"The Saints Are Coming" - U2


Track Listing:

Digital Only:

Background Information

“The Saints are Coming” was a duet with American rock band Green Day, and was one of two new songs included on the release of the compilation U2 18 Singles. The song was the first of two released to promote the compilation. The single was released on Mercury records, and was released after U2 switched from Island to Mercury, before eventually returning a few albums later. The song was one of the few songs released from U2’s work with producer Rick Rubin.

“The Saints are Coming” was originally written and recorded by a Scottish punk band, the Skids. It had featured on their debut album Scared to Dance, released in 1979, and on the earlier EP, “Wide Open.” Stuart Adamson, founder of the Skids, would go on to greater fame with his next band, Big Country. When Adamson died in 2001, the Edge delivered a eulogy at his funeral and told mourners that Big Country had written the songs he wished U2 could write.

In September 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. U2 participated in a number of telethons to raise immediate funds for New Orleans, but The Edge also got involved in a more permanent way, helping to found the Music Rising Campaign, raising funds to help return music to New Orleans. “The Saints are Coming,” with its lyrics about storms and drowning, seemed fitting for a single in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and in September 2006 it was announced that U2 and Green Day had recorded a cover of the song. Proceeds would benefit Music Rising.

Prior to the release of the studio version of the song, U2 and Green Day performed the song at the opening game of the New Orleans Saints football team on September 25, 2006. During that performance, The Edge joined Green Day on stage to perform “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and then all of U2 performed with Green Day to perform “The Saints Are Coming” and then a short performance of “Beautiful Day”. Through the music service Rhapsody, U2 offered a download of the song on the same day of the performance. Initially that day, the download was a live version recorded during rehearsal but once the half time performance aired, this rehearsal version was replaced with a recording from the actual half time show. The rehearsal, taped earlier in the day, was made available on Rhapsody immediately while the half time show was edited and mixed. This allowed users to log in immediately and download a copy of U2 and Green Day performing the song and when the version that had been performed during the football game was ready, it was made available on Rhapsody, and the rehearsal version was immediately removed. Only the Rhapsody service in the USA made these tracks available, they were not released to other online digital services.

The physical single was released on November 6, 2006. The single was released on CD and numbered 7-Inch vinyl in the UK. The B-Side was the performance from the half time show in September. The rehearsal version was not released on this single, nor is it expected that the rehearsal version will be released in any format again, as it was a placeholder until the actual live performance was ready for release.

A music video for “The Saints Are Coming” debuted on YouTube on October 27, 2006. Directed by Chris Milk, the clip depicts U2 and Green Day performing the song at both Abbey Road Studios and at the Louisiana Superdome. Early in the video, news footage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster is interspersed with shots of the two bands performing. The latter part of the video offers a fictional account of what could have happened in the Katrina aftermath, including shots of troops being redeployed from Iraq to help those in New Orleans, military helicopters conducting rescue operations above the Superdome, and bomber jets dropping supplies.

Other than the performance at the Superdome, U2 would perform “The Saints are Coming” a total of 12 times during the final leg of The Vertigo Tour. Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong would appear on stage with U2 to perform the song on the last night of the tour, December 9, 2006, in Honolulu. As of this writing, U2 has not performed the song live since that time. Green Day has not performed the song in its entirety on tour, but Armstrong did sing snippets of it during performances of “Holiday” on Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown Tour in 2010.

A “Studio Edit” of the song, running 2:33, was issued on some promotional singles.

Liner Notes

The Saints are Coming:
U2 and Green Day. Produced by Rick Rubin. Recorded by Greg Fidelman. Mixed by Chris Lord-Alge.

The Saints are Coming (Live from New Orleans):
U2 and Green Day. Recorded using the Westwood 1 Mobile. Mixed by Bob Ezrin. Engineered by Biff Dawes and Chris Dugan. Horns arranged by Bob Ezrin and Rupert Christie. Trumpets: Derrick “Kabuky” Shezbie, Glen Andrews, Gregory Davis, Shannon Haynes. Trombones: Troy “Shorty” Andrews, Stafford Agee, “Big” Sam Williams, Reginald Stuart. Sousaphones: Phillip Frasier. Robert Expino. Executive Producer: Bob Ezrin. Performance courtesy of the NFL.

Audio Post Production: Cheryl Engles at Partial Productions Inc. Mastering: Arnie Acosta at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood. Green Day appear courtesy of Reprise Records. Both tracks written by Richard Jobson and Stuart Adamson and published by EMI Virgin Music Ltd.


Photography by Anton Corbijn. Design by Four5One Creative.

Recognition and Awards

#86 Best Single of Year, Readers Picks (Rolling Stone, 2006)
Nomination, Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group (Grammy Awards, 2007) #6 Best Irish Single, 2006 Awards (Hot Press, January 2007)

Related Promotional Videos

Related News

Catalog of Releases