Why Mick Jagger Recruited Bono for a Collaboration With Pete Townshend

Classic rock icons Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, and Bono each have plenty of star power in their own right, however, they worked together for one glorious moment. Jagger had a specific reason why he thought Bono should work on his collaboration with Townshend. Here’s a look at how the public reacted to a song by three rock gods.

Did Mick Jagger write one of his solo songs with Bono in mind?

Sometimes a musician from a famous rock band releases solo work that’s as beloved as the work they released with their band. For example, it’s hard to think of John Lennon’s career without thinking of “Imagine” or to think of Stevie Nicks’ career without thinking of “Gypsy.”  Jagger has released a number of solo albums and many of the singles from them became hits, however, he hasn’t had a top 20 solo hit on the Billboard Hot 100 this century. Despite this, he’s still released interesting songs post-2000.

For example, Jagger’s album Goddess in the Doorway includes a collaboration with Townshend and Bono titled “Joy.” “Joy” features several religious references, with lyrics that reference Jesus, Buddha, heaven, and a state of grace. Bono is known for singing about spiritual subjects, so David Fricke of Rolling Stone asked Jagger if he wrote the track with Bono in mind. 

“No,” Jagger replied.” I’ve known Bono since I can’t remember. We’ve always had singsongs…. When I’d done ‘Joy’– I hadn’t finished all the vocals – I thought it would be great to do with him. U2 were playing in Cologne, so I took my little recording system to his hotel room, and we did it.”

Why Mick Jagger wanted Bono to perform on ‘Joy’ with Pete Townshend

Although Jagger didn’t write the track for Bono, he did notice a similarity between the spirituality of “Joy” and the spirituality of Bono’s work. “That’s why I thought of him to be on it,” Jagger told Paul Du Noyer. “I wrote it and thought this could be something he could do really well. He takes it on very quickly. And Pete Townshend plays on it too, and he’s another guy that’s spiritually inspired. I like ‘Joy’ because it conveys the happiness in creation through gospel combined with rock, without being beholden to a gospel form.”

In addition, Jagger said he enjoys putting religious themes in his songs. He pointed to “Just Wanna See His Face” and “Sympathy for the Devil” as examples of spirituality in his work. However, he said it’s more difficult for him to write about spiritual matters than it is for him to write about cars.

How the public reacted to ‘Joy’

So how did the world react to the song? “Joy” didn’t reach the Billboard Hot 100. Perhaps that’s just a reflection of the time. Jagger, Townshend, and Bono were not at the height of their careers when Jagger released the song. However, the track remains a surprising collaboration between three legends.

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