"American Prayer" - Stewart, Dave

Digital Single

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Background Information

Dave Stewart (aka David A Stewart) is well known as a musician (Eurythmics, The Spiritual Cowboys, Shakespears Sister), producer, and songwriter. Instead of putting together a “Best of” he chose rather to put together a collection of songs in which he was involved in writing, all performed by his current band.

The song “American Prayer” had been written by Bono and Dave Stewart, and is included here on this compilation. Stewart describes the song in the booklet: “It’s impossible to explain the writing of American Prayer with Bono in a short paragraph, so to give you a hint: we wrote it in Dublin, Los Angeles, Miami, London, New York and Cape Town. During the process we had many versions and worked with Timbaland, Dr. Dre, The Neptunes; with Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Luther Vandross, Youssou N’Dour, Aaron Lewis, and we even filmed Oprah Winfrey singing it! This is not an easy story to tell in a few words.”

The song was initially heard from Bono after it had been written in 2002. The song was first performed during Bono’s Heart of America speaking tour in late 2002. The song was usually sung by Bono solo, with accompaniment by an instrumental track he would cue up on a CD player. The tour was used to bring information about the plight of AIDS in Africa to the American heartland.

The song was also performed in South Africa on November 29, 2003 as part of the “46664” concert. That concert was held for AIDS awareness on World AIDS day in 2003. The song was performed live by Bono and The Edge, as well as Dave Stewart and vocals by Beyonce. The performance was broadcast around the world and would be later released on DVD and CD. The performance from that day can be found on the CD “46664 Part 1: African Prayer”.

Bono also recorded the song with Jennifer Lopez. In March of 2003 she commented in an online chat: “I did a song with Bono and haven’t released it yet,” Lopez said. “We were waiting for the right timing to release it, and haven’t released it yet, so it would be great if that saw the light of day one day.” It is believed that these sessions with J.Lo were those that Dr. Dre was involved in. The single has to this day not been released.

In 2007, Bono participated in the American Idol broadcast called “Idol Gives Back”. Bono taught the song to the final six American Idol contestants that year, and they performed the song live on the broadcast. Reportedly, Dave Stewart was not a fan of that performance, but even he had to admit it had raised significant money. Stewart would take his own crack at the song, and recorded a solo version for this album, “The Dave Stewart Songbook, Volume One”, recording the song with his Rock Fabulous Orchestra. The vocals were performed by Stewart, with Sierra Swan and Amy Keys. The album was released on August 5, 2008. The song also makes use of Martin Luthur Kings Promised Land speech.

This song was released recorded by Dave Stewart on August 12, 2008. A few days later, on August 21, 2008, Dave Stewart posted a video for the song “American Prayer” on youtube. He explains “Earlier this year when I was recording “American Prayer,” a song I originally co-wrote with Bono, the phrase, “When you get to the top of the mountain, remember me” seemed to take on a whole new resonance, given the inspirational candidacy of Barack Obama.” The video was used to craft a celebration of Barack Obama during the election campaign. Forest Whitaker, Joss Stone, Jason Alexander, Whoopie Goldberg, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Joan Baez, and Macy Gray all appear in the black and white video, singing the lyrics of the song, although their voices are not heard.

Perhaps wisely, Bono was not a part of the recording of this version of the song, nor was he a participant in the video which was released. He is only responsible for co-writing the song in this version of the song. It is the only studio version of the song which has been released to date. Wired.com suggested that this version of the song was the worst “Obama song” yet upon its release. The song was released as a standalone single on the iTunes music store, and would be later released as part of “The Dave Stewart Songbook Vol. 1” a collection of songs written by Stewart throughout his career performed here with his current band.

Liner Notes

American Prayer:
Originally performed live by Bono, Dave Stewart, Beyonce, and The Edge. Written by Dave Stewart and Bono. Vocals: Dave Stewart, Sierra Swan, Amy Keys. Guitar: Dave Stewart. MIke Bradford: Musical Director / Bass. Randy Cooke: Drums. Richard Evans: Keyboards. Sierra Swan: Piano. Orchestra arranged and conducted by Mike Bradford. Produced by Dave Stewart, Mike Bradford. Additional production: Ned Douglas.

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