Where the Streets Have No Name

Composed by Bono / Adam Clayton / The Edge / David Evans / Paul Hewson / Larry Mullen, Jr.

Song Review by

"Where the Streets Have No Name" failed to equal the dominance of its two chart-topping predecessors ("With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For") from U2's 1987 blockbuster The Joshua Tree, just missing the Top Ten on the singles chart. However, its insistent, propulsive rhythmic drive and anthemic chorus eventually earned the song its status as part of the uppermost echelon of the band's repertoire, and an enduring fan favorite. With the slow build of its arrangement toward a climactic peak, "Where the Streets Have No Name" was a perfect album-opener, fading in first with atmospheric synths that gave no indication of the song's tempo. The Edge then entered with an up-tempo, chiming guitar arpeggio, run through a delay effect (in which each note rang out twice) to make it sound even busier. While bassist Adam Clayton maintained a steadily driving pulse, Larry Mullen Jr.'s drums kept time in 16th notes for much of the song, and the percussive guitar effects picked up the slack when he dropped into a looser, less demanding pattern. This perpetual forward momentum lent greater force to the song's lyrics, which pleaded for a utopian sort of freedom vaguely linked with natural imagery and an escape from urbanization. Bono's delivery was passionate and grandiose, his commitment to the material unshakable. That, coupled with the sonic power of the rest of the band, was what gave pre-Achtung Baby U2 its tremendous force -- and "Where the Streets Have No Name" was a perfect example.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Joshua Tree 1987
Island 5:38
Please 1997
Island 6:32
The Best of 1980-1990/The B-Sides 1998
Island 4:35