"Last Night on Earth" - U2
- "Last Night on Earth" (Single Version) - U2 (04:16)
- "Pop Muzik" (Pop Mart Mix) - U2 (08:51)
- "Happiness is a Warm Gun" (The Gun Mix) - U2 (04:45)
- "Numb" (The Soul Assassins Mix) - U2 (03:57)
- "Last Night on Earth" (First Night in Hell Mix) - U2 (05:52)
- "Happiness is a Warm Gun" (The Danny Saber Mix) - U2 (04:52)
“Last Night on Earth” was the third single released from the album Pop. It was issued in July, 1997, just as The PopMart Tour was beginning to find its stride. The single was released on July 1 in the USA, and a day later in Canada due to a holiday in that country. The release date for the rest of the world was three weeks later, on July 21. The single sleeve featured a photo of the Edge, treated and distorted to evoke Edvard Munch’s famous painting, “The Scream.” Two versions of the single were released in most countries, one with an orange and red color scheme, and the other with green and blue.
Unlike previous single “Staring at the Sun,” which was released in its album version, “Last Night on Earth” was re-recorded for single release. The song had first taken shape during the sessions for Zooropa, but was left incomplete at the time. It was brought back during the Pop recording sessions, and was one of the last songs the band worked on. However, with the deadline for finishing the album looming and The PopMart Tour already booked, U2 rushed to finish it. They were not happy with the end result, including the roughness of Bono’s voice. Once The PopMart Tour was underway, they booked time at Signature Sound Studio in San Diego during the last week of April, 1997, and re-recorded the track during sessions both before and after the tour stop in that city. During those same sessions, the band also oversaw mixing of the track “I’m Not Your Baby,” a collaboration with Sinéad O’Connor for the Wim Wenders film The End of Violence. “Last Night on Earth” was the first of three Pop songs re-recorded for single release, the other two being “Please” and “If God Will Send His Angels,” which were re-recorded at a later session.
Both the single and album versions featured a sample from the song “Trayra Boia” by the group Codona (Don Cherry, Nana Vasconcelos, Collin Walcott), from their 1982 album Codona 3. The original piece has minimal instrumentation and is comprised primarily of layers of conversational voices, including a falsetto.
Two-track cassette and CD formats of the single included “Last Night on Earth (Single Version)” as the A-side and “Pop Muzik (Pop Mart Mix)” as the B-side. “Pop Muzik” was originally recorded in 1979 by the group M. A remix of that track, by Steve Osborne, was being played as U2 took the stage each night on The PopMart tour. The version released on this single was mixed by Steve Osborne, with the addition of newly recorded vocals by Bono. Maxi-CD formats of the single added several additional remixes, including “Last Night on Earth (First Night in Hell Mix),” an instrumental version that sounds nothing like the original song. Also included was a remix of “Numb” by the Soul Assassins, which had previously been available on the 1995 fan club-only CD, Melon. Two mixes of a recording of the Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun” were also released on various formats of this single. The song was recorded by the band for use on the soundtrack of the ABC television program Gun, which was canceled after only six episodes in April and May of 1997. The show was produced by Robert Altman, who had previously used U2’s music in his movies Short Cuts and Prêt-à-Porter.
A video for “Last Night on Earth,” directed by Ritchie Smyth and produced by Cathy Haberstock, was filmed in Kansas City, Missouri on May 20 and 21, 1997. The video shoot shut down Interstate 670 and sections of Interstate 36, as well as other areas of Kansas City. The clip depicted an apocalyptic future filled with abandoned cars and people walking around like zombies with slime dripping from their hands. The camera notes a truck full of lemons that has been overturned, spilling the contents all over the street. U2 arrive in town in a retro car, picking up a young girl on the way. They eventually assist the military in identifying the source of a mysterious glowing light—only to discover that the source is William S. Burroughs himself! The young girl is played by Sophie Dahl, a model and author, and also granddaughter of writer Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal.
