What makes Bono tick? A 1-hour interview with Charlie Rose

Bono talking to Charlie Rose. Photo credit: Rose Guerin/Charlie Rose Inc.

Our ONE members know that Bono is just as much an activist as he is a rock star – you see it in the work he does with ONE during every campaign. But for those of you who know him mostly as the front man of U2, you may be wondering: What drives him to care about poverty so much?  

Acclaimed interviewer and broadcast journalist Charlie Rose set out to find the answer to this question and more during his nearly hour-long interview with Bono on his activism, rock music, business and more.

One of the first things he does is clarify his thoughts on poverty. Like Nelson Mandela, he believes “poverty is not a natural condition,” and that it is “manmade.” To him, activism is about fighting injustice. “I’ve always been on a justice tip,” he said, “rather than a charity one.”

Bono discusses the impact of US foreign assistance. “The United States — it’s a heroic story. You are way out in front in the fight against AIDS. Of the 8 million people that are on anti-retroviral drugs, most of them are alive because of America — Do Americans know that?” he says. “Do people know that they’re part of this incredible story? To me, this is as heroic as your intervention in the second World War. And no lives down, just lives saved.”

The discussion also reveals some illuminating things about Bono, like his thoughts on religion and his relationship with Bill Gates. He even talks about his songwriting process and the work on U2’s next album.

The interview was aired last night on PBS’s The Charlie Rose show, which is now available to watch in the player below. This video a great way for ONE members to learn more about our cofounder and his mission to fight poverty, and for those who just know Bono for his music – see a different side of the rock star.

Here are more of our favorite quotes from the interview: 

– “I am a salesman … I think I’m a good salesman of ideas, songs, melodies, if I believe in them. People getting out on the streets, getting organized and fighting to eliminate extreme poverty is working, and that’s the mission, because I believe if people understand it and see the successes of it, then they’ll do more of it.

– Talking about John Lennon and the song Imagine: “I loved so many things about John Lennon. He wrote the blueprint. But imagining wasn’t one of them. I’m more of a doing, more of an actions, more of a building, following my nose, following my curiosity to understand people better, understand the world better, understand myself better.

– “People say songs are like your children, no they are like your parents. They 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.”

What was the most surprising thing you learned about Bono in the interview? Tell us in a comment below.