Posts Tagged ‘Adam Clayton’

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U2 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of All That You Can’t Leave Behind on October 20th with the release of a super deluxe edition of the album. It will be available both as single disc remaster of the original LP and a 51-track Super Deluxe box set packed with B-sides, outtakes, remixes and a complete show taped at a Boston stop on the 2001 Elevation tour.

All That You Can’t Leave Behind brought U2 back to the center of the music universe after their 1997 LP Pop underwhelmed at record stores. (They faced large sections of empty seats during some shows on the American leg of the PopMart tour.) It was the album that put the band back on the charts and heralded something of a return to form after some experimental excursions in the mid-to-late ’90s. The Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno-produced album won seven Grammy Awards including Best Rock Album, Song of the Year (“Beautiful Day”) and, for the only time in history, two consecutive Record of the Year nods (“Beautiful Day” in 2001 and “Walk On” in 2002). “Beautiful, Day,” “Elevation,” “Stuck in a Moment That You Can’t Get Out Of” and “Walk On” all became sizable worldwide hits, all reaching the Top 5 in the U.K. (with the first three going straight to No. 1 in their native Ireland), and All That You Can’t Leave Behind remains one of their biggest-selling albums.

Hit singles like “Beautiful Day,” “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” and “Elevation” helped All That You Can’t Leave Behind sell by the millions and rack up seven Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year. “This is our night,” Bono said at the ceremony. “It is a very unusual emotion I am feeling. I think it is called humility.”

The Super Deluxe edition of the album will come with a 32-page hardback book, previously unseen photos by Anton Corbijn, B-sides like “Summer Rain” and “Always,” 11 remixes, 19 songs taped at their 2001 Boston concert and outtakes from the sessions, including “Levitate,” “Love You Like Mad” and “Flower Child” along with “Stateless” from the soundtrack to the Million Dollar Hotel. There’s also an acoustic version of “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” which they’re promoting with a new lyric video.

U2 wrapped up the international leg of their Joshua Tree tour on December 19th, 2019 with a show at DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, India. Since then, they have focused a lot of their energy on the new SiriusXM station U2 X-Radio. They are also working on their followup to 2018’s Songs of Experience.

The set also includes a disc of B-sides and session material, and a further disc of hard-to-find or unreleased remixes. Among these bonus tracks are “Levitate,” Flower Child,” and “Love You Like Mad,” three tracks that make their wide-release physical media debut here. Prior to this set, they were only available on an iTunes-exclusive bonus album or a fan club-only CD pressing of that collections. The new 20th Anniversary box set will also feature the soundtrack stray cut “Stateless,” and a wealth of non-album tracks, including the Johnny Cash cover “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town.”

The 11-LP super deluxe set contains all the material from the 5-CD, presented in eight sleeves: one for the remastered album, another for the B-Sides and Demos disc, and a further one for the 19-track Boston set. The remixes will be spread across 5 discs, each in its own sleeve.

“We did some recording last year that got us some really great starting points and complete songs,” bassist Adam Clayton told Rolling Stone in July. “There’s an album ready to go, we’re just not quite sure when we want to press that button. When I say ready to go, I mean ready to be completed. Let’s put it that way.”

As we’ve come to expect from U2, the design of the box promises to be impressive.

U2 have revealed that they will be touring their landmark album ‘The Joshua Tree’ this year to mark the LP’s 30th anniversary. The four-piece shared a recent video on Facebook over the festive period in which they confirmed plans to tour the 1987 record.

They also revealed that their new album ‘Songs Of Experience’ will be released later this year. You can watch the video below. “Next year [2017] is going to be a big year for the U2 group. We have ‘Songs Of Experience’ coming, and to honour 30 years of ‘The Joshua Tree’, we have some very, very special shows coming,” Bono added. ‘Don’t let it go out…’ Illustrator and photographer Matt Mahurin directs this visual meditation on ‘Song For Someone’, from U2’s latest album Songs of Innocence.

It will be the first time the band have performed a retrospective album tour. Further details are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

U2 have been working on the follow-up to their 2014 LP ‘Songs Of Innocence’ over the last year, with guitarist The Edge recently revealing that they have more than 50 songs for ‘Songs Of Experience’Bono previously said: “It’s not finished yet but you will like it. In terms of lyrics it is stronger than [1983 album] ‘War’, it has more clarity”.

The Edge previously compared the new album to the band’s 1993 record ‘Zooropa’.

“[producer Brian Eno] would love to see us making albums a bit more like that. Where we go, ‘You know what? We’re not going to second-guess any of this. Let’s just go for it.’ I think there’s a quality you get when there’s a certain momentum to the process,” he added. Bono also revealed that the bike accident he suffered in New York around the turn of 2014/2015 has actually helped him with the record.

“The gift of it was that I had time to write while in the mentality that you get to at the end of an album,” he explained.

“There is a reason why all the great groups made their best albums while in and around touring, because the ideas have to come out of your head.”

