The lyrics could refer to a search for spiritual enlightenment or a search for love. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bono said the song was "an anthem of doubt more than faith."
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
The Edge came up with the title and melody, and Bono wrote lyrics around it.
This was influenced by Gospel music. Bono wanted The Joshua Tree to explore various forms of American music they had encountered while touring there.
Bono has written a variety of "spiritual" songs. This one makes distinct references to Jesus: "I believe in the kingdom... you broke the bonds and you loosed the chains" he is acknowledging salvation and yet he still hasn't found what he is looking for. This need for deeper fulfillment and futile search corresponds to a setback in the cycle of faith. The setback of Inferiority is followed by Confusion. Rather than getting back onto the path towards a better faith, another setback occurs. The frustration of the first setback grows, causing confusion and a distorted perspective.
Suggestion credit: Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA
The Edge (Q Magazine, December 1998): "We were listening to some Gospel during The Joshua Tree sessions - I remember The Mighty Clouds and the Reverend Cleveland and The Staple Singers. The original was more loose, almost Jamaican. Bono hit on the melody and I had the title in a notebook. At first, no one took it that seriously because it sounded so unlike anything we'd ever done and it didn't gel until the mix, but when it was finished we all realized that we had something special. The reviewers didn't like it though. One American said it was a pale imitation of the original form and that Foreigner song I Want To Know What Love Is was better."
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
Bono sometimes introduced this as "A kind of Gospel song with a restless spirit."
The Gospel choir The New Voices Of Freedom covered this. When U2 heard their version, they arranged to rehearse it with them in their Harlem church, which led to the performance in Madison Square Garden included on Rattle And Hum. This version was released as a single.
The video featured U2 walking around the streets of Las Vegas.
This won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group in 1988. Their bass player, Adam Clayton, missed the presentation because he was in the bathroom.
In 1991, a group called Negativland released a single called "U2," which was a parody of this. They were sued by Island Records and forced to pull the record.
The working title was "Under The Weather."
A cover version by The Chimes hit #6 in England.
On an episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, U2 took part in Conan's comedy bit "Celebrity Secrets" where they joked that one time the band was in a grocery store and could not find the cereal Boo Berry and that was the inspiration for this song.
Nick from La Paz, BoliviaBest song of their best album. A couple of years ago i found myself in a situation where i just couldn't find peace and stability in my life. My faith in God has always been strong but this time i was losing faith in myself. U2 saved my life that year...
Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThis reminds me of cheap melted plastic.
Debbie from Detroit, MiI always thought this song was about man's inability to be satisfied and content spiritually and with God... like the lyric says' I believe in the Kingdom come, you carried the Cross and all my shame", that in spite of all God has done for us, came here and died even, man still looks for something else; something other than a strong, loving, spiritual relationship with the Creator.
Dana from Coventry, RiThis song brings me closer to God every time I listen to it.
Jim from Pennsauken, Njthis song is about doubt
Matt from Houston, TxI second the beatles of all time.Modern-day I would probably say nickelback.
Jessica from Bloomfield , NjAmazing band and they deserve all the credit in the world. They are amazing. This song is so beautiful and it was the first U2 song I ever heard.
Heather from Los Angeles, CaActually I think the Beatles are the most overrated band.
Paul from London, United Kingdom"U2 is the world's most overrated band. - Mark, Medicine Hat" I agree, to be honest. They've been around for far too long.
Hmmmm..... don't you ever wonder WHY they have been around for so long?
Louise from Newcastle, United Kingdom"U2 is the world's most overrated band. - Mark, Medicine Hat"
I agree, to be honest. They've been around for far too long.
Jo from Strong City, Algeriaif you listen to the song hes says still haven't found what im looking for, there for hes looking for something in life and cant found and his tryingto understand it all, but people get in his way.so he still haven't found what im looking for
Simon from London, EnglandPure gospel - BB King comments in Rattle & Hum that he couldn't believe the lyrics were written by such young white boys!
13scarecrows from Endless Fields, OkThis song is about peace or the endless search for it. By the end of the song the writer seems to realize there will be no peace till the Kingdom Comes. A beautiful & unforgettable song.
