By Alex Green, PA Acting Deputy Entertainment Editor
U2 frontman Bono has said the pressure to look “macho” as a young man stopped him from admitting he enjoyed the music of Abba.
The singer, 62, said he did not have the “courage” to “own up” to liking the Swedish pop superstars but now was able to see that “you can’t be empirical about everything in art”.
Bono spoke alongside guitarist The Edge, 61, during an hour-long special for BBC Radio 2’s Piano Room, where they played songs from their new album Songs Of Surrender.
The Edge said: “We’re big fans of this Scandinavian band, appreciators of their work in a way that grew over years.
“We are fans of the Bee Gees, which people wouldn’t have imagined.
“We’re fans of lots of great songwriters who aren’t necessarily seen as very hip, and I guess we’re just appreciators of their work.”
Bono said he had told one of their current recording band “that I didn’t have the courage to own up to this next band when I was 16 in the middle of punk rock.
“But I did get to The Bee Gees and I was ready to own up to (the songs) Massachusetts and Tragedy – I mean these are just crazy good.”
He said John Lennon had also been vocal about his love of the The Bee Gees before adding: “But there’s a bit of a macho ‘I don’t want to own up to Abba’.
“But I’ll tell you what, they’re just better songs. You can’t be empirical about everything in art.”
Bono said the music of Abba was like “the national anthem for young mothers” when they were growing up around Dublin in the 1970s.
He added: “Certainly at closing time at our local pub, often young women would sing Thank You For The Music, and I would sing it and I was very thankful for the music.
“But I was like, what is this phenomenon? This is before their musicals and all that. What is going on with Abba?”
He also recalled inviting Abba co-songwriter Benny Andersson on stage with U2 during a show in Stockholm in 1992, joking that they had “murdered” the track Dancing Queen with their cover.
Listen to the Piano Room session on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer.