“Levitate” was a song developed for 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind.
In 2003, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio opened a U2 exhibit, with multiple floors focused on U2. As part of that exhibit there was a notebook of song titles that were identified as having belonged to the recording sessions for All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The list for this album was long, containing 53 different titles. A few of these songs were eventually released such as “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” (here it was marked the DooWop Version), “Miracle Drug”, “Grace” (listed here as the TV mix), “A Man and a Woman” (A note says that Bono and Brian call this “Boomerang 3”), “Love and Peace”, “Stuck” (a note says to work on the song with three different vocal approaches), and “Always” (with the “With or Without You” vocal approach). In the notes beside each song are clues to what the song was, or what work was left on the song.
“Levitate” was one of these songs. Beside the title is the notation ($1M Movie Mix) which suggests this was one of the songs being worked on for the Million Dollar Hotel Soundtrack.
In 2006, when U2 published the book U2 by U2, the book provided a glimpse into some working titles and demo tracks. One of the images shown was from a white board developed during the recording sessions for All That You Can’t Leave Behind. On that white board we see a number of tracks listed including, “Love Is…Perfecto,” “Jubilee” and directly below it “Stir My Soul,” “Good Morning,” “Levitate,” and “Sometimes.” A final song is wiped out from the board but it can be determined that it said “Love Will…”
“Levitate” was eventually released in 2004 as a set of demo recordings included with The Complete U2, a digital ‘box set’ released at the same time as the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. In that set “Levitate” is listed as being from the sessions for All That You Can’t Leave Behind. In a digital liner note The Edge speaks about some of the demo tracks:
Every U2 recording session produces its share of unfinished ideas. Some like ‘Smile’, from the sessions for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, just arrive too late. Others like ‘Love You Like Mad’, from the sessions for All That You Can’t Leave Behind, get lost in the crush. There are songs like ‘Beautiful Ghost’, from The Joshua Tree demo sessions, and ‘Flower Child’ from the All That You Can’t Leave Behind sessions that are waiting for a rewrite before they can be finished. Songs like “Levitate’ from the All That You Can’t Leave Behind sessions which just don’t fit in. Wherever they come from, these ideas are often the most revealing of their time, because they are the least worked on songs and recordings. For this reason, they are often some of my favorites.