In an age of isolation, the U2 frontman’s solo performance is given a powerful postscript
In times like this, solidarity is more urgent than ever. So when U2’s Bono posted “Let Your Love Be Known”— a song he wrote in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — musician/producer Fernando Perdomo immediately took interest. He expanded the arrangements and turned Bono’s song of solace into an anthem for troubled times.
Of course, Perdomo’s no novice, especially where his ambitions are concerned. A musical mainstay of the L.A. session scene, he was once dubbed “The millennial answer to Todd Rundgren.” Over the years, he’s been responsible for several innovative initiatives — among them, an instrumental tribute to King Crimson, a series of recordings with his “Out to Sea” ensemble and, most recently, participation in the acclaimed Laurel Canyon documentary that aired on Netflix, “Echo In The Canyon,” which found him performing alongside Jakob Dylan, Beck, Brian Wilson, Cat Power, Norah Jones, and Regina Spektor.
Naturally then, Perdomo took notice when, on St. Patrick’s Day, Bono posted a video on Instagram of him singing his solo composition called “Let Your Love Be Known.” It was a song he was inspired to write after watching a group of quarantined Italians singing in harmony from their balconies and rooftops in a unified show of strength in solitude. Perdomo, moved by Bono’s efforts, took it upon himself to add full instrumentation behind Bono’s solo vocal and piano. He geared up his base of operations, Reseda Ranch Studios in Winnetka/Reseda, California, and laid down the majority of the instrumentation. He then called a number of his musical colleagues and collaborators and asked them to lend their voices to the track as well. Inspired by one of the lines in the song, ”Sing down the phone,” the singers contributed their parts on cell phones while self quarantined throughout the world.
Among the 73 singers he enlisted for the sweeping, stirring track are such luminaries as Peter Noone, Adam Gaynor from Matchbox 20, all the members of the “Echo In The Canyon” band, Durga McBroom who sang with Pink Floyd, actress Rebecca Pidgeon, Grammy Award-winning singer Jorge Moreno and countless others.
AUDIO: Fernando Perdomo and Friends perform “Let Your Love Be Known”
“I heard the song once and the idea of putting a band behind it came instantly,” Perdomo recalls in retrospect. “I went right to the studio and tracked the drum part minutes after Bono posted it. I just took his insta video and put it in Pro Tools and went to town — drums first, then acoustic guitar, bass, electrics, mellotrons. Then I sent it out to my closest friends for vocals, strings, and percussion. I could have gone even further .. maybe next time it will be a ‘virtual orchestra.’”
This time, Perdomo created an epic.
“The 48 hours after I started the track were a whirlwind.,” he maintains. “I didn’t get much sleep. I first put out a thing on Facebook asking for singers with rigs at home to send me vocal tracks. Then I got crafty and had people sing into their phones. Ken Sharp was the first one to do that, and his vocals sounded amazing. So I first asked people to send me voice memos. Then I had the idea of just calling people and plugging the phone into Pro Tools and having them sing without the backing track and lining them up afterwards. That was a real beast to do, but I got it done. Zach Ziskin, who is my mixing angel, did an incredible job making phone recordings sound like studio quality. He has a Grammy; I hope he gets another one for this!”
Perdomo admits that it was an ambitious undertaking. “I enjoy challenging myself,” he insists. “I used to be part of a website called Indaba Music where we would get stems from artists and make remixes. It led me to winning the Todd Rundgren Collide-O-Scope remix competition he held. I took his stems for an electronic dance track of his and turned it into a rock song. The prize was for Todd himself to release it. I consider that my crowning achievement. The Beatles and Todd are tied at number one for my favorite artists of all time. I will never get to work with the Beatles, but I still got to work with Todd! I love you, Todd.”
So, we wondered, has he heard from Bono about this?
“Not yet,” he replies. “I told everyone there are three options. One, a cease and desist. (laughs) Two, he shares it to his billion fans, or three — and this is total fantasy — maybe he says with his epic accent, ‘Fernando, I love what you did with my song. Let me send you a better vocal. Let’s release this as a charity single.’ Now that would now be the best!” (laughs)
VIDEO: Bono “Let Your Love Be Known”