The Wanderer
by U2 (featuring Johnny Cash)

Album: Zooropa (1993)
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  • A rare U2 song with no Bono (at least on vocals, he wrote the lyrics), Johnny Cash sang lead on this one. U2 started writing it for Cash when they found out he was coming to Dublin for a show. They decided to keep it for themselves with Cash as guest performer. A song that describes a man's travels and search for redemption, Bono said it was "one of the best things we've ever done, and I'm not even on it."
  • In the band's autobiography U2 by U2, Bono explained the lyrical inspiration: "I wrote the lyric based on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, which in some translation is called The Preacher. It's a story of intellectual wanderlust. The preacher wants to find out the meaning of life and so he tries a bit of everything. He tries knowledge, educates himself, reads every book, but that doesn't do it. He tries travel, sees every sight, but that doesn't do it. He tries wine, women and song, that doesn't do it. All, he says, is vanity, vanity of vanities, striving after wind. As you read this book you think, 'I can't wait to hear what does do it!' And the most extraordinary line is: 'There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour.' Love your work. That's what it is. It is good to love what you do. I think there's a lot to that."
  • U2 recorded this as if they were a bad lounge act. It was the last song on Zooropa, since they wanted to end the album with something that would not be taken too seriously. About a minute after this ends on the CD version of Zooropa, an alarm goes off.
  • The only time U2 played this live was at the 2005 tribute concert for Johnny Cash - Bono did the vocals. The concert was called I Walk the Line: A Night for Johnny Cash.
  • The working title was "Johnny Cash On The Moon."

Comments: 10

  • Greg from Harrington Park, NjI believe the lyrics tell the story of a haunted man - a man confused by the difference of wrong and right - a man trying to discern how to make it in this crazy world - a man looking for help from his demons - someone who asks almost begs to be saved by God. A man who can't take it anymore so he goes out and abandons who and what he loves in search for the truth. I think the end is the man saying I left with nothing nothing but the thought of you I went Wandering. Yeah I left with nothing But the thought you'd be there too, looking for you... I take this verse as a man thinking he is going to meet up with God who the narrator also feels is going to be out there looking for himself because even HE doesn't have the answers -- this is a powerful and lyrically brilliant story. Johnny Cash sings it but Bono wrote the words. I've always felt that Bono crawled inside Johnny Cash's head when he wrote this because when you listen to it it sounds like a song Cash would have written himself - with all the references to God and bibles and guns and repenting, etc. Brilliant!!! - I also think the alarm at the end is blatantly intentional - kind of like it's saying to us - hey wake up - if you don't make changes like the character was trying to make you're going to end up like him -- not a message to a specific person but a message to all of us as human beings...
  • David from Woburn, MaDefinitely my favorite Cash song and one of my favorite of U2's entire catalogue. Also, the version on The Essential Johnny Cash doesn't have the alarm at the end.
  • Tim from Linkoping, SwedenI can't understand why they would wanna end the album with that damn alarm. When ur lying in bed completely relaxed and listening to this awesome song. And all of a sudden you get a BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP. :P
  • Acrobat from Adelaide, AustraliaBono and Edge do sound scarily similar at times, listen to Seconds to confirm that...they BOTH sing lead at certain times on that song... try and pick where
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrOne of the best for both Cash and U2.
  • Racine from Truro, MaTo comment on the fact about U2 never performing this live: U2 did play this during the Vertigo tour at least once, with Bono singing Johnny Cash's vocals. One of their performances was showed during a TV tribute to Johnny Cash; "Walk The Line" star Joaquin Pheonix introduced them.
  • Angela from Hagerstown, MdThe alarm is SO irritating when you listen to this falling asleep. i wake up thinking it's my alrm clock, then just go to the next CD and fall asleep again.
  • Beau from Phoenix, AzActually, that was The Edge on background vocals, not Bono.
  • Rich from Commack, NyThe alarm freaked me out at first... I had the CD player at full blast and then *whee-ooh, whee-ooh, whee-ooh," Now I know to lower the volume whenever the long break is cming on.
  • Clay from Chattanooga, TnNear the end of the song, Bono can clearly be heard doing the backing vocals despite his comment that he did not appear in the song
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