I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
The second in what would be a massive trilogy of singles and lead tracks on/off the Joshua Tree, “Still Haven’t Found” is possibly the weakest compared to “With or Without You” and “Streets”. It’s also the song that seemingly baffles the Christian community and believers, or at least is divisive; cue plenty of “are U2 really Christians?” articles and videos. It’s that doubt, actually, that makes the song – without it, the song would potentially become slightly smug and holier-than-thou. Those of a more – what’s the word? – insane disposition have still come to a bizarre conclusion about the whole thing. To which it has to be said: no, people. If it was a big atheist anthem, I’d have latched onto it in a big way – but it ain’t, and I haven’t. There’s no doubt this side (ironically) that it is basic spiritual doubt; to ‘er…” is human, to use an old and cheesy phrase. In addition, it’s also possibly the first time U2 allowed both sides of a story in a song, at least spiritually, which means that for all the grand lyrical flourishes about scaling city walls and climbing mountains, it’s a long way from October or preachiness.
All of this debate actually obscures the music underneath, which seems to be a I-IV-V progression in D, underlying the whole blues’n’gospel vibe. There’s also a steady four-on-the-floor thump in the drumming, which suggests a degree of disco, overall very much an American feel without having to resort to squealing harmonicas or a roaring vocal a la Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA”, although the Springsteen tactic of using the biggest snare in the world and compressing it ’til the tape nearly degrades is pretty obvious. Underlying the whole lyrical theme of doubt, amidst the rest of the confident playing, is the percussive start, sounding like a quivering object in the wind. And of course the vocal harmonies. Overall, it’s just designed to be huge as a song, a wide open plain at which the narrator is perhaps a little scared, although it’s not quite to continent-wide roaming of “Streets”.