Neil Young Criticizes Bono's "Long-Winded Oratory"

More Sinatra, less (or no) Bono. That’s what Neil Young said he wanted in his new autobiography Waging Heavy Peace:  A Hippie Dream. A writer, music industry veteran, and friend of U2 passed along the remark that “Neil makes some nasty comments about Bono’s Sinatra tribute speech at the Grammys in his new book.” Really? So of course I got a copy and went looking. I want to read the whole book too, as a fan of Neil Young, but first things first, ya’ know?

Bono isn’t mentioned by name in the whole book, as a “search inside” at Amazon will also prove. He’s just called “a recently successful artist.” On page 439, Neil starts writing about his admiration for the “hallowed ground” of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their inductees and the way they used to run the ceremony in the early years. “All or most of my heroes were already in the Hall of Fame when I was inducted,” he writes, and he loved the casual and impromptu speeches inductees would make.

“Then the worst thing happened. The founders decided to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony a TV show! VH1! What could be LESS rock and roll than VH1? Now a place that was beyond classification had been relegated to a VH1 show. Gone were the long speeches. Three minutes on TV was the new speech. …

It reminded me of the Lifetime Achievement Award the Grammys gave Frank Sinatra in New York one year. A recently successful artist came out and introduced Sinatra in a very long-winded oratory, and then Frank came out. He had just started talking when he was out of time. The band began to play and the introducing artist came back out and walked him off. Sinatra was definitely not finished speaking. I would have loved to hear him, but there was no time left. Frank looked confused and disappointed when he was escorted off. He was just getting started and couldn’t believe he was cut short. That’s TV. A rambling intro that was much longer than Frank’s cut-short speech meant that time was up for one of the greatest legends ever in the history of music. That’s life. It pissed me off. ” (page 441)

Yeah, those are some nasty comments, but I got the sense Neil Young was blaming the RNRHOF founders and TV in general for what it has done to music ceremony shows, as much as he was blaming Bono. But still, that was one long rambling intro. In this clip–which seems to be the only version on YouTube–you can’t see Frank’s face at the end to tell if he is confused and disappointed. Maybe Neil was in the room to see it in person? Take a look and you decide: did Bono steal Frank’s time?


25 Responses to Neil Young Criticizes Bono's "Long-Winded Oratory"

  1. Andy October 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    From what I remember of this story, Frank was actually very grateful that he was “cut short” as he didn’t know how to end his speech…

  2. Mrhermateeowish October 9, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Not mentioned here is the complete inconsistency within Young’s remarks. He waxes nostalgic about the days when “long speeches” we’re the rule, and then seemingly criticizes Bono’s introduction as long winded. Huh? Which one is it? Do you want long speeches or short ones? Is there a point being made at all here, beyond some Andy Rooney-esque “things were better in my day”?

    And the idea of blaming Sinatra’s interruption on Bono is without foundation. That call was (wrongly) made by the producers of the show. You might as well blame it on the crowd for giving Sinatra too long of a standing ovation.

  3. Melinda October 10, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Hey Neil, wanna blame Bono? Ok, well you also then need to blame the audience for clapping too often and for too long and blame the director/producer for not giving Sinatra a signal to hurry, blame Sinatra for not being prepared to give a speech–he didn’t seem like he knew what to say. Neil’s kinda sounding like a bitter, old, irrelevant musician to me.

  4. Liam October 10, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I liked Bono’s intro. It’s one of my favourite Bono moments, given the fact I am fan of both U2 and Sinatra. Frank wouldn’t have been mad at Bono, espsecially given the fact they had recorded ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ fairly recently at that point. Frank took a bit of time trying to find Barbara too, it was partly his fault as well. He also called it the best welcome he ever had.

  5. illustrationISM October 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    My, my, hey, hey Neil,
    we liked Bono’s Irish ‘schpeel’!

  6. rheaume76 October 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Scott, I agree with you on that interpretation. That is exactly what I was thinking before I even got to your opinion. Great mind think alike, eh? 😉

  7. mdmomof7 October 12, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Frank himself said it was the best welcome he ever had. I have to think it wasn’t just the applause, but Bono’s words. Bono’s intro was personal and universal at the same time. It left Frank w/ a full 4 mins. after all the applause. Go wail away on someone else, Neil.

  8. Justin October 14, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Didn’t Frank say it was the best introduction he ever received?

  9. Eddie October 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    This was Bono at his most creative and self aware. Neil Young take note.

  10. mike October 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    great and heart felt intro by Bono that seemed to be well received by Frank and the audience i like some of Neil’s work but been ages since he did anything good – so best to create some controversy for your book Neil as you wont be making $ BY recording or concerts of course remember Bono stayed at Frank’s house – did NEIL ever get invited ??????

