Reading Bono's guest column for the New York times entitled Notes from the Chairman. Am struck by Bono's observation on listening to two versions of My Way: one, recorded when Sinatra was a younger man, full of bravado, the spit and vinegar of youth, "embodying all the machismo a man can muster about the mistakes he’s made on the way from here to everywhere." And then the version recorded when Sinatra was much older, now a song of defeat, and the duality this implies.
It made me remember Steve Winwood's Back in the High Life Again, a song brimming with optimism. A few years back, Warren Zevon did a cover of High Life on his Life'll Kill Ya album. Zevon turned this wildly optimistic song into a moving dirge by a defeated man. I'm still amazed that this song can go through these extremes, from optimism to defeat without changing a lyric. That's the brilliance of these artists, bringing that duality to the song.