‘We never spoke of her again’: Bono recounts his mother’s death in new memoir | bono

Irish rock star Bono has revealed his distress after visiting his mother on her deathbed in a Dublin hospital after suffering an aneurysm aged 14.

In an excerpt published in the New Yorker from his upcoming memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, the U2 frontman recalls that Iris Hewson collapsed at her father “Gags” Rankin’s funeral in 1974 and died a few days later, and “she was never spoken again” in the home he shared with his father Bob and older brother Norman.

“I’m afraid it’s worse than that. Never thought of her again,” he wrote. “We were three Irish men, and we avoided the pain we knew would come from thinking and talking about her.”

The 62-year-old singer, born Paul David Hewson, has long attributed the “hole in my heart” left by his mother to his desire to become a rock star. As a teenager filled with rage, he turned to music to cope with grief, he says. Many U2 ​​songs reference his mother’s death or absence, including I Will Follow, Tomorrow, Out of Control, Mofo and Iris (Hold Me Close).

In the excerpt from his memoir, each chapter of which is named after a U2 song, Bono fondly writes about the rituals of going to Sunday morning church that evolved from having a Catholic father and a Protestant mother. (“This was a wedding that had escaped Ireland’s bigotry at the time,” he says.)

The other difference between his parents’ families, he writes, is that “the Rankin family is susceptible to brain aneurysm. Of the five Rankin sisters, three died of aneurysms. Including Iris.

Bono details the commotion at his grandfather’s funeral after his mother collapses on the grave. “I see my father carrying my mother in his arms through a crowd, like a white billiard ball scattering a colored triangle. He rushes to take her to the hospital,” he recalled.

“’Iris fainted. Iris passed out. The voices of my aunts and cousins ​​blow like a breeze through the leaves. “She’ll be fine. She just passed out.”

“Even though it’s Grandpa’s funeral and even though Iris has passed out, we’re kids, cousins, running around and laughing. Until Ruth, my mother’s younger sister, burst in the door. “Iris is dying. She had a stroke.

“Everyone is rushing. Iris is one of eight in No 8: five girls and three boys. They cry, moan, struggle to stand. Someone realizes I’m here too. I am fourteen years old and I am strangely calm. I tell my mom’s sisters and brothers it’s gonna be alright

“Three days later, Norman and I are taken to the hospital to say goodbye. She is alive but barely…Ruth is outside the hospital room, crying, with my father, whose eyes have less than my mother’s. I walk into the room at war with the universe, but Iris looks peaceful. It’s hard to fathom that so much of her is already gone. We hold her There’s a click, but we don’t hear it.

“She seemed surprised that I could sing”

Bono says that although he has “very few memories of my mother”, her raspy laugh marked his childhood, “his dark humor like his dark curls”.

While his father had a passion for opera, Bono says that as a child his parents did not encourage his interest in music. “My mother only heard me sing publicly once. I played the Pharaoh in the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was really the role of an Elvis impersonator, so that’s what I did. Dressed in one of my mother’s white trouser suits with silver sequins stuck on it, I pulled back my lip and knocked the house down. Iris laughed and laughed. She seemed surprised that I could sing, that I was musical.

After Iris’ death, Bono wrote, “Cedarwood Road becomes its own opera.”

“Three men used to scream at television, now they are screaming at each other. We live in rage and melancholy, in mystery and melodrama. The subject of the opera is the absence of a woman called Iris, and the music swells to maintain the silence that envelops the house and the three men – one of whom is only a boy.

The singer also writes about his unhappy year at St. Patrick’s Cathedral High School from the age of 11, where he pranked his Spanish teacher, Biddy, by throwing “dog shit all over his box. lunch” while eating in a park. bench.

“Unsurprisingly, at the end of term, Biddy wanted that little shit to throw shit in his hair, and it was suggested that I might be happier somewhere else. In September 1972, I enrolled in Mount Temple Comprehensive School.

It was at Mount Temple – “a non-denominational and mixed experience” – that Bono met Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr and David Evans (AKA The Edge), with whom he formed U2 in 1976.

‘Stand by Ukraine’: U2’s Bono and the Edge perform a surprise concert in the Kyiv metro – video

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in June, Bono revealed he had a half-brother born after his father had an affair while his mother was still alive.

Bono said he later challenged his father about the affair. “I asked him, ‘Did he love my mother?’ He said yes’. And so I asked him, ‘How could this happen?’ and he said it was possible and he was trying to work things out, trying to do the right thing. He was not apologizing, he was simply stating that these are the facts. I’m at peace with that.

Bono’s father died in 2001.

Surrender will be released on November 1 via Penguin Random House.

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