"When Love Comes to Town"
Single by U2 with B.B. King
from the album Rattle and Hum
ReleasedApril 1989
StudioSun Studio (Memphis)
GenreBlues rock
Producer(s)Jimmy Iovine
U2 singles chronology
"Angel of Harlem"
"When Love Comes to Town"
"All I Want Is You"
Music videos

"When Love Comes to Town" is a song by Irish rock band U2 featuring blues guitarist B.B. King. It is the twelfth track from U2's 1988 album, Rattle and Hum, and was released in 1989 as the record's third single. The song was recorded at the historic Sun Studio in Memphis. "When Love Comes to Town" reached number one in the Irish Singles Chart, number six in the UK Singles Chart, number ten in the Dutch Top 40, and number two in the US Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.


On the extended "Live from the Kingdom Mix", Little Richard is featured preaching, rapping in funky rhyme style, and singing background vocals amid Maceo Parker's saxophone playing. The single contained two different versions of the Patti Smith song "Dancing Barefoot". The 7" and cassette featured the long version, while the 12" and CD contained the short version. While U2 has stopped regularly playing it live, it continued to be featured in B.B. King concerts. During the Lovetown Tour concerts, this song would be played, usually along with "Angel of Harlem" and "Love Rescue Me", in an encore featuring B.B. and his band.

Like the song "Van Diemen's Land", this song originally featured an extra verse:

When I woke up I was sleeping on the street
I felt the world was dancing, and I was dirt beneath their feet
When I woke up I saw the Devil looking down
But my Lord He played guitar the day love came to town

This verse was sung during the song's premiere in Fort Worth, Texas on U2's Joshua Tree Tour and does not appear in the studio version or subsequent live performances.[1]


The debut performance took place on 24 November 1987 in Fort Worth, Texas during the concert's encore and B.B. King joined U2 to perform the song. On 1989's Lovetown Tour, the song again featured during the encore and was played with B.B. King. It was played at 46 of the 47 shows; the only concert it missed was 18 December 1989 in Amsterdam, as the show concluded prematurely due to Bono suffering vocal problems.[2]

On the next tour, 1992-93's Zoo TV Tour, "When Love Comes to Town" did not debut until the second-last concert of the first leg on 21 April 1992 in Tacoma.[3] It appeared only infrequently on the second leg, in Europe, but on the third leg, in North America, it was performed frequently and this was continued on the fourth leg return to Europe. The Zoo TV Tour version of the song was stripped down in comparison to previous versions and was performed on a b-stage in the midst of the crowd. U2 would not perform the song for years after the fourth leg's final show on 28 August 1993 in Dublin, although B.B. King continued to play the song at his live shows.[4]

On 26 October 2008, Bono and the Edge rejoined B.B. King to play the song for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Founders Award.[5]

After King died on 14 May 2015, U2 paid tribute to him during a show in Vancouver the following night during the Innocence + Experience Tour by playing "When Love Comes to Town" for the first time in 23 years.[6] The song was played three more times on the tour.[7] The song was played at a promotional appearance at the Apollo Theater in New York during the Experience + Innocence Tour.[7] The song was played with the Sun Ra Arkestra.[8]

Track listing

All lyrics are written by Bono; all music is composed by U2, except "Dancing Barefoot" (written by Patti Smith and Ivan Kral).

1."When Love Comes to Town"Jimmy Iovine4:15
2."Dancing Barefoot"U24:47
3."When Love Comes to Town" ("Live from the Kingdom" mix)Louil Silas Jr.7:28
4."God Part II" (Hard Metal dance mix)Louil Silas Jr.4:46


Additional musicians


See also


  1. ^ U2gigs.com, Setlist for 24 November 1987, Fort Worth, accessed 25 September 2007.
  2. ^ U2gigs.com, Setlist for 18 December 1989, Amsterdam, accessed 25 September 2007.
  3. ^ U2gigs.com, Setlist for 21 April 1992, Tacoma, accessed 25 September 2007.
  4. ^ U2gigs.com, Setlist for 28 August 1993, Dublin, accessed 25 September 2007.
  5. ^ U2.com, "Royalty In the House," U2.com News, accessed 12 November 2008.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy (16 May 2015). "U2 Honor B.B. King, Mock the Edge's Fall at Second Show". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  7. ^ a b Axver, Matthias Muehlbradt, Andre. "U2 When Love Comes To Town - U2 on tour". U2gigs.com. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  8. ^ Greene, Andy (12 June 2018). "Live Review: U2 Recapture Club Roots at Intimate Apollo Theater Show". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  9. ^ "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  10. ^ "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  11. ^ "RPM100 Singles" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 50, no. 2. 8–13 May 1989. p. 6.
  12. ^ "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  13. ^ "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts.
  14. ^ "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 23 November 2009. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  15. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e Dischi (in Italian). Retrieved 28 May 2022. Set "Tipo" on "Singoli". Then, in the "Artista" field, search "U2".
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 17, 1989" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  17. ^ "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  18. ^ "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  19. ^ "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  20. ^ "U2: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  21. ^ "U2 Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  22. ^ "U2 Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  23. ^ "U2 Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  24. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1989". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 16 August 2021.