When Love Comes to Town

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

"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.


Little Richard is featured preaching, rapping in funky rhyme style, and singing background vocals amid Maceo Parker's saxophone playing on the extended "Live from the Kingdom Mix." 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 playing it live since 1993, 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, TX during the concert's encore and BB King joined U2 to perform the song. On 1989's Lovetown Tour, the song again featured during the encore and was played with BB 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 May 14, 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]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Bono; all music 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


Chart (1989) Peak
Australian ARIA Chart[7] 23
Canada RPM Top 100[8] 41
Germany (Official German Charts)[9] 64
Dutch MegaCharts[7] 10
Irish Singles Chart[10] 1
New Zealand Singles Chart[7] 4
Swedish Singles Chart[7] 20
UK Singles Chart[11] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 68
US Modern Rock Tracks[12] 10
US Mainstream Rock Tracks[citation needed] 2

See also[edit]


  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. ^ rollingstone.com, [1], accessed 16 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d "U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town". Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
  8. ^ "RPM100 Singles" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 50 no. 2. 8–13 May 1989. p. 6.
  9. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – U2 with B.B. King – When Love Comes to Town". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  10. ^ "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 23 November 2009. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  11. ^ "EveryHit.com search results: U2". Everyhit.com. Retrieved 22 November 2009. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  12. ^ a b "When Love Comes to Town - U2". Billboard. 29 April 1989. Retrieved 18 June 2011.

External links[edit]