U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is one of those songs that I heard and vaguely liked when when it came out in 1987 when I was 15 years old. At the time, I didn’t really “get” the song. The words were mysterious, but I couldn’t relate to them. The song sounded alright, but kind of standard and mid-tempo to me at the time.
But now it is one of those songs that I not only “get” but feel like I’ve lived.
Musically, I find it stunning — almost impossibly subtle and unique. It’s such a weird combination: an oom-pah Polka baseline, weirdly undefined drums, gospel vocals from an Irish singer, and a couple of echo-heavy guitars. It should be a disaster. But it works! The end result is beautiful and organic. It’s catchy and singable, but not in an annoying pop sort of way. More in a timeless way that makes me think, “this song must have always just existed” like a mountain or a river.
As an aspiring musician myself, this song blows my mind. I can’t even imagine trying to come up with anything like this song.
Here’s the song’s mesmerizing video, shot in Las Vegas. It apparently had a lasting affect on legitimizing Las Vegas for musicians. 😎
Lyrically, I suppose the song is about spiritual doubt or yearning or something… blah blah blah 🙄. That’s not the part I relate to. The “honey lips” stands out for me now. Another sign I’ve grown up from my clueless 15-year old self. 🤓
I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in the fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire
I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for
Interesting side note according to wikipedia… this song was not the band’s original pick for a second single off of The Joshua Tree. But when “Red Hill Mining Town” stumbled, the band swapped in “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” as a late second choice. Music works in mysterious ways. 🤷🏻♂️