t make that work, and the most important part of that film is the love story.”
Following the release of “Ordinary Love,” the group interrupted its recording schedule to help promote the film, attend awards-related events and to mourn Mandela after his death. In addition to the Golden Globes appearance, the group accepted the Sonny Bono Visionary Award for the song at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and have agreed to give the song its live debut at the Oscars next month. Despite these interruptions, the band finished up the song “Invisible” and released it during the Super Bowl.
The band is still working on the new, as-yet-untitled album, which Bono has jokingly referred to as Insecurity. “The album won’t be ready ’til it’s ready. . . . There’s a couple of songs that are part of the story we haven’t quite finished,” Bono said. “We know we have to spend a couple of years taking these songs around the world, so they’d better be good.”