Bono Desert Island Discs

Bono on Desert Island Discs (June 26, 2022) was a beautiful radio show. 

He has that lazy north Dublin brogue. His deliberate diction has almost a poetic and sage-like authority, probably more poetic and sage-like than he actually is.

Bono’s honesty would probably have him agree with me. He doesn’t hide away from confessing his weaknesses laughing at his annoying gene. He is then honest about U2 and his part in it, even their tax decisions. 

He is even better when he opens up vulnerably about family, faith, his dad and the long secret of of a step son! Then there is his love and dependence on his wife Ali. His openness is always so refreshing. 

His choice of songs was very interesting. An Opera for his dad, Ali’s night time song of joy from Angelique Kidjo and his son’s very own song with his own band Inhaler suggests that Bono is without doubt a family man as well as rock ’n roll front man and activist.

Spiritually I was intrigued by the old hymn Abide With Me. I was even more fascinated at how he had sung Peter Frampton’s Show Me The Way at U2’s earliest gig. The nerd that I am knew he had but I hadn’t know why. I hadn’t seen it as the prayer that Bono made it for his teenage self:


Who can I believe in?

I'm kneeling on the floor

There has to be a force

Who do I phone?

The stars are out and shining

But all I really wanna know


Oh, won't you show me the way, yeah

I want you to show me the way


Of course! How I’ve been using music prayerfully since my own teens.

Best of all for me was his choice of Bob Dylan’s Every Grain Of Sand. I’ve also loved this song since the very first time I heard it. For me it is Dylan’s finest moment poetically and easily the best song he wrote in his Christian trilogy of albums between 1979 and 1981.

Bono speaks about stopping in to St Paul’s Cathedral on his way to the interview and seeing William Blake’s most famous lines on the wall:


To see a World in a grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour 


Bono suggests that Dylan must have had this in his mind as he wrote Every Grain Of Sand. 


I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other time it's only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.”


I had narrowly locked this inspiration into “the every sparrow falling” line of Jesus from Luke 10 but Bono’s observation widens the lens. 

In the end this is the song that Bono wants on his Desert Island. I can understand. It is an encompassing song of the inner life and spiritual pilgrimage. We all need to confess our mistakes and admit our hanging in the balance of faith and life. From there all we can is trust. Every Grain Of Sand is hymn-like in its use of language and image:


“Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.


Great choice. Great show.



Good to hear an interview with Bono again after long silence. I would never have found it without your tip. So, thanks for sharing.

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