What If Bono Died?

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.

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23 Responses to What If Bono Died?

  1. B Wood says:

    This is a little odd this topic in general. I do not understand why so many poeple hate the man. I actually got so annoyed with my mate’s anti bono chat I ended up doing an article on in.
    have a look if you want http://academicviews.hubpages.com/hub/Why-do-people-hate-Bono

    • larrylootsteen says:

      I long ago stopped trying to decipher it. I don’t try and convince anyone that they’re wrong. Because you can’t. As much as we all try and fight our prejudices, so many of us don’t. In large part, I think the state of politics is now in the same category. Irrational hatred for what seems to make obvious and human sense.

      I get labeled a liberal, and I am. But I also appreciate conservatism. If there was a reasonable middle road, I’d be there. No such thing exists these days. Much the same can be said for Bono hate. C’est la vie!!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your article. Much appreciated…

  2. Darrell Childress says:

    First, let me say that I would be deeply affected by Bono’s death on a certain level. I’ve been a fan of theirs since 1983 and I can honestly say that nothing (or no one) has had a larger or longer impact on my life than music (all music, not just U2). Just last week, I had a conversation with a friend about how no one really knows what heaven or hell is really like (if you believe in heaven and hell…I do), and that maybe hell is actually not the same for everyone. If that be the case, hell for me would definitely be a place with no music – that’s how important music is in my life (SN:I am also a musician but do not make a living from it)…and no one’s music has been more central to my life and experiences than U2’s – you could say that U2’s music has been the soundtrack to my life (albeit in small way, don’t take that out of context). So, therefore, I’d be greatly impacted…..but, would I cry as though I had lost a close personal friend?? No, definitely not. He and his music and his works would be greatly missed.
    I just heard on one of the morning shows this morning where Nancy Grace was “blabbering” about Whitney’s death and her words were something to the effect of, “Someone that I love just died, and I’d like to know how she died”. Say what???? She throws that out there like she and Whitney were close friends who met once a week for dinner and a movie.
    I like your blog, and have a strong appreciation for your objectivity in it. I will always think that U2 is the greatest band in the world, but I’m objective enough to know that that means in MY world. Thanks for making me think!

    • larrylootsteen says:

      Wow! Great write up Darrell! And thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings! And I appreciate the kind words. Objectivity and balance seem to be my favourite words of late…

      • Allan Dowd says:

        Maybe, maybe not….I’m sort of hoping, that singers and songwritters, are trying to get as close to us as they can…if I wrote a song that made someone else feel just one of the feelings…that would be getting closer, wouldn’t it? and yeh, I do feel a little loss, and I did like her songs.

      • larrylootsteen says:

        I agree that there’s an attempt to connect in some way. I don’t think of it as familial as much as selfish. But given her disasterous comeback and her life over the last how many years, what is it you re missing? Her or the songs? What she might have been? What she was aand never moved beyond? Again, I understand the tinge of sadness. Just not the outpouring for a life that was lost a very long time ago.

        I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Feel free to counterpoint!

  3. Daniel says:

    I’m a huge U2 fan, but as you said, I wouldn’t crash into the streets, weeping and tearing my hair in grief if Bono died tomorrow. I would be sad, and it might feel a little odd for a while to be in a post-U2 world. I discovered U2 just as I was starting to build myself a musical vocabulary in the early 90’s (Achtung Baby), along with bands like The Tragically Hip, Tori Amos, and Nine Inch Nails. I will always treasure the music (and still wish I could get Achtung Baby on vinyl!), but I certainly can’t say that I’d be devastated. I’d listen to the music a lot more, too. I might cry to One Tree Hill or Heartland, but I almost always do 🙂

    • larrylootsteen says:

      Hey Daniel! Thanks for sharing that. Yeah One Tree Hill and Red Hill Mining Town are my two crusher songs that just grab the insides and rips them out so I know what you mean there!

      • Daniel says:

        I’m also a musician (though just casually), and some of my favourite music to perform is U2. The real genius of U2’s music is how they make such simple songs sound so fantastic with a lot of texture. Best example might be Desire, which is a bit of a barn burner, and is dead simple to pick up. Played that one with a couple of the bands I sing with.

  4. Buzz Collins says:

    Great blog!! For the record, I was lucky enough to hang out with Bono for several hours at a private party after a concert on their Popmart tour. From my own experience, I can tell you he came across as an unbelievably down to earth regular guy with a great sense of humour. I had to remind myself at times that I was chatting with the world’s biggest rock star.

