One characteristic of Apple’s iTunes program that I really like is the fact that it keeps track of how many times each song has been played by an Apple product (such as an iPhone or an iPad). It is because of this aspect of the program that I am able to report that today’s featured song, “All I Want is You”, is the third most played song in my music collection, behind “Grace” (from All That You Can’t Leave Behind) and “If God Will Send His Angels” (from Pop). Since I often leave my iPhone on shuffle while I’m working, my favorite songs aren’t necessarily those with the most plays, but even if they were, “All I Want is You” would rank just as high if not higher. In fact, it’s probably my second favorite song ever recorded, following shortly behind “Bad” (from The Unforgettable Fire). I suppose it’s true that the two songs share some similarities, such as the fact that they start slow then build to frenzied climaxes (something that U2 excels at) or the the fact that on past tours they have often been played interchangeably. For an example, look at 2001’s Elevation Tour. On that tour, “Bad” was played at a total of 81 out of 113 shows, meaning that there were 32 shows at which “Bad” wasn’t played. Of those remaining 32 shows, “All I Want is You” was played at 31, and never on that tour were both songs played at the same show. Furthermore, on the ZooTV Tour, the two songs were often played together, with “All I Want is You” frequently appearing as a snippet at the end of “Bad”.
“All I Want is You” is the prototypical U2 song – poignant and passionate at the same time, and including a section that encourages live crowds to sing or shout along at the top of their lungs. Lyrically, it’s a moving love song to Bono’s wife Ali, and I believe that it’s a great example of Bono writing from personal experience and feeling. Particularly, the line “You say you want… your story to remain untold” refers to Bono and Ali’s desire to keep their private life private – not an easy feat, but one that the couple have managed to accomplish over the years despite Bono’s high level of fame. It’s also a smart comment on the rite of marriage. “You say you want diamonds on a ring of gold…but all I want is you”. Here Bono is saying that the titles of husband and wife are less important to him than the relationship itself, a priority that a lot of young couples fail to share. As great as Bono’s lyrics are, the real star of the song comes in the climax, which starts at about three minutes in. Edge’s great guitar solo and Bono’s stimulating calls of the song’s title never fail to give me goose-bumps, and when the song is performed live, with the audience joining in to bellow out the word “you!” is utter bliss.
Although it hasn’t been played much on the current Innocence + Experience Tour, I am grateful for the rare appearances that the song does make, including the one this past week in London. With the song’s similarities to the more popular “Bad”, it’s understandable that U2 would not want to feature the song at every show, but I hope that they never abandon the song entirely. It showcases everything that I love about the band’s music and I’m sure I’m not the only fan who feels that way.