"Ordinary Love" - U2


Track Listing:

Track Listing (Digital Streaming):

Background Information

“Ordinary Love”, U2’s song appearing in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was announced on October 17, 2013. A short snippet of the song could be heard in the trailer the same day, made available to subscribers of U2.com shortly before it debuted on Yahoo movies. The song was the first song released from U2’s ongoing collaborations with producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) who had been working with U2 on their album Songs of Innocence since 2010. Backing vocals on the song are by Angel Deradoorian, most well known for her work with Dirty Projectors.

A 10-inch single was announced on October 29, 2013, that would be released as part of Record Store Day’s “Back to Black Friday” event. It was U2’s second time participating in a Record Store Event, having previously released “Wide Awake in Europe” during the 2010 Black Friday event. “Ordinary Love” was a 10,000 copy black vinyl release, and 6,500 copies were distributed in North America with the other 3,500 copies sold outside of North America. The release date in North America was November 29, 2013, the day known as Black Friday in the USA. In Europe, the release was a few days later on December 2, 2013. Included with the vinyl with purchase was a download card, which allowed users to download both tracks that appeared on the vinyl, an offer which was valid until November 29, 2014. The 10-Inch single is backed with “Breathe (Mandela Version)” an unreleased version of the song from 2009’s No Line on the Horizon album. The song was re-recorded in New York’s Electric Lady Studios. The cover of the 10-Inch is a portrait of Nelson Mandela painted by Irish artist and illustrator Oliver Jeffers and photographed by Mac Premo.

On December 14, 2013, U2.Com notified subscribers that a new version of the song, produced by Paul Epworth, was being made available via the streaming service Soundcloud. Epworth, most widely known for his work with Adele, had previously worked with U2 under the moniker Phones, when he remixed “City of Blinding Lights” (Phones P.D.A. in NYC Mix). The full length Epworth mix of the song was shared via Soundcloud, and remains there as of 2022. (https://soundcloud.com/u2/ordinary-love-paul-epworth-version) Instead of the cover, featuring Nelson Mandela, the Soundcloud release was accompanied with a still from the lyric video. (See below) The audio file was meant to be streamed, and was not available for download. It streamed at a quality of 128kbps.

The email accompanying the Epworth mix being streamed shared, “Bono was in South Africa this week to join those paying tribute to Nelson Mandela at Tuesday’s memorial service. ‘In Ireland,’ he says, ‘A wake is never without humour but it’s fair to say we lean heavily on the melancholy… one thing I love about Africa is they accompany the departed with dancing, lots of it, and music full of joy.’ On Thursday, ‘Ordinary Love’, the song the band wrote for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and today the band wanted to share Paul Epworth’s new version. ‘We think Paul Epworth’s mix is a very soulful, uplifting one and we hope our audience will agree,’ says Bono. ‘Nelson Mandela’s life and times meant more to me than I can ever tell you, I would need a hundred songs to do that… but this complicated little love song to Winnie and South Africa is the one that landed on our lap. I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for believing in us and the film. This is truly a great honour.’”

Two videos for the song were made available, both by Oliver Jeffers and Mac Premo who are responsible for the Mandela cover on the single. The first was a lyric video that premiered on U2.com, Facebook and Vevo on November 21, 2013, and features animated lyrics to the song and a brief appearance by Bono. The first video was set to the studio version of the song. The second video uses the Paul Epworth mix of the song and debuted on December 29, 2013. This new video, unlike the original, featured actual footage of U2 in the directors studio, cut with previous footage from the lyric video. The video was made available initially to subscribers of u2.com.

“Ordinary Love” was also available on the soundtrack of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. (Pre-orders of the soundtrack started December 2, 2013, and came with the U2 song when purchased, ahead of the full soundtrack.) The song was advertised on the posters for the film. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 2014 Academy Awards, and the 2014 Golden Globe Awards. The song won “Best Original Song” during the Golden Globe Awards, where Bono revealed that Chris Martin from Coldplay had helped U2 with the song in studio during his thank you speech. U2 performed “Ordinary Love” live at the Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, but they did not win the Oscar for the song. Instead “Let it Go” from Frozen took home the award. A number of promotional releases were done to promote the song to Awards voters.

“Ordinary Love” was performed on the debut of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The song was also performed during The Innocence and Experience tour 11 times, or roughly 14% of the concerts on that tour. Since that time the song has been played twice, with The Edge performing a version of it in April 2016 at the Sistine Chapel, and the band performing it at Globo Studios in Sao Paulo Brazil in 2017. And although recorded in the lead up to Songs of Innocence, the song never appeared on any version of that album, but a remixed version appeared on deluxe versions of the following album Songs of Experience. Also in 2017, U2 toyed with using the song on The Joshua Tree Tour 2017, and made a backing track from the song available through U2.com for subscribers to record their own vocal track. In the end the song was not used.

Liner Notes

Ordinary Love:
Music by U2 & Brian Burton. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Danger Mouse. Additional production by Declan Gaffney. Mixed by Tom Elmhirst and Danger Mouse. Assisted by Ben Baptie. Recorded by Declan Gaffney. Assisted by “Classy” Joe Visciano. Additional recording by Grant Ransom, Ben Baptie and Barry Gorey. Wurlitzer and Synth by Barry Gorey. Additional Synths and Piano by Declan Gaffney and Brian Burton. Backing vocals by The Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. Additional backing vocals by Angel Deradoorian. Mixed at Electric Lady Studios, New York

Breathe (Mandela Version)
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono. Backing vocals by The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton. Produced by Declan Gaffney. Assitant engineer: “Classy” Joe Visciano. Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York.

Mastered by Scott Sedillo and Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. Audio Post Production by Cheryl Engels at Partial Productions.


Design by Shaugh McGrath at AMP Visual. Art by Oliver Jeffers. Photography by Mac Premo.

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