Of all the songs on The Joshua Tree“With or Without You” might be the oldest, with its origins dating back to the waning days of The Unforgettable Fire tour. U2 frontman Bono was the prime mover behind the track, having come up with a chord structure that was recorded as a demo by the band in late 1985.

By the time sessions for U2’s next album really began in 1986, all of the members besides Bono had grown tired of the simplistic sounds of “With or Without You.” Guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. all thought the song was stuck in a loop. On the advice of co-producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, the members tried to add something new to the track by playing louder, harder or adding electronic touches. None of it seemed to work, so U2 and the producers were about to give up on the song.

Bono was the lone hold-out, and the song meant a great deal to him personally. He had written the lyrics about his dual role as a rock star and a husband when he visited the South of France for the first time, and felt he was expressing something pure on “With or Without You.” His friend, Gavin Friday, agreed and helped Bono rearrange the track in the studio.

Friday was convinced it could be a hit; the other guys began to come around too. Eno added those twinkling keyboards, Clayton discovered the soothing bass tones, Mullen found the right spot for his drums to explode. The Edge’s major contribution was his use of the “Infinite Guitar,” an instrument that had been designed by a collaborator of his, Michael Brook. He sent Edge one of the guitars – created with the idea of being able to sustain notes infinitely – and he tried it out on “With or Without You.”

“For ‘With or Without You’ we had the rhythm and the chords then we were testing Michael Brook’s Infinite Guitar invention,” Lanois told Mojo Magazine in 2008. “I asked Edge just to play a little something with it. He did two takes and those are the ones in the ultimate mix of ‘With or Without You.’ Beautiful sounds, stratospheric.”

Those sighing, soaring notes might be the most distinctive noises on the song, although the guitarist has claimed his favorite part of the tune is what he does on the finale. Many axe-men would point to a dynamic solo as a highlight, but the Edge likes the gentle arrangement of chiming chords that appears at song’s end. Bono was just as knocked out by the addition.

“It was self-clear early on that this was a little bit special,” the singer said . “The song is all one build to a crescendo. The song breaks open and comes down, and then comes back. Everyone in the room is, ‘OK, Edge, let’s see if you can let off some fireworks here.’ Three notes – restraint. I mean psychotic restraint, and that is the thing that rips your heart out, not the chorus.”

Edge was only too happy to demonstrate that restraint on the Classic Album documentary for The Joshua Tree, which also includes U2’s frontman reminding fans about how strange “With or Without You” sounded to many people in the late ’80s. With a minimalist beginning and Bono starting the song in an intensely low register, the song wasn’t just different for a radio hit, but among the other tunes U2 were recording.

“Looking back on it now, I can see it was so out of step with everything around,” Bono said. “It was mad… Something like ‘With or Without You,’ it’s a very odd-sounding song … it kind of whispers its way into the world and this odd guitar part that’s played on Edge’s Infinite Guitar. It was an unusual sounding record.”

That made it an unconventional choice for U2’s first single from The Joshua Tree, the introduction to a new approach to the band’s sound. It wasn’t something the quartet took lightly.

“We really agonized over which single was going to lead, if we were going to release one, and ‘With or Without You’ became the obvious choice,” the Edge  “not because it’s probably the most commercial song on the record but because it’s the one that seems to smooth the transition from the last thing to this record, the easiest.”

In retrospect, it appeared to be a brilliant move, as “With or Without You” became U2’s first-ever No. 1 single in the U.S. and Canada (and the first to perform better in North America than the U.K.). The song went from “Infinite Guitar” to infinite popularity, having long been enshrined as one of U2’s biggest and best-known songs that continues to be performed in concert to ecstatic crowds

“Where the Streets Have No Name” is the sun coming up over The Joshua Tree. It is growing light. It is a slow awakening. It is a song that allows each member of U2 to find his role, then join forces in a rhythmic charge that would set the stage for an epic album.

Except “Where the Streets Have No Name” nearly derailed that record entirely. The guys in U2 (and their collaborative production team) have described the track’s recording as one of the most frustrating and laborious creative experiences in the band’s career.

More than a year before U2 were fussing and fighting in the studio, frontman Bono was inspired to begin writing the song’s lyrics on a trip to Ethiopia. After U2’s involvement in “Live Aid”, Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, traveled in 1985 to see the situation in person. He would become profoundly influenced by the experience, struggling to put his feeling into words.

“All this stuff about deserts and the parchedness of the earth… I wrote those things on Air India sick bags and scraps of paper, sitting in a little tent in a town called Ajibar in northern Ethiopia, said ” Bono . “It’s a sort of odd, unfinished lyric, and outside of the context of Africa, it doesn’t make any sense. But it contains a very powerful idea. In the desert, we meet God. In parched times, in fire and flood, we discover who we are.”

But “Where the Streets Have No Name” isn’t only rooted in Africa, but in U2’s uniquely Irish identity. The title, specifically, is rooted in Northern Ireland.

