Rolling Stone has been pleased to publish Bono’s writing in the past (see his lengthy comment on the band’s first albums, his meditation on Immortal artist Elvis Presley, his essay on Greatest Singer Bob Dylan), and now The New York Times is putting the multitasking rock star to work. Bono’s tenure as a Times op-ed writer began yesterday. Rather than devote space in the world’s most-read newspaper to his many charitable causes, the recession or Barack Obama, the U2 frontman threw everyone a curve ball by dedicating his first piece to the “Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra. Bono does briefly connect the recession’s hit on Ireland to the legendary crooner, recounting a recent trip to a Dublin pub where there was revelry but “builders and bankers laugh uneasy and hard at the last year, and swallow uneasy and hard at the new.” The one cure to mend all of their sorrows? Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which blares out of the bar’s speakers.
From here, Bono gives us a critical take of what makes Sinatra Sinatra. “Fully inhabiting the moment during that tiny dot of time after you’ve pressed ‘record’ is what makes it eternal,” Bono writes, “If, like Frank, you sing it like you’ll never sing it again. If, like Frank, you sing it like you never have before.” Bono also examines the two different versions of “My Way,” from the triumphant 1969 version to a later version, when 78-year-old Sinatra sings “a heart-stopping, heartbreaking song of defeat.”
Bono remembers the time he spent time with Sinatra around when they sang together on Duets‘ “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” “I don’t usually hang with men who wear earrings,” Sinatra told Bono. In addition to penning the column, Bono also read his piece “Notes From the Chairman” aloud, which you can listen to over at the NYT Website. For those who’d rather listen to Bono sing than read, you might be in luck: U2 will reportedly perform new song “Get On Your Boots” at this year’s BRIT Awards on February 18th, plus their new album No Line on the Horizon is due out March 3rd. For a look inside the studio as U2 records that highly anticipated new album, check out Rolling Stone No. 1070, on newsstands now.