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Bono's not so sure.

The meeting breaks up when Bono leaves for a photo shoot. Driving across Los Angeles, he discusses Jones' notion of a melody line. "What we're all on about is: Africa. Seventy percent of the problem of HIV/AIDS is in Africa. We're talking about the continent bursting into flames while we stand around with watering cans. That's our one idea. But the closer you get to the policymakers, you need specificity, and you need to know what you're talking about. I'd go in and talk about debt relief, debt relief, debt relief, and people would say, 'But that's only part of the picture here.'"

At 41, Bono says, he has given up on music as a political force. He believes his work negotiating in political back rooms is more vital and effective than singing in sold-out stadiums. "Poetry makes nothing happen," the poet W.H. Auden once wrote, and Bono wistfully agrees. "I'm tired of dreaming. I'm into doing at the moment. It's, like, let's only have goals that we can go after. U2 is about the impossible. Politics is the art of the possible. They're very different, and I'm resigned to that now. Music's the thing that stopped me from falling asleep in the comfort of my freedom. I learned about South America from listening to the Clash. I learned about Situationism from the Sex Pistols. But that's a long way from budget caps and dealing with a Congress that is suspicious of aid because it has been so misused."

Music does make a difference in one way; it sways people emotionally. But for Bono that is no longer enough: "When you sing, you make people vulnerable to change in their lives. You make yourself vulnerable to change in your life. But in the end, you've got to become the change you want to see in the world. I'm actually not a very good example of that--I'm too selfish, and the right to be ridiculous is something I hold too dear--but still, I know it's true."

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