Bono took time out from preparing for U2's 3Arena show last Friday to contribute to a charity cover of Simon & Garfunkel's Homeward Bound that is now storming the Irish charts.
The Street Lights version of the 1966 single, in aid of the Peter McVerry Trust, Simon Community Ireland and Focus Ireland, was released at 9am today. By lunchtime it had soared to number two on iTunes.
Alongside the U2 singer it features Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Conor O'Brien of Villagers, Cathy Davey, Saint Sister and David Geraghty of Bell X1, with arrangements by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, formerly of The Frames, and backing vocals by the High Hopes Choir (whose members are former homeless people). The song was assembled at Camden Studios in Dublin by the producer the arranger Cian Boylan.
Bono delivered his line from his home in Dalkey, several hours before he took to the stage for the third of U2's four homecoming gigs.
"Musicians love Simon & Garfunkel,' says the Other Voices music producer Aoife Woodlock, who co-ordinated the project. "Gary Lightbody was one of the first people to say yes. He was on tour, so he did it remotely. Every one else did it in Dublin."
An accompanying album, Street Lights, will be released next month, featuring favourites from, among others, The Frames (Angel at My Table), David Gray (Falling Down the Mountainside), Lisa O'Neill (No Train to Cavan) and Saint Sister (a cover of The Cranberries' Dreams).
The recording of Homeward Bound is also being passed on to Paul Simon. "We are getting it to him," Woodlock says. "We want him to hear what these Irish musicians have done, why they've done it and what it's for."
Woodlock called on all her music contacts in order to make the project happen. "I was asked to do a single, and within a week it had turned into an album. I'm 25 years in music. You call in your favours very seldomly. Normally I do TV stuff, inviting people on Other Voices. You hold on to your luckies and don't spend them very often. Gary was the first one over the line. I was filming Conor O'Brien in Mayo [for Other Voices]. He said that he lived next door to the studio and would pop in one night. After about a week we knew we had something really gorgeous."
Homeward Bound is out now on all digital platforms. Street Lights is released on Friday, December 7th. You can donate €4 to the project by texting street lights to 50300