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I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Now fully reinstated as everybody’s favourite caring, sharing stadium rockers, U2 have never shied away from spiritual matters. Nowhere is this more apparent than on this huge selling single from 1987’s Joshua Tree album.
Song facts
Composer Bono/U2
Genre Rock
Album The Joshua Tree
Released 1987
UK Chart 6

According to guitarist The Edge, the song was inspired by the band’s new found love of gospel music, including The Staple Singers. As such, it follows fairly standard gospel chord changes, albeit suitably embellished with U2’s unique sonic tapestries. The song took root as a collaboration between Bono and The Edge, the former providing the melody while the latter drew the title from his notebooks.

The sessions for The Joshua Tree were notoriously tortuous in places (producer Brian Eno once threatening to erase the master tapes of Where the Streets Have No Name so the band could start afresh) but this song was one of the easier creations.

Lyrically, the song initially seems to be a plea to an absent lover but, as it progresses, the imagery becomes more overtly religious: “You broke the bonds / And you loosed the chains / Carried the cross of my shame / Oh my shame, you know I believe it.” The tone is deliberately evasive, and the narrator’s quest is never fulfilled, implying a never ending spiritual journey.

The song originally started out in a much looser form, with a slight reggae feel, but gradually assumed its finished form in the studio. It was only when it was mixed that all agreed this was a special track – the public agreed, sending it to no. 1 in the US.

Such was the song’s enduring power that it has become U2’s most covered song. The band performed it with Harlem gospel choir New Voices of Freedom during the Joshua Tree tour, further underpinning its gospel allure, and it remains a fixture in the band’s sets to this day.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Bono describes what it was like to record the song live with a full gospel choir in Madison Square Gardens in New York.

Other versions
Pauline Henry from The Chimes
 This R&B version by The Chimes of U2's hit got to No. 6 in the UK chart.

A stirring song

Angela, Manchester

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