“Vertigo” is a song released by U2 in 2004 on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
In July 2004, U2Log.Com reported that their reader Paul, in Dublin, had been in contact with someone who had met with British conceptual artist Damian Hirst while Hirst was in Dublin. Hirst had claimed to have visited the studios to listen to some of the latest tracks with Bono. Bono asked for advice on titles from Hirst, and Hirst gave him two suggestions, one was “Vertigo” and the second was “How to Deconstruct an Atomic Bomb”. These were specified as song titles, and not title suggestions for the album.
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.”