“Last Night on Earth” was played live at all 93 shows on The PopMart Tour, but has not been played since. The pre-recorded Steve Osborne remix of “Pop Muzik” was played over the PA each night on that same tour as the band took the stage. (It would reappear twice during The Vertigo Tour, at shows in Toronto and Chicago, where it was played over the PA before the band took the stage to play “Discothèque” during the encores.) A live recording of “Last Night on Earth” from December 3, 1997 in Mexico City was released on some versions of the “Beautiful Day” and “Elevation” singles, as well as on the PopMart: Live from Mexico City video release.
“Last Night on Earth” did not appear on The Best of 1990-2000 compilation, but the b-sides disc of that release did include “Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Gun Mix),” while “Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Danny Saber Mix)” would reappear on the Artificial Horizon fan club release and “Numb (The Soul Assassins Mix)” would turn up again on the super deluxe reissue of Achtung Baby. The video for “Last Night on Earth” was included as a bonus track on The Best of 1990-2000 video release, with optional DVD commentary by Ritchie Smyth.
Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk, New York. Post-Production and Supervision by Cheryl Engels, Partial Productions Inc.
Last Night on Earth (Single Version):
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono & The Edge. Produced by Flood. Engineered by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. Assisted by Rob Kirwan. Mixed by Rob Kirwan and Howie B. Assisted by Michael Harris. Decks: Howie B. Additional vocal production: Steve Osborne. Contains excerpts from “Trayra Boia” written by N. Vasconcelos and D. Milan. Performed by Colin Walcott, Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell.
Pop Muzik (Popmart Mix):
Words and music by Robin Scott. Vocal by Bono. Mixed by Steve Osborne. Mix engineer and additional programming: Ben Hiller. Additional vocal production: Howie B.
Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Gun Mix):
Words and music by John Lennon & Paul McCartney. Performed by U2. Produced by Flood. Engineered by Rob Kirwan. Mixed by Rob Kirwan, Flood and Howie B. Remixed by Joe Chicarelli and John X.
Numb (The Soul Assassins Mix):
Music by U2. Lyrics by the Edge. Produced by Flood, Brian Eno, and the Edge. Engineered by Flood and Robbie Adams. Assisted by Willie Mannion and Rob Kirwan. Originally recorded with Daniel Lanois. Backing vocals: Bono and Larry Mullen. Additional synthesizers: Brian Eno. Remixed by the Soul Assassins.
Last Night on Earth (First Night in Hell Mix):
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono and the Edge. Produced by Flood. Engineered by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. Assisted by Rob Kirwan. Mixed by Rob Kirwan and Howie B. Assisted by Michael Harris. Additional vocal production: Steve Osborne. Decks: Howie B. Additional production and remix by Jon Carter. Contains excerpts from “Trayra Boia” written by N. Vasconcelos and D. Milan. Performed by Colin Walcott, Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell.
Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Danny Saber Mix):
Words and music by John Lennon & Paul McCartney. Performed by U2. Produced by Flood. Engineered by Rob Kirwan. Mixed by Rob Kirwan, Flood and Howie B. Remixed by Danny Saber. Discipline and perversion by John X. Mixed by Tom Lord-Alge.
Photography by Rankin. Design an, contributoresd computer treatments by ABA Dublin. Reproduced by Sonicon, London.
Related Promotional Videos
- Last Night on Earth (Version 1 - No Subtitles by Richie Smyth and John Bland) (04:24)
- Last Night on Earth (Version 1 - With Subtitles by Richie Smyth and John Bland) (04:24)
- Last Night on Earth (First Night in Hell Mix by John Bland) (05:52)
- 2022-08-09 Singles Refresh Part Two (Original Story)
- 1997-07-06 Last Night on Earth Video Premiere (U2News)
- 1997-05-22 U2 Gridlocks Kansas City (E Online)
- 1997-05-21 Discord Accompanies Filming of Rock Video in KC’s Downtown (The Kansas City Star)
- 1997-05-20 Filming of Music Video will Shut Down I-670 Downtown for Several Hours Tuesday (The Kansas City Start)
- 1997-05-09 U2 Holds Marathon Recording Session Here (by George Varga, San Diego Union Tribune)