- 19 Sep 22
34 years ago today, U2 released 'Desire' – which would go on to become the band's first No.1 single in the UK and Australia. Released as the lead single from Rattle and Hum, 'Desire' won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting the story behind the iconic song...
The first single off Rattle And Hum, ‘Desire’ confounded expectations. If anything on The Joshua Tree half-pointed in this direction it was ‘Trip Through Your Wires’ – but that was sprawling and indulgent, a drunken slice of bar-room raunch.
“We talked about getting some songs with interesting drum lines,” Larry explained to Steve Turner, for the Rattle and Hum book, “so instead of spending time jamming as we used to, we each went away and did research and came back. This is what we came up with.”
The Edge claimed that the guitar part was composed under the influence of the Stooges’ coruscating ‘1969’, but the rhythm was sired by one Mr Bo Diddley. On its release, ‘Desire’ went straight to No. 1 in the UK, and U2 were understandably pleased. They’d originally recorded it in STS Studios in Dublin as a demo. They re-recorded it in A&M Studios in Los Angeles, and it was much tighter and more accurate. “But it lacked feel,” The Edge says. So they went back to the original, 2 minutes and 58 seconds of it, in all its dirty magnificence.
“We were going back to rhythm and blues as part of our wanting to understand America,” Bono explains. “We’d been reading the Beats and various travel writers. Then we started to get into the music. Travelling through America, you’re listening to different radio stations, rhythm and blues, country, soul, jazz, and you realize that rhythm is the sex of the music. So I think we got into dealing with those subjects, including desire, when we were making that jump musically.”
For Bono, however, it was also a reflection on the condition of being a rock star. “I wanted to admit to the religiosity of rock ’n’ roll concerts and the fact that you get paid for them. On one level, I’m starting to criticise these lunatic fringe preachers, “stealing hearts at a traveling show” – but I’m also starting to realize that there’s a real parallel there between what I’m doing and what they are.”
Browse the extensive Hot Press U2 Collection here.
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 30 Sep 22