Bono probes the mysteries of music in his work, his life and in ‘Sing 2’ | Ap
Bono is at home, literally, talking about his first major acting role and the enduring mystery of what he does for a living.
“Making music has been a great frustration for me as well as a great joy,” he said on a video call. “I didn’t have any musical training when I was a kid. So I have to depend on my three band mates and others to get the melodies I hear in my head or the ideas through. that is great frustration, that you depend on others – and great joy, that you depend on others – and they happen to be your best friends. “
When called a ‘real musician’, the famous U2 frontman smiles in this cozy room of his Dublin abode and says: ‘Well, maybe that is an exaggeration. That’s why I take care of it: I’m obsessed with what it takes to become one. But I know musicians. “
In “Sing 2,” Garth Jennings’ sequel to his 2016 hit on Mad Musical Animals, Bono voices Clay Calloway, a superstar singer-songwriter (described as a large, silver-maned lion) who has long been reclusive since the death of his wife. Much of the film is about Calloway’s search and how the “Sing” gang might persuade him to kiss her gift again. It’s a quest almost as unlikely as Jennings’ hopes of landing Bono for the movie.
But the two connected right away. “I ended up on the phone with [Jennings], walking in the hills of Los Angeles, “the singer said.” I got lost talking to him, all over the place – I didn’t know where I was. He made me talk about singing, the nature of singing, what it was like to be a singer, where singing comes from. And of course, being Irish, those are all the right questions! “
Briton Jennings, for his part, said he thought the pitch was a long shot. The “Sing 2” team, he says, “knew we needed a rock legend – not just a personality, but the music that would go with it. Bono was the first thought. He would be amazing and these songs would fit so well with that kind of story. But he won’t say “Yes.” I mean, he’s a lion.
“But he got it right away. He was almost selling it to me when we had this long conversation: ‘I understand what this character is; he has a great passionate feeling towards music and what ‘she can do for people.’ This story is really about healing, and U2 concerts can be like a religious experience.
Bono said, “The lion had lost its roar. We ended up talking about what would keep you from singing. We ended up talking about grief. Grief can open creativity or shut it down. It’s a topic I’m familiar with. unfortunately a little I’m talking to this guy about a kids movie; are we really going to talk about heartbreak? But that’s all the point of these animations, whether you use these funny characters to play around with deeper themes and more dark.
“Kids and their parents watch them over and over again. More than any other Oscar winning movie, these are part of our consciousness. They help shape the way we see things.
“Some of the music from my childhood that we were told was superficial and shouldn’t be taken seriously turned out to be some of the most important music of my life. Back in the days of punk rock, we didn’t recognize a nightclub, ”he says with a smile. “But disco is such a light touch – just over an hour ago we were listening to Sister Sledge, ‘Lost in Music.’ Comedy, to me, is a light touch.”
Jennings says that although the singer is a newbie to acting, little guidance was needed.
“He understood what the character was and you must have felt for him, that he was cantankerous and provocative and a little intimidating, but underneath everything was really, really sad. Drenched in grief. ‘Just be the surly neighbor, old and mean. ‘ And when it came to getting to the root of it all, “Don’t be afraid to break a bit.” “
Still, there are some lively moments that run through these walls of grief. “Malice was the first instinct,” Bono says. “Clay Calloway was a little badass. He rode motorcycles and fired paintballs at the kids climbing on his door. I enjoyed that.”
Jennings helped the singer tap into the badass lion inside. “Garth said, in that same room, ‘Did you meet any other lions? I said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He said, “What is the striking feature? I said, “It’s that low rumble. You can’t explain it to people.” So the growl… I went down to the kitchen here and said to [wife] Ali, ‘I think I understood the lion’s voice.’ She said she thought it was more of a stray dog. But there. I have been from house to house for meals all my life. Here’s the thing – applying that low growl to the vocals of a song like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” the tenor voice, I ran into a little problem. So I had to bring a little country there. I must have passed myself off as a man who had had a few cigars. “
It is all part of the passionate pilgrim’s relentless quest to learn, as he puts it: “What makes people sing, why do I sing, where does it come from?”
“I am amazed at the ability of a song to become what you need right now. hear a woman with her fish and chips sing “Help Me Make It Through the Night” by Kris Kristofferson. She was just clinging to every line for her dear life. “He yells in an approximation of her unadorned glory:” ‘I don’t care who’s right or wrong …’ Singing for anyone and everyone, without accompaniement. I don’t think you can find this online, but this is one of the better versions.
