when i heard that bono had been tapped to write an op-ed column for the new york times, i shrugged. to be sure, the irish are not particularly known for their lyricism and lord knows there are no great irish writers. be that as it may, this bono dude obviously has his opinions. all joking aside, sir bono wrote an appreciation of bob dylan's singing in a recent issue of rolling stone. i was surprised and impressed by how wonderfully it was written. it wasn't just a good essay, it was startlingly good. i shook my head -- i for one would have no idea how to write an appreciation of dylan's singing. he's just too huge and his singing is just too loaded. but then bono nailed it with this perfect turn of phrase:
"There is certainly iron ore in there, and the bitter cold of Hibbing, Minnesota, blowing through that voice. It's like a knotted fist, and it allows Dylan to sing the most melancholy tunes and not succumb to sentimentality. What's interesting is that later, as he gets older, the fist opens up, to a vulnerability."
yes! his voice is an unsentimental knotted fist! that's perfect!
on sunday bono's debut (i think) column ran in the times. it is a lovely, boozy ode to frank sinatra, flowing with wit and a distinctly celtic lifelust. the scene is a simple if implausible one: bono is in a dublin pub on new year's eve and Ol' Blue Eyes' voice rises above the crowd on the stereo. the song is "My Way." bono writes:
"His ode to defiance is four decades old this year and everyone sings along for a lifetime of reasons. I am struck by the one quality his voice lacks: Sentimentality."
and then! he begins the next paragraph with this question: "Is this knotted fist of a voice a clue to the next year?"
oy. look i am not trying to play gotcha with the biggest rock star in the world. but i do have a couple of questions for you, el bono.
first of all: do you really think that sinatra's croony voice on "My Way" and Dylan's adenoidal midwestern twang are both "knotted fists" devoid of "sentimentality?" sinatra, at the time you describe him, was smoother than satin dipped in melted butter. dylan, at the time you describe him, was all rough edges with a molten core of fury. but apparently they are both punching you with their fisty voices and not the least bit sentimental about it.
second of all: you're a lovely writer. clearly you've got the chops. did you just get lazy?
or did you simply somehow develop a tic for describing people's voices as "unsentimental knotted fists." i can see you at the inauguration: "Obama's is a voice of hope, a knotted fist of unsentimental courage!" i can see you at the Oscars: "Mickey Rourke's unsentimental knotted fist of a fist was the Wrestler's true voice!" i can see you at the Grammys: "My knotted voice is the fist of unfathomable fame and unsentimental success. Raise a knotted fist jammed with cash and unsentimentally buy a (RED)ipod with all of my fist's songs on it."
third of all: did you think no one would notice?