U2101 – Trip Through You Wires

Since the announcement of the latest Joshua Tree Tour, I’ve been focusing on lesser known highlights from the album the upcoming tour takes it’s name from. One such underappreciated song comes from The Joshua Tree’s second side, the wild and unruly song that hasn’t been played live since 1987, “Trip Through Your Wires”

The song sounds like an upbeat mix of country and blues, which fits right in with the Americana theme that U2 had going on with The Joshua Tree. That said, the song still stands out, not just on the album it’s from, but across U2’s entire catalog. “Trip Through Your Wires” is one of the most rambunctious sounding songs that U2 have ever recorded. The studio recording has an interesting use of echo, especially on the drum track, which makes it sound like the band is performing the song live.  There’s lots of whooping and hollering, which always makes me think of a hoe-down in a barn somewhere, and Bono’s rowdy harmonica playing only adds to the feeling. Edge plays a great guitar solo, and the entire band is in fine form on this western falvored rocker.

There are several themes that pop-up in the lyrics to “Trip Through Your Wires”. One that stands out to me is the physical location of the desert (“Lips were dry, throat like rust –
you gave me shelter from the heat and the dust”), a common subject on the album that the song is from, up to and including the artwork of that album. Another theme is the up-and-down of a romantic relationship, which is a common thread across U2’s entire body of work, from cuts such as “With or Without You” through more recent gems like “Song For Someone”.

Although “Trip Through Your Wires” appeared at most gigs on the original Joshua Tree Tour, the song actually made it’s debut a year before The Joshua Tree was released. In January, 1986, U2 appeared on the Irish TV show TV Gaga, where they debuted two new songs. The first was an energetic piece which was dubbed “Womanfish”, which the band have never released or performed again. The second, which Bono introduced as “I Trip Through Your Wires” (note the additional word at the beginning of the title), was an early version of “Trip Through Your Wires” with almost completely different lyrics. It’s interesting to note, though, that the music that the band played during this performance was nearly identical to what would be recorded and released as the album version of the song. The good news is that fans can expect to hear that same music repeated on stage very soon. As we’ve already discussed in previous articles, and has been mentioned in numerous other news articles since the Joshua Tree 2017 announcement was made, U2 is planning to perform the entire album, in sequence, on their upcoming tour. That means that songs like “Trip Through Your Wires”, which has only been played 86 times ever, will finally see the light of day once again.

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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