“An interesting story that someone told me once is that in Belfast, by what street someone lives on you can tell not only their religion but tell how much money they’re making,” Bono said in 1987. “Literally by which side of the road they live on, because the further up the hill the more expensive the houses become.”

As Bono sings in the song, I wanna tear down the walls that hold me inside,” he sought to destroy barriers between human beings. The desert images of Africa connected to his ideas of America as a political desert, something that would be embodied in the album’s artwork and title.

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During a break for U2’s sessions for The Joshua Tree, guitarist the Edge was working independently on a demo. Tinkering with guitar, bass, keyboards and a drum machine, Edge became fascinated by this sketch – a tune led by twinkling, arpeggiated guitar lines that shifted time signatures, twice. The first day that recording for the next album resumed, the guitarist gleefully introduced the demo cassette. To his dismay, his bandmates weren’t quite as thrilled.

Edge had created ‘Streets’ on a four-track and he’d started with this, kind of, muso stuff,” bassist Adam Clayton recalled in Classic Albums . “I have to say, at the time, I didn’t appreciate probably the hours of thought that had gone into such an idea. It just seemed like a way of f—ing the band up.”

Although the guitarist had figured out the glistening intro and outro portions of the song and crafted a part that would cross over from 3/4 time to 4/4 time, the middle portion was still pretty loose. With producers Eno and Lanois , U2 set to work (and work… and work) on creating a fully realized song from the idea.

Lanois remembers playing music teacher and walking Edge, Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. through endless chord changes on a blackboard while Eno began to go a little crazy. The album sessions had come to revolve around a solitary song – one that the producer felt was going nowhere. A famous story involves Eno, at the end of his wits, about to erase weeks of work only to be stopped by a recording engineer.

“There’s a misinterpretation in that story… That version [of ‘Streets’] had quite a lot of problems,” Eno said. “What we kept doing was spending hours, and days, and weeks – actually, probably half the time that the whole album took was spent on that song, trying to fix up this version on tape. It was a nightmare of ‘screwdriver’ work. And my feeling was that it would be much better to just start again. I’m sure we would get there quicker if we started again. It’s more frightening to start again, because there’s nothing. So my idea was to stage an accident, to erase the tape, so that we would have to start again.”

Whether he stopped himself, or was prevented by a tea-toting engineer, Eno failed to go through with wiping the tape. Everyone persevered and eventually stitched together the final version that is heard on The Joshua Tree. In addition to the four members of U2, Eno can be heard playing the ambient synthesizers at the “Streets”’ beginning and Lanois contributed extra percussion. The creative team grew so fond of the track, that they soon agreed that “Where the Streets Have No Name” was the ideal lead-off song for the album.

“A song like ‘Streets,’ which was such a difficult kind of birth, now is a real pleasure to perform,” Clayton said. “But at the time, we didn’t really know what it was. It was kind of the beginnings of techno.”

Bono, meanwhile, has compared the song to the Doors  “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” in how the anthem welcomes fans to travel with the band to a new place. After being released in August 1987 as the third hit single from The Joshua Tree – one with a particularly famous video that depicted U2 playing atop a Los Angeles liquor store – “Where the Streets Have No Name” has become one of the band’s standards. Fewer U2 songs are better known than this one, which has been performed at almost every subsequent show by the band, through tours from Zoo TV to PopMart, Elevation to U2 360.

“No matter how crap a U2 show gets,” Bono said, “we can be sure the gig will come off if we play this song.”

Drummer Larry Mullen Jr. has praised producer Daniel Lanois for his interest in the more rhythmic aspects of the band. While early producer Steve Lillywhite emphasized Bono’s voice and the Edge’s guitars, Lanois focused on the more percussive elements, pushing Mullen to be more creative in the process.

One of U2’s most legendary songs came out of this partnership between Mullen and Lanois. After having co-helmed 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire , the Canadian producer was back for what would become The Joshua Tree . Early on in the sessions, Lanois latched on to a rolling/stomping drumbeat that Mullen had created for a demo named “The Weather Girls.” Lanois wasn’t big on the rest of the track, but he liked the beat and encouraged the drummer to keep refining it.

The process continued, with Edge coming up with a gruff, acoustic guitar line that matched the blunt power of Mullen’s percussion. The guitarist also had a melody and a title: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Vocalist Bono took the idea and, with some guidance from Lanois, began to work with gospel themes.

“The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God,” Bono said . And yet, the singer described “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” as “an anthem of doubt more than faith.”

Some of that doubt might have been a product of U2’s lack of experience at the time in terms of working with the distinctly American genre of black gospel music. Musically and lyrically, the band was trying to find themselves in the music of other people.

“I remember one of the problems we had, when you’ve got an old gospel tune, the problem is trying to bring it into the century, or into the moment you’re in,” Bono recalled in Classic Albums. “And so I think we did it by weaving together some overdubs.”