    • larrylootsteen says:

      That seems to be a regular reaction when he’s out in the crowd, private or public. He has that image kind of like George Clooney. Someone that everyone wants to be around.

      That said, would you cry, vigil or otherwise?

      Thanks for sharing that!

      • Buzz Collins says:

        Not much into vigils. Certainly wouldn’t cry. Let’s say I’d be very “reflective”.

      • larrylootsteen says:

        See? That’s what I’m talking about. That’s appropriate I think for an artist. I’ve been a U2 fan since 1980 and reflective is as far as I’d go. All the wailing and blubbering for Whitney is ridiculous, especially considering her career tanked forever ago. I think more people would have went ‘oh yeah, I remember her’ then be truly shocked. She’s been off everyone’s radar for a very long time.

  5. versana says:

    Yeah, I do have to agree with you here. No matter how much I’ve enjoyed say my favorite actress Elizabeth Taylor, I didn’t know her – just her body of work. Michael Jackson is hands down one the best entertainers that ever lived, still I didn’t know him. I mention these two people because their deaths made me pause and watch her movies and play his music – still playing! Years ago, my then estranged 18 yo daughter called sobbing her little heart out – because Tu Poc Shakur (not sure of the spelling) died. My first impulse was to laugh because to my knowledge she didn’t know this person; however, I listened patiently and when she finished sobbing asked her how his death will change her life. Huh? Wut? Exactly, your life goes on as before because that person doesn’t really impact your day to day living. Oh my goodness, now folks want the flags to fly half staff for Ms Houston. Really? I supposed it doesn’t hurt anyone, but do you think flags can fly half staff for me too? Lol, sorry about that – the news is on as I respond to this. I will mourn (appropriately) the lost of yet another human being…but ultimately I feel joy because it is my belief that we are spiritual being having a human experience and that we leave here bound for “that” which is better – a higher plane if you will.
    Stepping down now!

    • larrylootsteen says:

      Hey Versana! Thanks for sharing that! No question a body of work by anyone can have meaning. At the end of the day or the end of a life it’s okay to be thankful for what we’ve been given. I just think reactions to these things have been heightened by the media frenzy that is celebrity. I just want people to think about what they do. It really is all about balance.

  6. Cath says:

    I agree with most of what you say, that it really is ridiculous to cry as if you had lost someone close, someone you knew very well.
    But what if you cry for all the beautiful songs he won’t be able to write anymore, all those lyrics that actually touch us, that makes us feel understood and less lonely because at least someone else is feeling the way we do? I would cry for that, I’m pretty sure of it.
    I would definitely put Bono in the legend category, because he achieved incredible things not only musically but also in an humanitarian way (ok he’s trying at least)…

    • larrylootsteen says:

      I’m not trying to be a heartless bastard here so I hope you understand when I ask you why you would cry for what you don’t know? What if he lost his mojo and started writing crap or just decided to retire? Would you cry if he retired?

      And thank you for writing. It’s actually a good question!

      • Cath says:

        Well you’ve probably got a point here. I would cry if he died tomorrow because I’m sure he still would have had a lot of beautiful thoughts to share with us but I don’t really know how I would react if he started writing about crap like you said. I’m probably too optimist but I hope this will never happen! I hope that when he dies (and I truly hope it won’t happen in the next twenty years), he will die at the top!

  7. smirkdirk says:

    “Online wailing wall” <—– nice

  8. Guila Greer says:

    Reblogged this on Guila's Art & Other Assorted Joys and commented:
    A very interesting article from Larry Lootsen’s blog

  9. Guila Greer says:

    Larry – THANK YOU for writing your sentiments regarding the public reaction to Whitney Houston’s death. I so completely agree with you. I wanted to say Whoa everybody – you’re acting like it was the pope or a president or a beloved parent. Pullease!!! And then I read an online headline: “Did they do enough to honor Whitney at the Grammy’s?” Seriously?
    I love all the work of Bono and U2 and would indeed be saddened at their loss. So far as where they should be on the echelon of top musical artists? High up for sure but we also have to consider how they compare to Elvis and the Beatles insofar as their impact on culture and the evolution of contemporary music. That’s something I want to give some more thought to.

    • larrylootsteen says:

      I really didn’t think I was alone in this. I don’t think the media helps at all. At least the family opted for the personal, closed funeral. thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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