U2

With or Without You

Composed by Adam Clayton / Bono / Larry Mullen, Jr. / The Edge

Song Review by

U2's The Joshua Tree was the album that elevated the band into worldwide stardom, comprised of songs that shed a light on the band's more personal leanings, much like an introspective voyage into the group's innermost beliefs, both spiritual and philosophical. Instead of casting their viewpoints about the world around them as they'd done in the past, they looked inward, and created some of best contemplative music ever to surface. From it came "With or Without You," U2's first number one hit, which regained that position for three straight weeks in the spring of 1987. Gleaming with the production work of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, "With or Without You" has Bono unleashing all his vocal power, moving from a soft, subtle intro and middle to an explosive burst of unyielding energy toward the end. The Edge's astute but assertive guitar work creates a momentous rhythm that builds ever so slightly, while the tune's discerning air sounds almost church-like as it slowly unravels. Bono's poetic deftness, when examined closely, reveals that "With or Without You" isn't a love song at all, but one tinted with the enlightening effects of soul searching and the desire for spiritual redemption. Even though this track, as well as the rest of the songs from The Joshua Tree contain deep, analytical implementations, it's the band's wisely orchestrated balance of sharp lyrics and skillful musical arranging that made the album, and its introductory track, so momentous.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Joshua Tree 1987
U2
Island 4:56
With or Without You 1987
U2
Island
Rock's Hottest Ticket [Disc 1+2] 1987
U2
Red Phantom 6:38
Island Treasures 1990
U2
Island 4:56
No Image 1991
U2
RP
No Image 1992
U2
Pluto Records
Dublin 1993 1993
U2
Live Storm 3:50
Zoo TV: Live from Sydney [Video] 1994
U2
Az / Island
Blown Away 1994
Original Soundtrack
550 Music / Sony Music Distribution 4:55
Billboard Top Hits: 1985-1989 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 5:00
Please 1997
U2
Island 4:41
Gold and Platinum, Vol. 5: 1985-1988 1997
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:59
Popmart 98: Santiago 1998
U2
Thunderball 9:30
Sweetest Thing '98, Pt. 2 1998
U2
Island
The Best of 1980-1990/The B-Sides 1998
U2
Island / Universal 4:55
The Best of 1980-1990 1998
U2
Island / Universal 4:55
No Image 1998
U2
Popmart 6:17
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Universal] 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Disc One] 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:57
The Joshua Tree [DVD] 2000
U2
Image Entertainment
Hasta La Vista Baby!: Live from Mexico City 2000
U2
U2 Limited 5:46
Elevation Tour 2001: Live from Boston [Video/DVD] 2001
U2
Interscope
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Burning Hearts
30 Best Irish Hits 2003
Various Artists
Solid/Lunar 4:56
U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle [DVD] 2003
U2
Interscope
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Zoo TV Live 2006
U2
U2 Limited 4:21
U218 Singles 2006
U2
Interscope / Island/Def Jam / Universal / Universal Distribution 4:56
Zoo TV Live from Sydney [2 Disc DVD] 2006
U2
Island
Popmart: Live from Mexico City [Video] 2007
U2
Island
U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle 2007
U2
U2 Dot Com 6:23
Live from Paris 2008
U2
Universal / Universal Distribution 9:59
The Best of 1980-2000 2009
U2
Island 4:58
Now That's What I Call Love [2016] 2010
Various Artists
Now!
360 at the Rose Bowl 2010
U2
Mercury / Universal
Now That's What I Call Legends 2014
Various Artists
Sony Music / Universal Music TV 4:55
Now That's What I Call Classic Rock [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:52
Innocence + Experience Live in Paris [Video] 2016
U2
Interscope / Island
Le Top des Tops Vol. 2
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:46
Now That's What I Call a Song [Sony Music]
Various Artists
Sony Music / Universal Music TV 4:55
blue highlight denotes editor's pick