After a flurry of rumors on Thursday, U2 dropped their first single in two years: “Ahimsa,” a collaboration with Oscar- and Grammy-winning Indian musician AR Rahman, ahead of the group’s first-ever visit to the country next month. Rahman has a vast track record of film soundtracks and is best known for his work on the 2008 “Slumdog Millionaire” soundtrack and its song “Jai Ho,” for which he won two Academy Awards and two Grammys.
According to the announcement that accompanied the song, “‘Ahimsa’ – the Sanskrit word for non-violence – celebrates the spiritual diversity of India and connects the ethos of U2 with the mastery of A.R. Rahman.” The collaboration comes less than one month ahead of U2’s first ever show in India with the arrival of The Joshua Tree Tour in Mumbai on December 15th.
A.R. Rahman said: “Ahimsa requires courage and strength. A quality that is impervious to weapons or power. It’s a mission which is most needed to heal the modern world and it is incredible timing to collaborate with U2, with their amazing legacy, to revive this movement.”
U2 guitarist The Edge said: “It has been an absolute joy to work with A.R. on this track. A superstar and a talent both towering and generous, we are especially excited to visit his homeland in just a few weeks. India has been on our bucket list for a very long time, the principles of ahimsa or non-violence have served as an important pillar of what our band stands for since we first came together to play music. We can’t wait to experience the culture of India first hand, a place that brings together the modern and the ancient all at once.”
Bono said: “The fight against injustice has always been so important to us. We were somewhat shaped and formed by Martin Luther King who was a student of Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King said ‘The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice….’. I don’t believe that any more… It doesn’t bend towards justice, it has to be bent towards justice. We have to be actively involved in our democracy to preserve it and show people how we feel and what we care about… We come as students to the source of inspiration… That is ahimsa… non-violence… India gave this to us… the greatest gift to the world… It is more powerful than nuclear energy, the armies, the navies, the British Empire. It is power itself. And it’s never been more important.”
The announcement also said that later this year the group will release four unspecified “highlights from U2’s extensive catalogue of songs” remixed by local Indian artists.
The Joshua Tree Tour 2019 began November 5 and covers Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Seoul and Manila before concluding in Mumbai nearly six weeks later. According to Pollstar, the initial legs of the 30th anniversary tour of the group’s 1987 album grossed some $316 million for 50 headlining shows across Europe and North and South America. The group’s “Experience + Innocence” tour the following year grossed $126 million over 59 performances in North America and Europe.