Zucchero: My Songwriting Hero, Bono
The ‘father of Italian blues’ waxes lyrical about his great friend and frequent collaborator; the lead singer of U2, Bono
“A long time ago, I think it was in the 90s, I did an album called Miserere and the record label pushed to have an English version of some of the songs. I said that I didn’t necessarily need the literal translation, but had to keep the meaning and the subject the same – something that comes from poetry, from their style. I’ve always been a big fan of U2, especially regarding the meaning of the lyrics, so I kept saying I’d want to work with Bono. I knew he would do a great job, but they said, ‘Oh he’s too big, he’s too busy, so he’s probably not going to do it.’ I said, ‘Oh what a shame,’ but in the end, I found a way to get in touch with him.
“We become good friends with a guy at London Records who was a very good friend of him, and we said, ‘You have to find a way to send this music to Bono.’ One week later, I received a fantastic fax saying how much he liked the music and that my voice sounded like a brass section! He was very nice and very generous, and then I received the lyrics – they were fantastic and I was very emotional. That was the first time we worked together. Then the song became a hit in Italy and I did it as a duet with Pavarotti. He has a big event every year called Pavarotti And Friends, and I helped him to call a rock or pop artist. I started to call Eric Clapton, Sting and, of course, Bono, and he came and sang the song with Pavarotti, too. So we became more close again, and in almost all my albums from 1992 we have written a song together, including my last one Black Cat.
“It’s a pleasure to work with him because he likes writing and the way that I’m writing melody. It’s different for him, but he works with me. I use a lot of double meaning, sometimes irony and sarcasm, but I can be too direct. He is the one that will be more sophisticated and you have to think about it – there could be 10 different meanings! Also, he’s very professional, fast and he gives me the choice of different alternatives. Some other people say, ‘These are the lyrics, don’t change anything,’ but he gives me options, which means he knows it can always be better. You’re not just doing it for the rights or for the money, you do this with heart and soul and passion…”