The Edge went at the tune in a number of different ways, eventually landing on a mix of arpeggiated chiming, rough rhythmic playing and an auto-panned guitar. Meanwhile, Bono sang the words at the absolute top of his vocal range, bringing out the plaintive qualities of gospel without sounding like an imitation. Co-producers Lanois and Eno , as well as the Edge, multi-tracked backing vocals to strengthen the sound.

“I’ve always liked gospel music and I encouraged Bono to take it to that place,” Lanois recalled. “He’s singing at the top of his range and there is something very compelling about somebody pushing themselves. It’s like hearing Aretha Franklin almost. It jumps on you and you can’t help but feel the feeling.”

Indeed, fans couldn’t help but be drawn to the song, which – as U2’s second Joshua Tree single – became the band’s second No. 1 hit in the U.S., when released in May of 1987. Although “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” has become a popular and important song for U2, it was just as notable for how it pointed the way forward during the sessions for The Joshua Tree.

“I was rooting around for a sense of the traditional and then trying to twist it a bit,” Bono admitted. “That’s the idea of ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’.”

It became the idea for the entire album. Even visitors to the sessions would often get a quick performance of “I Still Haven’t Found…” as a taste for what U2 was trying to create on its new album. The song became a key building block for the band’s creative process as the Irish lads tried to merge American roots music, contemporary politics, deeply felt spirituality and a cinematic world view in the course of making their next LP.

U2 were recording The Joshua Tree in 1986, the bandmates were firmly in their Americana phase. The Unforgettable Fire dealt with American icons such as Elvis and Martin Luther King Jr. and now U2 was delving into the country’s roots music – blues, folk and gospel.

But The Joshua Tree wasn’t solely a celebration of the United States and its culture. It could also be an exploration of some of the ugliest American by-products. Nowhere was that more evident than on the LP’s fourth track, “Bullet the Blue Sky.”

The song was inspired by frontman Bono’s visit to El Salvador with Amnesty International in 1985, in the midst of the Salvadoran Civil War. The singer wasn’t only disturbed by the violence that he was learning about, but also by the fact that the United States Army was aiding and funding one of the sides as an attack on communism. The same visit also brought about “Mothers of the Disappeared.”

“I don’t think we were in danger, but I knew there were lives in danger or being lost close to us, and I felt for them,” Bono said “It upset me as a person who read the Scriptures, to think that Christians in America were supporting this kind of thing, this kind of proxy war because of these Communists.”

As a man of faith, Bono began writing lyrics that employed Biblical imagery to describe what he had witnessed. “Bullet the Blue Sky” includes lines that recall Jesus being nailed to the cross and Jacob wrestling with an angel. However, another lyric was written with a then-current politician in mind. He talked about the man with a “face red like a rose in a thorn bush.”

“He’s peeling off those dollar bills, slapping them down – paying for the war,” Bono said. “He in my head was Ronald Reagan. I had not a sophisticated understanding of what was going down, but as a student of non-violence I had a violent reaction to what I was witnessing.”

Bono attempted to impart his reaction to his bandmates when Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. and the Edge  began to record “Bullet the Blue Sky” for The Joshua Tree. The other three musicians in U2 sought to channel the frontman’s anger in a thunderous rock track.

“When I explained to Edge what I’d been through in El Salvador, he was able to, with nod to Jimi Hendrix, try and put some of that fear and loathing into his guitar solo,” Bono said. “We strapped my feelings to the song ‘Bullet the Blue Sky.’”

Although there was some consternation about how the anti-American song might be perceived in the States, “Bullet the Blue Sky” didn’t draw much controversy when it was included on The Joshua Tree. Although not issued as a single, the song quickly became a raucous tour highlight. The lyrics also gave the title to U2’s 1988 concert film and subsequent album (the live/studio hybrid Rattle and Hum).

Over the years, U2 has continued to play “Bullet the Blue Sky” in concert, often tailoring the political message to additional struggles via a visual display, taking on Nazism and consumerism, gun control and the refugee crisis in Europe.

The lyrical approach on U2‘s “Running to Stand Still” was as meticulously particular as the music was extemporaneous. That alluring complexity turned this tale of a heroin-addicted couple living in a run-downtenement building in Dublin into one of the best cuts on The Joshua Tree .

Desperate and sick in the midst of an ’80s drug epidemic, they contemplate leaving Ballymun Flats – the complex provided one of this song’s central images – in search of one final score. (“I see seven towers,” Bono sings, “but I only see one way out.”) That searing, carefully constructed imagery is paired with a largely improvised musical accompaniment keyed by the Edge’s murmuring piano and co-producer Daniel Lanois scraping guitar work.

“There’s this thing, if you’re really desperate in Dublin, you can risk all or nothing on a ‘run,’” Bono recalled in 1987. “If you’ve got a really bad habit, you can go to Amsterdam or Pakistan or wherever and risk smuggling in a big bag. You either go down for life or you get rich quick.”

