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Water Cooler: In 60th birthday celebration, Bono releases playlist of songs that saved his life

UPDATED: Tue., May 12, 2020

U2 singer Bono waves goodbye to the media after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on Sept. 10, 2018. (Michel Euler / AP)
U2 singer Bono waves goodbye to the media after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on Sept. 10, 2018. (Michel Euler / AP)

To celebrate his 60th birthday, Bono chose to thank 60 artists that influenced his relationship with music by releasing a playlist called “60 Songs That Saved My Life.”

In a statement released on Bono explained that this playlist includes songs he “couldn’t have lived without” and that took him from “… zero to 60 … through all the scrapes, all manner of nuisance, from the serious to the silly … and the joy, mostly joy …”

Accompanying the playlist, Bono also released the first six of 60 fan letters that will explain his “fascination” with each song. They and future letters will be available to read in full on

Writing to Alice, daughter of Luciano Pavarotti, Bono shares his memories saying, “‘Miserere’ is one of my favourites of your father’s crescendos.”

In a letter to Billie Eilish in regard to her song “everything i wanted” that “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.”

To David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, Bono writes, “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.”

Addressing Shara Nelson and Massive Attack, he says, “Thanks for giving me permission to not fully let go of the rage behind all vulnerability … it can propel.”

In a letter to Daft Punk (or as he puts it “not-Daft-but-very-Punk spacemen”), Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, Bono praises them all individually for their unique touches in regards to the song “Get Lucky.”

To the group “Kraftwerk” for their song Neon Lights, he says “This perfectly constructed pop song.”

The playlist is full of variety, featuring songs of various genres, new and old. Some perhaps unexpected highlights include “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West, “When Doves Cry” by Prince, “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire, “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley & The Wailers and “Freedom” by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar.” Although these songs all have different backgrounds, they all display Bono’s love for the dramatic and uplifting.

Most of Bono’s picks fall in the realm of rock but they cover everything from rockabilly with Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” to plenty of ’80s New Wave featuring “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division and “Rescue” by Echo & the Bunnymen and on through to grunge with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam. Of course covering some staples with “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles and “Ruby Tuesday” by The Rolling Stones as well as its evolution in the U.K. and U.S. – punk. The Clash, Sex Pistols and Ramones are all there.

The full, over four-hour playlist can be streamed on a variety of services including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and Youtube Music. Get a direct link to the playlist on your preferred streaming service at

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