The History Mix: Expanded Horizons

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-08-18)

Please note: The videos contained in this piece are not hosted on U2Songs.Com and are from YouTube. This may mean some may be unavailable in your viewing area. We apologize if you have any difficulty.

The period from 2009 to 2014 was a long and difficult wait between albums for U2 fans. At five and a half years, its the longest that U2 had gone without releasing new material. Currently its been three years since the last album and it looks like another is just around the corner. When No Line on the Horizon was finally released in 2009, Bono surprised fans as he talked about the next album, at that time titled, Songs of Ascent, and its first single “Every Breaking Wave.” Bono suggested the album could be released as early as the Fall of 2009. The Songs of Ascent album has yet to happen, and instead five and a half years later, in September 2014, the world was gifted Songs of Innocence. Daniel Lanois has said that Songs of Ascent remains unreleased, except for the song that was once intended as the first single.

That period wasn’t without new material however. A number of songs in progress debuted on the U2360° tour as it toured around the world between 2009 to 2011, with most debuting on the European leg of the tour in 2010. A few other songs have appeared as well on various projects. Today we take a look back at nine songs developed during the No Line on the Horizon / U2360° Tour period. Perhaps you missed a few?


Video: “Winter” from Linear (Posted by user ubekijkthetmaar on YouTube)

Right out of the gate, “Winter” was released. It was one of the last songs cut from No Line on the Horizon, and it was removed too late to be removed from the accompanying film, Linear, directed by Anton Corbijn. The song has long been a favorite of mine, and can be heard in full in the film that was distributed digitally with many of the deluxe editions and on DVD with some of the bigger box sets.

Later in 2009, the film Brothers was released, and the song is also featured over the final credits of that film. The version used in the film is slower and more acoustic than the version that had featured in Linear. Throughout promotion for the film, director Jim Sheridan would tell press that he had asked U2 to write the song for the film. Bono and The Edge had continued development on the song after watching a rough cut of the film, and the lyrics took shape around the film plot. “White as Snow” was also developed for the film, but it was “Winter” that was eventually chosen. In the film Linear, “Winter” had flowed directly into “White as Snow”.

Video: “Winter” from Brothers (Posted by user UGGO87 on YouTube)

The film Brothers had originally been planned for released before No Line on the Horizon. The delay in the film to later in the year may have lead to the removal of the song from the album, in order to allow the song to compete for various awards. Had it been released on the album first it would have made eligibility for awards more difficult. Edge did comment about “Winter”: “though it’s a beautiful tune, it doesn’t quite fit our record thematically.” The song was nominated for “Best Original Song” at the Golden Globe Awards, but was not nominated for an Oscar.


Audio: “Soon” (Posted by user U2 Argentina on YouTube)

“Soon” was another track that fans discovered early after the album had been released. The song was the music to which the band took the stage every night on the U2360° tour, being played over the PA system while the band walked out. The song was initially listed on set lists as “Kingdom” and it was later called “Kingdom of My Love” by Gavin Friday, but once it was released it was titled “Soon”.

The song was released on 7-Inch red vinyl in box sets of U2360° at the Rose Bowl. The version released is just over 2 minutes in length. The song repeats the word ‘soon’ a number of times at the start and at the end and includes two verses:

Sing yourself on down the street
Sing yourself right off your feet
Sing yourself away from victory
And from defeat.

Sing yourself with fife and drum
Sing yourself to overcome
The thought that someone has lost
And someone else has won.

It is unknown if there is a longer version of the song in the archives somewhere that would be used for an album. The two minutes that was released is the same two minutes that was played before the band would take the stage.


Yes, we know this song was released on the album, but the band had tinkered with multiple versions of the song. The song on the No Line on the Horizon album was five minutes in length. An alternate edit which was 18 seconds shorter was used in the Linear film accompanying the album. In 2014, a new version of the song with alternate lyrics was released as a B-Side to the single “Ordinary Love” for Record Store Day.

But did you know there was another alternate mix of the song?

