Bob Geldof singing songs again
It's hard to put Bob Geldof into a category. But the first one that came to my mind as I waited to meet the famous Irishman was "legend".
Dressed in a sharp suit and a wearing dark-tinted glasses, the singer, musician, philanthropist, activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire filled the room with his presence as soon as he walked in.
In Abu Dhabi to attend The Gulf Intelligence Food Security Forum, Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof was happy to talk to tabloid! about his latest album, the zanily-titled How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell.
"I was initially going to call the record Fifty Eight and a Half, which was my age when I recorded it. But then I saw a note from the 1950s which said ‘how to compose popular songs that will sell'. I took a photograph of it, and just thought it was a better title," he said.
The 10-track record was released in February, ten years after his 2001 record Sex, Age & Death. Geldof wrote 32 songs for it. "I like them all or I wouldn't have finished them. It's a little too much to record them all, so I recorded 27. But then I cannot stand listening to a CD of more than 10 tracks. No matter how good the record is, you still get tired of one group or person's sensibilities," the musician said.
He wrote seven of the tracks on the album single-handedly, but when asked, Geldof said he was amazed at being able to "write proper pop songs again".
"They all usually come in a sort of rush. I have no idea what they're about until I finish and talk to people, which is when I begin to understand what I've been on about. When you're writing songs, you just want to get it all out there," he explained.
There are no common themes to the tracks on the record. And although Geldof — who famously organised 1984's Live Aid and 2005's Live 8 concerts — cares deeply about many of the world's pressing issues like climate change, mass hunger, poverty, lack of women's education, none of the songs on his latest record speak of any political, economic and social issues.
"Yes, these are existential problems facing the world today. Mass starvation for instance makes wars imminent in our competition for limited resources. But I choose not to speak about them in my music. It's as John Lennon sings in the Beatles' White Album track Julia: ‘When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind.'
I get every opportunity to speak but I don't get much of an opportunity to sing my heart.
"When I was a kid and I didn't have a platform, I used songs to talk about things that bothered me. As fame gives you that platform to talk about things that bother you, the idea of song writing changes and you talk more about the internal world which is just as important to articulate, if only to understand yourself."
Geldof added he "did not really care" where his music fit in within today's industry.
"I don't know and I don't care. It really doesn't enter my head. I don't think about the charts at all, which is just as well because the charts don't think about me. When I was a kid I was obsessed by it. But I couldn't care less now."
The songs fit into the genre of "brilliant genius" anyway, the legendary Irishman added with a mischievous grin.