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That time a Gospel choir joined U2 for ‘Rattle and Hum’

J-P Mauro - published on 11/20/17

“I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” is a Gospel tune at its heart.

Decades after their coming together as a three-chord highschool group, U2 remains one of the most popular bands of all time. They have released 13 studio albums and sold over 170 million albums world wide. They have collected 22 Grammy awards — more than any other band — and U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was originally released on U2’s 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. The tune was the album’s second single and became their second consecutive single to reach #1 on Billboards Hot 100. U2 always recognized that the song, with its heavily Christian themes, was rooted in American Gospel music, but that angle was not really explored until the band made a deep tour of the United States, recording what would become their 1988 album, Rattle and Hum.

The above video is from the accompanying “rockumentary,” a companion to the Rattle and Hum album. The collaboration between the band and The New Voices of Freedom gospel choir came after choir director Dennis Bell recorded a Gospel version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and sent it to producer Rob Partridge.

Partridge played the demo for U2 and a few months later the Irish rockers were meeting up with the Gospel group and rehearsing in a Harlem church. The footage of their rehearsal is from the movie, while the live version of their collaboration, performed at Madison Square Garden, was released on the album.

Fun Fact: Bono’s arm is in a sling at the Harlem rehearsal because he had fallen off a rain-slicked stage during a previous concert in Washington, DC, and dislocated his shoulder. According to Wikipedia, Bono completed that performace before having the injury attended to. The sling showed up in 12 performances of that concert tour.

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