Just got an email from my friend Joe telling me that it was nine years ago this week when a bunch of us got on a few buses in Lincoln, Nebraska and traveled around the Midwest visiting universities and churches talking about the problems in Africa.
The group was led by Bono, Ashley Judd and Chris Tucker and hit Lincoln, Des Moines, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville and ended up in Nashville. Each day was headlined with a performance at a college auditorium or a church, with Bono doing what he does best- doing his part to save the world. He would always start off each event with this comment: “There is nothing worse than a rock star with a cause.” Then he would disprove it, at least in his case. There is nobody better than him at distilling an argument down to it’s essential issues. And putting it forth so you see it in a way that makes you want to follow him anywhere. Both Ashley and Chris are brilliant speakers, and all were very funny.
Ashley’s sister Wynonna substituted for her on the final day. Not a lot of music but it put me in the mode of realization that the world can be a better place if people stop talking and start doing. I was also reminded of this trip when reading an interview with Bono in this weeks Time Magazine, where he made another impassioned plea for help in ending the AIDS epidemic- and explained how it could be done.
There were some lighter moments, as when Bono and Chris jumped up on stage with the hotel band in Cincinnati to sing covers with them at a Friday night singles party. Also in Cincinnati, at an AIDS clinic, I was standing next to a balding, middle aged guy in a blue sweater with a nametag on his sweater that said Peter Frampton. I thought that was pretty cool that a guy in Cincinnati had the same name as the famous English rock star. Then he started talking and lo and behold, it was the actual Peter Frampton, who now lives there!
Also, during that 10 day period, Bono was working on a newfangled thing called a blog! Every night about 1AM, the phone in my room would ring and this Irish voice would say “OK, let’s look at some photos.” I would grab my laptop, walk over to his room and we would go over the days photos. He would find the ones that matched what he was writing about, and I would go back to my room, size them and email them to some guy at a website that I had never heard of till that week- www.aol.com. Cool idea! I wonder if that blog thing will ever catch on.
Between all the laughs, awareness was raised in a lot of places, and maybe went a small way toward making the world a better place.