tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg December 28, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: bono is here. ms. earmarks -- this year marks the 40th anniversary of the rock band u2. u2 has sold more than 157 million records and 122 grammys. he is also known for his rockstar status and for his philanthropic work around the globe. u2 is celebrating its 10th anniversary with red. over the weekend, u2 made $100 million to fight aids and malaria. he recently returned from a trip to nigeria. he has visited refugees in
turkey. and i am very pleased to have him back. welcome. you are a traveling man. bono: i am a traveler, that is it. that is it. i guess i signed up when i joined a rock and roll band at age 16. charlie: indeed. with a couple of teenage friends. tell me about how nice and how close that was. bono: when you talk about these things, it is easy to forget that your drama is such a tiny shard of the dramas going on around you. but yeah, we were there. it was bastille night. we were looking at the fireworks. we left and came back to the table. realized we first
something was wrong when a police car reversed down a one-way street. and from there, taken away, then a stampede, tables and chairs thrown everywhere. this woman and her son, huddled. i got our party back to the window and under tables. we brought this woman and her son. the heavy thing about it was, he was calming her down, he was like a 10-year-old. saying, "mama, it is ok." i think she was having a panic attack. we weren't panicked. i don't know, maybe growing up in ireland, it is probably just spookseworks that people. 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. awful thoughts. the local services they were , amazing.
the french did it right. they made sure everyone was safe. i was very grateful to them. and tried to pay respect to the families. but it is -- that is really all that matters. charlie: you are right about that. but 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 rehearsing a mile away when all of that went off. it keeps happening. charlie: that was to be the final venue for the tour. bono: yes. 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 ♪ people have the power >> yeah!
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. and they want to divide us. i thought, when we went back, it wasn't about the melody, it was about harmony. that is what i felt. 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: indeed it is. always, that is the first thing i think about when i think about rock 'n roll. bono: there is nothing more romantic. it is the essence of romance. and joy is the ultimate act of defiance. if you think of music, the
beatles or mozart or beethoven, i mean, you know irish people, , we can surrender to melancholy any day of the week and cry into a beer. what i am really attracted to -- u2 was formed on that idea of pure joy as an act of defiance. charlie: the music continues. bono: the music, remember, it gives me the currency. it has given us alive. and our music was always wrapped around social justice. which is where you and i met. fighting extreme poverty. that is how i got in the door. people were not expecting i wouldn't leave. but 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
you have for social activism, in any way 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. and i remember bringing jesse helms to the show. edge was upset about that. in regards to time, it is odd. for me, i see all the stuff i do as the same thing. they might see it as a multi-personality disorder. but i see melodies and ideas as being the same thing. or 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 this sort of arc, a
beautiful arc. and a certain 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 -- was never there. [laughter] charlie: you would say that but your band would not. bono: they would, actually. n't but they would would. [laughter] 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. and i have had a few of them. discovering my head was not as hard as everything i tried to against, not as hard as the ground, is humbling to me. i was not expecting that. i have always been on top of things. and my body -- edge says i look at my body like an inconvenience. [laughter] bono: i never thought about that. charlie: i do too. bono: 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. but it is about realizing there
is an elastic limit in your life. and you as an artist don't feel don't see limits, but you as a person are now part of that. and i'm not sure i like that very much. charlie: you went back in the last album, "songs of 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 you have to 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. but on the last album, i decided i need to know, why am i like this? where do i come from? what is this rage? why am i in a band?
all of those kinds of questions. and i got to these ordinary situations that lots of people have had, where they go, my mother died when i was 14. and you know, you will get over it. but 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 that i was fighting with. that is where the music came from. 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. i mean, you as a sort of jazzman
conversationalist, you are the way that you move around the table with words. but actually it is when we shut , up that another kind of talking goes on. a spiritual life, whatever you want to call it. music, i think, connects us with our spirit. our spiritual life. and i think all music is worship, actually. and if it is not god, it can be anything. you can be woman, it can be a lot of bad things. it is always worship. charlie: you just had a hugely successful tour. >> ♪ i don't dream ♪ >> ♪ i don't think about you that much
charlie: beyond the money, beyond promoting the album, does it speak to you in terms of how the audience sees the songs? do you get feedback from them about the lyrics? bono: it is very passionate. charlie: we fight. 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. yes, yes. bono: it was on the cover. the los angeles times said, the most irresponsible thing they had ever seen. i went in with a white flag and people were ripping the flag and i started smacking them. me making this whole sort of nonviolent protest.
