U2 is indulging fan nostalgia right now with the Joshua Tree anniversary tour, but the band isn's just rehashing classic songs from their earlier days. Bono is also updating his lyrics and his politics to reflect the age of President Donald Trump.
If you've been to one of the anniversary shows you might've noticed slight but crucial differences in songs like 'New Year's Day' from the 1983 album 'War'. Instead of singing "And so we're told this is the golden age / And gold is the reason for the wars we wage" as in the album version, Bono now sings, "So we're told this is the golden age / But oil is the reason for the wars we wage."
"I'm really enjoying changing the odd lyric," Bono told Rolling Stone recently. "Little tiny little things that keep me close to the songs."
But he doesn't look at that as revision so much as a completion of the unfinished work that he'd put into the track.
"I was in a band early on in the 1980s where the lyrics where not really the priority, strangely," Bono added. "It was, 'What's the song about? What's the tune? What's the beat?' And you had people like Brian Eno who was, like, sort of anti the concept of the old-school lyric. He was saying, 'Just look at these beautiful sonic paintings you're doing with your voice. Why do you need words? Just sing like that'."
While the new lyrics are often critical of Trump's America, Bono wants Trump supporters to feel welcome at the concerts. And he hopes that opponents of The Donald will listen to his fans and learn to address their concerns so that the country doesn't repeat the mistake it made on Election Day 2016.
"[I]t's very, very important that people who voted for Donald Trump feel welcome at our show," he said. "I think they have been hoodwinked, but I understand and I would not dismiss the reasons why some people voted for him. I think people on the left really need to put their ear closer to the ground. I do this thing [onstage] where I say, 'The party of Lincoln, the party of Kennedy and those in between holding on, those letting go of the American Dream are welcome.' This is the most important line: 'We'll find common ground by reaching for higher ground'."
And he hopes that message will help disillusioned Americans regain hope for the world.
"There's a loss of innocence," Bono said of the world today. "There were reasons to be optimistic [years ago]. When I was in my twenties the Berlin Wall came down, Mandela gets free. You just think that this world is somehow just moving in the right direction, like almost it's evolution, the human spirit is evolving. It turns out that's not true. These things have to be brought into being. There are white papers going around the White House with 47 percent cuts to aid programs that keep babies alive, vaccinations. It's shocking, but it's real."
So it's time for dreamers to wake up and figure out how to translate ideals into realities.
"My thing in the middle of the show is to say, 'OK, the dream, maybe it's time to wake up into it.' Maybe the dream is telling us to wake up and Dr. King's dream is telling us to wake up. It's OK to realize it's going to be difficult, but we can do things. We are full of ingenuity. The world can be a much better place, but don't think it will be on its own."