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?