Monday, August 31, 1987

U2 “Where the Streets Have No Name” released as single

Where the Streets Have No Name


Writer(s): Bono (lyrics), U2 (music) (see lyrics here)

Released: August 31, 1987

First Charted: April 4, 1987

Peak: 13 US, 16 CB, 13 GR, 15 RR, 11 AR, 1 CO, 4 UK, 11 CN, 27 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 109.1 video, 86.45 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

U2 became superstars with their fifth album, 1987’s The Joshua Tree. It was their first #1 on the Billboard album chart and was certified for sales of 10 million in the United States alone. The first two singles, “With Or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” topped the Billboard Hot 100. The third single, “Where the Streets Have No Name,” reached the top 20. While “Name” wasn’t released as a single until August 1987, it hit the album rock chart four months earlier, reaching #11.

The band’s lead singer, Bono, wrote the song in response to a story he heard that in Belfast “by what street someone lives on you can tell not only their religion but how much money they’re making.” SF He contrasted that with a recent visit to Ethiopia where such divisions didn’t exist because the streets had no names. WK Journalist Michael Campbell said the song expresses hope for a utopian “world that is not divided by class, wealth, race, or any other arbitrary criterion.” WK

Musically, the song grew out of a demo The Edge, the guitarist, wrote toward the end of The Joshua Tree sessions because he thought the band were short on “exceptional live songs” and wanted to “conjure up the ultimate U2 live-song.” WK All Music Guide’s Steve Huey said the song’s “insistent, propulsive rhythmic drive and anthemic chorus eventually earned the song its status as part of the uppermost echelon of the band’s repertoire.” AMG

Recording the song proved to be difficult. Co-producer Brian Eno estimated that half the album sessions were spent on the song. The other producer, Daniel Lanois, called it “the science project song.” WK It required two time signature shifts and frequent chord changes. Bassist Adam Clayton said, “At the time, it sounded like a foreign language, whereas now we understand how it works.” WK

The song won a Grammy for Best Performance Music Video. They performed the song on the rooftop of the Republic Liquor Store in Los Angeles (a la The Beatles’ rooftop concert at Apple Records in 1969) and filmed it for the video.


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First posted 3/18/2023.

Saturday, August 29, 1987

Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up” hit #1 in UK

Never Gonna Give You Up

Rick Astley

Writer(s): Matt Stock, Mike Aitken, Peter Waterman (see lyrics here)

Released: July 27, 1987

First Charted: August 8, 1987

Peak: 12 US, 2 GR, 11 RR, 13 AC, 15 UK, 13, 17 AU, 8 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 1.12 UK, 7.09 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 1301.85 video, 606.03 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Some songs are hits of the moment, to be quickly forgotten in passing years. Others – for sometimes bizarre reasons – enter the public consciousness and never go away. In 2007, an Internet phenomenon known as rick-rolling emerged. People received links and opened them, but instead of getting what they expected they were subjected to a video clip of Rick Astley singing his 20-year-old hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Stereogum’s Tom Breihan said, they “could’ve presumably used any song in the vast history of recorded music, but they went with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’…[because it] is a bad song, and it’s a catchy bad song. It could get stuck in someone’s head, and it could ruin that person’s day.” SG Ruin a person’s day? Lighten up.

Astley himself had a much better sense of humor and perspective about it. He said, “I think it’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it. But that’s what brilliant about the internet…If this had happened around some kind of rock song, with a lyric that really meant something – a Bruce Springsteen, “God Bless America,” or an anti-something kind of song, I could kind of understand that. But for something as – and I don’t mean to belittle it, because I still think it’s a great pop song – but it’s a pop song. Do you know what I mean? It doesn’t have any kind of weight behind it, as such. But maybe that’s the irony of it.” SG

“The pasty and deep-voiced young man…came from a rural English village called Newton-Le-Willows.” SG He started as a drummer with bands like Give Way and FBI, but “pulled a Phil Collins and became the singer” SG because, as he said, he was writing most of the songs. FB He got his big break when producer Peter Waterman heard him sing. The famed Stock-Aitken-Waterman team “basically colonized the UK charts” SG in the late ‘80s with hits from Kylie Minogue, Bananarama, and Dead or Alive. All told, they had more than a hundred top 40 UK hits. LW

The ”shy vocalist with the boy-next-door looks” FB started working at Waterman’s PWL studio – making tea while also learning the technical aspects of recording and making demos. FB When they released Astley’s first single in the summer of 1987, it “practically made Astley an overnight star.” SG “The blippy bassline and handclap-driven drum track” SG is “pretty much swiped wholesale” SG from “Trapped,” a 1985 house single by Colonel Abrams which hit #3 in the UK. However, “Give You Up” “has none of the gospel-descended euphoric desperation that drives so much house” SG being marked instead by “the chintziest, shallowest Motown pastiche you’re ever going to hear. The strings are transparently fake. The horn stabs might be even faker. Over that beat, Rick Astley bellows thoroughly generic love-song lyrics from straight off of the Stock-Aitken-Waterman assembly line.” SG “Astley’s voice has all the chesty showiness of his British white-soul ancestor Tom Jones, but he has absolutely none of Jones’ swagger.” SG

The song became the biggest hit of 1987 in the UK and went on to top the charts in America in 1988.


First posted 10/18/2022; last updated 11/24/2022.

