May 10, 2010

Ode to Bono at 50

An image of Bono playing guitar during a perfo...Image via Wikipedia


Maybe there's something to Bono's God complex after all?
He's the world's biggest rock star in the world's biggest rock band. He's been superheroic in using charm, tact and the rare bipartisan politics in raising millions in the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty.
But that, ladies and gentlemen of the congregation, is nothing compared to today's deifying feat, as Bono thwarts sociological stigma and the very tenets of the space-time continuum …
… and turns 50 years old.
Yep, a half-century ago, in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, Paul Hewson was born, presumably with really cool specs on.
It says a lot about popular culture, and our world in general, that the most virile celebrity in all the land is 50 years old. Heck, the second-most virile is that unfairly handsome rake George Clooney; he's 49. And don't forget Madonna is 51.
For all the nattering about Young Hollywood — your Lindsays, your Mileys, your Biebers — the core of respect, of energy, of ol' fashioned sex appeal currently resides with the Gray Hairs.
(By the way, the fact that I just turned 40 has nothing to do with this hypothesis. Nope. Nada.)
Bono, in many respects, has never been more potent, more Bono-ish, than he is right now. U2's frontman can still sing for sure, that low repentant moan still as vital as his high holy falsetto. And when they want to, the Irish lads can still slay an arena. Most concerts are a party, a night out; U2 shows are an event, the highs of which are life-affirming.
Never mind that, had Bono been born in Dublin, Ohio, he'd officially be eligible for the AARP.
In a large sense, Bono turning the Big Five-Oh is a cause for celebration. However, in assessing the state of rock 'n' roll, it's a bit troubling. U2's last few albums, especially 2009's No Line on the Horizon, have been decidedly so-so, a handful of hits and a whole lot of same-sounding filler.
But more than that, U2 is a rarity, a rock band that also acts as great equalizer. You can be a country fan, a rap fan, a classical fan — but everyone is a U2 fan. As Bono and his mates get older, so does the notion of rock 'n' roll as uplifting communal uniter.
But enough of that.
Let's celebrate, shall we?
Crank Achtung Baby. Donate money to the One charity. Wear your sunglasses inside the house.
Happy 50th, Bono.
It's a Beautiful Day, indeed.
Sean Daly can be reached at or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life column runs every Sunday in Floridian.

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