Bono writes song for Willie Nelson to Sing

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2018-11-01)

A new song co-written by Bono, “Where the Shadows Fall,” is featured in the feature film Waiting for the Miracle to Come which premiered at the Austin Film Festival this week. The song, co-written by Bono and long-time collaborator Simon Carmody, features in the film, and is sung by Willie Nelson for the film. Bono also performs on the track singing backing vocals in the chorus of the song.

The film Waiting for the Miracle to Come was written for Willie Nelson, and features Nelson as a retired vaudeville star. The director of the film, Lian Lunson, met Nelson when she was hired to put together an EPK for him in the 90s, and later filmed a documentary for him, Willie Nelson Down Home. As part of that documentary, Nelson went to Ireland, where he recorded “Slow Dancing” With U2. The film Waiting for the Miracle to Come is executive produced by Wim Wenders and Bono. Asked how she got Bono and Wenders involved in the film at a Q&A after the screening of the film at the Austin Film Festival, Lunson replied, “Sadly just because they are friends of mine and i dragged them into this.” Lunson has previously worked with U2 on a number of other occasions including filming U2 performing with Leonard Cohen for her documentary Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. She did elaborate further during an interview with No Film School:

Many years ago I took Bono to see Wings of Desire, and he became a big Wim Wenders fan. Then Bono eventually introduced me to Wim Wenders, and Wim has been involved in all of my projects, really. My first stab at directing, he was in the edit room, and for pretty much everything I have ever done. He really helped me get this film made. It was imperative. I mean, I don’t think I would have gotten this film made at all without him. Given the subject and the cast. People don’t think of Willie so much as an actor these days. It was really Wim’s support as well as Bono that really helped me get it made.

The song by Bono is the only song featuring any member of U2 in the film. Other music in the film is composed by Richard Souther, and the film also features a song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and one song performed by actress Charlotte Rampling.

The song, “Where the Shadows Fall” was co-written by Bono and Simon Carmody. Carmody is a long time collaborator with Bono. He has co-written a number of songs for other artists to sing, including the song “Streets of Surrender (S.O.S.)“ recorded by Zucchero, “I Am the Blues“ recorded by Johnny Hallyday, “Sugar Daddy“ recorded by Tom Jones, and “Drinkin’ in the Day“ recorded by Ronnie Drew. Carmody is a long-time friend of Bono’s and a former member of the Irish band Golden Horde, who were signed to U2’s label Mother Records.

Photo: Film poster being used for promotion by Spotlight Pictures

Lunson was asked about the song in an interview with Lights Camera Austin: “He actually wrote it for the movie. Completely new. He’s also an executive producer of the film, he has been trying to help me make this film for a very long time along with Wim Wenders. He’s a massive Willie Nelson fan as well. I took Willie to Ireland to meet them back in the 90s, and they recorded a song together that Bono wrote for Willie called Slow Dancing. And they’d always wanted to do something again, so Bono wrote this song where… for the movie. Really happy to do it. He’s a massive Willie Nelson fan, we both are. He had been a huge supporter of what my goal was. To bring Willie Nelson to the big screen, in a really great role, particularly written for him, that was about connections. Bono was very supportive of that, and wrote the song, which is the theme song for the film. He sings on the song as well, he does the chorus of the song. It’s a beautiful, beautiful track. It’s a really different track for Willie to sing as well. When Mickey Raphael, who was working on the song as well for us, he said it was in a key that Willie hadn’t really sung before. So its quite different, but really beautiful, and sort of delicate, everything i wanted for the film. He sings the song that is the theme for the film that Bono wrote specifically for the story.”

The song has main vocals by Willie Nelson. Bono is listed as backing vocals in the credits for the track and can be heard singing in the chorus of the song.

The song was produced by Andy Barlow, who also provides keyboards on the track. Barlow, best known for his work with the band Lamb, recently worked with U2 on the album Songs of Experience as a producer, and has been working with the band as a producer / mixer on the recent U2 tours as well. Barlow brought equipment with him to work with and record the band as they toured. Barlow worked on the songs “Love is All We Have Left” (production and mixing), “Book of Your Heart” (production and mixing), “Red Flag Day (Production), “The Little Things that Give You Away” (produced with Jolyon Thomas), and “Landlady” (produced with Ryan Tedder.)

Guitar is provided on the song by another long standing member of the U2 recording team, Declan Gaffney. Gaffney has been working with U2 as a recording engineer on projects including No Line on the Horizon, including many of their recordings since that album. Harmonica on the track is provided by long time Willie Nelson collaborator, Mickey Raphael, who also performed on “Slow Dancing”. The song was recorded using Barlow’s mobile recording studio, and mixed at The Lookout Studio. Mastering was done by Scott Sedillo at Bernie Grundman Studios.

Bono himself spoke about the film, reported in Screen Daily, ““It is very easy these days for independent films to get overlooked,” Bono said. “The uniqueness of Lian’s vision in telling this very simple story, reflects the beautiful complexity of who Willie Nelson is… what makes him the fabric of this country… his connection to people and his ability to tell a story just by standing still.”

Spotlight Pictures from Los Angeles have been working on international sales for the film but there has been little news to date about a wider release of the film. Production on the film started in March 2015, and Bono’s involvement was announced at that time. The premiere at the Austin Film Festival is the only known showings for the film at this time. At this time there is no word of a soundtrack release for the film.

Thank you to Ronda for reporting information from the film screening for us.

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