After the monumental success of The Joshua Tree and its subsequent tour, there was definitely a sense of “Now what?” with U2. The band, perhaps, didn’t know themselves, which made sense why Bono said at a show in Dublin on December 30th, 1989 that, “We just have to go away and dream it all up again.”
That cryptic quote, a foreshadowing of U2’s reinvention, could never have prepared for the band’s about-face in the 90s. A new image. A new sound. Achtung Baby truly was, in yet another quote from Bono, “the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree.”
…And yet, without “One,” the whole album may never have happened.
Music video by U2 performing One - Anton Corbjin Version. (C) 1992 Universal-Island Records Ltd
“One” is credited for being U2’s breakthrough during the recording process for Achtung Baby, with tensions being so high before the song’s birth that the band considered breaking up.
That means we would’ve never met “The Fly” (or “Macphisto” or “Mirrorball Man”) and never known the majesty of ZooTV. (If you never got to see U2 live during the ZooTV tour, pick up the DVD. It’s even better than the real thing.)
U2 didn’t just chop down The Joshua Tree with Achtung Baby; they set it on fire and proceeded to broadcast it to the entire world.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock reporter. The first man she ever loved was Jack Daniels. True story.