Bono has never kept his admiration of Elvis Presley a secret. U2’s frontman wrote about the King for Rolling Stone’s Immortals issue, calling Elvis “the blueprint for rock & roll.” And U2 even recorded tracks for 1987’s Rattle and Hum at Sun Studios in Memphis, where Elvis first put his silky pipes to tape.
On May 13th, BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a poem Bono has written about the King of Rock & Roll, and according to the Associated Press, the sonnet is a sentimental ode to Presley’s inspirational career, from his small-town Mississippi roots ultimately to his influence on culture the world over. It will be the first time the poem will be heard by a mass audience, after being shelved for 10 years.
While the poem had been published previously, it has never been publicly aired. The BBC is running it as part of its poetry season, and Bono’s heartfelt words — intertwined with Presley’s song “Mystery Train” — will serve as the center piece for a 15-minute broadcast, featuring snippets of Elvis’ music and other material. Throughout the poem, Bono claims, among other things, that “Elvis invented the Beatles,” that “Elvis woke up my heart” and that “Elvis was made by America so America could remake itself.”
“Elvis has millions of fans around the world, and Bono is one of them,” Des Shaw, who recorded the poem at Ten Alps Radio, told the AP, before stating the obvious. “It lay around for a long time with a lot of producers and editors trying to turn it into a soundscape. It couldn’t be a cold reading, so producer Chris O’Shaughnessy put it together. It seems the more you look into Elvis the more you realize exactly what a groundbreaker he was. He was breaking down boundaries.”