"The Hands that Built America" - U2

Promotional Release

Track Listing:

Background Information

In January 2003, there were plans to release “The Hands that Built America” as a commercial single. Plans for a worldwide single were cancelled, but in Germany the single was postponed to April 14, 2003, and the release got to the point that a cover and a track listing were released to Amazon in Germany. The single was supposed to feature the version of “The Hands that Built America” from “The Best of 1990 – 2000”, a new mix of “The Playboy Mansion” titled the “2003 Mix”, and “That’s Life”, a track that Bono had recorded for 2003’s soundtrack to “The Good Thief”. The single was announced to be a multimedia release, and was to include a video of “The Hands that Built America” which would feature footage from “The Gangs of New York”. The German single was eventually cancelled as well.

Although the single was cancelled a number of promotional releases were sent to radio promoting the single. Singles were pressed for the UK, Spain, Japan, and Mexico. In Spain, UK, and Mexico these were released in a card sleeve with an image from the “Gangs of New York” movie poster for a cover. Each contained only one track “The Hands that Built America” taken from “The Best of 1990 – 2000” album. In Japan the promotional single released contained the same song, however, it came in a slimline jewel case and had a unique insert.

There were also a couple of CDR promotional releases in the UK. These came in a plain plastic wallet with just a title card for information. One dated January 8, 2003 contained the mix from “The Best of 1990 – 2000”. Two promos, one dated January 23, 2003 and the other dated January 29, 2003 both contained a slightly different mix of the title track, labeled as “The Edit + 2.5 Varispeed”. All of these were CDR releases by Island in the UK. Varispeed refers to a type of pitch control, which changes the speed at which the track will play. This version of the song is an edit of the version featured on “The Best of 1990 – 2000” but is also sped up slightly, and is in a higher key than the regular version. The keyboards at the beginning are edited out, and the track fades earlier than the album version.

“The Hands that Built America” was also submitted for Oscar and Golden Globes contention. The promotional items submitted to voters of these awards have been given their own separate discography entry as they make use of the soundtrack version of the song.

Liner Notes

The Hands that Built America:
Produced by William Orbit. Engineered by Carl Glanville. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Mixed by William Orbit at the Leonard Hotel, London. Additional keyboards by William Orbit. Pro-Tools engineering by Iain Roberton, Jake Davies and Rico Conning. String arrangement by The Edge. String conductor: Daragh O’Toole. Strings by Katie O’Connor, Rosie Nic Athlaioch, Emer O’Grady, Una O’Kane.

Recognition and Awards

  • Voted Best Song (Las Vegas Film Critics Society)
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture (2003)
  • Nominated for Academy Award, Best Original Song (2003) (Did not win)

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Catalog of Releases