"What's Going On" (1976)

Demo Song

Background Information

Bono talks about the first song he wrote in U2 by U2 with commentary by Larry and Adam:

Bono: I wrote my first song while we were rehearsing at Adam’s house. That was interesting because it happened very quickly. I don’t know where I got the guitar or whose guitar it was, but I remember figuring out minor chords, and moving between them. It was chord I made up; it’s not that hard.

Adam: I Think the first chord would be a B major seventh and then it was followed by an A major, and he just moved between those two chords and that became the song. There was a kind of magic about them. They had a mood and tone.

Bono: I got a chorus almost immediately – ‘What’s Going On?’ I thought that was very original!

Adam: We hadn’t heard of Marvin Gaye in those days, so we weren’t aware the title had been used before. But it was something.

Larry: I thought it was called ‘Wednesday Afternoon’, because we used to rehearse on Wednesday afternoon.We got so frustrated trying to do cover versions. One afternoon Bono just started strumming away on a few chords. After a while it started to sound like music.

Larry may have thought it called “Wednesday Afternoon” but an old list of songs that U2 were working on includes the title “What’s Going On” at number 9 in the list. (The paper in the foreground) Photograph from U2 by U2.

The song “Concentration Cramp” is included in a list of songs that are written in Bono’s handwriting, including songs we know U2 had worked on as well as songs from other artists such as “Mannequin” and “Jumping Jack Flash” that they had worked on in their earliest live shows. The photograph is from U2 by U2.

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