Bridge Jumping and Sinatra: Does Experience Elevate Communication?

I've been ruminating on an op-ed piece that Bono wrote for the New York Times recently. After getting over the fact that the man seems to know no bounds of influence (and I admire his tenacity), I was particularly struck by a thesis in his article. The foundation of Bono's piece is the duality of celebrating this New Year, which he likens to two Sinatra renditions of "My Way"; one brash and cocky, the other regretful and introspective.

Nestled in the middle of Bono's piece was this thought:

Like Bob Dylan’s, Nina Simone’s, Pavarotti’s, Sinatra’s voice is improved by age, by years spent fermenting in cracked and whiskeyed oak barrels. As a communicator, hitting the notes is only part of the story, of course.

Singers, more than other musicians, depend on what they know — as opposed to what they don’t want to know about the world. While there is a danger in this — the loss of naïveté, for instance, which holds its own certain power — interpretive skills generally gain in the course of a life well abused.

Sinatra sang "My Way" with more depth and complexity towards the end of his life, and interpreted the song with a vulnerability and honesty absent from his earlier rendition. With time, and experience, came a richer, more didactic performance.

My question: do you think Bono's assertion is true, and how far does this truth extend (beyond singers) in ministry, teaching, counseling, pastoring, and even friendships, marriage, and our relationship with the Lord? Is "hitting the notes only part of the story"? How much should we "depend upon what we know" in interpreting what we communicate?

My bias? I think, speaking in the singing realm, that there is a LOT of truth to Bono's statement. A worship leader who sings and a talented vocalist singing are worlds apart because the former believes in the subject of her song, and the latter just strives to impress. After having my heart broken a few times, I feel the blues I sing.

Of course, the paradigm of experience = honest, better communication can fall short. I don't need to experience everything in order to share honestly and compellingly. The authority of the Bible is my strength; observing family, friends, and opponents teaches valuable lessons, and common sense serves as a beautiful boundary (just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge, doesn't mean I will! But I can still write a song about the pain of broken bones).

But enough about me - do you resonate with Bono's statement in your sphere of communicating?

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