"Window in the Skies" - U2

Single

Track Listing:

Also Released on DVD Single:

  • The Saints Are Coming (Video) (3:21)
  • Tower of Song (Video) (6:01)

Background Information

“Window in the Skies” was one of two new songs included on the U218 Singles album, and was the second single released to promote that collection. It was recorded with producer Rick Rubin specifically for the album. The single was released on January 1, 2007 in the UK. Due to the observance of the New Year holiday in many regions, there were delays in the release elsewhere. In Australia, the release date was January 15, with a Canadian release on January 16 and a Japanese release on February 7. In Canada, the single debuted on the sales chart at number 3, only to climb to number 1 the following week. The song that held the top spot during the week “Window in the Skies” was released was none other than the previous single from U218 Singles, “The Saints are Coming” by Green Day and U2.

After the release of “The Saints are Coming” as a standalone two-track CD, “Window in the Skies” returned to the more common release pattern of two CD formats and a DVD, which U2 had been using since 2001 in most regions. The two-track CD version included “Window in the Skies” in a subtly remixed single version that differed slightly from that found on the album, although it was not labeled as a remix. The second song was a performance of the Leonard Cohen song “Tower of Song,” recorded by Cohen himself, along with U2, for the feature film Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man in May of 2005. The film had premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September of 2005, and a soundtrack album, including this same track, was released in July of 2006. The three-track CD included the same single version of “Window in the Skies” along with two live tracks recorded during 2006 dates of The Vertigo Tour. “Kite” was recorded at Telstra Stadium in Sydney, Australia on November 11, 2006, and “Zoo Station” was recorded at River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina in March of that same year.

The DVD single included an audio-only track featuring the single version of “Window in the Skies,” along with two videos: the Chris Milk-directed clip for “The Saints are Coming” with U2 and Green Day, and a video of U2 performing “Tower of Song” with Leonard Cohen, taken from the film Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. The promotional video for “Window in the Skies” was not completed in time for inclusion on the DVD single.

Two different videos for “Window in the Skies” have been identified, the first of which exists in two versions. Directed by Gary Koepke, the first video is a montage of 137 performance clips of musicians from the previous century. Each clip is selected and edited so that the lip movements of the singers and the finger movements of the musicians closely match the lyrics and music of “Window in the Skies.” Included are Elvis Presley, Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Morrissey, Elvis Costello, Keith Richards, Vladimir Horowitz, Keith Moon, Kanye West, Arcade Fire, and many others. Interspersed with this footage are shots of a crowd at a “concert,” which were filmed at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, Australia. If you look closely you can spot the members of U2 among the screaming fans. The original version of the video debuted on November 20, 2006. Approval for the use of performance footage of the Beatles came in too late for inclusion in the initial release of the video. However, once the permission was finally granted, a second edit of the video was made, including the Beatles among the cast of musicians performing the song. The updated cut was released in February 2007.

The second video was directed by Jonas Odell and released in December of 2006. It opens with a static shot of Dublin’s hydroelectric towers, and then zooms in on a wall of photos and memorabilia from U2. Old photos from throughout the band’s career, including a house among a field of Joshua trees, are cut together to appear three-dimensional. This video, as well as both versions of the Koepke video, were finished too late for inclusion on the U218 Videos DVD, and have not appeared on any other release to date. However, the Odell video was made available for purchase as an iTunes download.

“Window in the Skies” has only been performed live five times: once for a TV appearance in Japan, at all three concerts in Saitama, Japan on The Vertigo Tour, and at the final concert of the tour in Honolulu, Hawaii. None of these live performances have been released commercially. The studio version of the song has not been collected on any other compilation beyond U218 Singles.

As part of the promotion for this single, a cardboard wallet was made available by mail to residents of the UK who had previously registered online. These were sent out by Island Records UK and were not available in other regions. Shipped flat, they could be folded into a box which would hold the two CDs and the DVD released in the UK. The front and back of the wallet both feature artwork similar to that found on the singles.

Liner Notes

Window in the Skies (Single Version):
Produced by Rick Rubin. Engineered by Greg Fidelman. Mixed by Chris Lord-Alge. Assisted by Keith Armstrong. Mixed at Resonate Music Studios, Burbank, CA. String Arrangement by Dawn Kenny. Keyboards by Terry Lawless.

Zoo Station (Live from River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires):
Produced and mixed by Richard Rainey. Additional engineering by Drew Griffiths. Recorded at River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 2006.

Kite (Live from Telstra Stadium, Sydney):
Recorded by Robbie Adams. Mixed by Carl Glanville. Didgeridoo player: Tim Moriarty. Recorded at Telstra Stadium, Sydney, Australia, 11th November, 2006.

The Saints are Coming (Video):
Directed by Chris Milk. Produced by Barbara Benson for @Radical Media. Performed by U2 and Green Day. Written by Richard Jobson and Stuart Adamson. Audio produced by Rick Rubin. Recorded by Greg Fidelman. Mixed by Chris Lord-Alge. Wurlitzer by Terry Lawless.

Tower of Song (From the Film ‘Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man’) (Video):
Performed by U2 and Leonard Cohen. Written by Leonard Cohen. Produced by The Edge and Lian Lunson. Recorded and mixed by Robbie Adams. A clip taken from the feature film “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man”, a film by Lian Lunson. Provided through the courtesy of Lions Gate Films.

Audio Post Production: Cheryl Engels at Partial Productions Inc. Mastering: Arnie Acosta at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood.

Artwork

Designed by Four5One Creative, Dublin.

Recognition and Awards

  • Nominated, Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group (Grammy Awards, 2008)
  • #2 Irish Single, 2006 Awards (Hot Press, January 2007)
  • #1 Music Video, 2006 Awards (Hot Press, January 2007)

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