This seemingly hopeless situation is framed by the failure of the old Ballymun Flats. Meant to provide housing as poorer residents were pushed out of the inner city, the ’60s-era housing development instead devolved into uprooted alienation, then squalor and lawlessness. Bono, who lived as a child in a more well-to-do neighborhood on Cedarwood Road adjacent to Ballymun Flats, described it as “an attempt by Ireland towards modernity in high-rise living” in 2006’s U2 by U2. “Just as everyone else in Europe had found out tower blocks were not a good idea, we started building them,” he added. “We used to go up and down in the lifts, because we weren’t used to having lifts. Then they started to break down, and the stairs began to stink of piss.”

The resulting track, so free form, trance-like and strikingly bleak, pointed directly to the often-overlooked influence of the Velvets on U2. Bono acknowledged that “Running to Stand Still” was all the “red-handed proof” anyone needed.

“It’s one of those songs where people were gathered around in a huddle,” Lanois said in 2007. “Bono had the words written; this was a nice opportunity to get something live. I remember that tender moment, me playing that scrape guitar, Larry [Mullen Jr.] on the tom-tom. There was just a wonderful communication happening in the room at that time. I think it’s what people feel on that record, there was really a presence of performance.” At the same time, the track remains open to broader reinterpretations. “Running to Stand Still” could also suggest a battle over some other personal adversity, or a search for earthly salvation. You didn’t have to grow up on Dublin’s Northside to connect with these struggles.

But Bono did, and what he saw stuck with him. In fact, this wasn’t the first time a U2 song was shaded by the specter of drug abuse. Bassist Adam Clayton, who was said to have been devastated by the decline and death of fellow Irish rocker Phil Lynott , has reportedly referred to “Running to Stand Still” as a kind of sequel to “Bad” from 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire .

“It’s amazing how cheap smack did Dublin in,”said Bono. “And then some of my best friends started. It all got a bit messy then. I wrote ‘Bad’ out of that, and on this record I wrote ‘Running to Stand Still.’” He then quotes the song, saying: “‘I took the poison, from the poison stream, and I floated out of here.’ It’s almost the only way out of here.”

Thankfully, U2 were among the lucky ones. Today, the towers of Ballymun Flats have long since been demolished, but “Running to Stand Still” remains.

In Bono‘s mind, U2‘s “Red Hill Mining Town” was linked with its predecessor Running to Stand Still – and, on some level, that makes sense. Both detail the personal conflicts that unfold just beneath the surface of larger societal ills. But that’s where the similarities end.

Whereas “Running to Stand Still” used stirring, often universal imagery to frame the dead-end life of a junkie, “Red Hill Mining Town” took a far more literal, direct tact in describing the breakdown of a marriage amidst the the doomed 1984-85 British miners strike. Both in scope and approach, it was very much in keeping with the old American protest tunes which Bono had been delving into back then.

“People beat me with a stick for that,” said Bono in 2007. “But what I’m interested in is seeing in the newspaper or the television that another thousand people have lost their jobs. Now what you don’t read about is that those people go home and they have families and they’re trying to bring up children.”

In this way, “Red Hill Mining Town” had much in common with earlier U2 songs like “New Year’s Day” and “Two Hearts Beat As One,” both of which focused on the struggle to find community in the face of a much broader struggle. But Bono was on to something different here, as he dealt with an issue that was rapidly becoming controversial. The National Union of Mineworkers walked off the job in 1984 after the government, led by Margaret Thatcher, moved to close a series of unprofitable U.K. coal mines across working-class communities in the Midlands and North of England. Violent confrontations ultimately followed as battle lines were drawn, but ultimately the miners’ protests were thwarted. At the same time, a chance encounter with Bob Dylan had convinced Bono to dig more deeply into the heartfelt, but often brutally frank works of 20th century folk singers.

“I was interested in the miners’ strike politically, but I wanted to write about it on a more personal level. A cold statistic about a pit closure and redundancies that follow is drastic enough on one level, but it never tells the full human story. I wanted to follow the miner home and write about that situation in the song,” Bono said in 1987. “The untold story of the coal strike is the number of family relationships that either broke down or were put under great strain. That was the final blow. Men would lose their pride in themselves and wouldn’t be able to face their children or sleep with their wives.”

“Red Hill Mining Town” evolved out of early writing sessions for The Joshua Tree , held in November 1985 at drummer Larry Mullen Jr.’s new home in north Dublin. There, U2 huddled into a spare bedroom to work out a few initial sketches. With or Without You also began to take shape these sessions, and both songs were highly regarded by the band. “Red Hill Mining Town,” however, would endure a strange, much different fate. Originally they liked it so much that they considered it for a single, but they eventually decided to release “ I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” .

“We went ahead and made a video for it with Neil Jordan and we were very pretty confident about it,” the Edge in interview in 2017. “Then as the weeks went by and we sort of got back our objectivity, views started to change.”

