I have asked myself this question before but I’ve never really written about it. I thought this deserved a look.
With the recent death of Whitney Houston I was struck by what amounts to a truly insane reaction. People who never met her or got to see her perform weeping like their own mother died. You can flame me for this but it annoys me. A lot.
Whitney Houston was a great talent. But I definitely don’t lump her in the same category as Elvis, John Lennon or Michael Jackson. She burned bright and burned out. She hasn’t done anything of note in years. Being dead doesn’t make you a legend. It isn’t even a requirement.
So I started asking myself, as a U2 fan, how would I react if Bono died?
Would I cry? Would I run out and find a vigil to attend? Would I start my own vigil? Would I have to travel to the funeral? Would I have to visit the grave? Would I start an online wailing wall?
No, no, no, NO, NO, NOOOOO.
I’m sorry to those of you who would. I just think it is the most ridiculous thing to weep for a celebrity who you don’t know. I am and would be thankful for the music and the outreach work he’s done.
The main problem with the fans I call the nutters is that they think they know the man. That the music, the interviews, even the brief conversation if they happen to meet makes them somehow ‘close’. It’s a fallacy. they have no idea how he is behind closed doors. They know nothing of his temper or temperament. And shit, yeah, maybe he is the super awesome dude you think he is. Or maybe he’s just a guy with a voice and knack for writing. Still doesn’t mean you really know him.
Be sad the voice is silenced. Be thankful for the words that may have touched you or helped you through a tough time. But don’t weep like he’s in your inner circle. Surprise! He isn’t.
But this all leads to another thought that often comes when considering the death of a celebrity. Does Bono fall into the same category as Elvis, John Lennon, Michael Jackson?
And that is what I call a tough question. The fan in me might automatically think ‘sure’!. But the objective observer in me questions that rationale.
Yes, he’s part of a band that sold way over 100 million records. They’ve recently had the biggest tour of all time. He’s penned some of the greatest songs of all time.
Unfortunately for me, that makes U2 one of the greatest bands ever. Bono has no solo work to speak of. Lennon may have been a Beatle but his arguably greatest work came after. Elvis and MJ did it on their own.
So my final answer is no, Bono does not rank with those legends. Close, but not quite. Frankly I don’t think Kurt Cobain does either. He left before we got the full picture.
All that said, I think Bono is a remarkable talent. I think U2 has always given a bit of an unfair shake among the music critics out there. I think that would prevent them from being considered as big as the Beatles but given their career, they do deserve the consideration. Even I have to pause when I think about whether they will be looked at that way. They may deserve it but I have a feeling they will be left at great but not amongst the greatest. I hope I’m wrong.
By the way, I almost titled this article ‘Bono Is Dead’. I thought the shock value would be worth it. But I really wanted to consider the question as it is and not do that to generate hots on my blog. I’m sure it would have done wonders! Please share your thoughts on all I’ve said here. Curious what everyone thinks.