- 18 Jan 22
U2's new track 'Your Song Saved My Life', which features on animated film 'Sing 2', is shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Original Song.
Bono has opened up about his feelings of "embarrassment" surrounding U2's back catalogue, as well as the band's name and his own voice.
Admitting that he goes "scarlet" when he hears U2 songs on the radio, the 61-year-old musician gave a frank, candid interview with the Awards Chatter podcast this week.
The band remains one of the most popular in the world, having chalked up a series of No 1 albums since breaking through in the late 1970s. It has also, unusually, kept its original line-up with The Edge as lead guitarist, Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen Jr. on drums.
The vocalist revealed that he had only learnt how to sing properly "recently" and that, while his band are "incredible", his vocals are now "strained" and make him "cringe a little bit".
"I’ve been in the car when one of our songs has come on the radio and I’ve been the colour of, as we say in Dublin, scarlet. I’m just so embarrassed."
He added that he doesn't like U2’s name, which was first suggested by Steve Averill of Dublin band The Radiators in the late 1970s. Averill went on to design many of the band’s album covers.
"I really don’t. But I was late into some kind of dyslexia," Bono remarked. "I didn’t realise that The Beatles was a bad pun either.
"In our head it was like the spy plane, U-boat, it was futuristic - as it turned out to imply this kind of acquiescence, no I don’t like that name. I still don’t really like the name. Paul McGuinness, our first manager, did say, 'Look, it’s a great name, it’s going to look good on a T-shirt, a letter and a number’."
Speaking about his voice, he said that U2's 2004 single 'Vertigo' is "probably is the one I’m proudest of" for the "way it connects with the crowd.".
He also revealed that back in 1980s, the late singer Robert Palmer told U2’s bassist Adam Clayton: "‘God, would you ever tell your singer to just take down the keys a little bit, he’d do himself a favour and he’d do us all a favour who have to listen to him.’
"But I was thinking out of my body. I wasn’t thinking about singing. I didn’t really think about changing keys. Did we ever change a key?
"I do think U2 pushes out the boat on embarrassment quite a lot and maybe that’s the place to be as an artist, you know right at the edge of your level of embarrassment."
Bono continued by saying that U2’s 1980 debut record Boy contained “very unique and original material” in terms of lyrics, as did some “other albums” that followed.
“But I don’t think I filled in the details,” he continued, “and I look back and I go ‘God’.”
Listen to the podcast episode in full below:
Revisit a classic 1988 interview between Bono and Hot Press here.