SHE SELLS SANCTUARY

Released: 17th March 1985
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, Barnes, London between March 11, 1985 and March 15, 1985. It was mixed at Good Earth, London.
Producer: Steve Brown
Label: Beggars Banquet

Additional tracks: 

In 2009, two more previously unreleased versions, a demo and the "Olympic Rough Mix" were included in a 4-disc box set of the Omnibus Edition.


* UK promo poster



* UK press release sheet

ABOUT 'SHE SELLS SANCTUARY'

AVC: It’s remembered as one of the band’s definitive songs, but “She Sells Sanctuary” was also the first time you earned any real success in the States.

IA: Well, it was the first real success we had anywhere. [Laughs.] It made it to No. 15 on the UK charts. It actually came out before the Love album was recorded. We’d written the song, it was released as a single, and it came out and did so well. It came out right in the middle of Live Aid, in 1985. I remember going to Live Aid, which was the first time I really remember being recognized as a performer. And what a place to be recognized! We eventually got to go backstage, and we met people like Bono and Roger Daltrey and Freddie Mercury. There were so many people that knew who I was because this song was in the charts. So here we are in a room with people like [David] Bowie, people I’d loved and admired, and they knew who we were! I thought it was quite overwhelming. And then I ended up going back to Brixton on the tube, thinking, “What just happened?” That was my first taste of celebrity, whatever that is, but it was a very powerful coming-of-age moment. Live Aid was a real beginning. Certainly, it was a turning point for U2 when Bono pulled that girl out of the crowd, which he probably did at every show from then on out because it worked so well for him. [Laughs.] But it was a good trick.

This was a coming together, where people weren’t thinking about their economic situations and the negative situations in their own lives. All of a sudden, we were asked to consider other human beings and their plight. That particular day was such an incredibly powerful moment, and we were right in the epicenter of it. We were coming of age right in the epicenter of that energy, and that affected me deeply because the potentiality of human beings when we get together to do something positive can be magnificent. We seemed to write an optimistic song at the right moment that encapsulated that kind of spirit.

“She Sells Sanctuary” was probably referring to the power of finding solitude in a woman’s arms and the matriarchal energy, whether it be an actual physical person or in a spiritual sense, the greatest matriarch, and thinking of the cosmos as a female energy rather than a male energy. These are archetypal things I was picking up from discovering things like Joseph Campbell and Buffy Sainte-Marie or even Jim Morrison. All these things were flying around, and the songs “Spiritwalker” and “She Sells Sanctuary” are quite similar, in a way. In fact, “Spiritwalker” was going to be a Southern Death Cult song, but they didn’t want to do it for whatever reason, so I said, “Fine, I’m leaving, and I’m taking my songs with me.” [Laughs.] That ended up being recorded by The Cult, and it really helped to define our sound.

(from The AV Club interview w/ Ian Astbury - jun 7, 2012


* Canadian promo poster