and then i am in all of that. that relationship with our audience is everything to this band. that is where we live. our albums and our recordings are good. we have done some good stuff. charlie: yes you have. bono: but it is great, because it is lies. -- live. 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 the change it every night. you pick up their feelings in the room. a song can mean something paris than in new york. it means something different. ♪
how your love is teaching me how to kneel ♪ charlie: do you like rehearsals? bono: no, i'm not good at rehearsals. which is why i am here, by the way. [laughter] bono: they don't know i am here. this is the story of my life. charlie: you don't like it? bono: i don't like it. i cannot connect. getting into the songs for me is commitment. i wake up in the morning feeling nauseous and i need to step inside the songs. when it is going great, the songs are singing you. and 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. so i remember, and 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. charlie: what is this talent?
bono: 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 gift, it is like an inherited wealth. being talented, i tell this to people, be humble. 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. i would rather it be 10, but it will probably be 12. charlie: what is it about? 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 remarkable book. he won a nobel prize. a great irish poet. bono: the last poem, called "kite." i think it is about his death premonition. another poet advised me once, he said, to write as if you are dead. charlie: i know. bono: he said, to do that is to be free of ego. you are free. 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. and i was like -- what is this what about? 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: yes. that is the theme of it. it has changed. funny, 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. serendipity. charlie: i was calling it compromise. bono: right. charlie: 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 -- . to be honest. but right a lot. inrlie: as incorrect -- as correct. bono: 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 -- earned 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. it is in paris and the united states. it is in brussels and his -- it is 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. i mean when you look at donald , trump, and his candidacy, and you have said wonderful things about america. you said that america was more than a nation, an idea.
does trump come to you as 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: look, america is the best idea the world ever came up with but donald trump is potentially the worst idea that ever happened to america. potentially. he could destroy us. because of what we are saying. america is not just a country. ireland is a nice country. great britain is a great country. all the rest. america is an idea. that idea is bounded up in justice and equality for all. equality and justice for all. and this -- you know, i think of lazarus, 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. look, i have spent 20 years, nearly 20 years now, fiercely bipartisan. i am going to stay that way. and i have enormous respect for the party of abraham lincoln. some of the greatest workers, they come from conservative traditions republicans are close , friends of mine. i don't think he is a republican. charlie: what is it? bono: 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. i think it is -- this is really dangerous. wise people of , conscience should not let this man turn your country into a casino. charlie: why do you think --
this race running against a , united states senator, the first lady, and the race is about even. bono: i would not diminish trump supporters, underestimate their angst. because i feel in a way, they have correctly assessed the center parties have not yet become clear. charlie: in other words, you are saying the angst is real and genuine. the sense that i worry about my country and where it is. bono: there are very real problems facing not just america, facing europe. and remember who is in the white , house? i am irish. i do not have a vote. 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 an absence of -- i worry he will put the country at risk. i worry about his instincts. bono: yes, i worry on every single front. and 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. charlie: some will argue that 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. a popbecause she is not star, a show woman, she is not simplistic? charlie: whether or not she is something. i spoke it -- spoke about it last week. they recognize that there was this issue of trust. there is clearly part -- so mad.at is a of all the mad things. just on a purely psychological a -- if i'mestly is all overre, she us. it is tough love with her. she is very proper. it is so mad people thinks
there is a something nefarious, because she is the opposite. this privacy thing, maybe she has gone overboard. who can blame her, with that history? 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, can you imagine how i feel 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 working doing , incredible jobs. some very sophisticated, some americans do not want to do. i am irish. i am very offended. we were refugees, economic refugees. we got off the boat smelling bad. we were rough. no blacks and irish, we know the story. but we have made a contribution to america. i think most americans will agree, the irish are part of your story. charlie: the country is built on immigrants. bono: the country is built on this principle. the promised land belongs to those who need it most, surely.
10th anniversary, red. and a couple philanthropy things. a new push to electrify africa. which i think is a great idea. i was thinking about u.n. died. i remember you came to sit here at this table, talking about debt forgiveness. bono: that was at this table, that is true. charlie: you came here, selling the idea of debt forgiveness. how long ago was that? bono: a long time ago. could be 16 years ago. charlie: we've got countries in africa 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. isn't that incredible? charlie: it is unbelievable. what is electrify africa? bono: what is going on now, the narrative of development has
changed. it has changed the world is , getting excited about the continent. by 2050, it will be twice the population of china. worlds be a third of the at youth. imagine that, culture, music. 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 narrative. started in africa but partnered
in europe and america that is going to change the game with regards to africa. certainly north africa. and into 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 as a geological phenomenon, you could say it goes all the way to afghanistan. parched earth, people scraping
by to make a living, hard, hard life. and we need to understand this and 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 ofthe destabilization nigeria, which is a gray zone. let me put one thought in your head. that is 10 times the population of syria.
