tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg December 28, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm EST
>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: bono is here. the 40th anniversary of the rock
band u2. it has sold more than 157 million records and 122 emmys. he is also known for his rockstar status and for his philanthropic work around the globe. celebrating its 10th anniversary. over the weekend, it made $100 million to fight aids and malaria. he recently returned from a trip in nigeria.
he visited with refugees. i am very pleased to have him back. welcome. you are a traveling man. bono: i am a traveler, that is it. i guess i signed
up when i joined a rock and roll band at age 16. charlie: tell me about how nice and how close that was. bono: when you talk about these things, it is easy to forget your drama is such a tiny shard of the dramas going on around you. we were there. it was bastille night. we were looking at the fireworks. we first realized something was wrong when a police car reversed
down a one-way street. then there was a stampede, tables and chairs thrown everywhere. this woman and her son, huddled. we got under tables. we brought this woman and her son. he was calming her down, he was like a 10-year-old. saying, "mama, it is ok." she was having a panic attack. we weren't panicked. growing up in ireland, it is probably just the fireworks. but of course we were thinking, and you have these awful thoughts. you look at a bloody knife, you think, is there a gunman coming through. the services, they were amazing. the french did it right.
made sure everyone was safe. i was very grateful to them. i have tried to pay respect to the families. that is really all that matters. charlie: people were concerned about you because of what happened to so many innocent souls. bono: the second time in france for us. we were in paris that night, we were a mile away when all of that went off. it keeps happening. charlie: that was to be the final venue for the tour. bono: we went back two weeks later. the band that had been through the ordeal, we brought them on stage at the end of our show. that was a big moment. ♪ >> ♪ people have the power ♪
bono: there is a thing about these terrorist groups. they love the phenomena of the gray zone, which is where people get on. christians and muslims. they loathe the gray zone where people mingle. they want to divide us. i thought, when we went back, it wasn't about the melody, it was about harmony. it wasn't about our song, it was about the crowd singing it back to us. it is powerful. rock 'n roll as an act of defiance. charlie: that is what i think of when i think about rock 'n roll. bono: there is nothing more romantic. it is the essence of romance. joy is the ultimate act of defiance.
if you think of music, the beatles or mozart or beethoven, irish people, we can surrender to melancholy any day of the week and cry into a beer. u-2 was formed on that idea of pure joy as an act of defiance. charlie: the music continues. bono: our music was always wrapped around social justice. that is where you and i met. that is how i got in the door. people were not expecting i wouldn't leave. when i would be in capitol hill, people would take the meeting just to sort of have a look at this exotic creature or whatever, a rock 'n roll person. but then i didn't leave. charlie: with all the passion for social activism, does it diminish the music?
bono: it has been a source of pride for the band, but i know i have embarrassed them a lot. there are people i have met they wouldn't want me to meet. i remember bringing jesse helms to the show. edge was upset about that. it is odd. i see all the stuff i do as the same thing. they might see it as a personality disorder. i see melodies and ideas as being the same thing. even little businesses. start ups. they are like melody lines to me. a great melody, a great idea have a lot in common. there's something unique, present. there is an arc, a beautiful
arc. an inevitability. you feel you know where it is going, even though you have never seen one before. i feel that about the one campaign. or "red" or anything i do. charlie: do you feel because of the accident in the park, the guitar is not there? bono: some would say it is never there. charlie: you would say that but your band would not. bono: they would, actually. charlie: now that you can't play the guitar like you did, does it mean the idea is swimming alone? bono: that is interesting. well, i am sure you have had these moments where suddenly you
