Sunday, January 11, 2009


Having already done a blog for The Financial Times, Bono is now starting to do occasional opinion pieces for The New York Times ("The Old Grey Lady" appears to be borrowing a page from The Huffington Post's book, so to speak - Neil Young, Harry Shearer and Jermaine Dupri are also among The Huff Post's staff of bloggers).

The suject of his first piece was Frank Sinatra. I have to admit, the appeal of Ol' Blue Eyes has always eluded me. Maybe because my first awareness of him was via Joe Piscopo's impressions of him on Saturday Night Live, and the "Johnny Fontane" character in The Godfather. Plus, I never really liked the music, which seemed too "schmaltzy" for me, although I'm told that I should check out the album In The Wee Small Hours. In fact, the only Sinatra in my whole collection is his duet with Bono, "I've Got You Under My Skin." I remember thinking that Sinatra - at least at his advanced age - was way out of his league.

And it's not that I'm "too young" or it's not that I don't like stuff that isn't rock and roll. In fact, I like lots of the songs that Sinatra sang - I just thought that Billie Holiday did them a lot better. And from the pre-rock and roll era, I'd prefer to listen to Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Woody Guthrie, etc.

But a lot of people who I admire respect the man: not just Bono, but also Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Henry Rollins to name a few. Maybe I should check out that Wee Small Hours album. It took me a while to open my record collection to Elvis Presley (influenced by Chuck D's Public Enemy lyric that "Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me, straight out racist the sucker was, simple and plain, motherfuck him and John Wayne!" and the fact that I felt that the other Sun artists - Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison - were better). I kind of felt that removed from the context of the times, the music just wasn't awesome. I have since picked up some of Presley's stuff on Sun, which is in fact pretty excellent, maybe it's time for me to re-evaluate some of Frank's music, at least the older stuff.

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