The best story was playing Boggle with Barbra Streisand and Gregory Peck.
Or maybe it was getting a call from the Pope, after telling a Cardinal how to deal with the Russians.
Not that Bob was boasting, but this is is his life.
I was worried, that he’d be irascible and withholding…ANYTHING BUT!
First he came into the dressing room and was so charismatic and conversational I kept telling him he had to stop, to save it for the stage. Talking about being a Boy Scout and going to Lourdes, his very first plane trip. And being excluded from going to the World Jamboree in Seattle. You see some people are square pegs who never fit into the round hole. Geldof was the guy who wouldn’t conform, who questioned authority, and people beholden to hierarchy don’t like that.
And despite being a force of nature, Bob doesn’t see himself that way. Which is always strange, one’s own perception of oneself. I think Bob would make it no matter what he chose to do, he thinks he was lucky…after his mother died when he was so young that he doesn’t remember her and he was raised by his older sisters while his father was a traveling salesman, gone from Monday to Friday. That’s one of the main things he got from his dad, how to pack, he never checks luggage, and insists that those with him don’t either.
So he goes to boarding school and hates it. Picks up a guitar and loves it and…
Here is where we’ve got to get to the philosophizing thing. Bob’s a great philosopher, with a take on everything. Especially the importance and impact of rock music back when. Seeing it as a thread he grabbed on to that saved his life, gave him direction, made him who he was. It doesn’t do that anymore, his words, not mine, although I agree, and they don’t make them like Bob anymore.
Bob is BRILLIANT! Better informed with better analysis than most of the people running our country. Oh, by the way, he thinks Trump will get reelected, because the economy is burgeoning, although the stock market did slide yesterday, and that the rest of the world is beholden to the States, they always were, but now it’s obvious. It’s because of the dollar. It can’t tank, or else the whole world will.
And thus begins an endless take on world politics. You’ll be stunned and your head will spin as you listen. How often do you get an educated, unfiltered opinion about what’s going on? Most people don’t know, and those who do won’t tell you. And Bob has access… I don’t know anybody like this in the music business, I asked Bob who he talked to, what musicians other than the obvious could even discuss these issues. One he said was Jon Bon Jovi, which caught me off guard, since Bon Jovi only went on the record when he was angry at his record company, maybe he needs to lead.
Which today’s musicians don’t.
And Bob is anti-Spotify and won’t use a smartphone because it’s insecure, so the longer you talk with him the more you realize that maybe not everything he says is correct, but you’re wowed in the process, bowled over, this is a guy who leads.
Even though he’s not eager to be a leader.
Then again, did you see his screed against Brexit, how it was gonna negatively impact musicians? He walked me through how he got people to sign it, needing acts from every era. Not that he thinks it’ll have an impact. He thinks first and foremost Britain is a FEELING, and people feel they’ve sacrificed it. But Britain is a wedge and a referee between Germany and France, and if Britain pulls out of the EU, not only is it bad for Britain, it’s bad for the world, trade keeps the world safe.
Actually, I read an analysis of this in the WaPo the other day. The writer said Trump might think he’s winning in his war with China over trade, but the writer said that when a country is crippled in trade, they often turn to war. And Bob thinks war is coming too. And for those who lived through the past seventy years of relative prosperity, that concept is daunting.
I think it’s the net effect of globalization. But Bob says globalization is good! And I forthrightly agree, it’s just that there was no provision for those left behind by its effects. But that’s talking to Bob, you basically concur, but he starts and he’s hard to interrupt and you have a hard time telling him it’s the nuances that you disagree with. Like Bob says the problem is social media, we used to get our messages from records, of which there was not an overwhelming number, but now everything gets lost in the shuffle. I wholeheartedly agree, but I mention that this started with the public, with Napster, they dictate and we follow. Spotify is trying to herd the cats.
So you put a dime in the jukebox and Bob goes on, lengthily. We could have talked for ten hours. About Irish history, the power of rock, the world today… And you want to hear it all, he’s fascinating and charming.
And when we went for drinks later, he let his hair down. He poked fun at himself. He ain’t easy to live with, as Don Henley once sang, but it’s one of the things you’ve got to love about him, they broke the mold, there’s not another like him.
As he plies the boards today, on tour. I asked him whether he was selling nostalgia, but he said no, it was about the performance, the energy, what everybody was wrapped up in is brand new, even though it’s based on the old.
Not that he’s got any illusion he can top the charts once again. Hell, he didn’t want the reformed Rats to make another record, but his bandmates said that’s what a band does, so they did. He’s excited about it.
So on one hand Bob can tell stories from the past, but he’s not living in it.
Oh, and what you think are taboo subjects, that have been combed over ad infinitum? He’s got no problem talking about Band Aid and Live Aid, telling insider stories I’m not gonna repeat here, they’re his, but when I run into you….