Video: “Breathe” from Miracle Rising (Posted by user Brad Hood on YouTube)

In 2012 the History Channel released a documentary titled Miracle Rising: South Africa and over the closing credits we hear U2’s “Breathe” play. At first it is not evident that the song is different, and the song quickly cuts to an interview. When it returns from the interview, alternate lyrics to the song can be heard, and this mix and these lyrics are different than the version that is used for the “Ordinary Love” single. It is not known if these alternate versions were developed after the release of No Line on the Horizon, or if they are perhaps alternate takes done in the development of the album.

“North Star”

Video: “North Star” live in Concert (Posted by user on YouTube)

As U2 returned for the 2010 leg of the U2360° tour, they started to rehearse a number of new songs. These works in progress were being developed for the new album, at this time still being referred to as Songs of Ascent. “North Star” was one of these songs heard for the first time on tour. The song was performed a total of fifteen times on that tour, starting on August 6, 2010 in Turin, and last being played at the June 29, 2011 show in Miami, Florida. Of the new songs being tested out in concert it is the only song to have been played on the North American leg of the tour, and then it was only played the one night.

Why did this song make the jump to North America when others did not? It may have had something to do with the movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The film opened on June 29, 2011 in North America, and it featured U2’s “North Star” in two places during the film. The song however, was never released on the soundtrack for the film, and has never been released in its entirety.

Video: “North Star” in the Italian version of Transformers (Posted by user u2xsempre on YouTube)

It is thought that the release on the Transformers soundtrack would have been similar to the 2001 release of “Elevation” on the Tomb Raider soundtrack, used for promotion of U2’s current album. At the time talk had been that the band would release the album prior to the restart of the U2360° tour in 2011, confirmed by both Paul McGuinness and Adam Clayton in interviews. It was later revealed to Rolling Stone that they just did not have time to complete the album for the release with the tour, and the work on Spider-Man, as well as Bono’s injuries.


Video: “Glastonbury” live in Concert (Posted by user on YouTube)

“Glastonbury” was another of the songs that was first heard on the 2010 leg of the U2360° tour, and first heard in rehearsals. The song was developed for U2’s appearance at the “Glastonbury” festival, but that appearance had to be rescheduled after Bono injured himself and the summer tour dates had to be rescheduled. But the band continued development of the song throughout the 2010 tour, and it was performed live on seven occasions between August 6 and August 21, 2010.

The song was a rocker, and featured lyrics that spoke of a “flowering rose of Glastonbury”.

Morning, it was heaven-sent
And music is a sacrament
You’re pilgrims on a mountain green
You knew it but I’d never been

The song was last performed in August 2010, and when the band did perform in Glastonbury in 2011 the song was no where to be seen. One of the riffs from the song “Glastonbury” was recycled into another song on the Songs of Innocence album. It can be heard as part of the song “Volcano”. For that reason we expect this song has ended its life as “Glastonbury” and wouldn’t be on future projects.

“Return of the Stingray Guitar”

Video: “Return of the Stingray Guitar” live in Concert (Posted by user on YouTube)

The 2010 tour of Europe also included another new song, titled “Return of the Stingray Guitar.” This was mostly instrumental, but Bono would take the stage and shout and make guttural noises as the band performed, but the song never featured any traditional lyrics. The song was the first song played by the band each night, and it was performed at 33 concerts on the U2360° tour, including the shows in Europe, as well as shows in New Zealand, Australia and one show in Argentina. This makes it the most played of the ‘new songs’ on that tour.

The song dates back far earlier than 2010 however, with notes about the song being featured in diaries documenting the development of The Unforgettable Fire. The song was listed in those sessions by the same title. In mid-2009, The Edge was working on the 25th anniversary release of that album, and likely rediscovered the song at that time.

Video: “Lucifer’s Hands” live in Concert (Posted by user Paulo Vetri on YouTube)

The song was later developed further for the Songs of Innocence album, featuring lyrics this time, and a new title, “Lucifer’s Hands.” The song was released on deluxe versions of the album, and it too has been performed live on the Innocence and Experience tour, but only three times in total, debuting in Montreal, as seen in the above video.

