U2‘s Bono and The Edge took David Letterman on a musical and personal journey around their hometown of Dublin, Ireland, for the upcoming Disney+ documentary Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, With Dave Letterman.
The film, advertised as “part concert movie, part travel adventure plus a whole lot of Bono and The Edge, with Dave’s humor throughout,” does exactly that, as Letterman navigates the origins and cultural impact of U2.
Directed by Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, the documentary will debut March 17 on Disney+ and showcase Bono and The Edge‘s special concert performance in Dublin.
Billboard checked out the heartwarming documentary, and we’ve compiled some of the best, most impactful moments from Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, With Dave Letterman. See them below, and be sure to sign up for Disney+ here before the film’s release.
The Original Band Name & Where the Nicknames Came From
Before U2, there was Lypton Village, and The Edge admitted that he “can’t remember” why he and his group of friends named themselves that. One of the main characteristics of the band, however, was that every member was given a nickname, which is where The Edge (real name David Howell Evans) was given his alter ego.
“Bono’s Village name was Bono Vox of O’Connell Street,” The Edge said of his bandmate (born Paul David Hewson), before Letterman noted that Bono was nicknamed after a hearing aid store.
“It was part of a pushback against the conservative society that we were a part of,” The Edge explained, before joking that U2 members Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. weren’t given the best nicknames, and that’s why they ultimately decided to move forward with their real names. Clayton was “Mrs. Burns” and Mullen was “The Jam Jar.”
“My nickname is ‘Dumba–,'” Letterman joked.
"Sunday Bloody Sunday"
A lesser known fact among younger U2 fans is just how much the religious turmoil of Ireland inspired the band. Bono and The Edge delved into the history of tension between the Catholics and Protestants in their home country and how it inspired their War hit “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” written by The Edge.
“On one particular day, this rage poured out. This frustration at not being able to write, not knowing if I should be in a rock n’ roll band, what the future might hold,” The Edge said of his 21-year-old self, who felt as though he had to chose between his faith and his love for music.
“This was alchemy,” Bono said of the song’s creation. “I was watching it. I was standing beside it. I saw this transformation of internal rage to external. I was like, ‘Phew, that’s why I’m in a band. That’s why I’m with this dude.’ It was a way to feel our music could mean something outside of just itself.”
Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime Show
At one point in the documentary, Bono touched on his decision to honor the names of those who died in the 2001 9/11 attacks during U2’s Super Bowl Halftime show performance, which came just six months after the devastating tragedy.
“I recall grappling with the concept of America, and what it meant to me and what it might mean around the world, and that this is a fragile moment,” he shared. “I wanted to use some exhortation, taking away normal spectacle and turning it into a monument of rolling names. Super Bowl Halftimes are a spectacle, but the greatest spectacles are emotions.”
Watch the moving tribute during the “Where the Streets Have No Name” performance here.
Panti Bliss Talks U2 & Homosexuality in Ireland
As the future of drag in the United States is currently in danger, thanks to the recent wave of anti-drag and anti-trans legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers in the U.S., it felt important to see how strongly U2 supports the rights of people of all sexualities — particularly drag queens.
Letterman sat down with drag star and marriage equality advocate Panti Bliss — who once joined U2 onstage in Dublin back in 2015 — to discuss how she initially had misconceptions about the band. “I grew up in a country that would absolutely repress any hint of sexuality. Dublin, all through the ‘80s, was this gray, aggressively normal kind of place. Homosexuality wasn’t even heard of,” she explained.
“I unfairly maligned U2 because, to me, at that time, they were part and parcel of this culture, this sort of straight-boy rock culture that I felt absolutely rejected by,” Panti continued. “So I left, I went to Japan to live and work and do [drag]. While I was living there, U2 came to perform and I started to see, ‘Oh actually, this U2 is not the U2 that I unfairly maligned.’ What I saw onstage in Tokyo was outward-looking, you know? It was sexy and fun. Maybe I’m overselling it, but they were part of the reason then in the end that I ended up coming back eventually.”
On how U2 impacted the movement of equality in Ireland, Panti noted, ” U2 was part of what allowed Ireland to stand on its own two feet and have our own thing. I appreciated that at the time and I still do now.”
A Sweet Moment of Friendship
It’s rare to see a band maintain a close friendship after 50 years of working together, but Bono and The Edge took a moment during their concert performance at Dublin’s Ambassador Theatre to shower each other with love.
“The thing I don’t like about Edge is that he doesn’t need me. He could be doing all of this, writing, singing, performing, playing, producing on his own. But he doesn’t,” Bono shared, looking at his old pal.
“Because it’s not as much fun,” The Edge sweetly replied.
Tearing up, Bono added, “Your best friends are the ones that you can have the best arguments with. I’ve got pretty much the best argument you could ever find right here. I would trust the Edge with my life. In fact, I have trusted him with my life.”
David Letterman's Personal U2 Song
The late night talk show icon was taken aback at perhaps one of the most heartwarming parts of the documentary, when he found out that The Edge and Bono had spent the morning writing a song about him, inspired by Letterman’s trip to Ireland’s Forty Foot.
“We come to love this Forty Foot man / He keeps on doing the best that he can / We almost lost him there on Sandymount Strand / Being swept away was part of his plan / You can laugh nervously / That’s how we see underneath,” the duo sing, before Letterman puts his hands on his head in disbelief.
“Many nice things have happened to me for my life. This would be right at the top of that list,” he shared.