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U2′s Bono celebrates 60th birthday with 60-song playlist featuring Bowie, Billie Eilish, Kanye West

U2′s Bono celebrates 60th birthday with top 60 song playlist featuring Bowie, Billie Eilish, Kanye West
U2′s Bono celebrates 60th birthday with top 60 song playlist featuring Bowie, Billie Eilish, Kanye West(Aaron Favila/AP)

Bono celebrated his 60th birthday Sunday by posting a playlist of what he described as “60 Songs That Saved My Life,” with the promise to write a “fan letter” to all 60 artists. He posted the first six of these 60 mash notes on the U2 website, kicking off with his praise for Billie Eilish, David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, Luciano Pavarotti and Massive Attack.

His list of 60 life-savers includes the artists you'd most expect, such as Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, the Clash, Van Morrison and Johnny Cash. It also includes a few more recent or pop-oriented songs that might not be as predictable from a rock-hero-honoring statesman, like Coldplay's "Clocks," Madonna's "Ray of Light," Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," the Bee Gees' "Immortality" and even Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way."

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"These are some of the songs that saved my life," the singer writes. "The ones I couldn't have lived without… the ones that got me from there to here, zero to 60… through all the scrapes, all manner of nuisance, from the serious to the silly… and the joy, mostly joy." He adds, "I am writing a fan letter to accompany each song to try and explain my fascination." The gallery of letters to his heroes will expand over the coming days on U2's website.

Billie Eilish's "Everything I Wanted," released as a standalone single last November, is the newest track on Bono's list. "Dear Billie (Finneas too)," he writes, "My ears long for such empty spaces to wander, to sneak away from the density of digital surfaces with too much information. I step inside your song and it's a black beauty, achingly awesomely vulnerable and terrifying, fearless and worrisome… but you are not worried by all that. You express it so you can own the feeling that nags. I think of Carole King. I think of Roy Orbison. But just like them, this never existed before you did. Your fan, Bono."

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Eilish's is not the only 2019 inclusion on his list. For Bruce Springsteen, surprisingly, he picks not a classic song from the canon but "There Goes My Miracle," a song from the "Western Stars" album released last year (annotation by Bono to come later).

Kraftwerk has been in the news due to its co-founder Florian Schneider's death this past week. "'I gave (wife) Ali a copy to romance her on her 17th birthday in 1978," Bono writes. "'Neon Lights' is a song that brought into being a future that has now become so familiar, it is easy to forget just how strange it was." He thanks the surviving members "for the loan of Florian all these years. May he Rest In Peace."

U2's Bono
U2's Bono(Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

His letter concerning "Life on Mars?" is addressed to Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. "'When I heard your Dad's song 'Life on Mars?' on the radio in 1973, I was hiding under the covers of my bed in 10 Cedarwood Road listening to a pirate radio station called Radio Caroline. I wasn't thinking about the question mark in the title. I wasn't bothered about the dramatic inquiry 'Is there life on Mars?' The song was answering a much more important question when I was 13. Is there intelligent life on earth? It was proof as far as I'm concerned."

Bono writes separate messages to Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams about their song "Get Lucky." To Rodgers, he says, "'You wrote songs so you could be in them. And that light touch is never better than on this one." To Williams, he writes, "You are a reason to believe in what's possible. You are a reason to believe in THE IMPOSSIBLE."

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish(John Locher/AP)

Bono includes three songs on which he collaborated with other artists — Pavarotti, Kendrick Lamar and Frank Sinatra. He addresses Alice Pavarotti, the singer’s daughter, about one of those partnerships, “Miserere,” which he lists first: “I can hardly remember what it was about... other than forgiveness that is… and a toast to being alive.”