“I think some people sing for very desperate reasons and there’s no amount of money you can pay them. It’s kind of a vulnerability there. You sing for fun, you sing. to show you, you’re singing in the tub. But there’s another one. reason some people sing and I wanted to write this song. “
And he did. The initial conversation with Jennings sparked a new song, “Your Song Saved My Life”.
Jennings said, “He said, ‘Sure, that would make a great song. Wouldn’t that be great? ‘ I said, “That would be amazing,” but I thought it was kind of like when people say, “You have to come to dinner,” but they never really ask you. [dialogue] recording session, and he’s like, ‘By the way, I have a song.’
“Now I think, ‘It’s stressful. What if I don’t like it? “He played it and halfway through, I say to myself:” This is the end of the film! ” I try not to cry in front of Bono. He said to me, ‘That’s good, isn’t it?’ I’m like ‘Jesus, this is awesome!’ “
Bono hadn’t thought of the title; he couldn’t let go.
“I thought about the songs that got me through my life, and I wanted to write them there and then with [U2 guitarist] Edge, and he said he “kind of hid those chords from me”, “If you’re skipping those chords, if you’re ready to skip, there are some great tunes for you here… Here they are!” And we got there. Yeah, there’s a little bit of Elton John in there, I think, “he laughs.
“I tried the verse lyrics in a number of different ways, but found it right to cut it off right away. Some of U2’s best songs start in the middle of the conversation: ‘It’s Monday morning /’ At 4 a.m. and a quarter “- bop, you’re in the game. I think my favorite line is, “What are you hiding behind those eyes / Can someone find you there or is it just me?” I like that a question is hung right before the chorus blows.
“The verses could have gone in different directions, but the chorus, I knew that. I knew how to sing that.”
The idea became so ingrained in Bono’s consciousness that, for his 60th birthday, he posted a list of “60 Songs That Saved My Life” on the U2 website along with fan letters qu ‘he wrote to songwriters or their families. Wanting to take the idea even further, the group and Universal partnered with Education Through Music, a nonprofit that partners with “underfunded schools to bring music as a major to all students.” , according to its site. ETM’s work is highlighted in a special video for “Your Song Saved My Life” featuring some of its students.
Getting Bono into the movie was just the first step. The production also had to authorize the use of U2 songs. The whole group had to be behind.
“The question from the band’s perspective was, ‘It’s inspired by a children’s movie, isn’t it?’”, Recalls the singer. “‘Yeah, he’s a great artist, Garth, and we should be honored to be a part of that. There are going to be other songs from U2 -‘ ‘What ?! It’s not just one song ? ‘ “No, if we’re in there, we’re in all the way. I’m going to be in the movie. “” Are you going to be in the movie? “
“I have a lot to explain in my life at U2; it’s just the nature of democracy, which, as Bruce Springsteen said, is’ great for countries like Iraq, but in a group? ‘”Bono said with a big laugh.
He then showed them a key scene in which porcupine Ash, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, sings a heartfelt, stripped-down version of the band’s “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”.
“I’ve known Scarlett since she was a kid, I feel like,” Bono says, after working with the actress on the (Red) campaign to harness the power of big brands against pandemics. “She’s so punk rock, nothing will make her nervous. Even though she would love to sing that, she just has a little street about her.”
Maybe there is something that could make Johansson nervous. “I didn’t have the pleasure of singing with Bono in person, although it was probably for the best as it would have taken me an hour or two to get over my nerves,” the actress told The Envelope. The two recorded their parts of the song separately. “I guess I was probably more nervous doing a ‘duet’ with Bono than having to play with me.”
“Scarlett is passionate about music,” Bono says. “She approached it very lovingly. She made that song her own. And you have to be true by that point or people don’t care. I wasn’t surprised that she could pull it off. But the band l ‘was,’ he said with that MacPhisto smile. “I think it blew them all away. I just had to put that scene on, ‘OK? Your songs are in good hands.'”
So Bono, evangelist of the Church of Music, won new converts among his lifelong friends.
“It’s a real thing for me when I watch what I’m doing and I’m like, ‘Wow, this thing is unknowable.’ You will never be a teacher; you will always be a student as you study the songs and why they touch you or why they don’t. The ones that break all the rules, the ones that make up new ones. I am, like the song I was listening to earlier, “Lost in Music”, more than I’ve ever been. “