U2 frontman Bono has been infatuated with Bob Dylan for as long as he can remember. The freewheelin’ troubadour’s songwriting is something that the Irishman has studied meticulously, and there’s one Dylan song he likened to “one of the great Psalms of David”.
Bb Dylan is a hero to Bono, and in 1984, the singer even had the pleasure of interviewing Dylan for Irish music publication Hot Press before the wordsmith took to the stage at Slane Castle. Dylan then invited him on-stage later that evening to perform ‘Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat’, which ended disastrously.
It should have been a moment to cherish. However, the U2 singer’s mind turned to mush, and he could not recollect a single lyric from the track. Thankfully, Bono can now see the funny side of that embarrassing night. Even though it didn’t go how he’d envisaged, he still can boast of performing with Bob Dylan.
Last year, Bono shared an open letter addressed to Dylan, where he discussed his love for the wordsmith and wrote, “It could be BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND… like I was in Slane Castle, making it up as I went along. You let me sing beside you. You reminisced about Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem in the West Village, encouraging me ‘you’ve not just got to make your own song up, you got to make yourself up too’.”
Bono’s strange ramblings continued, “In the scriptures, the apostle John has his view on BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND….. John 3:8 ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit’.”
Another song from Dylan which he eternally cherishes is ‘Every Grain Of Sand’. Similarly to ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, it’s the biblical references that touch him profoundly. Bono briefly mentioned the track in his open letter before inexplicably revealing Steve Jobs wanted it played at his funeral and descending into an unrelated anecdote about the Apple founder.
However, on another occasion, Bono was more coherent and concise in his analysis. He told Rolling Stone, “It’s like one of the great Psalms of David. Dylan stops wailing against the world, turns on himself and is brought to his knees.”
Biblical references have been a staple throughout Dylan’s career, such as on ‘Every Grain Of Sand’. Many accept it as the pinnacle of Dylan’s born-again Christian period, and he let his faith write the song on his behalf, later revealing, “That was an inspired song that came to me. I felt like I was just putting down words that were coming from somewhere else, and I just stuck it out.”
Finally, while that period of Dylan’s career will consistently divide opinion between fans, ‘Every Grain Of Sand’ confirmed that he still had his mercurial touch. The arc of redemption he demonstrates on ‘Every Grain Of Sand’ takes the listener on a breathtaking journey that ties his most complicated era together and draws it to a close at the end of Shot Of Love.