are very mortal. i have had a few of them. discovering my head was not as hard as everything i tried to but it up against, not as hard as the ground, is humbling to me. i have always been on top of things. my body, edge says i look at my body like an inconvenience. i have never thought about that. on my back, i had time to think about things. i had time to let the music come through me. we have written some incredible songs, i think. it is not about some stupid bike accident. it is about realizing there is
an elastic limit in your life. you as an artist don't feel it, but you as a person are now part of that. i'm not sure i like that very much. charlie: you went back in the last album, "innocence." it was about your mother, it was about dublin. it was about musical influences. there is a sense that you both go forward and you come back. bono: maybe that is go back, maybe that is what that is about. i never listen to our music. the band doesn't. we are always thinking about where we are going. on the last album, i decided i needed to know. why am i like this? what is this rage? why am i in a band? i got to these ordinary
situations that lots of people have had, where they go, my mother died when i was 14. the way i got over it was of course, i went into music. i lost myself in music. i went to the crowds. that became that sort of love i was missing in my life. living in a house in the north side of dublin with two men which i was fighting with. music is alchemy. we turn our -- into gold. that is it. charlie: you once said, if we are close to music, we are close to each other. bono: music is the language of the spirit. you as a jazzman
conversationalist, you are pretty musical to the way you move around the table with words. actually, it is when we shut up that another kind of talking goes on. music, i think, connects us with our spirit. i think all music is worship, actually. if it is not god, it can be a lot of things. it can be bad things. it is always worship. charlie: you just had a hugely successful tour. >> ♪ i don't dream ♪ ♪
charlie: beyond the money, promoting the album, does it speak to you in terms of how the audience sees the songs? you get feedback from them about the lyrics? bono: we fight with our audience. like a lover's quarrel. i would leap into the audience, wrestle with them. there was a concert in the 1980's, i was in my early 20's. i went into the audience with a white flag. charlie: i remember that. bono: the los angeles times said, the most irresponsible thing they had ever seen. here is me making this whole
sort of nonviolent protest. that relationship with our audience is everything to this band. our albums, our recordings are good. we have done some good stuff. but it is great, because it is lies. it is present, it is different. it changes, even if we are not improvising, it is always different. you are right. the audience changes the song and changes every night. you pick up their feelings in the room. a song can mean something different in paris and in new york. it means something different. ♪ ♪
charlie: do you like rehearsals? bono: no, i'm not good at rehearsals. which is why i am here, by the way. they don't know i am here. this is the story of my life. i don't like it. i cannot connect. getting into the songs for me is commitment. i know it is coming. i have to step inside the songs. when it is going great, the songs are singing you. it is a transcendent thing. ♪ ♪
charlie: writing, is it hard for you to write a song? bono: no. i have been writing melodies since i was a kid. since piano keys were taller than my head. i did not learn to play but i remember putting my foot on the pedal and finding out where the reverb was and making a sound, and then finding another note that felt good with that as a
child. so i had that. i don't know what it is. charlie: it is a gift. bono: i guess it is. i guess that is why we shouldn't be arrogant. having a guest -- gift, it is like an inherited wealth. being talented, be humble. you didn't work for this. this is a gift. we are given gifts. to have such beauty and talent, how did that happen? [laughter] charlie: take songs of experience. how many have you written? bono: 16 songs on the cooker. we have to boil it down to 10 or 12. it will probably be 12. charlie: what is the question you are asking this time? bono: there is a great poet, we were discussing him before we came on. charlie: a great irish poet.