Bono’s full list of “60 Songs That Saved My Life”

1. Luciano Pavarotti, Bono & Zucchero - Miserere

2. Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the UK

3. Kanye West - Black Skinhead

4. Billie Eilish - Everything I Wanted

5. David Bowie - Life on Mars?

David Bowie
David Bowie(Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images)

6. The Beatles - I Want to Hold Your Hand

7. Ramones - Swallow My Pride

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8. The Clash - Safe European Home

9. Public Enemy - Fight the Power

10. Patti Smith - People Have the Power

11. John Lennon - Mother

12. The Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones(Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns // Getty Images)

13. Elton John - Daniel

14. Andrea Bocelli - Con Te Partiro

15. Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel

16. Johnny Cash - Hurt

17. This Mortal Coil - Song to the Siren

18. Kraftwerk - Neon Lights

19. The Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song

20. Prince - When Doves Cry

21. Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers - Get Lucky

22. Madonna - Ray of Light

23. JAY-Z featuring Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind

24. Talking Heads - Love Goes to Building on Fire

Why they broke up: The Talking Heads went on hiatus twice before the band broke up in 1991. The band members got back together briefly in 1996 without guitarist David Byrne and released the album "No Talking, Just Head." Why we wish they didn't:
Why they broke up: The Talking Heads went on hiatus twice before the band broke up in 1991. The band members got back together briefly in 1996 without guitarist David Byrne and released the album "No Talking, Just Head." Why we wish they didn't:(Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

25. Lou Reed - Satellite of Love

26. The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony

27. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

28. New Order - True Faith

29. R.E.M. - Nightswimming

30. Adele - Chasing Pavements

31. Arcade Fire - Wake Up

32. Pixies - Monkey Gone to Heaven

33. Oasis - Live Forever

34. Iggy Pop - Lust for Life

35. Gavin Friday - Angel

36. Massive Attack - Safe from Harm

37. Kendrick Lamar featuring U2 - XXX

Shortly after "Catch a Fire," Marley and the Wailers released "Burnin" which included the hit song "I Shot the Sheriff." The song would later be covered by Eric Clapton bringing him a Billboard Number One hit. The band became so popular that they were fired from a tour with Sly and the Family Stone for being more popular than the main acts. A year later, the Wailers officially broke up to persue solo careers.
Shortly after "Catch a Fire," Marley and the Wailers released "Burnin" which included the hit song "I Shot the Sheriff." The song would later be covered by Eric Clapton bringing him a Billboard Number One hit. The band became so popular that they were fired from a tour with Sly and the Family Stone for being more popular than the main acts. A year later, the Wailers officially broke up to persue solo careers.(AP Photo)

38. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Redemption Song

39. Echo and the Bunnymen - Rescue

40. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

41. Pearl Jam - Jeremy

42. Bob Dylan - Most of the Time

43. Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar - Freedom

44. Depeche Mode - Walking In My Shoes

45. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Into My Arms

46. Simon & Garfunkel - The Sounds of Silence

47. Coldplay - Clocks

48. INXS - Never Tear Us Apart

49. New Radicals - You Get What You Give

50. Angélique Kidjo - Agolo

51. Lady Gaga - Born This Way

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52. Frank Sinatra & Bono - Under My Skin

FILE - In this 1990 file photo, Frank Sinatra gestures to the crowd during a reprise of "New York, New York" at a concert in New York's Radio City Music Hall. The Obama summer playlist has everyone from Drake and Beyonce to Steely Dan and Frank Sinatra. Barack Obama tweeted 44 songs Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, that he and his wife, Michelle, have been listening to. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this 1990 file photo, Frank Sinatra gestures to the crowd during a reprise of "New York, New York" at a concert in New York's Radio City Music Hall. The Obama summer playlist has everyone from Drake and Beyonce to Steely Dan and Frank Sinatra. Barack Obama tweeted 44 songs Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, that he and his wife, Michelle, have been listening to. (AP Photo, File)(Mario Suriani/AP)

53. David Bowie - Heroes

54. Simple Minds - New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84)

55. Sinéad O’Connor - You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart

56. Van Morrison - A Sense of Wonder

57. Bruce Springsteen - There Goes My Miracle

58. Daniel Lanois - The Maker

59. Peter Frampton - Show Me the Way

60. Bee Gees - Immortality - Demo Version

The playlist is available for listening via Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and YouTube Music.

? 2020 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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