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29  | Top 100
'With Or Without You'
U2
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U2 recorded “With Or Without You” and the rest of their album The Joshua Tree in Danesmoate, a Georgian mansion near Dublin now owned by bassist Adam Clayton. As if inspired by their historic surroundings the band made a
with or without you
Song facts
Composer Composer
Genre  Rock
Album The Joshua Tree
Year of Release 1987
UK Chart Position 4
conscious decision to write songs in a more traditional vein than any they had recorded before. The decision paid off. “With Or Without You” became their biggest hit, topping the US charts for three weeks, while The Joshua Tree became one of the fastest-selling albums of all time. The track works on two distinct levels. For millions of fans it’s a straightforward love song best summed up by the lines “I can’t live/ With or without you” – an emotion surely felt at some time by almost anyone who has ever been in a serious relationship.But as singer Bono has admitted, the song also addresses his own insecurities and anxieties. The lines “And you give yourself away/ And you give yourself away” represent his fears about being in band, about literally giving himself away when he bares his soul in lyrics and interviews. Musically, the song is something of a slow burner, with The Edge’s understated guitar and Bono’s subdued vocals building gradually towards a towering climax. However you interpret it, it’s an immensely powerful and popular song.


Written in the studio
The Edge
A real joint effort this one - Adam had the bass line, Bono the title. But a musical invention "the infinite guitar" helped to create the eerie production sound.

 

Other versions
U2 - With or Without You
 This version of With or Without You was performed live at a concert in Dublin and broadcast on Radio 1 on 26th December 1989.

It aches and you can feel it aching as what must be the longest continuous note in a single, rises and falls from the start.


Graham Brunstrom



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