"If God Will Send His Angels" - U2


Track Listing:

Added to 2024 Remaster:

Background Information

“If God Will Send His Angels” was the fifth single released from the album Pop. It was issued concurrently with “Mofo Remixes” as a single worldwide. It was released on December 8 in Europe and the UK, and December 9 in Canada. Some countries in Europe reported releases prior to the official street date, with copies appearing December 2 in Spain and as early as November 24 in Denmark. In the USA there were legal issues with the cover artwork, specifically the use of sleeve designer Run Wrake’s “heart with wings” motif. These arose only after some copies of the single had been pressed for sale. The record label recalled them, but not before a limited number found their way out “into the wild.” Often, the bar code on these mistakenly-released singles is covered so as not to be “scanned”—thus allowing them to be tracked. The end result of this legal snafu was that the official release of “If God Will Send His Angels” was delayed for months in the USA. The single finally hit stores (ironically, with the original Run Wrake sleeve still intact) on April 7, 1998, amidst promotion for the City of Angels movie.

“If God Will Send His Angels” was perhaps a strange choice for a single, as by the time it was released, the song had long since been dropped from U2’s set on The PopMart Tour. Some have speculated that the lyrical references to “Father Christmas” and “Christmas trees” may have motivated the band to release this song as a Christmas single. Another theory is that it was selected as a single because of plans to included it in the City of Angels movie in April of the following year. Like the previous two singles, “Please” and “Last Night on Earth,” “If God Will Send His Angels” was re-recorded and released in a “single version” that differed substantially from that found on the Pop album. This single version arranges the choruses in a different order and replaces the scat singing at the end of the original track with actual lyrics.

Two-track cassette and CD formats included “If God Will Send His Angels (Single Version)” as the A-side and “Mofo (Romin Remix),” by Irish DJs Leo Pearson and Johnny Moy, as the Bb-side. Other CD formats eliminated the “Mofo” remix (although it would appear on the separate “Mofo Remixes” single) in favor of three additional songs. One of them, “Slow Dancing,” was a song that Bono had written for Willie Nelson in 1989. It was initially released, in a sparse, acoustic version without any input from Nelson himself, as a B-side in 1993 on the “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” single. In 1997, U2 finally had the opportunity to record the song with Willie Nelson and harmonica player Micheal “Mickey” Raphael, who has been playing with Nelson since the early 70s. “Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad” was written by Bono for Frank Sinatra in 1992. Sinatra never had an opportunity to record the song before his death, although his daughter later recorded a version for her 2004 album Nancy Sinatra. The third track was a live recording of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” taken from the PopMart concert held in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina on September 23, 1997. On that night, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” in a quiet acoustic version featuring only The Edge on vocals and guitar, was performed in place of the comedic karaoke segment that The Edge had been performing on previous tour stops. This solo version was performed possibly in tribute to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina and all they had suffered during the Balkans conflict, but also to help relieve Bono, whose vocal cords were extremely ragged during the Sarajevo show, to the point that he asked either The Edge or the audience to help cover for him at several points during the concert. As the tour continued, this Edge-only version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” would replace the karaoke moment.

The video for “If God Will Send His Angels” was directed by Phil Joanou, who had previously collaborated with U2 as director of the Rattle and Hum film and a version of the video for “One.” It was shot in a diner in Detroit—the now defunct Hi-Liter in Highland Park—beginning around 7:30am on November 1, 1997 and ending at 5am the next morning. It depicts Bono sitting at a table singing the song while various people come in and out of the diner, some sitting beside him, throughout the course of a day. Bono was filmed at a low frame-rate per second, and the footage was later sped up. As a result, those characters moving at a regular speed appear much faster in the final video. An alternate version of the clip was released in March 1998 to promote the movie City of Angels, interspersing scenes from the film with Joanou’s original footage.

As mentioned previously, “If God Will Send His Angels” did not fare well in U2’s live performances. It appeared in only 23 out of 35 shows on the first leg of The PopMart Tour, and has not been performed again since that time. In fact, it was performed by the full band only once—during the opening PopMart show in Las Vegas—and then acoustically by Bono and the Edge for the remainder of its appearances. The single version of “If God Will Send His Angels” was included on the multi-artist soundtrack album for City of Angels, while a remix, called “The Grand Jury Mix,” originally found on the “Mofo Remixes” single, did feature on The Best of 1990-2000 2-disc collection and the Artificial Horizon remix album. The original Joanou video (sans City of Angels clips) was included as a bonus selection on The Best of 1990-2000 DVD, with an optional commentary track by Joanou himself.

On May 31, 2024, a new digital release of the “If God Will Send His Angels” single was released. The tracks included are listed as 2024 remasters. The single was released at CD-quality and lesser qualities, as well as a high resolution release at 44.1kHz/24-bit. This new release adds The Grand Jury Mix of the title track to the commercial single for the first time, in the past it was released commercially as part of the “Mofo” single. For more information on the set of releases this was part of, To Love and Only Love we have a separate entry in our discography.

Liner Notes

If God Will Send His Angels (Single Version):
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono and the Edge. Produced by Flood, Howie B and Steve Osborne. Recorded by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent and Howie B. Assisted by Rob Kirwan and Conal Markey. Mixed by Howie B., Steve Osborne and Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. Assisted by Conal Markey and Ben Hillier.

Slow Dancing:
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono and the Edge. Featuring Willie Nelson. Mickey Raphael on Harmonica. Produced by Flood. Recorded by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. Engineered by Rob Kirwan. Mixing and chorus vocals: Brian Eno.

Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad:
Music by Bono and the Edge. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Nellee Hooper. Recorded and mixed by Mark ‘Spike’ Stetn. Programming and keyboards by Marius de Vries. String arrangement by Craig Armstrong.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (Live):
Music and lyrics by U2. Performed by the Edge. Recorded live at Kosevo Stadium, Sarajevo on September 23rd, 1997. Producer: Chris Lycett. Production co-ordinator: Andy Rogers. Engineered and mixed by Mike Robinson. Sound consultant: Flood.

MOFO (Romin Remix):
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono and the Edge. Additional production by Johnny Moy for Influx productions. Mixed and engineered at Peak Studios by Leo Pearson. Original production by Flood. Recorded by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. Assisted by Rob Kirwan. Mixed by Alan Moulder, Howie B, Steve Osborne, Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. Assisted by Rob Kirwan. Keyboards: Steve Osborne.

Mastered by Arnie Acosta. Post-Production Supervision: Cheryl Engels, Partial Productions Inc.


Front cover illustration by Run Wrake. Design by ABA, Dublin.
Reproduced by Sonicon, London.

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