bono: the last poem, called "kite". another poet advised me once he said, to write as if you are dead. to do that is to be free of ego. you are gone. you are out of here. charlie: to please nobody but yourself. bono: i have taken that position and i have written personal songs to people. to my kids, our kids. to friends. to our audience. and then i caught myself writing to myself, but i did not know it was me. there is one called, the little things that give you away. who is that about? me. charlie: there is one called the
morning after innocence. bono: funny, that is on. -- that is all i did -- that is odd. i told you about that. i shouldn't have. that song, the morning after innocence turned into little things that give you away which i just told you about. charlie: i was calling it compromise. it is personal. what was the compromise? bono: i sometimes think that the younger me, he was very black and white, a bit judgmental. a bit of a pain in the -- . but right a lot. might look at me now and be disappointed. i have written a couple of songs
from that point of view. although i feel i have earned of the freedom as a person as well as a writer that i didn't have as a younger man. ♪ charlie: we talked about terrorism and how it is all around us. paris and the united states. it is in brussels and everywhere. there is also politics today in which some people are very worried about forms of populism. they see it in europe, a move to the right. even in france. they worry about it here. when you look at donald trump, and his candidacy, and you have said wonderful things about america. he said that -- you said that america was more than a nation,
an idea. does trump come to u.s. somebody who is a change agent? because people are so unhappy about the status quo? or does he come to you as something else? bono: america is the best idea the world ever came up with, but donald trump is potentially the worst thing that ever happened to america. potentially. because of what we are saying. america is not just a country. ireland is a nice country. america is an idea. that idea is bounded up in equality and justice for all. i think of those lines, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. this is america. this is not from donald trump's
playbook. i have spent 20 years, nearly 20 years now, fiercely bipartisan. i am going to stay that way. i have enormous respect for the party of abraham lincoln. some of the greatest workers, republicans are close friends of mine. i don't think he is a republican. i think he has hijacked the party. i think he is trying to hijack the idea of america and i think it is bigger than all of us. this is really dangerous. wise people of conscience should not let this man turn your country into a casino.
charlie: you are saying the angst is real and genuine. i worry about my country and where it is. bono: there are very real problems facing not just america, facing europe. who is in the white house? i am irish. i can't tell people how to vote and don't want to. but i can say who sits in that office really affects everyone in this world. charlie: you seem to be saying, -- that this is a risk of i worry he will put the country at risk. i worry about his instincts. bono: i worry on every single front. the lack of civility. common decency. things have been bad enough in congress. do we really want this kind of -- in the oval office? this is a sacred office. this is an incredible country. the people will wake up out of this dream. they shouldn't make a protest vote with him. argue thatme will part of the issue of his rise has to do in part with her, that
she is not a popular candidate. people want to see change and they don't think they will get change with her. they are prepared to take a chance with him because is not a pop star. whether she's not something. i think in terms -- and i have talked to someone last week. they recognize that there was this issue of trust. part -- clearly >> just on a player psychological profile, i think the woman is almost pretty giddy. honestly. if i'm going in there, i know her. we walked into the state department, she is all over us. it is tough love with her. she is very proper. it is so mad people thinks
something if areas. she is the opposite. maybe this privacy thing, she has gone overboard. i don't want to try to tell people how to vote. i can't do that. but i am really alarmed and i'm ready to speak in a way i haven't spoken for 20 years. charlie: this is not comfortable for you, but you are doing it because you feel like what? bono: because i feel like this country is in real danger. this is a dangerous moment. there is climate change. there is nuclear weapon proliferation. there is terrorism. there is all kinds of stuff. the biggest danger might be right here. fear of the other. i am irish, when he talks about
illegal aliens? half the irish people have probably overstayed their visas. mexican people are some of the most extraordinary people you have met in your life. they are doing incredible jobs. i am irish. i am very offended. we were refugees, economic refugees. we got off the boat smelling bad. we have made a contribution to america. i think most americans will agree, the irish are part of your story. the country is built on this principle. the promised land belongs to those who need it most, surely.
10th anniversary, red. a new push to electrify africa. i remove or you talking about debt forgiveness. you came here, selling the idea of debt forgiveness. how long ago was that? bono: a long time ago. 16 years ago. charlie: we've got countries that cannot get on with their development because they have an overwhelming debt. the only way to deal with it is to find a way to forgive them so they can use those resources. bono: $120 billion later, and 46 million africans going to school. that is where the money saved was spent. charlie: what is electrified africa?
bono: what is going on now, the narrative of development has changed. the world is getting excited about the continent. by 2050, twice the population of china. charlie: i think it will be a third of the world's youth will be african. people are saying, how can we be part of this rising africa narrative? president obama has been keen on partnering with, you know, bringing power to africa. mark zuckerberg is trying to bring connectivity -- charlie: the internet. bono: there are a lot of people.
