Friday, March 6, 2020

"With or Without You" by U2

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3064
Date:  03/21/1987
Debut:  64
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks: 18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Prior to this, U2 had been inching closer and closer to being worldwide stars. While they had success in many countries including the US where their fourth LP The Unforgettable Fire was a #12 platinum seller, they had yet to break through in a bigger way. That all changed when they released their fifth LP, The Joshua Tree. The band retained Unforgettable producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, but instead of the more loose and experimental tracks of that album, they chose to create tighter rock songs bathed in cinematic atmospherics. This first single certainly demonstrated the new approach and it was heartily greeted by listeners who made it the band's first worldwide smash hit. It would definitely be their breakthrough in the States where the song made it to #1 and stayed for three weeks. It also hit #1 at Rock and #23 AC. The album was an immediate success debuting in the Top 10 (a rare occurrence at the time) and then topped the chart for nine consecutive weeks. A year later, the LP would earn U2 two Grammys, one for Album of the Year and one for Best Rock Performance, Duo or Group. They quickly went from a solid selling, well-respected band to worldwide superstars.

ReduxReview:  Prior to this song and album, I liked U2 and owned a couple of their albums including War and The Unforgettable Fire. Plus an EP called Wide Awake in America that had a brilliant live version of the Fire track "Bad." I wasn't a huge fan yet, but I could tell that they were on to something. Then this song came out. I was bowled over. That quiet, atmospheric beginning signaled something special and it grew from there. By the time it hit the refrain and Bono started howling, I about lost my shit. It was like one of those musical religious experiences. I just thought it was one of the best songs I'd heard in ages. And although it got played to death, it was one song that I didn't tire of hearing. I still absolutely love it and I still get chills sometimes when I hear the beginning of the song. From this point on, I was a certified U2 FFL (fan for life).


Trivia:  The video for this song, co-directed by Meiert Avis and Matt Mahurin, was also a hit on MTV. The abstract-style video would go on to be nominated for seven MTV Music Video Awards including Video of the Year. That was the same year that Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" dominated with ten nominations. Gabriel's video won nine of the categories. The only one it didn't win was the Viewer's Choice award. That one went to U2 for this song's video. Also, in the video you see shots of a woman interspersed with the band. That person was dancer Morleigh Steinberg. She would later work with the band again on their 1992 Zoo TV tour as choreographer and dancer. She and recently separated U2 guitarist The Edge struck up a friendship during the tour. Afterwards, they became a couple and had two children. They were married in 2002.


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