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.