All I Want Is You
by U2

Album: Rattle And Hum (1988)
Charted: 4 83
Play Video


  • Bono wrote this song for his wife Ali when they were considering having children and he was wondering if he could cut it as a father despite his flaws. She reassured him, telling him she loved all of him, even the troubled parts.

    The lyric is from her perspective, telling Bono that he can offer her riches (which he had thanks to U2's previous album, The Joshua Tree), but all she really wants is him.

    "She is the singer of the song," Bono explained in his book Surrender. "It became one of our most enduring songs and the opposite of pretty much everyone's reading of it."

    Bono and Ali ended up having four children, the first, Jordan, born in 1989, the year after this song was released.
  • "All I Want Is You" is the last song on the Rattle And Hum album and it plays under the closing credits of the companion documentary, which shows U2 performing on their Joshua Tree tour. It was the fourth and final single released from the album, following "Desire," "Angel Of Harlem" and "When Love Comes To Town."
  • Van Dyke Parks arranged the strings. He was best known for working with Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys Smile project, writing intricate lyrics for Wilson's melodies, but many other artists have called upon his services as a session musician and arranger, including T-Bone Burnett, Rufus Wainwright and Joanna Newsom. When Songfacts spoke with Parks in 2011, he talked about "framing" a song to give it "greater power of enunciation so that it will be noticed." "All I Want Is You" is a great example of his work, as the strings bring out an emotive quality in the song without detracting from its other elements.
  • The Edge came up with the guitar part while working on U2's song "Desire."
  • Meiert Avis directed the music video, which is in black and white and and shows the band only fleetingly. It follows the performers in a traveling circus, with one member of the troupe falling in love with a trapeze artist. It was shot in Ostia, Italy and stars Paolo Rissi and Paola Rinaldi.
  • The album version runs 6:30 with an instrumental coda for the last two minutes of the song. The single version is cut to 4:14.
  • On the CD version of U2's The Best Of 1980-1990, "All I Want Is You" is the last song listed, but "October" comes on about a minute after it ends as a hidden track.
  • The single was was issued in standard formats with a cover of "Unchained Melody" as the B-side, but also in numbered, limited edition vinyl sets packed in film canisters. The 12-inch single was released in box with photos of the band members.
  • This was used in the trailer for the 2000 movie All The Pretty Horses. It was also used in the movies Reality Bites (1994), Conspiracy of Silence (2003), and Contagion (2011).

