"The Criminal Under My Own Hat" - Burnett, T-Bone


U2 Related Content:

Full Track Listing:

  • Over You
  • Tear This Building Down
  • It’s Not Too Late
  • Humans from Earth
  • Primitives
  • Criminals
  • Every Little Thing
  • I Can Explain Everything (Version I)
  • Any Time At All
  • I Can Explain Everything (Version II)
  • The Long Time Now
  • Kill Switch

Background Information

Bono worked with T-Bone Burnett on two songs, “Purple Heart” (from 1987’s The Talking Animals) and “Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Her” (from 1984’s Behind the Trap Door) in the 1980s. The two had been introduced in 1984 when Ellen Darst was working at T-Bone Burnett’s manager, and also managing U2’s New York interests at Principle Management.

At the end of the decade in an interview with Propaganda Magazine, he revealed he and Burnett were working on a third song together:

Propaganda: You Wrote a Song with T-Bone a couple of years back. “Having a Wonderful Time Wish You Were Her.”

Bono: I really like that song but I didn’t write very much of it. T-Bone was very generous giving me 50% of the song. I’ve written others with T-Bone like “Purple Heart” on his latest album, I think we’ve started another one. He’s working on his next LP — the one to answer every question ever asked. It’s called “I Can Explain Everything”.

That interview with Propaganda was done at the end of 1988. T-Bone’s album The Criminal Under My Own Hat arrived in the summer of 1992. The song “I Can Explain Everything” appears not once, but twice on the album in two very different versions. The subject matter will be familiar to U2 fans. The song discusses getting politicians and preachers off of the air. It’s an idea that follows through into Zoo TV with Bono’s Mirrorball Man character.

The album itself does not credit Bono on lyrics. It is possible in the end that none of Bono’s input on the song was used. We have also seen in the past that at times U2 have chosen to go uncredited on side projects. But the interview with Propaganda clearly states that he had been working on the song with T-Bone, so we’ve chosen to include it here.

Liner Notes

I Can Explain Everything (Version I):
Written by H. Burnett. Guitar: Marc Ribot. Piano: Van Dyke Parks. Drums: Jim Keltner. Recorded and mixed by Tchad Blake.

I Can Explain Everything (Version II):
Written by H. Burnett. Guitar: Marc Ribot. Bass: Jerry Scheff. Drums: Jim Keltner. Recorded by Tchad Blake. Mixed by Joe Schiff.

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