U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

First Hit #1: August 8, 1987

It’s always strange to be listening to U2 and realize we’re still in 1987. I mean, yesterday was Shakedown, how the hell was this on the same chart as Shakedown? It’s like Bono and company came from the future, where everyone has silly names (like Adam!) and the focus is on guitar effects rather than poppy dance songs with heavy synthesizers. That future wasn’t really very far down the road – and U2 doesn’t go to the extreme with it like shoegaze bands do – but it’s still really odd to hear it in the context of a year when U2 had the same number of hits as Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Now that we’re in the future, the focus is again on poppy dance songs with heavy synthesizers, which is interesting.

What’s interesting is that I Still Haven’t Found… is a couple of lyric changes away from being a gospel song, the opening lines could easily be cribbed from any number of old religious standards. Only the chorus about dissatisfaction really tip it’s hand, but between Bono’s religious imagery and vocal performance heavy on sustained notes it could easily be interpreted as such. As such, it’s nice to have that songs of praise aspect undercut by the U2 sound, which sounds like no church I have ever visited (though I haven’t been in a church in ten years, so choir directors have discovered the effect pedal in my absence). It’s a song that builds its foundation in religion, but then goes off in a much more modern direction and can be enjoyed by believers and non-believers alike. It’s a new take on an old style.

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One Response to U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

  1. RBerman says:

    With “Every Breath You Take,” the Police took a classic 1950s song structure and chord progression, and arranged it into a wonder of guitar-based New Wave. U2 pull a similar trick here with an Ecclesiastes-inspired song in which Bono surveys the futility of striving for success (“I have have run; I have crawled”), of the pursuit of pleasure (“It was warm in the night; I was cold as a stone”), and of his own hopes to heal the wounds of the world (“when all the colors bleed into one”) but knows in his heart that the satisfaction of his desires will be eschatalogical. The various aspirations in the lyrics of this song serve well as a purpose statement for Bono. Love hard, play hard, save the world.

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