While he did not divulge specific details about his brush with death, he says the new album explores the theme of mortality, which allows people to "fill in the blanks" in order to form their own connection with the music.
"People have these extinction events in their lives; it could be psychological or it could be physical. And, yes, it was physical for me, but I think I have spared myself all that soap opera," Bono explained. "Especially with this kind of celebrity obsession with the minutiae of peoples' lives — I have got out of that. I want to speak about the issue in a way that lets people fill in the blanks of what they have been through, you know?"
He continued, "It's one thing if you were talking about it in a place of record like Rolling Stone, but by the time it gets to your local tabloid it is just awful. It becomes the question that everyone is asking."
He said he also doesn't want to speak specifically about it because he wants to be sensitive to those without the resources to overcome the situation like he was able to.
"People have had so much worse to deal with, so that is another reason not to talk about it," he told the publication. "You demean all the people who, you know, never made it through that or couldn't get health care!"
So instead of opening up about it, Bono says he and U2 wrote with death in mind for the first time ever.
"Strangely enough, mortality was going to be a subject anyway just because it is a subject not often covered," he said. "And you can't write Songs of Experience without writing about that. And I've had a couple of these shocks to the system, let's call them, in my life."
Aside from his near-death experience, Bono says he had another strong influence while writing the album.
"I met this poet named Brendan Kennelly. I have known him for years; he is an unbelievable poet," Bono said. "And he said, 'Bono, if you want to get to the place where the writing lives, imagine you're dead.' There is no ego, there is no vanity, no worrying about who you will offend. That is great advice. I just didn't want to have to find out outside of a mental excursion. I didn't want to find out the hard way."
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