The Famous “’Streets’ Was Almost Erased” Story

During the sessions that resulted in The Joshua Tree, U2 just couldn’t get things right with the song “Where the Streets Have No Name.” 

The issue was the transition in timing from the long, slow build-up to where the drums finally kick in.  They tried and tried and tried—but no matter what approach they took, nothing worked.  It got to the point that if they were ever going to make their deadline, the song would have to be dropped. 

The only thing that stopped producer Brian Eno from erasing the tape was an engineer named Pat McCarthy.  He believed in the song so much that he actually risked his job by blocking Eno from the tape machine with his body.  It took a ten minute confrontation—but Eno finally relented.

The band went back to work, finally nailed it and ended up making the song track one on The Joshua Tree.  

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “The Famous “’Streets’ Was Almost Erased” Story

  • April 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Isn't there also a famous story about the edge not being able to play the guitar part right? If memory serves me correctly, he had it on a demo tape but couldn't get it in the studio so Brian Eno said it had been erased so he was forced to play it correct.

  • April 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    and thank god he did, because it is, without question, one of the most awe-inducing, spirit-raising, energy-lifting, anticipation-building intro in the history of music!


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