"Every Breaking Wave" (2008)
“Every Breaking Wave” was a song originally worked on during the sessions to record No Line on the Horizon, and was eventually held back from that album for the album called Songs of Ascent. Eventually Songs of Innocence came next and “Every Breaking Wave” was the second single from that album.
“Every Breaking Wave” was first mentioned in a December 2008 preview of the album published in Q Magazine. In that article Bono says “We might be on to something special there” in regards to this new song.
In the article “U2: Hymns for the Future“ by Brian Hiatt in Rolling Stone Magazine, the band provides some insight into the album No Line on the Horizon, as well as song songs that will be used for the next album:
That idea will come to the forefront on U2’s next album — a sister release to No Line on the Horizon, Zooropa to its Achtung Baby, which the band plans to put out in the next year. Bono already knows the title — Songs of Ascent — and the first single, a surging anthem called “Every Breaking Wave” that was left off No Line at the last minute. Songs of Ascent will be quieter than No Line; in many ways, it’s that ghost album of hymns and Sufi singing. “We’re making a kind of heartbreaker, a meditative, reflective piece of work, but not indulgent,” Bono says. “It will all have a clear mood, like Kind of Blue. Or A Love Supreme would be a point of reference, for the space it occupies in people’s lives, which is to say, with that album, I almost take my shoes off to listen to it.”
During the 2010 leg of the U2360 tour, U2 introduced a number of new songs to the set throughout the leg. “Glastonbury,” “North Star,” and “Return of the Stingray Guitar” were all introduced for the first time on August 6, at the opening show of the tour in Turin, Italy. (“Glastonbury” had been soundchecked August 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (five times!), “North Star” had been soundchecked on August 2, 5 (twice), and “The Return of the Stingray Guitar” was soundchecked on August 4 and 5.) Another song debuting was “Every Breaking Wave” on August 21, 2010 at Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland. “Mercy” made it’s tour debut on September 12, 2010 in Zurich, Switzerland at Letzigrund Stadion. And on October 3, 2010, U2 debuted “Boy Falls From the Sky” at Estadio Cidade de Coimbra in Coimbra, Portugal. “Every Breaking Wave” was played three times on the U2360 tour, making its debut on August 21 in Helsinki, and last being played on September 11, 2010 in Zurich.
In a May 2011 interview in Hot Press magazine with writer Olaf Tyaransen, conducted in early May, Bono revealed some information about a few of the new songs that the band has been working on:
No, actually we’ve got a few going (laughs). We have Songs of Ascent, which is a kind of ecstatic album, ambient, very beautiful songs. But it’s a real stained-glass window of a record, elegiac, I think you could describe some of the songs, beautiful. There’s one song called “Mount Zion,” that’s beautiful. There’s a song called “Soon”, there’s a song called “Every Breaking Wave”. Then there’s — we went in to make some club music with RedOne and we got some very extraordinary club sounding stuff, one called “I’ll Believe Her When She Sings”. Let me think if I can remember all of them now … “North Star”, that’s a ballad actually, that’s a beautiful song: we’ve actually played it acoustically onstage a little bit on the tour. And then we, the sort of rock album — although I think “rock” is the wrong word for it — the next sort of “regular U2 band” album, we started to make with Danger Mouse.
The song was eventually released on the album Songs of Innocence and was the second single released to radio from that album.