U2 – Angel of Harlem

Cold and wet December day…

Thus started the second single from Rattle and Hum. This one is again, like Desire, a return to keeping it simple – the fancy brass section apart.

Released, appropriately enough, in December (1988) Angel of Harlem is an homage to Billie Holiday and also to, well… Harlem and New York.

Penned during the Joshua Tree tour of 1987, Bono recalls the group’s first visit to New York in the late 70s / early 80s. A ride in a limousine – a guilty pleasure for the erstwhile punk rockers – and a tour of the city with a Billie Holiday soundtrack on the radio.

The whole Rattle and Hum thing is an extended homage to American roots music / a bloated, self indulgent mess*, but I liked it. It didn’t go down too well with a couple of my new University friends, but heck, if everybody liked everything…? When these same people introduced me to Bob Dylan, I was for a long time underwhelmed by him, even if he did feature on Rattle and Hum. So there you go, homogeneity is so boring!

The single made it to number 9 in the UK singles chart and was backed (on my copy) by A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel. See – another song with another reference to an American great. Other releases were backed by a live version of Love Rescue Me.

* delete as applicable.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.