"Shark Soup" (2004)
“Shark Soup” is an early working title for the song “Vertigo.”
In 2006, when U2 published the book U2 by U2, the book provided a glimpse into some working titles and demo tracks. One of the images shown was from a piece of equipment with notes labeling different songs. We see notes about “Xanax” (listed twice as Xanax 1 and Xanax 2), “Spiderman Slide Solo,” “Treason,” “Original,” “Neanderthal,” “All Because” and “Shark Soup.” We know that many of these songs went on to become tracks on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and this photo was taken during the development of that album.
In the book, Bono also talks about the development of the song,
It’s like cell division, our songs keep shedding their skin and a new song emerges. ‘Native Son’ was inspired by Leonard Peltier, the Native American rights activist, and it was an interesting idea for a song. On its way to becoming ‘Vertigo’ it stopped off at the mezzanine floor and turned into ‘Shark Soup.’ That’s when we came up with the rhythms of it, singing in Spanish, and there is still a bit of Spanish left over in the intro. I’d been reading Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets. He’s dead now but I went on a pilgrimage to his house in Chile and I had a meal in the inn next door where I poisoned myself. I thought I was going to die. It was just me and Guggi, there was no one else in the inn, even the innkeeper had gone home. I was laying on the ground, throwing up at ten-minute intervals and Guggi was trying to get water but it was locked behind the bar. When the innkeeper came in, she found me on the ground. I said, ‘Can you call a doctor?’ She said, ‘You really don’t want to meet the doctor,’ I thought, ‘Okay, don’t call a doctor, just call us a taxi.’ Anyway, somewhere in and around there emerged a song called ‘Shark Soup’.
The work on “Vertigo” started with Larry Mullen in early 2002 working on drum tracks for potential songs in Hanover Quay. The Edge spoke about the track development from there, “The rhythm of the drums inspired me to create and play simultaneously, among other things, a two-bar guitar chord progression that became part of a song that I composed and recorded over the course of a few days and called “Hard Metal Jacket.” Terry Lawless, a musician and digital audio technician who periodically works with U2, functioned as my recording engineer in Malibu, and assisted me in recording and engineering my work. Over the course of several days Terry helped me put the constituent parts of three or four songs together into three or four demo recordings, one of which was “Hard Metal Jacket.” Terry burned “Hard Metal Jacket” and the other songs that I had composed and recorded (collectively, the “Malibu Recordings”) onto a CD and gave the CD to me. In November 2002, when Bono was visiting Los Angeles, I played “Hard Metal Jacket,” and the other Malibu Recordings, for Bono and a mutual friend Lian Lunson.
Bono spoke about this meeting in November 2002:
In November 2002, Edge and I were visiting a friend in Los Angeles named Lian Lunson. Edge played for us recordings of several songs he had been working on. One of the songs, which he titled “Full Metal Jacket” or “Hard Metal Jacket” consisted bass and guitar tracks over drum loops. In listening to “Hard Metal Jacket,” I was impressed with the guitar attitude and vitality, and I thought that the song had some potential to become a U2 song.
In December 2002 the band started work in Dublin on the song, and the band recorded over 75 versions of the song. Bono spoke about the changes to the song:
Over the next two years Hard Metal Jacket went through many iterations on the way to becoming Vertigo. Sometimes in order to identify a particular melodic approach we attached different names to different versions of the song. The names included “Shark Soup,” “Viva La Ramone” and “Native Son” (which was actually the proper title for the song for a while).
The Edge also spoke of some of these alternate titles:
As “Hard Metal Jacket” evolved, the music, instrumentation, title and lyrics changed many times. Over the course of time, “Hard Metal Jacket” had several working titles (for purposes of distinguishing between melodic ideas incorporated within its many iterations), such as “Viva La Ramone,” “Shark Soup,” “Sopa de Tiburon,” “Native Son” and finally “Vertigo.”