Island Records president Lou Maglia had spent that time tirelessly campaigning. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ at No. 1 at album radio – which is a very important format in the United States – while ‘With or Without You’ was already No. 1 at Top 40,” Maglia says in U2: The Definitive Biography. “Then I got a phone call from [label founder] Chris [Blackwell] and he said that the band’s decided that they don’t want to go with ‘I Still Haven’t Found,’ and I said: ‘What?!’”

Maglia ended up flying to Houston, where U2 was performing, to hash things out. “The record is set up to be a No. 1 record, as well as ‘With or Without You,’” Maglia says he told the Edge. They dragged their feet another five days before finally giving Maglia the go-ahead. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” became U2’s second consecutive chart-topping smash, and “a pivotal point in their career as far as launching them into that megastar status,” Maglia notes.

Meanwhile, “Red Hill Mining Town” continued to sink into oblivion. Jordan’s video was shelved and, when Bono had trouble hitting the deeply emotional song’s tricky high notes, it was dropped from the subsequent tour all together. Decades passed, and “Red Hill Mining Town” has somehow never made it onto a U2 set list. Mullen later dubbed it  one of the lost songs ,” before the band belatedly pledged to re-record it in celebration of the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree and then to finally perform it on stage.

U2 In God's Country

While making The Joshua Tree , the desert was sparking the fires of U2’s imagination – especially Bono’s. The lyrics to one song (“Where the Streets Have No Name) already had been stirred by the Ethiopian desert, and the singer had then turned to the deserted lands of the American Southwest for inspiration. It is not an accident that the LP carries a title and images from a U.S. desert.

But Bono also latched onto the idea of the desert as a metaphor for Reagan-era politics. Perception was in the eye of the beholder. At worst, the desert is a barren wasteland devoid of life. But if you choose to think more positively, it’s a wide-open canvas rife with possibility.

That’s where “In God’s Country” comes in, with its “desert sky,” “desert rose” and rivers that may “soon run dry.” Although Bono initially wasn’t sure if he was writing about America or Ireland, the Southwestern desert led his way, as did an American icon.

“Eventually I dedicated the song to the Statue of Liberty,” he said in 1987 radio interview. “I wanted to write about America and you know… the dream.  The American dream.  And I wonder: where are the people that will rise to the challenge?  You know, where are the new dreamers?” .When discussing the song and its politics, Bono often points to the third line: “We need new dreams tonight.” “In God’s Country” became a reaction against old ideals, against the cynical and the corrupt.

“I think I was talking about at the time, you know, all these people saying [adopts American accent], ‘I’m a Marxist-Leninist, man’ or you know, ‘I’m into Reagan, Reaganomics’,” Bono said. “These are all old, these are old ideologies, they’re old, and I thought, put off the old, put on the new.  Where are the new dreams – where’s the new dreamers?”

In matching words to sounds, U2 made “In God’s Country” one of The Joshua Tree’s more rock-oriented tracks, with blasts of chugging guitar from the Edge . It’s the album’s shortest song, coming in at less than three minutes – notable on an LP full of epics.

“‘In God’s Country’ has a great high-speed feeling about it,” said producer Daniel Lanois about the tune. It might have been that particular quality that led it to be chosen as The Joshua Tree’s fourth (and final) single in North America in the fall of 1987. The song was a staple on U2’s ’87 tour, “In God’s Country” quickly fell out of favor with the band. Bono liked the words, but has said the Edge didn’t deliver something quite sonically appropriate to accompany his lyrics. The group has only sporadically performed the song in concert since, usually in a ramshackle, acoustic rendition.

“In God’s Country” was given new life more than a decade after The Joshua Tree by a movie that involved both American politics and a desert (this time the one in Iraq). “Three Kings” with George Clooney Mark Walhberg and Ice Cube closed with the U2 track, which mirrors the new beginnings ,

“I have this feeling of starting over, that things have reached their end, and also this notion that while people always talk about being joined in common wants and aspirations, I’m finding the reverse. Finding we’re united in desperation,” said Bono in 1989. “I dunno, I come back to that line from our song ‘In God’s Country’: ‘We need new dreams tonight.’ The job is to dream up a world you’d want to live in.”

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For much of their music career, U2 has been trying to throw their arms around the world. But in the case of “One Tree Hill,” from 1987’s The Joshua Tree, the Irish rockers were devoted to a more personal tragedy.

The hymn-like epic was mostly written about the funeral of friend and U2 employee Greg Carroll. Bono met Carroll on U2’s first trip to New Zealand, for the 1984 Unforgettable Fire tour. Wide awake in the middle of the night (due to jet lag), Bono went out on the town with some Auckland locals who wanted to show him the city. One of them was Carroll, a Maori man who had been hired as a roadie for the U2 concert. That night, Carroll and the others brought Bono up One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie in Maori), one of Auckland’s spiritually significant volcanic peaks.

