U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” has been likened to the proverbs of King David. And from the onset it definitely sets a similar tone of the narrator having claimed he has basically traversed the known world in search of the addressee. Or let’s say more specifically, the addressee resides at an undisclosed location. And the singer will stop at nothing in order to find this place so that he can be with him or her. Yet despite this effort, he ‘still hasn’t found what he’s looking for’.
The second verse starts off with a more-romantic undertone but eventually morphs into the singer using metaphors which basically allude to the idea of him having gone through virtually all types of experiences, both good and bad. If this section were also to be compared to a part of the Bible, it reads somewhat similarly to the Book of Ecclesiastes which also features a narrator who did not deny himself any experience in his search for the meaning of life. But still, in the case of the song itself, the singer can’t find what he’s ‘looking for’.
Then the third verse is the most-overtly religious passage in the song. Here the singer states that he “believe(s) in the Kingdom Come”, which is a direct reference to the Bible, specifically its concept of the ideal afterlife. He goes on to make a reference to Jesus himself, expressing a sentiment tantamount to believing in the figure while simultaneously acknowledging his own “shame”. But as you’ve probably already concluded, despite holding onto these convictions, he ‘still hasn’t found the thing he’s searching for.
A Gospel Inspired Song
Now one of the reasons the song is structured so is because it was in fact influenced by gospel music and musicians. So in a way you can say, as Bono himself has, that this track is “kind of a gospel song”. Simply put, it is U2’s version of a gospel. Thus, as Bono has also pointed out, the true sentiment which is being relayed throughout isn’t one of faith but actually “doubt”. That is to say that despite his strivations and internal beliefs, the singer is frustrated, if you will, that these efforts and thought processes have not yielded the desired results.
And another point which must also be noted is that the addressee is never actually identified. Thus some people have even interpreted this song as being romantic in nature. In other words, the “you” the singer is looking for can arguably be an elusive love. And there is enough general ambiguity amongst the lyrics to support such a theory.
But conclusively, it is clear that U2 are operating on a higher, spiritual plane on this song. And going back to the King David comparisons, the lyrical content of this track can be likened to those instances where he was in search of God but felt as if his spiritual pleas were being ignored.
The music video was shot in Las Vegas, Nevada. And it has been recognized for improving the image of the city amongst musicians in general.
Release Date of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
Island Records released this song as the second single from U2’s classic album, “The Joshua Tree”, on 25 May 1987.
The other singles from “The Joshua Tree” album are as follows:
Production and Writing Credits
Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois not only produced this U2 classic but also provided background vocals to it.
And the song was written by the members of U2:
- Adam Clayton
- The Edge
- Larry Mullen Jr.
The track originated from a demo called “Weather Girls” which the band recorded while having an informal jam session. They scraped the model but retained Larry’s drum beat, which served as the foundation for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.
And “Weather Girls” itself went on to be featured on the 20th anniversary remastered edition of “The Joshua Tree”.
Accolades of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was ranked amongst the top 100 on Rolling Stone’s 2010 ranking of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
It topped the Billboard Hot 100, the US Cash Box Top 100 and U2’s native Ireland Singles Chart. The track also peaked at number 6 in Britain and charted in as many as 10 other countries.
Additionally, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” has been certified Gold in the UK.
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was also nominated for a couple of Grammy Awards in 1988. It was nominated in the following categories:
- Song of the Year
- Record of the Year
Notable Covers of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
Artists who have covered this song include Seal (1997) and the cast of “Glee” (2014). And one of the most-successful renditions chart-wise has been a 1990 cover by a Scottish band called The Chimes.
The specific gospel singers who are said to have influenced this song are:
- Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945)
- The Swan Silvertones
- James Cleveland (1931-1991)
- The Staple Singers (1948-1994)
- The Mighty Clouds of Joy (1961-2012)