"Life On a Distant Planet" (1979)
“Life on a Distant Planet” was one of U2’s earliest songs, recorded during their third demo session at Eamon Andrews Studios in Dublin. At that session it is believed the band worked on five songs including “Another Time, Another Place,” “The Magic Carpet” also sometimes called “Life on a Distant Planet”, “Twilight,” “Alone in the Light,” and “False Prophet”. A number of these songs have appeared on bootlegs over the years, often with incorrect titles. “Life on a Distant Planet” is known under a number of names including “Judith”, “The Magic Carpet”, “Lost on a Distant Planet” and “No Man’s Land”.
The song “Life on a Distant Planet” is also known as “The Magic Carpet” both from recognized sources. Bono calls the song by the title “The Magic Carpet” when introducing it in concert, most notably in February 1980 when playing it at the National Stadium in Dublin. The Edge refers to the song in U2 by U2 under the title “Life on a Distant Planet.” Bono did have a song by the name “No Man’s Land” in his notes that were stolen in 1981. Other names applied to the song include “Judith” due to the introduction, or “Lost on a Distant Planet”, but neither of these names have been mentioned in an official source that we can locate thus we expect those two names came from bootleg recordings of the song.
We have taken an in depth look at U2’s pre-Island Records demo sessions in two parts. Part One dealt with 1978 – February 1979. Part Two dealt with the latter part of 1979 until early 1980. “The Magic Carpet” is discussed in Part One.
On March 18, 1978, U2 performed in a contest in Limerick, and “Life on a Distant Planet was one of the songs played and the band discussed playing it in U2 by U2:
Edge: I think we played three of our songs. All like three minutes, really simple stuff.
Larry: We did ‘Street Mission’ and a couple of others.
Adam: I think we did ‘Life on a Distant Planet’ and something called ‘The TV Song,’ so named because it sounded a bit like the band Television. It was kind of a melodic, mid-tempo thing whose chief appeal was that we could actually get to the end.
“Life on a Distant Planet” is also mentioned as an old song of U2’s in the article “The Unbelievable Book” by Neil McCormick talking about Eamon Dunphy’s The Unforgettable Fire biography of U2:
No analysis of their early numbers: “Street Mission” — a rock epic of spiritual longing that would end their sets — “Life on a Distant Planet”, “The Fool”, “Cartoon World”, “Speed of Life”, “Concentration Cramp”, “So Sad”, “In Your Hands” — songs in which they first got to grips with their music and Bono defined the two characters that would dominate his early lyrics, The Boy and The Fool (only one of whom ever made it onto vinyl).