Carroll also impressed Bono and the band with his work at the U2 gig. The twentysomething roadie had a few years of experience with New Zealand bands. His gentle but firm nature was obvious to U2’s members.

“He was so good, we asked him to come with us to Australia,” Bono said . “And he was still so good, we asked him to become a permanent member of our organization.”

So Carroll followed U2 to Australia and the U.S. and even Live Aid (he’s the man who hands Bono the microphone after his famous interactions with the crowd). At tour’s end, he flew with the band to Dublin, where he became a personal assistant to Bono. In the course of a couple years, Carroll not only became an important part of U2’s consortium but a great friend of the band’s lead singer and his wife, Ali Hewson.

In the run-up to recording a new album, which would become The Joshua Tree, Carroll was “researching locations for film for our next record and artwork for the cover,” according to Bono. “His goal was to direct and produce videos and films.”  Carroll was tragically stopped short of that goal when he was killed in a motorcycle accident in Dublin on July 3rd, 1986. He was taking Bono’s bike to his house on a rainy night, when a car pulled out in front of him. Carroll hit the side of the car and died instantly. Carroll was just 26.

“His death really rocked us,” drummer Larry Mullen Jr. said in U2 by U2. “It was the first time anyone in our working circle had been killed.”

Bono had flown to Texas to sing with Willie Nelson, but hearing the news one hour after landing, flew back to Ireland. Bono, Ali, Mullen and other members of the U2 organization then flew with Carroll’s body to New Zealand, met his family and attended his funeral. Bono sang “Let it Be” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” in tribute to his late friend.

The singer and his band paid additional tribute to Carroll when writing and recording “One Tree Hill.” Bono reflected on his grief, while also referencing the peak he climbed the first night he met Carroll, in the lyrics: “The moon is up and over One Tree Hill / We see the sun go down in your eyes.” The frontman also wove in some political observations on the song’s second verse, referencing Chilean activist/folk singer Victor Jara.

“One Tree Hill” became the ninth track on The Joshua Tree. The final version features Bono’s only vocal take; he didn’t record another because he didn’t think he’d be able to make it through the song again. The track also was released as the LP’s fourth single in Australia and New Zealand, where it hit No. 1. U2 delayed performing the song live until the third leg of the tour for The Joshua Tree, because Bono thought his emotions would get in the way of his singing. It’s been sporadically played by the band since then, often at shows in New Zealand.

In the early stages of creating what would become The Joshua Tree , U2 were creating batches of songs that were meant to go together. Bono became adamant that With or Without You didn’t truly make sense without the context of “Luminous Times” and “Walk to the Water.” He felt similarly about “Trip Through Your Wires” when removed from the counter-balance of “Sweetest Thing.”

Although the U2 frontman would make the case for a double-LP version of The Joshua Tree that would include everything, he was outvoted by his bandmates. “With or Without You” and “Trip Through Your Wires” made the 11-track album. The rest became b-sides.

So what split the difference between “Wires” and “Sweetest Thing”? Both were about love – one song about being enticed, the other about being apologetic. But part of it had to do with each song’s musical identity. Although each song was based in American musical styles (blues for “Wires,” R&B for “Sweetest”), the former had the rougher, rootsy approach that better-suited the entirety of the album.

“We definitely were falling into the arms of America in the sense that, as a band, punk rock was so much about establishing a unique form of music not inspired or influenced by American music,” said the Edge . “The Joshua Tree” was the first album where we consciously went, ‘OK, we spent like four albums thinking about Europe, Ireland, but let’s take a look at the roots of this form that we are inevitably a part of.’ And those were all American. So we looked at American [music]. We looked at the blues.”

“Trip Through Your Wires” was initially a bit more bluesy, as evidenced by an early performance of the tune on Dublin’s RTE TV program in 1986. It was a crude, but not misleading, preview of what was coming next for U2. Edge plays a rustic, jangly guitar and Bono honks on his harmonica as Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. lurch through the familiar rhythm.

Yes, the rhythm might be familiar, but most of the words are not – with the exception of play on words in the lyrical hook. Bono’s braying about “this town” would be replaced by the desert imagery that soon became a common thread on Joshua Tree songs . Although its bluesy gait would remain, the song would gain polish under the tutelage of the album’s co-producers of Eno and Lanois .

It’s ironic that, although “Trip Through Your Wires” made the album and “Sweetest Thing” did not, the latter is now the better-known U2 song. “Wires” was promptly put away after the ’87 tour, while “Sweetest” eventually gained new life in a rerecorded version that became a radio hit in Ireland, the U.K. and, to a lesser extent, the U.S. in 1999.

“This is a song about a religious man…who became a very dangerous man, and couldn’t work out the mystery of the hands of love,”Bono said while introducing “Exit” on a Joshua Tree tour stop at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1987. The U2 frontman was no doubt preparing the packed house for a song that doesn’t have a happy beginning, middle or end. It remains one of the darkest in the band’s catalog.

