Bono, the frontman of U2, has always been an obsessive specialist when it comes to music. The musician has always taken the time to spread the message about the artists who mean the most to him and, on more than one occasion, he has publicly shared with his very own personal a fan letter addressed to his heroes such as Bob Dylan and Oasis. While never shy to share praise, Bono once proclaimed that there are six songs on earth that he wishes he had written.
To provide some insight into Bono’s love of music, when he turned 60 in 2020, the U2 frontman decided to share a killer playlist of 60 songs that ‘saved his life’ in a wide-ranging collection. The variety of records that made the cut included the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Nirvana, and Prince.
There’s a correlation between the list he provided in 2020 and his response to Q Magazine a couple of years earlier, who asked him to name the one song he wishes he penned. While bandmate Adam Clayton opted for Soul II Soul’s ‘Back To Life’, The Edge went for ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis. Larry Mullen Jr. selected The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ but, in typical Bono fashion, he chose to go against the grain and named six songs instead of just one.
Oasis number ‘Live Forever’ is one track that features on both his playlist to commemorate his 60th and his list of songs he wishes he had spawned. In an open letter in which he wrote about the Britpop classic, Bono said: “I think you’re the same as me, we see things they’ll never see’ I don’t know what this song is about… I don’t want to know. I know you wrote this song but it belongs to me… well, it doesn’t really, it belongs to us… or anyone who was ever in a band.”
He continued: “Cause whatever you say, this song is about being in a band. And it’s us against the world…a very different feeling from me against the world. The last gang in town versus the man alone. I love the singing and the playing and the lyric and Liam and Noel and Tony and the two Pauls… I love it all… and now I don’t need to live forever as much.”
The Verve are another band that feature on both lists, with Bono stating that he wishes he wrote ‘Lucky Man’, although ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ makes his birthday playlist. Bono recalled first watching the band in Dublin, and his memory of that night is still etched on his mind, reflecting: “Years ago I remember someone using the word ‘mad’ to describe what you were on about. Well in a world of war, greed and suffering, all I could hear was a higher form of sanity. I was with some atheists that night at the Olympia who thanked God for you and your music – as I do.”
Bob Dylan’s ‘Brownsville Girl, which is notably over 11-minutes long and featured on the songwriter’s 1986 album Knocked Out Loaded, also made the list. In an open letter to Dylan, Bono mentioned the track, stating: “It could be ‘Brownsville Girl’ with Sam Shepard. A brand new song format as well as another song where the protagonist is not at the centre of the action… ‘Now I know she ain’t you, but she’s here, and she’s got that dark rhythm in her soul’.”
U2 are a band that will forever split opinion, but one thing that can not be argued is that Bono lives and breathes music. Although his actions outside of music sometimes overshadow his career, it’s worth remembering that, first and foremost, he’s an imperial songwriter.
The songs Bono wishes he’d written:
Bob Dylan & Sam Shepherd – ‘Brownsville Girl’
Massive Attack – ‘Unfinished Sympathy’
Oasis – ‘Live Forever’
Gavin Friday – ‘The Last Song I’ll Ever Sing’
The Verve – ‘Lucky Man’
Emm Gryner – ‘Almighty Love’