Last Minute Changes to “You’re The Best Thing About Me”

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-09-09)

“You’re the Best Thing About Me” has been released this week, and we are taking some time to look back at the radio promotion that Adam Clayton, Bono and The Edge did in regards to the single this week. Yesterday we took a look at what Bono and the Edge said about the release date of the album. Today we are taking a look at one topic that The Edge in particular has discussed in these interviews—the last minute recording of the new version of the single.

The song was complete last year, and has been planned to be the first single all along. Last year, Steve Lillywhite had mentioned he had mixed the new single, and Canadian reporter Alan Cross confirmed that it was “You’re The Best Thing About Me.” The single had originally been planned to be unveiled at radio on September 23, 2016, with the Songs of Experience album following October 31, 2016. But the album release (and single) was pushed back to this year as The Edge tells Canadian radio station, The Edge:

Yeah, we got towards the end of last year and our plan had been to release the album sometime in the last quarter of last year. And then yeah, global politics took a huge lurch to the right, and we had this moment when we were rushing to get the album done, when we suddenly realized that the world we were about to release it into had changed. So we gave ourselves a moment to reflect if this was a good idea, and concluded it might be better to wait for a minute. To pause, see what was going on in the world, see if the album we had just finished was what we wanted to say. We ended up putting it off, doing some more Joshua Tree events, which we had planned on doing, but they turned into a full fledged tour. I think that the album has changed, but i also think the dust settled a little bit has on what is going on, it feels to be a better moment to put out an album than the end of last year. We’re very happy we responded. The extra time has given us a chance to really get to know the album better. we’ve changed some of the songs quite a bit, and a couple of the songs hardly at all. I think the whole album is more cohesive now that little bit of extra time really helped.

“You’re the Best Thing About Me” however, came through the last year mostly unchanged. The version being played at the listening sessions being held for DJs and other music industry people throughout The Joshua Tree 2017 tour was the version that Lillywhite had mixed last August. We have confirmation that this was a different mix than either of the two mixes sent out on September 6, 2017.

But in a last minute swerve, U2 decided it too needed to be changed. In discussion with WWMR radio, The Edge revealed the song had changed in the last minutes, “This song, “You’re the Best Thing About Me,” the arrangement style changed quite dramatically a week before we finally handed the song to the record label. We had a much more elaborate dynamic starting much more low key and building up, and then i discovered an early demo that we’d worked on where it was just real simple, guitar, bass, drums, from the get go, just straight in. Weirdly enough it seemed to unlock qualities in the lyric that by virtue of the fact that it was almost working against the content of the lyric, the counterbalance seemed to help.”

The Edge also seemed positive that there would be a release of the earlier version of the song, and told Mike Jones at 104.5, “In this case we had a more complicated arrangement that we were running with. It was very strong. In fact i think a mix of that arrangement will be released. But this song is complicated as i was saying. At the 11th hour we brought it back, we went with an arrangement which was my first demo in terms of direction and style, very driving in guitar orientated in the most basic sense. It’s the primary colors of U2. It’s guitars, bass drum and voice. Lo and behold the lyric came to life. When it was more mellow it felt it was a little too reflective, this has got that balance. You need that tension. If it’s too much of one thing it tends to become a little too easy.”

Edge also spoke about the last minute changes in his interview on BBC Radio 2, covering much of the same ground as the prior two interviews, “This was one of the tunes at the very last minute we changed quite radically, and took it from being more of a mellow arrangement and we took it back to the band and we ended up making it a pretty ballsy rock and roll version. I think the song shines better as a result of that. We say U2 albums never get finished, they just end up getting released, right up to the last minute we always end up using the time, any time we have to change things. But this is a case of the song taking a major shift in the last 24 hours before it was to be officially handed up.”

The single truly was a last minute change in plans, as we previously covered news that Steve Lillywhite was mixing the single at the last minute. Sound engineer Kelana Proehoeman posted on Instagram, that on August 29 he received a message from Steve Lillywhite asking him for assistance with “emergency mixing,” and it was later confirmed to be the U2 song. The mixing sessions continued most of that day into the morning, while the band were still sending new files to the studio. The mixing continued in the morning, and was sent back to the band for final approval. At that time, they found out a second team, working in London had also been working on the newly recorded version of the song. But in the end it was Lillywhite’s version that was chosen to be the single. We expect that the other version mixed may have been the Sci-Fi Soul Remix of “You’re the Best Thing About Me”, which has also been issued to radio stations for promotion of the song. (We are told, but have been unable to confirm that Jacknife Lee had a hand in that mix) But the version for the single was only mixed on August 30 of this year, and released to radio only seven days later.

Last year two versions of “You’re the Best Thing About Me” were heard in advance of Steve Lillywhite’s final production work on the track last year. One version was uploaded to the internet after someone recorded it from the beach below Bono’s house, where he was blasting the new song on his stereo. This version was difficult to make out, but was definitely a different version of the track from what was released. The second version was a remix by Norwegian DJ Kygo, which he played at his closing set at the Cloud 9 Festival in August of last year. This remix has yet to be released, but it is likely that it will. In August, Kygo’s manager shared a short video of Kygo performing at the Ushuaia Hotel in Ibiza, and spinning his remix of “You’re the Best Thing About Me”. His manager captioned the video “U2 x Kygo Coming Soon.” Lillywhite’s first mix was done after these tracks surfaced. It is not known at this time in what format any additional mixes of this song could be released. They could be saved for bonus tracks on an eventual deluxe version of the album, but we are still hoping that we will get a physical single at some date in the future.

If you would like to listen to some of these interviews for yourself we have collected the links to listen back to many of them in this article.

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