When "Enjoy the Silence" was written by Martin Gore, it was intended to be a slow-paced ballad in C minor; the demo featured a harmonium with Gore singing. Alan Wilder saw hit potential in the track, and arranged an upbeattempo and structure for the song. Despite initial resistance from songwriter Gore, who felt the spirit of the song was not suited to an upbeat track, the rest of the group liked it. After some self-described "sulking", Gore came around and added more to the embryonic fast version together with producer Mark "Flood" Ellis, notably the guitar riff heard throughout. Depeche Mode lead singer David Gahan contributed his distinctive lead vocals to the track and within hours the band was convinced they had a hit single on their hands. At Gore's insistence, the demo was later remade into the "Harmonium" version (available on the limited edition 12" vinyl and Maxi CD releases), featuring Gore on vocals.
"Enjoy the Silence" became one of the band's most successful singles, and its first UK Top 10 hit since 1984. The single rocketed up the UK Singles Chart to No. 6, remaining there for three weeks. This was the band's highest-charting single since "People Are People" peaked at No. 4 in 1984. Additionally, other than "People Are People", only two other singles released by the band had reached as high as No. 6: 1982's "See You" and 1983's "Everything Counts".
The song reached No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in July 1990, making it the only Depeche Mode single to date to achieve top 10 status. It was also only their second top twenty hit in the US. At the time, the only other Depeche Mode single to hit the US Top 20 was "People Are People", which hit No. 13. The single also topped the US Modern Rock Tracks chart, another first for the band (as this chart had been created in 1988). The chart measures radio airplay on US modern rock stations.
"Enjoy the Silence 04" was almost equally successful in the UK, peaking at No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, it reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play. In addition, the limited edition vinyl releases also charted, but due to the fact that their lead track was not "Enjoy the Silence", these releases charted separately. As a result, "Something to Do", the A-side to the L12 release, spent one week at No. 75 on the UK Singles Chart.
The original release of the single included a wide variety of remixes. The standard 12" version of the song is the "Hands and Feet Mix", while the B-side of the 12" version included a dub mix called the "Ecstatic Dub". The limited edition 12" release included three more remixes: the aforementioned "Harmonium" version which follows the structure of the original demo, the "Bass Line" version, and the "Ricki Tik Tik Mix". The latter one is actually an edit omitting a synth part in the middle because Mute had to fit everything on a 3" CD. The boxed rerelease finally had the full version. One of the more unusual mixes is "The Quad: Final Mix" which expands the song to over fifteen minutes in length, making it the longest commercially available Depeche Mode track.
In addition to the "reinterpretation" by Mike Shinoda, there were several more remixes of the song released in 2004. The 12" version of the release included remixes by Timo Maas and Ewan Pearson, while one of the limited edition CDs included a remix from Richard X.
There are two instrumental B-sides to "Enjoy the Silence". "Sibeling" (the 12" B-side) is a soft piano-tune while "Memphisto" (the 7" B-side) is a darker, eerier track. The title of "Sibeling" refers to FinnishclassicalcomposerJean Sibelius. According to Martin Gore, "Memphisto is the name of an imaginary film about Elvis as a Devil, that I created in my mind". As such, the title is a portmanteau of Memphis and Mephisto. "Sibeling" was produced by the combination of the band and Flood, who produced much of Depeche Mode's work from 1990 to 1993, while "Memphisto" was produced by the band alone.
The Anton Corbijn-directed music video for "Enjoy the Silence" references the themes and storyline of the philosophical children's book The Little Prince. Footage of Gahan dressed as a stereotypical king wandering the hillsides of the Scottish Highlands, the coast of Portugal and finally the Swiss Alps with a deck chair is intercut with black-and-white footage of the band posing. Brief flashes of a single rose (which is also on the album cover of Violator) appear throughout the scenes.
When Corbijn presented the concept of the video to the band, which at the time was simply "Dave dressed up as a king, walking around with a deck chair", they initially rejected it. They changed their minds, when he explained that the idea was that the King (Dave) was represented "a man with everything in the world, just looking for a quiet place to sit"; a king of no kingdom. Andy Fletcher jokes that he favoured the video because "[he] only had to do about an hour's worth of work".
The video uses a slightly different mix of the album version of the song (the most notable difference being a new and extended introduction) that has not been released in any audio format. The final long shots of the king walking through the snow are not Gahan but rather the video's producer, Richard Bell. Gahan had left the set, tiring of the cold in Switzerland (recounted by Gahan in the intro to The Videos (86-98)).
In 1990, a promotional video for "Enjoy the Silence" was shot by French TV (for the TV Show "Champs-Élysées" with Michel Drucker) featuring Depeche Mode lip-syncing the song while standing atop the World Trade Center at the WTC rooftop World observatory. In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, in which the towers were destroyed, this video gained special significance among New Yorkers and others as, now, functioning as an elegant tribute to the victims.