i think, actually, there is about to emerge a new security and development of narrative. started in africa but partnered in europe and america that is going to change the game with regards to africa. certainly north africa. the middle east. with the refugee crisis, people are looking, what can we do here? there is a phenomena, the three extremes. you have extreme poverty, extreme climate, and extreme ideology. and this unholy trinity is where all the problems are. from northern mali, northern nigeria, across sudan, all the way to somalia and you could argue all the way to afghanistan . people scrambling to make a living. a hard life.
we need to understand this. we need to be there. african leaders, the president of nigeria, entrepreneurs, saying we have to deal with this. in northern nigeria, i have been to a spot. there are 2 million people displaced there. the boko haram has torched their villages and towns. even though the nigerian military are making progress, they cannot return to their homes because they are not there. 2 million people displaced in northern nigeria. the stated objective of boko haram is that the stabilization -- is the stabilization of nigeria. it is 10 times the population of syria. you see with the refugee crisis did to europe.
it probably resulted in brexit. that is a population of 20 million people. nigeria is 209 people. this 220 million people. it is very important it succeeds. nigeria fails, africa fails. if africa fails, europe fails. if europe fails, america is in deep -- charlie: tell me how you see this in terms of this great rock star. what skills he has, what is it? that motivates him? what is it he uses to rally these points of power to make a difference? bono: i want to say back to you,
it is the same thing that has this table become the stuff of legend. it is an old-fashioned, ancient idea. pretentious to mention. that greek idea of the whole society, is it not? it should not be unusual to have scientists, artists, mathematicians, poets. comedians, philosophers. contributing. that is how ireland was formed. everyone was welcome. the world of ideas. you are interested in it, i am interested in it. that is what motivates me. how could you, for instance, the development agenda used to be a thing of the left. a creature of the left. if they are hammering on about poverty. that was underestimating people on the right. what we tried in the one
campaign, let's unite people. we have twice the support for people dying unnecessarily. commerce is always left out. the engines of commerce, the creative departments of coca-cola. they are great advertisers. can we use their advertising? charlie: they have trucks in africa that could be used to deliver edison. bono: we worked to get those trucks to get drugs to people. refrigeration was the key. i will tell you something else. i went to a meeting in coke. i put a can of coke on the table, in atlanta for the ceo looked. i said, that can, we can put it on the cover of time magazine. it is going to change the world. you are going to get into some
trouble if we do what we ask you, but it will be the most incredible riot of interest in your brand you haven't seen for 20 years. i said, picked it up. he picked it up. i'm not following you. i said, look underneath. underneath, in the concave space, we had a condom. i'm not asking you to put this in supermarkets. people will be upset. you are conservative company. the argument, wake up, people. charlie: the battle against aids. what did they say? bono: it was too hot to handle, that particular thing.
they became a red partner. they have been great. like apple, like starbucks. we have so many extraordinary companies. we are trying to use, to answer your question, trying to use everything. everyone. don't leave anyone out of this. this is the most important project ever. a project of human dignity. a project of bringing people out of despair. charlie: about giving and the essentials of life. shelter, food. bono: it is about partnering with people.
charlie: providing the opportunity. bono: poverty and despair is not a natural condition. it is man-made and it can be unmade by man, said a famous african, nelson mandela. charlie: some would ask, why you? bono: i am not sure. i would say the irishness is part of it. even across generations, it is probably that. wherever you go in africa, there are people, irish nuns and priests jumping out from behind bushes. irish people are very affronted by injustice. everybody is, but i think maybe we are just very vocal about it and we get organized. charlie: in the end, you are saying it is your irishness. bono: it is part of that. because my faith is something i
don't feel comfortable talking about, i try to serve it. yes, service is important. it is an old-fashioned, slightly boring word. i'm not somebody that can wear that badge. i'm not a very pious person but i believe in those values, service. i think in the scriptures, there are over 2000 versus referring to poverty. charlie: i think that is what christ's mission is about. bono: aside from redemption, the second theme of the scriptures is poverty. that is the only time christ speaks in judgment, how you treat the poor.