Corey Maller from Roslyn Heights, NyThe guitar and bass riffs in this song are so simple yet so beautiful. This is an amazing song. I just can't get enough of it.
Mark from Medicine HatU2 is the world's most overrated band.
Rusty from Raleigh, NcIt sound's like a good love song to sing to a girl.
Grace from Fairfax Station, VaU2 is the best band that ever picked up instruments. This song is no exception of their genius.
Rich from Auburn, MeI liked this song so much, that while in the USN in 1988, I actually wrote "the band" to ask what it meant. I am a believer, and so wanted to know what it meant & if it had spiritual connotations.
The reply I got was a newspaper clipping from an interview WITH Bono, where he simply stated that in embracing God, it opens up a whole new world of questions.
So, there you have it! cheers!
Jay from Atlanta, GaIt's been 20 years and he "still hasn't found what he's looking for". Don't you feel a little sorry for him? Stuck in limbo? When is he going to put a name on "it" that he's looking for?
Johnny from Los Angeles, CaPete is right. I'm happy nobody is over anaylzing this song.
Jeff from Atlanta, GaThis is my favorite song by U2. Mainly because it was the first ever music video I remember seeing on TV. and also the first time I saw U2 on tv. I still love it to this day. I even got all the lyrics memorized! and can play it on the guitar.
Shobu from Trenton, NjThis song is little more than a winning application of the most typically successful songwriting cliches: Ambiguosity and contradiction.
Honzin from Prague, Czech RepublicI am a musician and I can say, that the bass line is played exactly the way it should be played. It's simple, but very clear and that's the goal..keeps it all together and makes the bottom rich and full!
Emily from Abingdon, VaWho cares about the simplicity of the baseline? Baselines in general are indeed simple. It's their pure consistency that makes them effective, holding the song together. Before you go off on Adam Clayton, listen to the White Stripes. They don't have a bass player and it makes their songs sound so empty.
Flavowski from Washington, Dc, DcI don't have anything against U2, but every U2 song has an easy bass line. Adam Clayton is one of the most unproficient and amateurish bass players that there has ever been. He's laughing all the way to the bank though, and the fact that he gets paid for it is the only reason he can actually be called a bass player. If somehow one could develop a ratio for actual musical talent to the amount of success achieved, Adam Clayton would be the hands down winner. Not only has he not gotten any better, in fact the earlier bass playing, while still laughably simple, is more inspired than the later U2 stuff. U2 must be taken as a whole, because just listening to the bass lines is a joke.
Patrick from Humboldt, Iathis song has an incredible yet simple bass guitar part to it.
Marto from Sydney, AustraliaU2 performed this when they were inducted into the rock & roll hall of fame in 2005. After the 2d part bono called bruce in to sing the last part
Pat from Las Vegas, NvThe video was apparently shot on Fremont Street, in its cruftier days before it was turned into an outdoor mall and video canopy in 1995 (gotta go there to understand). The woman who tries to pull one of the band into a casino is probably in front of Sassy Sally's, which used this sort of hucksterism until about 2000. It's been modernized, has a new name, and now the draw is Mardi Gras beads.
Nicole from Apple Valley, MnThis song appears on The Runaway Bride Soundtrack.
Adeeb from Dhaka, OtherWonderful. What more to say?
Andrew from Glamorgan , United StatesU2 are probably the best or one of the best bands in the world ever. they are simply fantastic.
Pete from Nowra, Australiaexcellent song , no more needs to be said
Victor from Vienna, Vathe best U2 song, and one of the best of all time
Brian from Mayfield Heights, OhNobody cares what Cher did. No offense... maybe about 30 years ago, I would have. But she used Sonny.
Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WaThe 1994 film Blown Away starring Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones features this song and another U2 hit - With or without you. In fact Ryan Gaerity (Jones' character) purchases a U2 cassette tape at a street sale and plays it while building a bomb.
Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WaThis video was heavily played on MTV thoughout the mid-late 80's
In my top ten videos.
I absolutely dug this video. The song is great on it's own but the video really added a lot dimension to this. Walking the streets and meeting with people. It blended average everday people with the band. Very cool. Definately my favorite U2 song!
Pat from Kuna, IdCher performed the song as the opening of her Believe concert.