One of the two videos for Coldplay's 2008 song "Viva la Vida" is a homage/tribute to the "Enjoy the Silence" video (it was also directed by Corbijn and features Coldplay singer Chris Martin walking around dressed as a king).
David Gahan sings all versions of "Enjoy the Silence" except the "Harmonium" version which is sung by Martin Gore.
"Sibeling" and "Memphisto" are instrumentals.
"Enjoy the Silence" was recorded at Puk Studios, Denmark and engineered by Peter Iversen.
"Sibeling" and "Memphisto" were recorded and mixed at The Church, London and engineered by Steve Lyon.
The 7" version of "Enjoy the Silence" and the "Ricki Tik Tik Mix" was mixed by Daniel Miller and Phil Legg at Master Rock Studios, London.
The "Hands and Feet Mix" and "Ecstatic Dub" were mixed by Francois Kevorkian at The Church, London and engineered by Steve Lyon.
The "Bass Line" version was mixed by Francois Kevorkian at Axis, New York and engineered by Goh Hotoda.
The "Harmonium" version was mixed by Depeche Mode at The Church, London and engineered by Steve Lyon.
"The Quad: Final Mix" was mixed by Tim Simenon, Holger Hiller, Gareth Jones with Mimi Izumi Kobayashi, and Adrian Sherwood with David Harrow at Worldwide Studios, London and engineered by Paul Kendall. Contains samples from Luc Ferrari's composition Visage V.
"Enjoy the Silence" was re-released as a single in 2004 for the Depeche Mode remix project Remixes 81 - 04, and was titled "Enjoy the Silence (Reinterpreted)" or, more simply, "Enjoy the Silence 04". The "Reinterpreted" version was remixed by Mike Shinoda, the rapper and producer for the American band Linkin Park.
Mike Shinoda's "Enjoy the Silence 04" was a distortion guitar-driven version of the song, in which he imprinted Linkin Park's distinctive nu metal sound. Its animated music video was directed by Uwe Flade. Monitors in the animation show performances of "Enjoy the Silence" excerpted from Devotional and One Night in Paris, as well as footage from a concert from The Singles Tour filmed in Cologne in 1998 for MTV.
Apoptygma Berzerk covered "Enjoy the Silence" on their APBL98 album which was based on the APB Europe tour in 1997-98. The version has never been released as a studio recording.
Bell X1 covered the song on The Ray D'Arcy Show on Today FM and occasionally incorporate it into their song "I'll See Your Heart and I'll Raise You Mine". It is a B-side to the single "Rocky Took a Lover".
Finnish native Janita recorded a melodic jazz/soul version of the song on the 2006 re-release of her fifth album, 2005's Seasons of Life.
Jeff Bujak does a piano and Fender Rhodes version live. There is no available recording.
Keane covered this song as acoustic version, they released the song as B-side of their single "A Bad Dream" from their second album Under the Iron Sea. The video of the cover has over 1 million views on YouTube.
Canadian alternative band Matthew Good Band covered the song for their 1998 limited EPLo-Fi B-Sides. It was later re-released for the lead singer's solo compilation release In A Coma, on the deluxe edition's second CD, in 2005.
Progressive trance producer Andrew Bennett, who produces as Memento, produced an official cover track based on "Enjoy the Silence" in 2010, titled "Enjoy the Silence". The track features vocalist Ken Spector, and the radio edit was featured on producer Sander Van Doorn's 2 CD mixed compilation album release titled Dusk Till Doorn released on August 16, 2010 on New State Music. The radio edit was also included on progressive trance producers Moonbeam's 2 CD mixed compilation album release called Moonbeam Presents: Space Odyssey - Venus released on September 27, 2010 on Black Hole Recordings. On February 21, 2011 the single was released on Big And Dirty records with a Starkillers remix.
Trance producer Mike Koglin recorded a trance track based on "Enjoy the Silence" in 1998, titled "The Silence".
Dutch rock band Moke has covered this song live on multiple occasions.
Polish progressive/gothic band Moonlight covered the song on their 1999 Inermis album.
Franco-American band Moriarty did an acoustic cover of the song on the 2008 compilation La Musique de Paris Dernière.
Nada Surf cover the song on their 2010 album If I Had a Hi-Fi.
Sylvain Chauveau covered the song for Down to the Bone - An Acoustic Tribute to Depeche Mode with Ensemble Nocturne.
Argentine neo-tango band from Buenos AiresTanghetto did an instrumental version with the bandoneon taking the role of the lead voice. This was included in their Buenos Aires Remixed album as track 3. Tanghetto's version charted in Greece and other countries of Eastern Europe.
Texas Lightning, a German country band with Olli Dittrich, did a cover of the song.
There is a UK version of the video and an International one. Both videos, shot with Closer music video on March 12, 2006, came out on June, 2006, include the band performing in a dark room, but aside from that the UK version shows live clips of the London Forum show, while the International one shows scenes of a city (Portland, Oregon), the countryside, and a bay.