"Real Thing" (1988)

Demo Song

Background Information

“Real Thing” is a working title of a song developed for Achtung Baby. The song developed into “Even Better Than The Real Thing”.

“Real Thing” appears in a list of songs being worked on for Achtung Baby in November 28, 1991 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine (Issue #618). Accompanying the article is a picture of the whiteboard with a number of in progress songs. The photo describes this as “Producer Lanois’s progress chart at Dogtown Studio, outside of Dublin.”

“Real Thing” is also mentioned as a title in Bill Flanagan’s U2 At the End of the World book, when the band first get to Berlin:

Bono keeps trying to make something out of a track called “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” that the others would as soon toss in the toilet. They have the outlines for songs called “Acrobat,” “Real Thing,” “Love is Blindness” and “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World.” Bono and Edge won’t give up on one chorus — “It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright/She moves in mysterious ways,” even though Edge keeps changing all the music around it to try to find something worth making a song from.

“Real Thing” is not just a shortened form of “Even Better Than the Real Thing”. In U2 by U2, Bono explains:

It was originally called ‘The Real Thing’, which is a dumb title for a song. ‘Even Better Than the Real Thing’ is much more reflective of the times we were living in, when people were no longer looking for the truth, we are all looking for instant gratification. It’s not substantial as a lyric but it suggest a certain sexual tension and desire to have some fun playing in the shadows, Sliding down the surface of things.

In the book “The Stories Behind Every U2 Song” by Niall Stokes it was revealed that:

‘Desire’ had been recorded with Paul Barrett and Robbie Adams handling engineering duties at STS studios in Dublin. Another song, started in the same session and then put to one side, had been called ‘The Real Thing’. They took the multi-track of that to Germany and tried to work on it in Hansa Studios. But the atmosphere was so overloaded with melancholy that nothing happened. They couldn’t crack it.”

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