Bono is celebrating his 60th birthday by paying homage to his peers.
The U2 legend has shared his playlist of “60 Songs That Saved My Life.” Along with the music, he penned 60 fan letters to his musical heroes, including Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West.
“These are some of the songs that saved my life,” explained Bono. “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.”
While honoring Kendrick, he reflected on performing their collaboration “XXX” together at the 2018 Grammys. “I liked your crew when we did the opening of The GRAMMYs,” he wrote. “They were shit hot and organised. It was a ballet, it was an opera, it was fusion between hip hop and rock ’n’ roll but it was not confusion.”
He went on to praise Kendrick’s witty wordplay. “The fact that you’re playful, self-deprecating, as well as revelatory is a note to self,” he added. “I asked you at the time if you’d rap about where America was at, and your reply was to rap about where America isn’t at. Smart.”
Bono said he hopes to further his friendship with K-Dot (“I hope one day to get to know you better”) before signing off with “Love and pizza.”
Kendrick received another nod for his Beyoncé collaboration “Freedom.” Bono bowed down to Queen Bey’s powerful LEMONADE anthem. “There is nowhere this song is not going to go,” he said. “That freedom’s torch here is carried by you two standard bearers… I give thanks.”
Bono also paid respect to Bey’s iconic album. “Well in my 60 years, I was served many platters but rarely one like the Queen Bey’s album LEMONADE.”
In his letter to Kanye, he reflected on being present while the Yeezy mogul performed “Black Skinhead” on “SNL” in 2013. “It felt like hip hop wanted the black leather jacket back from rock ’n’ roll… and the rock ’n’ roll silhouette too,” he wrote. “And there you were. Head like a bullet against the supermarket yellow backdrop with a sign saying NOT FOR SALE. Words shot from a glock-like mouth, from the lips of some punk Othello, with dogs like wolves on a leash… teeth bared, tongues dripping, ku klux knots slipping.”
He saluted the “fearless” rapper, adding, “Your fan since you came out on the road with us for the Vertigo tour.”
Bono was in an “Empire State of Mind,” as he included JAY-Z and Alicia Keys’ “tall and defiant” anthem on his list. “Who would take on Sinatra, to write a better theme song for this great city? Only you,” he said before praising Hov. “The people that you, Jay, give permission to exist is the thing… the somebodies and the nobodies, the wannabies and the washed-up-me’s all feel welcome in your language.”
He also shined a light on Alicia’s genius. “There are no brighter lights than truth-tellers and people who just carry the luminosity of goodness and grace like you brighter than any neon,” he said.
Read the rest of Bono’s letters, from Pharrell and Public Enemy to Adele and Billie Eilish, on Rolling Stone.