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Bono Talks Poverty and Why He’s Not A Fan Of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’

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Bono appeared on CBS This Morning Thursday (May 16) to talk to host Charlie Rose about activism and music. Bono’s appearance comes on the heels of a new biography, The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power) that denounces the U2 frontman’s anti-poverty campaigning (among other things). Though Rose and Bono never mentioned the book, written by Dublin-based writer Harry Browne, the singer’s appearance could be seen as a counter-argument to the unflattering biography.

In the interview,  the man born Paul Hewson said that he follows Nelson Mandela’s belief that “poverty is not a natural condition,” and that it is “manmade.” Bono made the point that his activism isn’t about “charity.” “I’ve always been on a justice tip,” he said, “rather than a charity one.”

On the topic of AIDS, he called the United States a “heroic story.” “You are way out in front in the fight against AIDS,” he told Rose, claiming that most of the 8 million worldwide on medication for the disease are alive because of the efforts of the U.S. “Do Americans know that? Do they know that they’re part of this incredible story? To me, this is as heroic as your intervention in the Second World War.”

Also discussed: Bono’s messianic complex, something Bono fully accepts, noting that “anyone who finds their way to the front of a rock band… has definitely got a messianic complex.”

Other revelations in the interview included the frontman’s thoughts on songwriting, saying “[Songs are] like your parents. They tell you what to do, they tell you how to behave, they tell you how to misbehave, how to dress. Everything you do is directed by the songs.” He also discussed his motivation behind a new U2 album, saying that he doesn’t want to make a new record “unless it’s great.”

Perhaps most interesting were his thoughts on John Lennon — in particular, his opinion of the legendary singer’s classic “Imagine”: a tune that, on the surface, might seem fairly in line with Bono’s worldview.

“I don’t play that song; it’s the only John Lennon song I don’t like,” he admitted. “I love so many things about John Lennon; he wrote the blueprint. But imagining wasn’t one of them. I’m more about doing, more about actions, following my nose [and] following my curiosity to understand people better, understand the world better [and] understand myself better.”

The full interview can be viewed on Rose’s PBS interview show, The Charlie Rose Show, tonight.

-Kevin Rutherford, Radio.com

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