U2 – Vertigo

Uno, dos, tres, catorce

I remember seeing this in commercials before I heard the song…I knew times were changing. It had been a little while at that time since I really liked a new U2 song…this one I really did.

The song peaked at #31 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #1 in the UK, and #5 in New Zealand in 2004. It was on the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and it peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, The UK, and New Zealand.

This won three Grammy Awards: Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Short Form Music Video.

Adam Clayton: “Bono and Edge rewrote it when we started work with Steve Lillywhite. The bass and drums have a little bit of Echo & the Bunnymen in there – a nice wink to where we came from.”


From Songfacts

Vertigo is a sensation of dizziness or a feeling of disorientation. It can be a serious medical condition, but in the context of this song, it seems to be about opening your mind and looking at things in a different way.

This was used in commercials as part of a big promotional deal with Apple. The commercials, where many people first heard the song, promoted Apple’s iPod. Apple also released a special-edition iPod with the signatures of the band members engraved on the back, and made the entire U2 catalog along with special bonus tracks available for download at iTunes for $150.

U2 made many high-profile appearances to promote the album, including performances on Saturday Night Live and the Grammy Awards. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, U2 often stayed away from these kind of appearances to avoid the feeling of commercialism, but by the 2000s, it became clear that these appearances were crucial if U2 was going to continue selling millions of albums and fill arenas.

This song is notorious for its intro, in which Bono says “Uno, dos, tres, catorce,” which is “1, 2, 3, 14” in Spanish. One theory is that Bono was directing listeners to The Bible: 1st Testament, 2nd Book, 3rd Chapter, 14th verse – “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Another theory is that he did it because How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was U2’s 14th album.

Vertigo is the name of a popular 1958 movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

U2 played this when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

This song was ruthlessly parodied on the South Park episode “More Crap.” The plot of the episode revolved around the character Randy Marsh breaking the world record for largest piece of crap, which was previously held by Bono. Bono is featured throughout the episode trying to beat, and then preserve this record. Almost everywhere he goes (including poor nations in Africa) he sings run around pointing and singing his “yeah, yeah, yeah” outro of “Vertigo.” He also answers his cell phone with the “Hello, hello” part of the chorus. >>

This was originally called “Native Son” and had a very different feel. Adam Clayton explained to Q Magazine November 2004:

Adam Clayton said of this album: “It’s very much a guitar record, ‘Vertigo,’ ‘Love and Peace,’ ‘City of Blinding Lights,’ ‘All Because of You’ – all pretty up, rocky tunes. A lot of them are a kick-back to our very early days, so it’s like with each year we have gathered a little bit more and this is what we are now.”


Unos, dos, tres, catorce
Turn it up loud, captain

Lights go down, it’s dark
The jungle is your head, can’t rule your heart
A feeling’s so much stronger than a thought
Your eyes are wide and though your soul, it can’t be bought
Your mind can wander

Hello, hello (hola)
I’m at a place called Vertigo (¿dónde está?)
It’s everything I wish I didn’t know
Except you give me something
I can feel, feel

The night is full of holes
‘Cause bullets rip the sky of ink with gold
They twinkle as the boys play rock and roll
They know that they can’t dance, at least they know
I can’t stand the beat, I’m asking for the check
Girl with crimson nails has Jesus around her neck
Swinging to the music, swinging to the music (whoa, whoa)
(Whoa, whoa, whoa)

Hello, hello (hola)
I’m at a place called Vertigo (¿dónde está?)
It’s everything I wish I didn’t know
But you give me something
I can feel, feel

Jazz funk
Show made it in, yeah

All of this, all of this can be yours
All of this, all of this can be yours
All of this, all of this can be yours
Just give me what I want and no one gets hurt

Hello, hello (hola)
We’re at a place called Vertigo (¿dónde está?)
Lights go down, and all I know
Is that you give me something
I can feel your love teaching me how
Your love is teaching me how
How to kneel

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

29 thoughts on “U2 – Vertigo”

  1. What a great rock track! I bought this album because of it and well I still like the track.
    The album well,when I listen to U2 now I prefer Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby
    How’s that for a answer?! Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The last U2 album that came close to excellence. A pretty good return to their 80s form, and like Bono says even a bit of an Echo & the Bunnymen vibe going on. It was used too much in commercials for my liking, wasn’t exactly like they needed extra money by then, but as we’ve discussed before, by about that time it was getting to be one of a few viable ways to get people to hear your music.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, by that time you’d be talking 10 studio albums plus an EP or two and I think at least two live ones , so I would’ve considered paying that much for a hard copy of it say in a nice box set but not for downloads!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I liked this song. I wouldn’t have remembered the iPod commercial if you didn’t remember it. Funny thing about U2… I followed them for years and was kind of obsessed with their music, but oddly, they are one band I rarely listen to these days. I don’t know why.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is one of the last things I liked by them…I like some of their 80s music and Atchung Baby but after that it’s spotty.
      I know what you mean…I don’t listen to a lot either now.


  4. That’s quite a power rocker. As somebody who really digs the Joshua Tree era U2, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight in my case.

    While I wouldn’t say I now love Vertigo, I’ve gotten used to it. And as much as I like the sound of the Joshua Tree album, I respect U2 for not being stagnant and trying new approaches/sounds.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh I do like his delay…he really made it big again through the 80s…Angel of Harlem and Love Rescue Me I love off of that album

        Liked by 1 person

  5. the last U2 album I bought, this one. They’ve had 4 or 5 great singles since, but nothing like the previous consistency. I rather liked their more experimental 90’s phase as well as the rock 80’s, they were reacting to getting slagged off for doing “U2 rock” and then got slagged off for not doing “U2 rock”. Hey ho….

    Liked by 1 person

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