I have a very distinct memory of the first time I ever heard “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. I was a child, I’d guess probably nine years old. It was late at night and I was out somewhere with my mom. We were waiting in the car – I think we were waiting for my sister, although I wouldn’t swear to that – and I was lying down in the back seat of my mom’s Oldsmobile, ostensibly for the purpose of sleeping. My mom had the radio tuned to WRRM FM, a local station that played light and soft rock hits, and I remember that when “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” came on I was struck by the yearning in the singer’s voice. I didn’t know then what I know now, that the song was talking about Bono’s search for spirituality or that the song was taking rock in down the not-often-trod path of gospel, but I knew that the singer made me feel the feeling, and I remember thinking that this was what all music should aspire to be. It’s the earliest memory of U2 that I’ve got, and although I wouldn’t become a fan until several years later, that night has always stayed with me and I keep it in the back of my mind as a kind of benchmark that every singer I hear gets compared to.
Nowadays, I’ve heard “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” so many times that it’s hard to recapture that initial feeling, but I still hold the song in a special place. Whether it’s that scene from Rattle and Hum where the band are rehearsing the song with the gospel choir in Harlem, or it’s the spirited sing-along from the U2360 at the Rose Bowl blu-ray, there’s something about that melody and the guy singing it, the way he’s pushing his voice, that still makes me feel the feeling. Especially as an atheist – I’d love to believe that there’s something else out there. Some higher power that’s got a plan for our little blue-green planet and all the lives it sustains. In fact, if I’m really being honest, I think it’s true that I wish I could find some evidence to support God’s existence. I’m looking for it, and I’d prefer to find that elusive proof, but at this point, all I can see is that we’re alone in our existence. So I know a little bit about how Bono feels when he sings that famous chorus.
Of course, since it’s one of the band’s highest charting singles, the song doesn’t miss too many live performances. In fact, it just passed performance number six hundred last month in New York. So far, it’s been played at nearly forty percent of the show on the Innocence + Experience Tour, and I don’t see any reason for that frequency to lessen. I think that as one of the band’s most recognized songs, ” I Still Haven’t Found…” will continue to be played on a fairly regular basis for the remainder of U2’s touring career.
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