'Out walking under an atomic sky'

17 Nov 2005
U2 appeared in last night's CBS tribute to Johnny Cash. The band performed 'The Wanderer' a song they originally wrote for Cash and recorded with him for the 1993 album Zooropa.

The star studded "I Walk The Line, a tribute to Johnny Cash" show featured a host of well-known acts but touring commitments meant U2 recorded their contribution at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles a couple of weeks back. If you look carefully at our photos, you'll see Rick Rubin, who produced the acclaimed 'American Recordings' series of albums with Johnny Cash, sitting behind Larry's drum riser throughout the song!

If you've never heard The Wanderer you can hear a clip here. If you'er a subscriber and logged in, you can hear the whole track. Great song!

Incidentally,a little while back Edge spoke at length about the day Cash came to Dublin and recorded The Wanderer with U2.

'I think like so many of our best ideas, 'The Wanderer' happened almost by magic. We were working on the song, Bono got on the mic to sing and he was going, 'I dunno quite how I'm gonna approach this one.' And out of the blue he said, 'Hey, y'know, I think Johnny Cash is in town, maybe we could get him to come and sing on this, with me or instead of me.' I don't know quite what he was trying to put over; at that moment I think we all thought, 'Aw, Bono's just trying to create some sort of distraction from the fact that he really has no idea what he wants to do on the song, this is just one crazy idea too far.'
'But whenever something like that happens I've learned to bite my tongue somewhat, because those crazy ideas often turn out to be the ones that come to pass, and indeed this was one of those. We got on the phone pretty much immediately to try and get through to Johnny, and he said he'd love to come down just to say hello, and, y'know, if it was something he could sing on, great, he'd be up for it.
'So then Bono went in and did a sort of faux Johnny vocal and it was eerie, suddenly this track just clicked into place. And Eno at the time was going, 'That's it! We don't need Johnny, you've done it, this is exactly what we need!' And Bono said, 'No, no, this is just half what this song would be.'
'So anyway, almost against Brian's advice, we had Johnny come down and he sang on the song and it was unbelievable the way it came to life. It got a bit surreal. Everyone completely got into the spirit of what he was doing. He did two vocals, that was it, we didn't even get into, 'Could you try it this way?' it was literally a case of, 'I can't quite believe what's going on!' There was a little element of giddiness in the room.
'After he left and we'd said our goodbyes, everyone just looked at each other and went, 'What just happened?!'


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