“Every Breaking Wave”

Video: “Every Breaking Wave” live in Concert (2010) (Posted by user on YouTube)

Once tipped to be the first song released from Songs of Ascent, “Every Breaking Wave” also made its live debut during the 2010 European tour. The song only made three appearances on that tour, twice in August 2010 in Helsinki and Vienna, and once in September 2010 in Zurich. The song was played on that tour as a performance by Bono and The Edge and did not feature the full band.

The song reappeared for the Songs of Innocence album in 2014. Daniel Lanois has shared that it is the only song from Songs of Ascent that had made onto this album, and that otherwise the album Songs of Ascent was still complete. The song had developed considerably from what had been heard on the U2360° tour, and the song was released as the second radio single from the album.

“Boy Falls from the Sky”

Video: “Boy Falls from the Sky” live in Concert (2010) (Posted by user SinerU2 on YouTube)

This was the last new song to pop up on the U2360° tour. The song was debuted in Coimbra, Portugal at the end of the European leg in 2010. That was the only night it was performed in concert.

The song is a U2 compilation, but would eventually be released on a non-U2 release. The song was developed from a U2 song for the Spider-Man musical that Bono and The Edge were writing. The song was eventually recorded for the soundtrack of the musical, and is released there. The credits accompanying the soundtrack do make it clear that this is a U2 song, and credits all four members of the band.

Throughout the U2 tour, Bono and The Edge were being pulled in a different direction with the Spider-Man musical starting, and faltering in New York while the band was on tour in Europe.


Video: “Mercy” live in Concert (2010) (Posted by user TomBallard715 on YouTube)

“Mercy” was a track that has received a lot of discussion among U2 fans. The song was almost a song on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb but according to Blender magazine, it was a last minute cut from the album:

As it stands, the album is three seconds shy of an hour and, as Bono says, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing,” so drastic measures need to be taken. “I have a theory,” Mullen begins, and a reverential silence descends as the drummer — traditionally the first band member to be shouted down in these situations — states his case. After just five minutes, it has been unanimously decided that the track “Mercy,” a six-and-a-half-minute outpouring of U2 at its most uninhibitedly U2-ish, must go.

The song didn’t disappear however, in November of that year, just after the album was released, “Mercy” appeared on the internet as a low quality digital file. The song was initially posted on the Interference message boards, by a fan who claimed to have gotten the song from a friend. That friend, would later tell the message board that he had received a copy of the album about a week and a half before the album was released, and it was given to him on cassette by a friend at Interscope Records. The cassette was digitized and burned to CD, and it was played for a group of fans at a house party, and was later ripped from that CD and uploaded to Interference the week of the album release. The claim was made that the song on the cassette sounded unmastered and that some of the levels seemed ‘funky’ even in that format.

In 2009 “Mercy” was considered for release on No Line on the Horizon as well, but once again the song did not make the cut. It next appeared live in concert in Europe in 2010, first in a sound check in Istanbul in September of that year. After a few appearances in soundchecks, the song finally appeared in concert debuting on September 12, 2010 in Zurich, Switzerland.

The version played on tour had altered lyrics and slight differences in the music from the 2004 leak but it was still recognizable as “Mercy”. A version of the song performed in Brussels in 2010 would be released as one of the three live tracks on a special EP released for Record Store Day titled Wide Awake in Europe.

Deluxe Edition Dreams

We hold out hope that some day a deluxe version of No Line on the Horizon will be issued, perhaps for the 10th birthday of the album in 2019? A second disc of audio containing all of the cast offs and early versions of these tracks above would fill out a second disc nicely. The singles released to accompany No Line on the Horizon were short on new material preferring to include remixes or live tracks at the time. A fan club release titled Artificial Horizon didn’t collect any new songs, focusing instead on remixes, many mixes being from prior albums. Most, if not all of these studio recordings of songs remain unreleased in any audio format.

Special thanks to the group at U2Gigs.Com for the live facts and some of the videos above, and to Dan Basquill for scheming some schemes with us.

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