Comments: 38

  • Village Hiker from UsaThe voice is Ali saying what Bono says to her and what she says in return—all Ali. Always thought it could not be Bono speaking and Ali replying, as the lyrics make no sense that way. I worked for Apple Retail while Steve was alive. He created playlists for us to hear while cleaning the store after closing. We heard a lot of U2. U2 clears your mind while your hands clean the store. Authentic stuff by men who live what they say they believe. The music stuck in my heart. Anyway, thanks for your website.
  • Lydia from MdMy ex- Husband passed away recently, when I heard this song come on the radio recently, after not hearing it for a long time, I turned the volume up, and this song seemed to fit the situation today.
  • Casey from Washingtonville NyUr all fools are your delusions of grandeur I just heard this song blah blah this was my wedding song in 2000 and I’m still with my husband and my friend and love if my life. We’re going in 30 years together can any of you say you have known or loved anything or anyone that long? Didn’t think so. Make ur movie or genuinely love it for the 1st time but listen and actually appreciate it!
  • M. B. Bay from Los Angeles, CaJames from Long Beach: What do you think about a three hour blockbuster Hollywood romantic fantasy epic based on your magnificent contemporary cinematic treatment of that old music video? We are already in the process of commissioning a guaranteed smash of a rap-metal cover of the classic U2 track to blast over the titles and end credits and throughout the action, which I am free to say may also involve killer robots and a talking dog. Don't worry, our fantastic team of lawyers have already cleared everything and all the gears are in motion as I write this. The members of the Academy I have close contact with are already lining this up as a shoo-in for the top awards, whenever they'll be handing them out next year. Very hush-hush! LOL. Don't worry about calling us, Booby, we'll be in touch ASAP.
  • U2 Fan from AmericaI thought that seeing the guy "flying" around was actually the midget's spirit? I had never heard this song until today, 6-15-21.
  • Scott from Utah, UsaIna, I obviously have no idea when you wrote about your son, but I can only imagine the pain, and how this song evokes the memories and pain. I wish you the best in your healing journey! Made my eyes water. Music is both beautiful and powerful!
  • James from Long Beach, CaMy interpretation of the video: The dwarf is from a long line of gypsies who practice magic, curses, and sorcery. He was actually born dwarf out of a curse. He does have a deep, undying love for the trapeze artist. The ring is a magic ring that's been handed down to him through the generations, and in which all he has to do is place the ring on her finger, and she'd be his forever. The dwarf heads off, intending to do this, but fails when her lover interrupts them. Finally, he realizes that this love for the trapeze artist can never truly be, at least not "genuinely". He wants to kill the man who is controlling, (perhaps even abusing?), her, but realizes this might hurt her. He even thinks of killing her, but realizes, that no, he just could never bring himself to do something like that, ever. So he decides to, instead, kill himself... and to do so in a way that she will be sure to take notice and realize that he's doing it for her: the trapeze. In the act of doing this, however, the dark magic of the gypsy ancestral ring, which is still in his pocket when he falls, takes control of the situation, and switches him out for the woman he loves at the last moment. She dies, he lives. As she's being buried, he tosses the ring in the grave to be rid of it's evil powers for good.
  • Ina from Port Glasgow I love U2 but just buried my son to drugs and can’t stop playing this,, he was a mummy’s boy still till the end,, all the promise’s we made
  • Bubba from Minneapolis, MnIn the video for "All I Want is You" it is obvious at the end that the girl dies and the midget lives.
    From the video you can tell by the way the girl looks at the midget that she loves him and we already know that the midget loves her. My interpretation of her death was that she broke his fall and it killed her. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer since the video itself leaves it open to interpretation.
    She loved him, but for a myriad of reasons she could not be with him. At the end she proves that she loves him by trying to catch him and it kills her.
  • Pj from Dublin, Irelandif you listen to the edges solo near the end i d swear its like the guitar is crying... brill stuff...
  • Chris from San Diego, Caahem my cousin would like to note that technically speaking, it would be more correct to call it a parable in the context of my comment, and not a fable. -.-"
  • Chris from San Diego, CaQuite sure, after watching the film, that the video is as follows:
    Essentially it's your classic love triangle, except set in the strange setting of a traveling circus. Unrequited love is the theme, as other posters have mentioned, and the dwarf loves the lady trapeze artist (the lyrics may be thought of as his words). However, she is already in a relationship with her trapeze partner. Nevertheless, the way she returns his glances convinces the dwarf that she loves him back, and so he buys an engagement ring and puts it in his pocket. Then he climbs the trapeze as a symbolic gesture to prove his love to her, though it is obviously dangerous for him. He falls off, and the video cuts to a surreal sequence that shows a coffin carried at a funeral and the woman in her bed at night, tossing fitfully. It is revealed at the end that the dwarf is still alive, and is present at the coffin, dropping in his ring into the dirt before walking away amongst the graves. The most logical conclusion to draw from this is that the woman has died sometime in the future and that the dwarf had never gotten a chance to tell her of his love for her, or propose to her, and leaves his ring with her as a silent final goodbye. The "twin brother" idea is ridiculous, as his brother would have no good reason to a) have the ring or b) drop it into the dirt in what is invariably a strong gesture of romantic love. How the woman dies is left deliberately ambiguous, as is the amount of time that passed after the dwarf's fall to her death, but the final scenes do strongly suggest that the theme of unrequited love survived to the last and that they never had their "happy ending." This fits in well with the lyrics as something of a cautionary fable, as the singer essentially says that his lover is asking for material possessions and making empty promises instead of developing their relationship, forgetting or ignoring the fact that "all I want is you."
  • Dane from Lima,ohio, Fl"All the promises we made,from the cradle to the grave & all I want is you..."What a great song.All my fave U2 songs came off the same album:Desire,Angel of Harlem & this one.How could I forget "One"?Different album,but one of their best songs.
  • Mary from Dublin, IrelandThis song was not covered by "Bellevue" or B*witched, it was BELLEFIRE, a short-lived Irish girl group and it's actually a really nice cover. My favourite though is a cover by Mark Geary, an Irish singer-songwriter. Look it up, it's worth it :)
  • Dj from Hope, NjThis song is pure musical genius performed perfectly.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnI must agree this song is perfection. I feel Bono's emotion - beautiful love song.
  • Joylightsound from Bangalore, IndiaBest Love song with Chilling Guitar. Might have heard this song about 1000 times and Bono is genious. All I want is Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu is chilling and with such an intensity!!. It takes me back to another world whenever i listen to the song.
  • Miles from Vancouver, CanadaI'm one who preaches putting people before things, so this one song that really gets to me...but in a good way.
  • Shawn from Frostburg, MdI took my wife to see U2 in Pittsburgh about 6 months before we got married. She was not a huge U2 fan before that time. Once they started to play this song I told her I wanted this to be our wedding song. When they were done playing it she turned around and looked at me and she was crying !! 6 months later this was our song at our wedding and it is now here all time fav, from any band...
  • Manish from Mumbai, Indiai think its a really outstanding performance, but one thing i didn't understand on the video, whether the dwarf guy die or not, if he did who was the other dwarf????? perhaps a lookalike or something ,i didnn't get.
  • Manish from Mumbai, IndiaThis is the best u2 song. theres gr8 passionate vocals from Bono. After listening to this song i became a big u2 fan. this might be the best love song of all times
  • Reina from La Union, OtherThis is one of the best songs of U2. I wish I would have a man compose or sing me a song like this on my wedding day (ooops, he has to be my groom). Bono is one passionate singer in this song. Love it!
  • Jet from SeatownIt was the first dance at my wedding. I had always found the video very haunting and sad shot in b&w and the story of unrequited love between the two circus performers. Song lyrics have always been important to me, so when it came time to pick a wedding song for my, "All I Want Is You" perfectly expressed what I think anyone making a commitment, of any kind, feels. So much hype surrounds the engagement, the ceremony, all the material possessions that form your "new life" together, but I when it comes right down to it, it involves two people saying to each other "All I Want Is You" above "All the riches in the world".
  • Danielle from Toronto, CanadaI always thought that the guy they bury at the end is just to symbolize the death of that part of his life...he realizes he can't have the girl he wants, and he's given up on romantic illusion, just like that short story, Araby, by James Joyce...although they do make it pretty obvious that he does die...maybe it is his twin.
  • Dean from Cardiff, Walesit was covered by a irish girl band few years ago
    called bewitched
  • Leigh from Nottm, EnglandSorry to report one of the above song facts is a bit wrong.
    If you liston to the 'extras' on one of the recent DVD's you'll hear Bono say this song was 'born out off' the Edges guitar solo at he end of early live versions of 'with or Without You'.
  • Jessie from Staten Island, United StatesI danced to this song with my BF at my sweet 16.. hah. Anyway, 3 years later I still think this song is wildly romantic and beautiful.
  • Marius from Lüneburg, Germanythis song is pretty nice

