Video Classics: ‘Mysterious Ways’ – U2

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U2 in 2001

Humble U2 shows off their assorted Grammy Awards in 2001 (Scott Gries, Getty Images)

Before we talk about [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]U2[/lastfm]’s “Mysterious Ways,” we must offer the following observation:

One of the nice things about having attractive young dancers around to perform in your music videos is that sometimes you get to marry them.

When U2 first began performing “Mysterious Ways” in concert, they would often do an extended version that featured a piano intro from the Edge, falsetto lyrics from Bono, and belly dancers on stage to accompany the extra music. One of those dancers, Morleigh Steinberg, ultimately married the Edge.

The song has been played on every U2 tour since it debuted, perhaps because the band is hoping someone else will get lucky romantically off of it.

“Mysterious Ways” was released in 1991 as the eighth track of U2’s album Achtung Baby. It went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s fourth-highest-charting track ever.

As far as ‘moving in mysterious ways’ goes, the song may refer to a woman, but U2 itself did a little bit of ‘mysterious’ maneuvering of its own in order to mint a successful album in Achtung Baby. The band’s prior LP, Rattle and Hum, had been generally poorly received, and so they sought to come up with a new direction and a new sound. To do so, they went to spend time in Germany on the eve of German unification, looking for inspiration. None would come, however, and the frustrated bandmates started to engage in infighting. Ironically, it wasn’t until they went back home to the familiar surroundings of Ireland that they were able to come up with something new.

Despite all this, Achtung Baby was a success, and songs like “Mysterious Ways” kept U2 going through a time when they were looking to adapt or fade away. They adapted, and are still here.

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