In Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, Bono describes his life in chapters named after U2’s best-loved songs. Out Of Control was the band’s first single, which Bono started writing on his eighteenth birthday on 10 May 1978. It was a time when he was still trying to find his way in life, as he explains.

Bono (Irish accent):  It wasn’t so long ago, I was smart at school but, lately, I can’t concentrate on anything except girls and music. I’m smart enough to see a correlation. I can paint quite well, but not like my best friend Guggi. I can write prose quite well, but not as well as that gifted know-it-all Neil McCormick, who writes for the school magazine. I’ve played with the idea of being a journalist, fantasised about being a foreign correspondent reporting from war zones, but to be a journalist you have to do well at exams and I’m having problems with exams. Problems in being in school to sit them. And, anyway, there’s another war zone I’m involved in, in our street, at my house, in my head.

Two Hearts Beat As One

Marrying the love of his life was a kind of surrender for Bono, the best kind. Ali inspired Two Hearts Beat As One from the 1983 album “War”, which Bono wrote on the couple’s honeymoon.

Bono: When she walked into the church, she looked the kind of beautiful you can’t exaggerate, but also looked a tiny bit uncomfortable. “I appear to have a flowerpot on my head.” Ali hadn’t figured out how to say “No,” to her hipster hairstylist, who had gotten a little carried away on the ‘horticulture’. Anyway, despite her discomfort, she carried the same serenity she always did. The kind I‘d spend my life trying to inhabit. The kind of beauty that invites more of it from those around her. As I stared a little longer into those veiled eyes, I wondered if Ali was ready to take on the life I’d chosen, even if she was ready to take me, for better or worse.

Song for Someone

Song for Someone, from the 2015 album “Songs of Innocence”, was another love song Bono dedicated to his wife. In the chapter of the same name, Bono recounts the formation of the band.

Bono:Drummerseeks musicians to form band.” How casually our destiny arrives. Quite a few wannabes had responded to Larry ’s invitation on the school notice board and, now, classes out for the day, we were all packed in the oven that was Larry Mullen’s kitchen. How did we fit all the drums, the amps and the apprentice rock stars into such a small room? The guitar and bass might have been squealing for attention with their amplifiers and distortion pedals making loud arguments for being there, but it was the drums that filled both physical and musical space. 

bono the activist

Ever since he leapt off the stage into the audience at that memorable event, Bono has been involved in activism. He learnt that the money raised barely covered the weekly interest owed by African countries to their Western country debtors. He started lobbying and carried on for years. His support for the Jubilee 2000 Drop the debt campaign led to the cancellation of over $100 billion in debt by poor countries. He also got Congress to commit $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa, even agreeing to refrain from public criticism of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He co-founded ONE and (RED) to fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS in the developing world.