When Dierks Bentley was writing “Here on Earth,” perhaps the most intimate song on his stellar new album, Riser, he decided to run it by a new friend: Bono from U2.
Dierks became friends with the sunglass-sporting rock star when U2 was in town to perform at Nashville’s Vanderbilt Stadium in 2011. “I had a chance to sit next to him at a dinner he did with [Tennessee] Senator Frist and we talked a lot about country music and the country audience. He loves country music and he’s been to the Station Inn, he’s been to the Bluebird. He was friends with Johnny Cash. He wanted to learn more about the country audience,” says Dierks of his chat with Bono, during which the country singer talked up his genre and, especially, its fans.
“I feel like I really got a chance to tell him what our country fans are like and what’s important to them, what they value. He obviously has these big causes [he supports] and he’s trying to find a way to relate that to our country audience. He went off on this tangent about the U.S. military, and how when a child in Africa sees that uniform, the first thing they see is the American flag on that uniform. But that flag to them isn’t a geographical place; that flag is an idea. And they just want a little piece of that idea in their life, that freedom, that security,” says Dierks. “I’d love to find a way to introduce him and bring him more into the country audience, because the more you get to know him, you realize what a great guy he is.”
Upon hearing “Here on Earth,” a song written about the death of Dierks’ father, Leon, Bono e-mailed the country singer with his praise, pointing out the lyrics are very much like a prayer. “I was like, ‘Wow, he totally gets it,’” says Dierks, who hopes to enlist Bono to sing on a future album. “It’s going to happen one day!”
For more on Dierks and Riser, pick up the March 3 issue of Country Weekly, on stands now.