Saturday, August 8, 1987

U2 hit #1 with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

First posted 11/28/2020; updated 1/29/2021.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For


Writer(s): Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen (see lyrics here)

Released: May 25, 1987

First Charted: March 28, 1987

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 11 RR, 16 AC, 2 AR, 1 CO, 6 UK, 6 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK, 0.43 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 100.0 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

U2 built a loyal following with their first four albums in the 1980s, but had little success on the pop charts, having only graced the top 40 once with 1984’s “Pride (In the Name of Love).” That changed with 1987’s The Joshua Tree, a multi-platinum smash that made the band superstars. Within weeks of the album’s release, five songs landed on the mainstream rock chart and the lead single, “With Or Without You,” topped the Billboard Hot 100. One of the tracks to hit the mainstream rock chart was “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” In May, it was released as the second single from the album and followed its predecessor to #1.

The song grew out of a demo initially called “The Weather Girls,” also known as “Deser of Our Love.” The Edge, U2’s guitarist, compared it to “’Eye of the Tiger’ played by a reggae band.’” WK The band did, however, like the original drum part played by Larry Mullen Jr. As Daniel Lanois, one of the album’s producers, said, “We always look for those beats that would qualify as a signature for the song. And that certainly was one of those.” WK

Lyrically, Bono, the band’s lead singer, wanted to explore spiritual doubt. The Edge had written the phrase “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind,” as a possible song title. When recording the song, the group decided to go for a gospel vibe with the Edge, Lanois, and Brian Eno (the album’s other producer) provided choir-like backing vocals. WK

Bill Graham of Hot Press called the song a “smart job of pop handwork” WK and The Sunday Independent said the song proved the band could be commercially accessible without resorting to rock clichés. WK The Rocket called it a “unique marriage of American gospel and Gaelic Soul…[that] rings far truer than the rantings of, say, the born-again Bob Dylan.” WK Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times called it U2’s “Let It Be,” in reference to the Beatles’ song. WK The song was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for U2
  • DMDB page for parent album The Joshua Tree
  • AMG All Music Guide
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). New York, NY; Billboard Books. Page 673.
  • WK Wikipedia

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