Today’s song is ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’. This song was by the Irish rock band U2 and was released from their 1987 album, ‘The Joshua Tree’. The song was a hit, becoming the band's second consecutive number-one single on the US ‘Billboard Hot 100’ while peaking at Number 6 on the ‘UK Singles Chart’.
The song originated from a demo the band recorded on which drummer Larry Mullen Jr. played a unique rhythm pattern. Like much of ‘The Joshua Tree’, the song was inspired by the group's interest in American music. ‘I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For’ exhibits influence from Gospel music and its lyrics describe spiritual yearning. Lead singer Bono’s vocals are in high register. Adding to the Gospel qualities of the song are choir-like backing vocals
'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' was critically acclaimed and received two nominations at the ‘30th Annual Grammy Awards’ in 1988, for ‘Record of the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year’. It has subsequently become one of the group's most well-known songs and has been performed on many of their concert tours. The track has appeared on several of their compilations. Many critics and publications have ranked ‘I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For’ among the greatest tracks in music history, including ‘Rolling Stone’ which ranked the song at Number 93 of its list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.
Many of us spend a large part of our lives with a feeling that there is something that is missing from our life; something important that stops us from being the completely wholesome person we strive to be. Sometimes, the missing thing is plain to see and can be a partner, a certain type of job we are more suited to than the one we currently have or some material object that would make a significant difference to us, like our own house or a more secure tenancy.
On many occasions, however, we are unable to put our finger on what it is that’s missing from our lives, apart from knowing that all is not there. When we have such feelings, which are far from uncommon, they can either represent physical, mental, psychological or spiritual aspects of something we inwardly need and desire.
The physical aspects we may not have are usually the lore easy ones to discern as they concern the more tangible things which may be missing from our lives. The mental ones are usually those that represent peace of mind, clarity of focus and a settledness of emotions. Psychological absences are usually accounted for by ‘a sense of purpose and identity’.
One of the most difficult aspects of our life that are frequently found wanting is ‘an absence of spirituality’. This is an area of my life that I wasn’t aware as being missing before I met my wife Sheila. All my life I have believed in God and have generally stayed faithful to my religion. All in all, (at least since adulthood), I have conducted myself truthfully, faithfully, sincerely and with courtesy and consideration and sensitivity in all my dealings with others; and in the main, I believe that I have managed to achieve a level of integrity befitting an overall good person.
And yet, despite my positive and happy approach to life, my full and satisfactory involvement in life, along with the happiness that my relationships with numerous others have brought me, until my late sixties, there was always a part of me, something that I was looking for.
Like many Irish Catholics, (especially firstborn children) there was a time during my twenties when I had lived life to the full and was finally ready for settling down when I even considered joining the priesthood.
Much of my life between 7-15 years witnessed a propensity towards theft. I was never quite sure whether it was the inherent danger and the risk of getting caught that I enjoyed most or the taking of the stolen object. After a serious traffic accident at the age of 11 years, which left me unable to walk for the next three years, I made a promise to God during a period when I was critically ill and was slipping in and out of consciousness, that if He spared my life, I would thereafter put it to good use. He kept His promise and I pulled through against all medical odds. Ever since I have tried to keep mine. Often, I failed; particularly during my teenage years when I remained wild, roguish, stubborn, defiant, rebellious of authority and far too permissive sexually for my age. I continued to steal until my 15th year of life and required ‘second chances’ dozens of times before I finally came good.
Between the ages of 18-21 years, I had developed a social conscience far in excess of my years and by the age of 18 years, I had become the youngest paid Youth Leader and the youngest Trade Union Shop Steward in Great Britain. I also spent some of my leisure hours visiting the terminally ill in a Cleckheaton Cheshire Home as a member of the Catholic St. Vincent and St. Paul Society of our parish church. It was during this period that the priesthood as a possible vocation for me was seriously considered. I was soon to discover though that I was never likely to be able to abstain from close and sensual relationships with the opposite sex long enough to even negotiate the training stage without being excommunicated. I subsequently decided to devote my passion elsewhere and after I had spent a couple of years living in Canada, I returned to West Yorkshire and started to look for what I needed in my life.
After a few years as a working foreman, followed by a mill manager on nights, I decided to put all the considerable learning I had gleaned as a thief in earlier life and become a Probation Officer. I was effectively a thief turned poacher, and I discovered that these credentials were the best I could possibly possess in the vocation I had entered. During my 26 years as a Probation Officer and many other specialist roles I engaged in, I achieved much more than any worker needs in a lifetime’s career to be fully satisfied. I found my working-class background to be a real asset in this middle-class profession, and I knew deep down that part of what made me a good Probation Officer was the ease in which I identified with many of the clients I worked with. I rarely considered myself different than the vast majority of men and women I worked with, and I knew that had I not received ‘second chance’ many times in my earlier life, I would not have been sitting on the opposite side of the desk to my clients offering them a ’second chance’. It was during those years when I discovered that when one goes to sleep satisfied with the work one has done today; one is never worried about tomorrow.
During later years towards the end of my Probation Officer career, I became an author and hopefully, through the themes of my many children’s books, I helped many children to make sense of their negative emotions in addition to being able to reconcile their unsettled emotions during stages of separation, loss and bereavement. I allowed the £200,000 profit I made from the sales of my books in 2000 Yorkshire schools storytelling assemblies to go to charitable causes, and to enable thousands of children to feel special, I was able to persuade over 850 national and international celebrities and famous names from the fields of royalty, politics, film, stage, screen, sport, art, artic exploration, space exploration, church, state and other institutions to become celebrity storytellers in school assemblies between 1990-2000.
My life was as full as any man had a right to expect and yet, I sensed that there was still some vital ingredient missing from it. I didn’t know precisely what it was, and I would probably have never known had I not met Sheila, fell in love with her and married her on my 70th birthday.
Despite having contracted a terminal blood cancer three months after we married and having had to deal with three more separate cancers since via operations, blood transfusions, hospital admissions, bed and house confinement, these past eight years since I first met Sheila, have been the happiest years of my life. Since knowing Sheila and bringing her into my life, I have found that one elusive thing that had been missing from mine previously and which I secretly sought since the age of twenty.
Previously, I had found physical, mental and psychological happiness in my relationships with the women in my life whom I had loved. With Sheila, however, it was different, it was better. When I met Sheila, ‘I still didn’t know what I was looking for’, but once I found Sheila, I also found ‘what I’d been looking for’. I found the missing piece of the personality puzzle that made me complete; I’d found a spiritual connection with the woman I loved!