Monday, August 24, 1987

R.E.M. “The One I Love” released

The One I Love


Writer(s): Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe (see lyrics here)

Released: August 24, 1987

First Charted: September 5, 1987

Peak: 9 US, 10 CB, 13 RR, 2 AR, 1 CO, 16 UK, 11 CN, 84 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 28.0 video, 59.85 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

R.E.M. formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 and immediately established themselves as one of the foundational bands for college rock radio. They were widely acclaimed through four albums which all found their way into the top 40 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S. Their big leap into the mainstream came in 1987 with their fifth album, Document. The top-10 album was their first platinum seller, thanks to the success of top-10 hit “The One I Love.”

Prior to “The One I Love,” R.E.M. had only charted on the Billboard Hot 100 with three minor hits. They developed a very “identifiable, special sound” PW with “Byrds-type guitars and rhythm section” PW with those earlier songs, but “The One I Love” is more of a tribute to Neil Young with its “guitar-sound-combined-with-this-drum-sound.” PW

Because of its refrain, “This one goes out to the one I love,” this song has become popular for loved ones to dedicate to each other on the radio. WK However, this is a misinterpretation of the song which contains lyrics which contradict the idea of love and “suggest a darker, more manipulative theme” WK as demonstrated with lyrics such as “a simple prop to occupy my time.” Lead singer Michael Stipe said, “It’s very clear that it’s about using people over and over again.” WK He initially thought the song was too brutal to record. SF

Critic Paul Williams says the song is “absolutely drenched in…the sounds and colors and textures of dissatisfied longing.” PW He says the lyrics reveal “the songer or persona’s discomfort with himself” PW as he rages “regarding his own inability to love; on some further level he is also expressing and despairing at his inability to really rage.” PW It “feels and sounds like a love song even as the content of words and vocal try to make clear that it isn’t.” PW


  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia
  • PW Paul Williams (1993). Rock and Roll: The Best 100 Singles. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. Pages 227-9.

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First posted 10/2/2022.

John Cougar Mellencamp released The Lonesome Jubilee

The Lonesome Jubilee

John Cougar Mellencamp

Released: August 24, 1987

Peak: 6 US, 31 UK, 18 CN, 2 AU

Sales (in millions): 3.5 US, -- UK, 3.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic heartland rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Paper in Fire [3:53] (8/15/87, 9 US, 1 AR, 86 UK, 3 CN, 13 AU)
  2. Down and Out in Paradise [3:39]
  3. Check It Out [4:20] (2/6/88, 14 US, 3 AR, 96 UK, 10 CN, 22 AU)
  4. The Real Life [3:56] (9/12/87, 3 AR)
  5. Cherry Bomb [4:49] (9/5/87, 8 US, 1 AR, 12 AC, 5 CN, 20 AU)
  6. We Are the People [4:16]
  7. Empty Hands (Green/ Mellencamp) [3:44]
  8. Hard Times for an Honest Man [3:28] (9/5/87, 10 AR)
  9. Hotdogs and Hamburgers [4:04]
  10. Rooty Toot Toot [3:29] (5/7/88, 61 US, 7 AR, 19 CN, 54 AU)

Total Running Time: 39:38


4.486 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

Quotable: “Song for song, The Lonesome Jubilee is Mellencamp's strongest album.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“John Mellencamp's fascination with the American heartland came into full flower on Scarecrow, but with its follow-up, The Lonesome Jubilee, he began exploring American folk musics, adding fiddle, accordions, and acoustic guitars to his band, which allowed him to explore folk and country.” STE

“The expansion of his band coincided with his continuing growth as a songwriter. Song for song, The Lonesome Jubilee is Mellencamp’s strongest album, the record where he captured his romantic, if decidedly melancholy, vision of working-class America.” STE “The lyrics are a mix of social comment and reflection, and nostalgic descriptions of younger life and the process of maturing.” WK This is ground he has tread before, but on Jubilee he does it “better than ever, and his music is richer, which gives the album resonance.” STE

Paper in Fire is a cautionary tale concerned with the cost of chasing our dreams. Down and Out in Paradise chronicles a series of stories of economic and social hardship as if told to the President, who at the time was Ronald Reagan. Check It Out is a commentary on day to day existence that fosters the hope that future generations will understand better how to live. The Real Life continues the these of concern about the way lives are lived, and includes two vignettes of the lives of ‘Suzanne’ and ‘Jackson Jackson.’” WK

Cherry Bomb is a nostalgic but fundamentally happy review of the narrators life – ‘we were young and we were improving.’ We Are the People lists categories of people – the homeless, the oppressed, people in pain – against the refrain ‘May my thoughts be with you.’” WK

“Unemployment and its effect on the narrator and his wife Maryanne, is the subject of Empty Hands. Hard Times for an Honest Man continues the existential theme, noting, against a backdrop of two more cautionary tales, that ‘the rent we pay to stay here gets high.’ Hotdogs and Hamburgers addresses the question of right and wrong, and the need for personal choice, within a narrative describing the a lift given to an Indian girl on Route 66.” WK

Rooty Toot Toot, like ‘Cherry Bomb,’ is a happy nostalgic tale of the narrator’s youth. Mellencamp originally wrote the song as a nursery rhyme for his daughter, Teddi Jo, who had asked her father to use her name in one of his songs. After it was written, Mellencamp and his band turned ‘Rooty Toot Toot’ into a rock song.” WK

Notes: “Blues from the Front Porch” was added to a 2005 reissue as a bonus track.

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/20/2021.