They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Paul David Hewson was born in Dublin on this day in 1960. It was in his teens, however, that he was given the moniker that would become an immediately recognizable name the world over, the name by which he would be known as for both his musical fame and his international influence – Bono. (The shades would come later.) Bono is many things, but it is important not to forget that, along with being a philanthropist and entrepreneur, he is (as U2 frontman) a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and 22-time Grammy winner.

While popularity inevitably waxes and wanes over time, Bono has spent the vast majority of his life as frontman of one of the most inarguably momentous acts in the history of popular music. So a very happy fifty-second to Bono Vox of O’Connell Street.

MP3: Damien Rice – One (U2 Cover)
As testament to Bono’s songwriting as well as the generations he’s inspired, not one but two U2 covers were among our Best of 2011. First is a heartfelt, acoustic “One” by fellow Irishman Damien Rice. Rice brilliantly (and simplistically) switches up the lyrics, mixing you and I to seamlessly transfer the song’s narration and evoke a sense of mournful, selfish, guilt. The meaning may change, but it seems that Rice had a poet’s sense of what Bono the lyricist was going for.

MP3: K’naan – Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (U2 Cover)
Unlike most of his contemporaries, K’naan takes on a track from 2000′s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. His take on “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” brings a rhythm on the verses that’s reminiscent of “Hard Knock Life” – it’s an unexpected twist, but one that works beautifully with his sound and showcases some fancy guitar to go along with it.

MP3: 2Cellos – With or Without You (U2 Cover)
From last year’s self-titled debut comes 2Cellos‘ “With or Without You.” The two manage to bring the beauty and intensity of Bono’s vocals without a single word.

MP3: Jack White – Love is Blindness (U2 Cover)
From the same tribute album as Rice’s “One” (and from our same Best of 2011 list) is Jack White‘s “Love is Blindness.” White takes the organs and synth darkness of the original and digs out from under it a blues masterpiece. There’s a distinctly Bono-esque feel to this magnificent departure, and it’s a testament to the talents of both artists.

MP3: Elbow – Running to Stand Still (U2 Cover)
One of the very few U2 songs to directly reference Dublin, Elbow brings a kind of universal sound to “Running to Stand Still,” a sound not referencing Ireland or England but that is, all at once, mournful and hopeful. The track is a beautiful display of Bono’s talents as well as Elbow’s.

Check out more from Bono and U2 at their website.

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