A Note to Bono: We Forgive You

With or Without You
With or Without You
John Shearer

Bono's been on my shit list for a while.

Sure, "I Will Follow" is impossible not to bob your head to, and I have found myself humming along to "The Sweetest Thing," but the lead singer of U2 has always annoyed me with his self-importance. Presenting himself as a patron saint for every charity, placing U2's new album without our permission on everyone's iTunes, not to mention that he's inspired every annoying overly earnest arena-rock band from Coldplay to Bastille.

By the same token, it could be pointed out that he's also brought much publicity to many worthy causes, and he saved all his fans money by giving them his new record for free. But still... Coldplay. Bastille.

See also: Five Other Ways U2 Might Impose Its Music Upon Us

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Regardless, even the darkest souls felt bad for Bono when he was reported to be in a bad bicycle accident last November. The harshest Bonophobe had to appreciate him when Bruce Springsteen and Chris Martin sat in with U2 for a recuperating Bono and butchered renditions of "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "With or Without You," respectively, at the 2014 World AIDS Day concert.

But for the first time in my life, my heart actually went out to Bono when he wrote on his band's website, "Recovery has been more difficult than I thought. As I write this, it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again." He added with gallows humor, "The band have reminded me that neither they nor Western civilization are depending on this."

The cynic in me can't help but think this is a marketing ploy. A way to hype up the 2015 summer U2 tour Bono is trying to rehabilitate in time for. That he's building an artificial moment of triumph when he strikes his first G chord.

But I have also been where Bono lies and know the fear of what can be taken away from you because of a stupid injury. Five years ago, I broke my right wrist. The doctors said I would make a full recovery after they surgically inserted a pin in my scaphoid and completed physical therapy. As I sat healing in a hot plaster cast, the fear entered my head that I would now never have the chance to become a professional masseuse, win a world arm-wrestling championship, or follow through on another jump shot on a basketball court. Worst, though, was the fear that I would never again be able to strum my Takamine guitar.

There was something overly human, more relatable to me than any of his U2 lyrics when Bono expressed this same fear. He's known for his voice and words. The stadiums will fill up around the world whether the titanium implanted in his elbow allows him to play guitar or not. But it's scary even with all his riches and adulation to think that your ability to create music can be taken away from you. As he expressed simply, "I personally would very much miss fingering the frets of my green Irish falcon or my (RED) Gretsch."

Get better soon, Bono. Take your physical therapy seriously, and when you're back picking at your guitar, maybe we can talk about cutting down on all those annoying Apple ads.

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