Interview with Bono and Ali Hewson

From this clip of “Person to Person” with Norah O’Donnell, which I’d never heard of.

Norah O’Donnell: You wrote…“Rather than falling in love we were climbing up toward it.”

Bono: We still are. Our relationship began with, of course, the obvious, you know, romance and flirtation, but it quickly moved into friendship and I think that’s a real part of of who we are. She is not just a mystery to me, by the way, she is a mystery to her sons, her daughters…we are all in the queue trying to get time with her because she’s very wise and…

O’Donnell (to Ali): What do you think he means when he says you’re a mystery?

Ali Hewson: I don’t know.

Bono: She’s a mystery wrapped in a paradox. I’ve spent 40 years trying to get to know her, really, and I’ve got a long way to go, but [to Ali] you allowed me to do a sort of free dive into the depths of our relationship, but you didn’t want me to stay too long, and the book is not a confessional—it’s deeper than that, I think it’s more anatomical, you know, it’s real detail, there are moments of real intimacy. But I thought it was important to never do you the disservice of being sentimental. [To O’Donnell] Ali would hate if I wrote a sentimental song about her. She’d be, like, “Bleh”.

O’Donnell: But you did write a song…

Ali: “The ‘bed of nails’?”1

Bono: No, no that was that wasn’t you!

O’Donnell: I just thought it was The Sweetest Thing.

Bono: Even that had a bit of sour, but it’s kind of the music that you’re attracted to as well. I loved Roy Orbison—those dark mysterious love songs that are tormented and tortured and that’s the kind of music we liked and Annie just didn’t like being in any way put on a pedestal and [to Ali] the most important line that you said to me years ago which was, “Don’t look up at me or down at me—look across at me, I’m there.”

O’Donnell: But exploring that is so interesting—[to Ali] you just want to be treated as an equal.

Ali: Yeah, well, I think that’s really important in every relationship—that we all respect each other and also not be possessive. It’s really important to give each other space and sometimes I do feel that maybe, you know, there’s a little bit of we both put each other a bit on a pedestal and sometimes under a pedestal but it’s just that keeping the balance and, you know, always holding on to the truth of each other. And one of his jokes is, and it’s kind of the essence of living in Ireland, he says, “I have two words for you: Keep it real.”

Bono: That’s a Sacha Baron Cohen line, actually.


I’ve always admired Ali and Bono’s partnership from a distance. I’ve never seen a video with her before, however. I’m not sure how I feel about the interactions between the three of them in this video, there are a lot of interruptions by the interviewer or Bono, but I liked this bit.

From the wikipedia page for Ali:

Bono:

The only reason I’m here is because I met someone so extraordinary that I just couldn’t let that go…[she] doesn’t read newspapers. Or listen to the radio. There’s a mysterious distance between us.

Ali:

I really don’t have a big problem with my own identity, because I am a very private person, so I’ve always let Bono take the brunt of anything that was coming along. He is happy to do that; I am quite happy to make my own way around things.


  1. A reference to With Or Without You