Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes From the Chairman, in the High Life

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.

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