"Vertigo" - U2


Track Listing:

Also included on the DVD Single:
Vertigo (HQ Video) (Video) (3:11)
Vertigo (Audio with Photo Gallery) (Video) (4:13)
Vertigo (Jacknife Lee 10” Lisbon Video) (Video) (4:13)

Background Information

“Vertigo” was the first single released from U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album. If first took shape during the “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” recording sessions as a song called “Full Metal Jacket,” and later “Native Son.” When Steve Lillywhite was brought in as producer mid-way through the recording process, he asked Bono if he’d be able to sing the lyrics to “Native Son” in a live setting. This conversation led to Bono writing new lyrics to what would become “Vertigo.” The song was first heard on August 17, 2004, when a low-quality, 90-second clip recorded by fans outside of Bono’s house in the South of France was posted online. Dave Fanning would premiere the song officially on Ireland’s 2FM radio on September 23, 2004. The next day, a limited 7-inch single of “Vertigo” was released for sale in the USA (although limited, this 7-inch vinyl became more widely available when “Vertigo” was issued worldwide in November). The single was commercially released on November 8 in Europe and Australia, and on November 9 in North America. Aside from the 7-inch release, there was no commercial CD release of the single in the USA.

All commercial formats of the single contained a slight edit of the album version (although it is not labeled as such), eliminating a few seconds of ambient sound at the end of the track. Two CD versions were released in most regions. One featured a new B-side, “Are You Gonna Wait Forever?” The other featured two additional tracks: “‘Vertigo (Jacknife Lee 10”)” and “Neon Lights,” a cover of the Kraftwerk song. A 12-inch single was also released, featuring 7” (slightly different from the album edit found on other singles), 10” (also found on the CD single) and 12” (both vocal and instrumental) remixes by Jacknife Lee. A second 12-inch was released in February of 2005, simultaneously with “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own.” That version featured two additional mixes of “Vertigo,” the “Redanka Power Mix” and the “Trent Reznor Remix.”

A DVD single was also released worldwide. It featured a live version of “Vertigo” filmed at Hanover Quay studios on June 9 and 10, 2004. Also included was a photo gallery set to the title track, “Are You Gonna Wait Forever?” (audio only), and a music video set to the “Jacknife Lee 10” Mix” of “Vertigo.” Footage for this video was filmed during photo shoots for the album in Lisbon.

The DVD single did not, however, include the official promotional video for the single version of “Vertigo.” That video, directed by Alex Courtes and Martin Fougerol, was shot on September 14 and 15 on Spain’s eastern coast. It depicts the band performing in a dusty area, while special effects are used to make it appear that rings like a target are dancing around them. Another video (also not on the DVD single) was directed by Mark Romanek on September 18 and 19. It was filmed on a soundstage in West London, and features the band in black silhouette against a variety of colourful backgrounds. This video was used to promote the iTunes music store and the iPod. Two versions were released on October 12, 2004: a 30-second version for TV, and a two-minute version for iTunes. Later that month, on October 26, Bono and the Edge would join Apple Computer chairman Steve Jobs to announce the release of The Complete U2, a collection of more than 400 U2 songs available exclusively via iTunes, as well as the creation of a U2-themed iPod, which was uniquely coloured and featured each of the band members’ signatures.

“Vertigo” was performed extensively during the promotional tour leading up to the release of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, including on the programs “Top of the Pops,” “CD:UK,” “BBC Radio 1,” and “Saturday Night Live.” It was also played at every full show on The Vertigo Tour in 2004, every night of 2009-2011’s U2360° Tour, and every night of the first two legs of 2015’s Innocence and Experience Tour. Several live versions of the song have been officially released: November 22, 2004 in Brooklyn, New York on the “Live from Under the Brooklyn Bridge” digital EP; Chicago on May 9, 2005 on the U2.Communication fan club release and on the “U2 Live: Vertigo” promo CD; Milan on July 21, 2005 on the U218 Singles deluxe iTunes release (and on the DVD accompanying the deluxe CD version of that album); and the Somerville Theatre in Boston in 2009 on some versions of the “Magnificent” single. Multi-artist compilation appearances include a 2005 performance recorded during U2’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the digital Live from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction, 2005; a June, 2005 performance from Live 8, and an October, 2009 performance in New York, again at a concert celebrating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, released on The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts. In 2011, members of the U2 Fan Club were given the opportunity to vote on 46 live tracks recorded during The U2360° Tour, with the top 22 songs to be included on a live album, U22. “Vertigo” was one of these choices. In the end, however, the song did not receive enough votes to appear on the final live compilation. The following year, the Edge picked his favorite tracks from the remaining 46 live tracks, and “Vertigo” recorded in Perth, Australia on December 18, 2010 was included on From the Ground Up: Edge’s Picks. “Vertigo” was performed every night on the 2015 Innocence + Experience tour, and at 80.4% of shows on The Joshua Tree 2017 tour.

The studio version of “Vertigo” was included on the compilation U218 Singles, released just two years after the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album. “Native Son,” the aforementioned early version of “Vertigo” completed before Steve Lillywhite’s intervention, was included in the Unreleased and Rare section of The Complete U2 release on iTunes, as well as on the fan club CD Medium, Rare & Remastered. “Neon Lights” was also included on Medium, Rare & Remastered, while “Vertigo (Trent Reznor Remix)” would later appear on some formats of the “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own” single as well as on the Artificial Horizon remix CD.

On July 22, 2022, U2 upgraded their digital single offerings, and “Vertigo” was one of the singles upgraded. See our catalog listings below for information on the new release.

Liner Notes

Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono with The Edge. Recorded by Carl Glanville. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Mixed by Carl Glanville and Steve Lillywhite. Backing vocals by The Edge. Synthesizers by Jacknife Lee.

Are You Gonna Wait Forever:
Music by U2. Lyrics by Bono. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. Recorded and Mixed by Richard Rainey. Assisted by Chris Heaney.

Neon Lights:
Music and lyrics by Karl Bartos, Ralf Huetter, Florian Schneider Esteban. Produced by U2 and Richard Rainey. Recorded by Richard Rainey. Assisted by Chris Heaney. Recorded at Hanover Quay, Dublin.

Vertigo (Jacknife Lee 10”):
Remixed by Jacknife Lee. Random Moog and Nord attacks by Betsey and Esme Lee.

Audio Post Production: Cheryl Engles at Partial Productions. Mastering: Arnie Acosta at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood. Assisted by Joe Bozzi.


Photography by Anton Corbijn. Designed at FourFiveOne Creative.

Recognition and Awards

  • #34 on Top 100 Tracks of 2005, Readers Poll (Q Magazine)
  • #58 on 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever (Q Magazine, March 2005)
  • #8 on Best Singles, Critics Picks (Rolling Stone, 2004)
  • #1 on Best Singles, Readers Picks (Rolling Stone, 2004)
  • #64 on Songs of the Decade (2000-2009) (Rolling Stone, 2010)
  • Nomination, Best Group Video (MTV Video Music Awards, USA, 2005)
  • Nomination, Breakthrough Video (MTV Video Music Awards, USA, 2005)
  • Nomination and Win, Best Rock Performance by Duo Group (Grammy Awards, 2005)
  • Nomination and Win, Best Rock Song (Grammy Awards, 2005)

Related Promotional Videos

Related News

Catalog of Releases