My Top 1000 Songs #653: I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.] 

Being a U2 agnostic can be tough. I don't hold them in the reverence that their legion of diehard fans do; but I don't have the backlash-fueled disdain of their antagonists. They're... fine. Some truly great songs that I almost never play, and a lot of music over the past 20 years that I'm sure I'd like ok if I put the time in, which I mostly haven't. That ambivalence is particularly acute around 1987's Joshua Tree. On the one hand, listening to it objectively (if one can), it's undeniably great, particularly side one of the original vinyl, just a stunning run of songs... but, on the other, the album was so omnipresent at the time (spring of my junior year of college, when I was fully subsumed in far cooler college radio and had a knee-jerk opposition to whatever was popular) that I'm just kinda viscerally turned off.

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" sums up that feeling well. It's a beautiful, majestic, powerful piece of music, stirring and aesthetically rich... but I just wish I could hear it with fresh ears free from the baggage. When I manage that, I never find it less than fantastic. Other times, it's too tough to entangle it from Bono's grating grandiosity.

Of course, the real reason to include the song here is as an excuse to cue up Negativland's sort-of cover. On their 1991 U2 EP, the experimental sound collage group came up with a delirious mash-up, the "Still Haven't Found" music looped in the background coupled with found sounds & dialog, most notably a stolen tape of American Top 40's Casey Kasem going on a profane rant, yelling at his producers about having to introduce the members of U2--"This is bullshit. Nobody cares. These guys are from England and who gives a shit?"--while rolling into a long-distance dedication to a dead dog named Snuggles. The EP was promptly pulled for copyright infringement, lost to legend for many years, ultimately revived through the wonders of the internet.

The U2 original:

Negativland's version from 1991 (one of several edits):
Live 1997: