‘Walk On’ is the fourth single from U2’s 2000 hit album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The track won Record of the Year at the 2002 Grammys, marking the first time an artist won the award in back-to-back years for songs from the same album (‘Beautiful Day’ was the 2001 Record of the Year).
‘Walk On’ was written for and dedicated to Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who at the time was in the middle of a two-decade house arrest for promoting democracy in Burma.
If there’s a song that gives ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ a run for its money as one of the greatest openings of all time, it’s U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name.’ This song kicks off 1987’s The Joshua Tree in epic fashion, stately organs giving way to one of The Edge’s iconic guitar licks.
This song would be a brilliant choice for the beginning of a Stranger Things episode, or as the backdrop to a particularly gripping sequence. Or, as I suggested for ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ it could score an early trailer for the next season, setting the table with a nostalgic jolt. The current season used a haunting remix of Journey’s ‘Separate Ways’ in similar fashion.
My first real exposure to U2 came with their 1987 smash The Joshua Tree. That’s an album I knew by heart start to finish, and from then on I made a point to own everything they released.
That amounted to just nine albums over the next 34 years. The most recent three are all pretty forgettable, but the six released between 1988 and 2004 are genre-defining (and sometimes genre-defying) works of art.
If you want to feel old, consider that U2 is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. During that span, they’ve released 14 albums and sold nearly 200 million copies worldwide. They are among the most revered and successful bands in popular music history.
And yet, they feel almost completely irrelevant these days. It’s been four years since their last release, the unmemorable Songs of Experience, and 15 years since their last bona fide hit, 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
When U2 released Zooropa, its eighth studio album and my #9 album of 1993, the band was coming off a run of blockbuster albums that sold 10+ million units apiece. The Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby had cemented the Irish rockers as the world’s biggest band.
So this album’s left turn in the direction of electronic dance music was unexpected and risky. But it paid off, both creatively and commercially. Zooropa didn’t sell as well as its predecessors, but it did move 7 million copies and it won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.