  11. Donal Murphy October 19, 2012 at 5:02 am #

    It’s a little strange this one, and probably unwarranted by Neil, though Bono did perhaps go on a little bit too long. Irrespective of how long Bono went on, the producers are at fault and should have given a person of the stature of Sinatra, the time to finish whatever he was saying.

    Neil doesen’t need any publicity for his book, this will sell by the truck load anyway, this tiny book excerpt, was picked up by the media, so we can’t blame Neil for that, though it won’t hurt the book sales !

    I’m unsure of nature of the exact relationship between Neil & Sinatra, but it’s clear that Neil was a huge fan. I do know that they were the only two acts to “refuse” to leave Reprise Records when it wound down in the late 1970’s, a stance, only very high profile and highly respected acts like Neil & Sinatra would be in a position to do. It’s highly likely that they would have known each other, both were on the same record label for decades. So it’s probably a good guess that Neil would have been at Sinatras house.

    The other thing is that U2 are big Neil Young fans, they covered some of his songs including “Southern Man” and some others, they have seen him live as I saw for myself in Dublin May 2003 when they attended one of his live gigs at Vicar Street.

    It sounds like, for whatever reason Neil Young is not too keen on U2, but they respect him enourmously.

    For anyone who thinks Neil Young has not done anything good in ages, just go see him live and all will be revealed.

  12. Andrew October 25, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Neil Young, whose intelligence is just north of “dull”, probably just gets angry because he doesn’t understand Bono’s big words.

  13. Astrid October 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I saw the video a couple of years ago and my first impression was that Bono was rude. But later I read the whole story in a book about the Grammy’s and it was actually Frank’s minders and the TV producers who cut him short as Frank was lost for words. According to this book Bono came to the rescue and leaded him off the stage, before it became too embarrassing. The book is called At The Grammy’s by Ken Ehrlich, chapter 16. Foreword by Bono. This book is btw a must read for U2 fans!

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  15. Patty October 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    I agree — what is it Neil, long speeches are better or long speeches are worse? And a “recently successful” artist is pretty funny to call Bono — since U2 had been successful since 1981 and this was 1994.

    This was supposed to be a TRIBUTE to Frank, not the Frank Sinatra Show. A tribute is when someone else says nice things about you. You accept the award, not tell your life story.

    Neil, you will never have to worry about me saying nice things about you.

  16. Patty October 30, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    p.s. To the person who said maybe Neil Young was in the room seeing something that we couldn’t see on the telecast… I know for a fact that he was there, as I was working for the Recording Academy at that time and saw him there, and I also coincidentally rode the elevator with Young at the Righa Royale Hotel the night before the show, where we both happened to be staying. So was Weiland from STP and a few others.

    For the record, Frank was a bit incredulous & a little confused that he had been cut off. However, the only rambling during that segment was done by elderly Sinatra.

  17. jimmyjoe October 30, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    not everyone likes bonehead blowing up his own ego 24/7 360 forever

  18. jimmyjoe October 30, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    bono takes advantage of all people and every situation I

  19. jimmyjoe October 30, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    stealing peoples time and words is grand theft the irish hands wrestled mine right out of my soul

  20. Notasouthernmanlucille November 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Love Bono, Love Neil. However the average U2 fan knows nothing previous to 2005 let alone this amazing piece of work by Bono. Thats when the bandwagon supporters of the white and (red) campaigns emerged and now they are calling foul against a rock Legend like Neil Young. I have seen U2 almost 50 times and can honestly say that this was the best speech of all time. He moved “ole blueeyes” and Neil Young was giving a perspective on it. What annoys me is that these fans of U2 love to criticize and jump on others who have a difference of opinion. If you want to see it up close, go to the g.a line before and see how they try to outsmart eachother. Most of them are nothing more than gas station or grocery workers with pathetic lives who have no ambition or dream of their own. Cheers!

  21. jimmyjoe November 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    I will respond with rude incoherent statements in response to bono’s quest for exoneration from crimes againest the hart . Trying to improve third world conditions while enriching one’s investment portfolio by exploiting third world conditions is a fulltime job for Bono. takes talent to maintain one’s position on both sides of the equation.

  22. jimmyjoe November 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    free market capitalism got bono out of Dublin and it could get many impoverished people out of dire straights if all the well off humanitarians got out of the way and stopped reaping the rewards of hypocrisy.Its truly a fun war we are in..but make no mistake about it I will have the last laugh!!!

  23. jimmyjoe November 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    the cost of playing unsupervised with fireworks has not been tallyed and his expenses continue to mount due to his inflationary nature


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