he says how you treat the least of these is how you treat me. a lot of people think, sexual, a moral behavior every they have stolen something from work or whatever. christ did not speak about anything like that. he just spoke how we speak about the poor. in terms of judgmentalism, it is important to get our priorities right. charlie: at some point, people will start asking you this question. they have already asked bill gates. i think they know the answer. most people now will say, bill gates will be remembered far more for what he has done around the world in terms of global poverty and malaria. he will be remembered for that more than the fact that he founded microsoft. is there going to come a time
when we think of bono more about good deeds then good music? bono: i hope not. i will tell you what i'm hoping. one has now, 7 million members. the one campaign. 3 million of them are in africa. i think in the next few years, membership south of the equator is going to work membership south of the equator. their voices are going to drown out theirs and mine and i look forward to the day. charlie: who are they? bono: they are the young, the next new africans. civil society people. university students who know their potential is not being used. they are changing their world. we are just hopefully partnering with them.
i will soon be out of a job as an activist who has to sit at your table. charlie: tiger wood? bono: i asked. i wanted to know. charlie: are your mates, are they wholeheartedly with you? did they say go do it we are with you? or did they say, in some cases, did you have to get involved? bono: they are wholeheartedly behind us with caveats. don't make a -- of yourself. they don't say that. charlie: don't embarrass us. bono: they are enormous contributors, i think it is $15 million to red. red is going to get to half $1 billion by the end of this cycle.
we just had the largest cycle in history because mr. trudeau worked his -- off. charlie: what do you think of the pope? bono: i have not met francis. charlie: have you asked? bono: i am due to meet him. we have corresponded. he is a remarkable man and what i think it's, debt cancellation, all those years ago, the catholic church made that cancellation a priority. my argument was why did you not tell people what was accomplished? they succeeded. $120 billion of debts were canceled. that money was spent largely on
education. charlie: you are so alive, talking about this. it is a moving part, and energizing part of who you are, who you are being today. at the same time, the music is there. it is central to who you are. central to you, what defines you. those songs are answers to questions that you ask yourself about who you are and what you are about, and memory. bono: you love music. you get it. you know, i have become more indulgent in music. i have become less -- about the
music because in my other life, i get to do that. i think it is ok for artists to occasionally stare at their naval. charlie: you like all of it. bono: you mentioned bill gates and microsoft. when people forget i am in u-2, i think it is all the same thing. bill, talking to him about leaving microsoft, this is a guy that will change the world twice. who gets to change the world once? he gets to change the world twice. first with microsoft and then the foundation. wherever you find people like myself, shaking the tree, you will find bill gates and melinda gates are in their camp.
we couldn't move without the bill and melinda gates foundation. i remember having my first conversation about the gates and he wasn't sure about advocacy. even the richest man in the world discovered, as deep as his pockets were, he had to work in partnership with governments to really shift the needle, which is what he has done. charlie: he will tell you that, he couldn't do what he did unless you got government involved. government is the own -- only institution with the resources and power to do it. what you have done, what bill has done in his own way and others, they have tried to ignite the resources of the private sector because there is so much talent. it is about technology, it is
about mobilizing as someone once said about winston churchill, he mobilized the english language to defeat hitler. mobilizing all of these tools to change the world. bono: is great. using profit. charlie: it gives you the freedom to do it. >> i suppose entrepreneurial capitalism is part of the program. i started out as an activist who had no understanding or even regard for commerce. now i understand, commerce is essential. the most essential component of taking people out of extreme poverty. i learned from africans to take commerce seriously. the great telecom guy, he is probably the strongest voice.
he said, invest in africa. if you believe in it, if you take it seriously, if it is an equal conversation, trade with us. i find myself in a plane. i am over dar es salaam. in finnegan's pub, in dublin. i'm flying over dar es salaam. i am seeing these quarries and railway yards. it is jobs, the country of tanzania is going to be great. he says, brother. we've got to go into the studio, okay? i realized i could go too far. this is where i am at. it is all the same to me.