On Wednesday, U2 lead singer Bono will read a poem on BBC radio that he penned for Elvis Presley. It's entitled "Elvis: American David," and while the network is playing it up as "unique" and "purposefully quintessential," the rest of the British press--which got a hold of a copy--is panning it. And that's putting it mildly.
Tim Dowling at the British newspaper The Guardian, wrote of the poem,
"[a] disregard for the traditional rules of capitalisation is maintained throughout. This may echo the unconventional orthography of ee cummings, or he may have composed it on his phone."
Christopher Hart, a particularly rankled reporter for The Mail Online, responded to the news with his own poem about Bono:
'Bono in your sunglasses, even when it rains, Bono in your private jet while the rest of us take trains, Bono with your tax affairs safely overseas, Bono, oh will you shut up, please.'
Even U2 ghost biographer Neil McCormick, an old friend of Bono's, wrote in The Telegraph,
" I am used to defending Bono. I have taken on all comers considering his talent...his ego...his charitable and political activism..and his music. But I must admit, his Elvis poem has had me stumped."
My favorite criticism came from a professor of modern English Literature whom the aforementioned Guardian asked to dissect Bono's poem. His comments quickly declined from the substantial to things like " I'm getting really fed up with this so-called poem," "Blah, blah, bloody blah," and "Beats the sh*t out of me what this could mean." Again, that's a professor.
The poem does, at times, read like a series of Chuck Norris facts--"elvis changed the centre of gravity," "elvis invented the beatles"--and it might remind you of private Bubba from Forrest Gump waxing poetic about shrimp. But does it deserve all the criticism its getting? I tried putting on my teacher's hat and finding some good in it. Here's what I came up with:
1) There are a few good lines.
2) It's better than Jewel.
Best I could do. Here's an excerpt so that you can judge for yourself.
elvis son of tupelo.
elvis mama's boy.
elvis the twin brother of Jesse who died at birth and was buried in a shoe box.
elvis drove a truck.
elvis was recorded at sun studios by the musical diviner sam phillips.
elvis was managed by colonel tom parker, an ex-carnie barker whose last act was a singing canary.
elvis was the most famous singer in the world since king david.
elvis lived on his own street.
elvis liked to play speed cop.
elvis had a monkey named scatter before anyone.
elvis wore a cape at the white house when he was presenting nixon with two silver pistols.
elvis was a member of the drug squad.
elvis wore eye make up, just hangin' out.
elvis wore a gold nudie suit and trained his lip to curl.
elvis was macho, but could sing like a girl.
You can read Bono's entire poem here (if you still want to).