    on their concert at slane castle, when the "all i want is... yooooouuu"-part was ending, someone was throwing some water on bono. and then, some seconds later, when the edge was composing this well-known powerful guitar-solo, bono was pointing at the "water-thrower" and just said "all i want i f--king you, man!"... just cool =)
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaTwin brother ....Craig ...pleaaaaase.... what do they put in the drinking water where you live...
  • Craig from Madison, WiThis is the song with the circus-themed video of the doomed midget and the trapeze artist he loves. The midget does die [falling from the trapeze], but in a plot point never fully developed, his twin brother shows up at the funeral...I guess. It's been years since I've seen this video, but if I recall correctly the guy is buried in the sand on a beach. Wildly impractical, due to high erosion and the possibility of finding a corpse in a few years by sea shell collectors.
  • Jeni from Los Angeles, Cabenmont tench helped U2 write this song. he is the keyboard player in the heartbreakers, as in tom petty and the . . .
  • Seth from West Jordan, UtThe Brittish Modern/Industrial Band "Mission UK" covered this song for the U2 tribute album "We Will Follow". They did a wonderful job, however they misplaced Bono's angst for a muted sense of eroticisim. I felt it didn't add or detract from the song; however it did change the feel of it completely. Give it a shot, you might like it. :-)
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeI'm not at U2 fan at all, but this song stands out among the rest. The strings at the end are very eerie and majestic and bono's vocals and delivery are equally spine-shivering. A definite gem for the band
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaSo is this the song where in the video clip the midget from the circus falls in love with trapese artist ????if so who dies in the end??? i thought it was the midget , but he's at the funeral
  • John from Madison, WiBeautiful song. I love the strings at the ending
  • Danny from Leeds, Englandgreat song,heard it by a female vocalist other was very soulful,anyone any ideas who it is?
  • Susan from Reisterstown, MdI love this song. It is mine and my husbands song and it means alot to the two of us.
  • Lily from Central Coast, Australiaone of the best love songs in the history of music ...the title of the song says it all, to show love compares to life.
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