The genesis of “Exit” can be found in the viciousness populating the novelization of murderous crimes in the heartland of America from decades past. Specifically the pair of killings committed by Gary Gilmore in Utah in 1976 and the Kansas massacre of the Clutter family in 1959 by Richard Hickock and Perry Smith.

“I had read Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood,” Bono said in the book U2 by U2. “[‘Exit’] was my attempt at writing a story in the mind of a killer. It is all very well to address America and the violence that is in an aggressive foreign policy, but to really understand that you have to get under the skin of your own darkness, the violence that we all contain within us.”

“Violence is something I know quite a bit about,” the singer continued. “I have a side of me which, in a corner, can be very violent. It’s the least attractive thing in anyone and I wanted to own up to that.” U2 guitarist the Edge said that the working title of “Exit” was “Executioner’s Song,” and added, “We were using a lot of literature as our jumping off point for the songs in terms of just taking our work in a slightly different direction.”

Parallels were drawn between the lyrics of “Exit” and the 1955 film gothic-cum-noir classic The Night of the Hunter. In it, Robert Mitchum plays a misogynistic reverend who also happens to be a serial killer. It’s a tale of where anything light and buoyant is completely enveloped by the shadows.

The blackness of the stanzas in “Exit” — telling of a tortured man who “went astray” and found himself with his hand in his pocket gripping a pistol — is enhanced by the unrepentant, ominous mood set first by Adam Clayton’s menacing bass, event Brian Eno cut it down into that shape.”

Although the track is supposed to kick off with Clayton’s bassline, an unknown number of CD pressings over the years have started the track with Bono singing a capella, “Oh great ocean / Oh great sea / Run to the ocean / Run to the sea,” which is actually the coda from the previous song, “One Tree Hill .”

A more tragic note connected to the track was Robert Bardo claiming “Exit” was the inspiration that led him to stalk and later murder actress Rebecca Schaeffer in the summer of 1989. It’s a chilling account as he had shot the 21 year-old in the doorway to her California apartment. Following the disturbing revelation coming to light, U2 stopped playing the song live, which could have been simple coincidence.

“That sounded to me like a good lawyer at work for his client,” he said. “But I still feel that you have to go down those streets in your music. If that’s where the subject is taking you, you have to follow — at least in the imagination. I’m not sure if I want to get down there to live. I’ll take a walk occasionally, and have a drink with the devil, but I’m not moving in with him.”

The origin story of The Joshua Tree’s closing track has become muddled over the years. Sometimes U2 frontman Bono claims it was inspired by his 1986 trip to El Salvador and Nicaragua. Other times, he says it came as a result of meeting a Chilean artist/activist the same year.

The sad part of the story isn’t that a rock singer would get confused, but why. So many of the countries in Central and South America ravaged by civil war and terrorized by dictators shared a common experience. Young students and dissidents had protested these brutal regimes only to be “disappeared” by squads that would capture these people, torture them, kill them and bury the bodies in unmarked graves in the jungle.

This happened in El Salvador, Chile, Argentina and elsewhere. In each country, the mothers who lost their children became a different sort of protest organization, known as the Mothers of the Disappeared. After learning of these groups, which took roots in the ’70s and ’80s, Bono was inspired to write the song “Mothers of the Disappeared.”

“I have a kind of love-hate relationship with America. I love the place, I love the people. One of the things I hate is that such a trusting people could have put their trust in a guy like Ronald Reagan,” Bono said in a 1987 radio interview. “There is no question in my mind that the people of America, through their taxes, are paying for the equipment that is used to torture people in El Salvador. In my trip… I met with mothers of children who had disappeared. They have never found their children went or where their bodies were buried. They are presumed dead.”

Bono intones, in the opening verse, “Midnight, our sons and daughters / Were cut down and taken from us / Hear their heartbeat / We hear their heartbeat.”

So, as with “ Bullet The Blue Sky” Bono found an angle that applied to The Joshua Tree’s version of Americana. In this closing, hymn-like song, he was depicting what he perceived as the evils of the country’s current foreign policy. While “Bullet” used full-bodied American rock ’n’ roll to combat the dirty wars, “Mothers” went in an experimental direction, devoid of many of the roots-based music on other parts of the LP.

“Consequently, the sound, which was a sound Eno came up with for that drum loop that starts off ‘Mothers,’ was very, very evocative of that sinister, death squad darkness,” Adam Clayton said in Classic Albums .

The fuzzy, stark loop was the sound of Larry Mullen Jr. playing a beat on his kit, which was then manipulated by Eno via a tool called the PCM70. “It’s this box that will resonate certain tones when you choose them. And Brian became a master of using this box,” co-producer Daniel Lanois  recalled. “He could actually dial up chord changes as the song went along. But this sort of droning effect very much became the personality of the song.”