#U240: 40 GREAT QUOTES FROM U2’S 40 YEARS

We know that Bono talks a lot. The Edge and Adam share second place in giving interviews. And Larry doesn’t speak much — but when he does, it’s good to pay attention. As part of our #U240 coverage in celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary, I wrote this piece about quotes throughout U2’s 40-year career. It’s another way to tell the band’s history.

I have to confess I thought it would be easier, but it was really hard considering the large amount of content. First, I’d like to say I didn’t include quotes that make reference to family and friends, or anything specific about songs, albums, videos and tours. Any of those topics could have its own list. The dates listed are when the quotes were published, which may be different from when they were said. Also, the quotes are not necessarily the most famous. I preferred to make a list that helps to identify U2’s style and the band members’ personalities.

1. “I gave these guys their first job when I put the note on the school noticeboard. I have sometimes naively tried to bodyguard some aspects of the band. However, I am learning to let go. After 30 years it’s a cool thing to be still making music with your friends.” — Larry Mullen Jr., U2 By U2, 2006

2. “Then Bono arrived, and he meant to play the guitar, but he couldn’t play very well, so he started to sing. He couldn’t do that either. But he was such a charismatic character that he was in the band anyway, as soon as he arrived. I was in charge for the first five minutes, but as soon as Bono got there, I was out of a job.” — Larry Mullen Jr., Time, 1987

3. “Edge is the ‘head’’ of the group. Adam and Larry are the ‘feet’: the rhythm, the beat. Because I’m so emotional, people call me the ‘heart.’” — Bono, ROCK! Magazine, 1983

4. “There were no jobs to get. It was like we were all going nowhere, so we decided to go nowhere together and form a band.” — Larry Mullen Jr., Propaganda, 1986

5. “To be honest, U2 saved my life in a way because I’m literally unemployable. There’s nothing else I can do.” — Bono, Musician, 1987

6. “I don’t think I was destined for any kind of greatness in my life before U2. The best decision I ever made was to be part of U2 and I guess I haven’t needed to make another serious decision since then.” — Adam Clayton, U2 By U2, 2006

7. “Everything I thought that would be was no longer. Everything was broken. Like home, that was just gone, everything was gone. So my thing was to find somewhere else to go. I needed another family and the band became that for me, and it was a refuge.” — Larry Mullen, The Guardian, 2014

8. “I don’t think of myself as a great singer, but I sing from a great place. That place is U2.” — Bono, Hot Press, 2002

9. “I suppose ultimately I’m interested in music. I’m a musician. I’m not a gunslinger. That’s the difference between what I do and what a lot of guitar heroes do.” — The Edge,U2 At The End Of The World, 1995

10. “I am one of those characters that have an addictive personality… The avoiding substances of any kind are hard but, OK, it’s not that hard. It’s facing the devil inside you, that’s the tricky bit.” — Adam Clayton, Hot Press, 1998

11. “I’m the man that brought you the mullet.” — Bono, Vogue, 2005

12. “You see, rock-n-roll isn’t a career or hobby — it’s a life force. It’s something very essential.” — The Edge, Guitar World, 2008

13. “I do believe our music is special. But you have to separate the music from the people. The music is special, but I don’t think we are. We are ordinary people.” — Larry Mullen Jr., Time, 1987

14. “Rock ’n’ roll is about capturing a moment, it’s an instinct, it’s not something you can sit down and write in the quiet of your study.” — The Edge, U2 By U2, 2006

15. “I think it’s hard to come to a U2 show and just eat hot dogs and drink a soda, and not be moved by it.” — Adam Clayton, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 2005

16. “I don’t think the lyrics are worth a sh*t to be honest, if you ask me. I think it’s all about drums.” — Larry Mullen Jr., Achtung Baby: The Videos, The Cameos And A Whole Lot Of Interference From Zoo TV, 1992

17. “I might have to take the 12 steps to Workaholics Anonymous. I have a curiosity that compels me to find ways to make music that is fresh and new.” — The Edge, Contact Music, 2006

