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Oscars 2017
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5 things you don't know about him

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1. Bono is an old pal

”I know him from Ireland, and occasionally I get the odd text. Recently he wrote, ‘Are you in New York?’ I was playing a show in May at the Living Room [a 130-person-capacity club in downtown Manhattan] and he said, ‘Look, if you happen to sing ”The Auld Triangle,” maybe call me up for a verse.’ So at the end of the gig, I just sort of said, ‘I’ve got a friend from Dublin here who’s gonna join me on this song, I hope that he’s still here,’ and up he came. People were just so happy to see him sing a normal song in front of a normal crowd in a normal room.”

2. He was totally against turning Once into a show

”When I originally heard that they were potentially going to turn it into a Broadway musical, I was horrified! I was very honest with them; I told them that it needs to be real — it can’t be a bunch of people in the [orchestra] pit covering for people miming or pretending to play. Then I went to see a rehearsal and Jesus, man, I was floored. Not only did they not f— it up, but they told the tale really, really well without it ever becoming too schmaltzy.”

3. He’s done singing about love gone wrong …

”At a certain point, it’s painful to listen to someone bemoan the sadness of their inability to stay in a relationship. On [Rhythm and Repose, out now], I find myself singing more to other people than to another woman. On ‘You Will Become,’ I’m singing to my brothers. On ‘Maybe Not Tonight’ it’s to an imaginary Glen Campbell girl, and on ‘The Storm, It’s Coming’ or ‘Bird of Sorrow’ I’m singing to Ireland. These songs are like little silver trails that a snail leaves behind in their stead. Sometimes they make perfect sense; other times they’re just distractions, and that’s enough.”

4. … But he did have a muse

”The biggest inspiration was New York City itself. I rented an apartment on Bleecker Street, living the life I promised myself when I was 15 years old — that one day I’d live like Bob Dylan and write songs and hang out in Greenwich Village with my friends, all those things that one dreams about as a child.”

5. He’s crazy about raggae

”I went to Jamaica in January after finishing my record, and I really got into Alton Ellis, the Gaylettes, Toots & the Maytals, Burning Spear. I’ve been on a pretty strict diet of reggae since I got home.”

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