Angel of Harlem


About Angel of Harlem

"Angel of Harlem" is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the tenth track on their 1988 studio album Rattle and Hum, and was released as its second single in December 1988. It topped the charts in Canada and New Zealand, and peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart, number eight on the Dutch Top 40, number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Written as a homage to Billie Holiday, it was released with two different B-sides; one was an original U2 song called "A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel," while the other was a live version of Rattle and Hum's "Love Rescue Me".  


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It was a cold and wet December day
When we touched the ground at JFK
Snow was melting on the ground
On BLS I heard the sound
Of an angel

New York, like a Christmas tree
Tonight this city belongs to me

Soul love, this love won't let me go
So long, angel of Harlem

Birdland on fifty three
The street sounds like a symphony
We got John Coltrane and a love supreme
Miles, and she's got to be an angel

Lady Day got diamond eyes
She sees the truth behind the lies

Soul love this love won't let me go
So long angel of Harlem
Angel of Harlem

She says it's heart, heart and soul
Yeah yeah (yeah)
Yeah yeah (right now)

Blue light on the avenue
God knows they got to you
An empty glass, the lady sings
Eyes swollen like a bee sting
Blinded you lost your way
Through the side streets and the alleyway
Like a star exploding in the night
Falling to the city in broad daylight
An angel in Devil's shoes
Salvation in the blues
You never looked like an angel
Yeah yeah angel of Harlem

Angel angel of Harlem
Angel angel of Harlem
Angel angel of Harlem
Angel angel of Harlem

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U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion). U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group's musical pursuits, they have maintained a sound built on melodic instrumentals, highlighted by The Edge's timbrally varied guitar sounds and Bono's expressive vocals. Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal themes and sociopolitical concerns. more »

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Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

11 facts about this song

"Angel of Harlem" was composed by U2, a popular rock band from Ireland. The primary credit goes to the band members, including Bono on vocals, The Edge on guitar, Adam Clayton on bass, and Larry Mullen Jr. on drums.
Release Date
The song was released on December 1, 1988, as the second single from their album, Rattle and Hum.
Influences and Inspiration
The song is a tribute to Billie Holiday, a jazz singer commonly referred to as “Lady Day”. Her song "Strange Fruit" played a significant role as an inspiration for U2 in composing "Angel of Harlem".
Recording Location
The recording of the song took place at Sun Studios in Memphis, a significant site in music history noted for contributions to rock and roll and country music.
"Angel of Harlem" is a blend of roots rock and blues genre. The song showcases a unique and fresh sound that gives it a feel distinct from U2's earlier repertoire.
Chart Performance
The song was quite successful, reaching #9 on the UK Singles Chart and #1 on the Dutch Top 40 in the Netherlands. In the US, it peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Music Video
Its music video was filmed at Harlem’s Apollo Theater and features a guest appearance from the famed Chieftains, a traditional Irish band.
Live Performances
"Angel of Harlem" has been performed live by the band in almost every tour since it was first released, affirming its popularity among fans and its significance to the band.
Inclusion in Compilation Albums
The song has been featured in several of U2's compilation albums, including "The Best of 1980–1990" and "U218 Singles".
The song’s lyrics include references to New York City landmarks and cultural icons, such as John Coltrane and Birdland, furthering its tribute to American music and culture.
Notable Cover
A distinctive cover of "Angel of Harlem" was performed by American musician, Joan Osborne, on her 2007 album "Breakfast in Bed".

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    Angel of Harlem

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    Top Hot 100 Songs 1989

    Billboard #14



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    Angel of Harlem

    • Rattle and Hum