18. “I consider myself a very lucky person. The overriding sense is, how the hell did I get from there to here? Because you would not in a million years have imagined that a complete waster and fantasist from a dodgy Irish public school could end up in a comprehensive in a Dublin suburb and meet three extraordinary characters that would go on to become world-class musicians, and be a part of it.” — Adam Clayton, The Guardian, 2014

19. “There are a lot of Bonos. Some annoy me more than others.” — Bono, Q, 2004

20. “I have fallen off stage on a couple of occasions. The first thing is to protect the guitar, because you can fix an ankle, you can fix a bruise, but when you break a guitar that’s the end of it.” — The Edge, U2.com, 2011

21. “As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.” — Bono, The Guardian, 1999

22. “If Bono left, we could carry on. If I left, we’d be screwed.” — Larry Mullen Jr., Mojo, 2005

23. “When I put on theses glasses, anything goes. I’ve learnt to be insincere. I’ve learnt to lie. I’ve learnt to felt better.” — Bono, Rolling Stone, 1992

24. “Success to me was not having to carry or set up my own drums anymore.” — Larry Mullen Jr., Mojo, 2005

25. “Revolution starts at home, in your heart, in your refusal to compromise your beliefs and your values. I’m not interested in politics like people fighting back with sticks and stones, but in the politics of love. I think there is nothing more radical than two people loving each other, because it’s so infrequent.” — Bono, Rolling Stone, 1983

26. “I’m a singer, not a politician, and I think you don’t want the two to get confused. It’s not OK to be on CNN talking about people starving and then tell the interviewer that your new album is coming out in six months.” — Bono, The New York Times, 2000

27. “It’s very confusing when fame comes early on in your career. You get a little bit bent out of shape in terms of what’s important. Fame is like the dessert that comes with your achievements — it’s not an achievement in itself, but sometimes it can overpower the work.” — Adam Clayton, The Guardian, 2009

28. “I didn’t join a band to be famous. I joined a band to hit things.” — Larry Mullen Jr., MSN, 2002

29. “People say, ‘Why don’t you do interviews? What do you think about this? What do you think about that?’ My job in the band is to play drums, to get up on stage and hold the band together. That’s what I do. At the end of the day that’s all, that’s important. Everything else is irrelevant.” — Larry Mullen Jr., U2 At The End Of The World, 1995

30. “People don’t understand our beliefs so they lash out. It doesn’t bother me, though — I’m past caring what people think about our beliefs. The people that really matter are not going to judge you on an interview or some smart comment made in a review of an album.” — The Edge, Buzz, 1985

31. “Men should not be forced to wear pants when it’s not cold.” — Adam Clayton, U2 At The End Of The World, 1995

32. “You know, on a long tour you do hear people saying they miss their pets. I never have. But last night I started really missing my dog. It’s very odd, ’cause I don’t have a dog.” — Bono, U2 At The End Of The World, 1995

33. “The interaction is kind of the same as it always was. The job of being in U2 is hard enough when you really like each other. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we had fights.” — Adam Clayton, The Guardian, 2014

34. “I have no problem with miracles. I live around them. I am one.” — Bono, RTE, 2013

35. “I definitely got to a point where I realize how unusual it is to be able to play large, sold-out shows 30 years into a rock and roll career. I don’t take it for granted.” — Adam Clayton, Rolling Stone, 2011

36. “The best U2 album is always the one we’re working on because the music of what is, is fine music. But the music of what might be is finer still. Still searching for the crock of gold. The journey is the destination, etc.” — Bono, Q, 2016

37. “We grew up together, we learned how to play music together. In many respects the way we think is almost telepathic.” — The Edge, Contact Music, 2006

38. “We do great work together and we do inspire each other, and I think we have a very good sense of how much further we can go in the company of each other than just on our own.” — Adam Clayton, San Jose Mercury News, 2005

39. “We are family…. I go to parties with these guys, and I end up sitting in the corner talking to them. It’s weird. It’s actually weird. It’s the weirdest thing. I have other best friends, too — I’m not saying they’re my only friends, but they are my best friends.” — The Edge, The Word Magazine, 2005

40. “We don’t fight, but we all have strong personalities. But in the end we want the same thing. You know, we’re very competitive: We want to be on the radio, have big singles. We don’t want to be thought of as a veteran band.” — Larry Mullen Jr., Sunday Times magazine, 2004