you see what syria adjusted to europe with the refugee crisis. it probably resulted in brexit. that is a population of 20 million people. nigeria is 200 million people. it is very important it succeeds. if nigeria fails, africa fails. if africa fails, europe fails. if europe fails, america is in deep -- charlie: you have everybody involved in red. more than $360 billion. tell me how you see this in terms of this great rock star. what skills he has, what is it? what is it that motivates him and 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 a the stuff of legend. it is an old-fashioned, ancient idea. pretentious dimension, but it is that greek idea of the whole society, is it not? it should not be unusual to have scientists, artists, mathematicians, poets, drunks, 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. from preventable, treatable diseases, or whatever. 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 medicine. bono: that is absolutely right. one of the founders it worked with coca-cola to get those trucks to get drugs to people in rural africa refrigeration was , the key. i will tell you something else we never told anybody. i went to a meeting in coke. i put a can of coke on the table, in atlanta, and the ceo looked. i said, that can, we can put it on the cover of time magazine. it is going to change the world. but 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 that you have not seen for 20 years. he said, what is it? it is a regular can. i said, pick it up. he picked it up. he said i'm not following you. , i said, look underneath. underneath, in the concave space, we had a condom. i said i'm not asking you to put , this in supermarkets. but could we do it? yes, people will be upset. you are conservative company. but even the argument, wake up, people. charlie: the battle against aids. take a boring story, throw it in the bin. charlie: what did they say? charlie: --bono: it was too hot to handle, that particular
thing. they became a red partner. they have been great. like apple, like starbucks. like belvedere. we have so many extraordinary companies now. 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. which is what? a project of human dignity. a project of bringing people out of despair. when they don't have to live there. charlie: about giving them the essentials of life. shelter, food. bono: it is about partnering with people. charlie: providing the opportunity. so they can provide for their own. 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. irish alzheimer's, we never forget. even across generations. wherever you go in africa, there are people, irish nuns and priests jumping out from behind bushes. irish people are very affronted by injustice. very affronted. 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. and your life experience. 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 verses 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.
in matthew he says how you treat 25. the least of these is how you treat me. judgeof people think and sexually immoral behavior, or they have stolen something from work or whatever. christ did not speak about anything like that. he spoke about how we treat 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. although bill is very proud of what he did at microsoft. 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 dwarf membership and north of the equator. and i think 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. -- your tiger wood table. charlie: tiger wood? bono: i asked. i wanted to know. i was like, what is this? 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 go get involved? bono: they are wholeheartedly behind us with caveats. charlie: what are the caveats? bono: 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 replenishment cycle in history in canada because prime minister 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 has the tiniest writing. he is a remarkable man and what i think is, debt cancellation, all those years ago, the catholic church made debt cancellation of priority -- a priority. my argument was why did you not tell people what was accomplished? because we succeeded. $120 billion of debts were canceled. that money was spent largely on education.
i next to 46 million children. here is an interesting thing from my perspective. you are so alive, talking about this. it is a moving part, an energizing part of who you are, who you are being today. and yet 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 clearly love music, and 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. the danger with solipsism is, i think it is ok for artists to occasionally stare at their navel. charlie: you like all of it. bono: you mentioned bill gates and microsoft. when people forget i am in u2, 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. eradicating diseases. once? he gets to change the worldwhere 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. honestly, it is incredible. it is funny i remember having my with billnversation gates about advocacy and he was not sure about it. he is the richest man in the world. 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 only institution with the resources necessary and the power to do it. it has to lead the way. but 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. bono: that is great. charlie: it is about mobilizing all of these tools to change the world. bono: that is great. but using profit. profit gives you the freedom to do it. bono: i suppose entrepreneurial capitalism is part of the program. by the way 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 us seriously if it is an , equal conversation, trade with us. i find myself in a plane. i am over dar es salaam. i'm telling the story in finnegan's pub, in dublin. i am saying i'm flying over dar , es salaam. i am seeing these quarries and railway yards. i'm am seeing this industry and i know what it means, it is jobs. the country of tanzania is going to be great. he says, brother. we've got to go into the studio, okay? like a much l. chill., i realized i could go too far. this is where i am at. ♪
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