U2 frontman talks songwriting process, the origins of the band and his new book on The Late Show
Bono took over The Late Show Thursday as the U2 frontman spent the entirety of the episode on Stephen Colbert’s couch, only getting up to perform a special rendition of “With or Without You” with spoken word notes from his new memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.
“This is not exactly rock n’ roll, but this is my new book, and if you let me just tell you a story of how we got to this song, that would be great. Are you up for that?” Bono asked the crowd.
Bono then launched into a three-minute spoken word piece that told the origins and set the mood before segueing into a “special arrangement” of The Joshua Tree classic.
Prior to the performance, Bono — making his lone late-night appearance on the promotional trail for Surrender — sat down with Colbert for a three-part interview where the singer discussed his just-published book and the history of U2, revealing that he met his bandmates and his future wife during the same eventful week in high school. “Yeah, it was a big week,” Bono said.
Bono and Colbert then briefly touched on The Beatles: Get Back documentary before talking about U2’s songwriting process. “Who knew the Beatles created reality TV? Microphones in the flower pots,” Bono said. “You’re hearing them write these songs… Improvisation is at the heart of what U2 does, even though there’s a formal songwriting that we do, Edge and myself.”
Finally, Bono and Colbert chatted about the midterm election and Bono’s quote that “America is perhaps the greatest song the world has not yet heard.” “I’m really encouraged by this idea that America doesn’t exist yet,” Bono explained. “It’s the greatest idea the world has ever had, but I don’t think it’s here yet. And that’s an amazing feeling, that’s it just being written, and far from recorded.”
Bono added, “There’s no D.N.A. test to tell you you’re American unless you’re a Native. The American is just being created, and I’m excited by that.”