I Will Follow

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For the 2010 film, see I Will Follow (film). For the Chris Tomlin song, see And If Our God Is for Us....
"I Will Follow"
UK cover
Single by U2
from the album Boy
Released 25 October 1980
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded March–September 1980 at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin
Genre Rock, post-punk
Length 3:37
Label Columbia, Island
Writer(s) U2
Producer(s) Steve Lillywhite
U2 singles chronology
"A Day Without Me"
"I Will Follow"
U2 2000s singles chronology
"I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight"
"I Will Follow" (live from Glastonbury)
"Blow Your House Down"
Alternative Covers
Canadian cover

"I Will Follow" is a song by rock band U2. It is the opening track from their debut album, Boy, and it was released as the album's second single, in October 1980. Bono wrote the lyrics to "I Will Follow" in tribute to his mother who died when he was 14 years old.

"I Will Follow" is the only song that U2 have performed on every tour since they released their first album. The song was U2's first music video, directed by Meiert Avis in Dublin, Ireland. The song was issued five times, first in 1981 on a 7" vinyl in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, second on the same format in the United States and Canada, third in the Netherlands in 1982 with a track from 1981's October, in 1983 with a live version of the song, and finally in 2011 with a live version of the song recorded at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival.

Composition and releases[edit]

"I Will Follow" was written three weeks before U2 began recording Boy.[1] U2 singer Bono has said that he wrote the song from his mother's perspective and that it was about the unconditional love a mother has for her child.[2] His mother died following her own father's funeral when Bono was fourteen, which the singer says plunged him into emotional turmoil for the next few years. The song features the lyrics "his mother takes him by his hand" and "If you walk away, I will follow." Bono has also described the song's lyrics as a 14 year old boy's suicide note, wanting to follow his deceased mother into the grave.[3]

In the recording of the song for the Boy album its Producer Steve Lillywhite plays a glockenspiel.[4]

Edge has acknowledged John McGeogh as an influence on his early sound; the guitar line on this tune does evoke comparison to Magazine's "Because You're Frightened."

"I Will Follow" had a second single release as a live version in the Netherlands and Germany in 1982, and a third release in the U.S., lifted from the Under a Blood Red Sky album, in 1983. It appeared on both the compilation album and video collection The Best of 1980-1990, and in some countries, on the U218 Singles compilation.

The song is included in the 2015 music video game Rock Band 4 as a playable track.[5]

Live performances[edit]

It is the band's most frequently performed song with over 800 performances. It has been performed at every concert of The Joshua Tree and PopMart Tours.[6] It has been played extensively on every tour with the exception of the Zoo TV Tour, where it was performed infrequently, and was part of the acoustic set, and the U2 360° Tour, where it wasn't played until the third leg. The Edge usually plays this song on his favorite guitar, the Gibson Explorer.[citation needed] The only exceptions were the Lovetown and PopMart Tours. On Lovetown, it was segued into directly after "Where the Streets Have No Name," during which Edge used a yellow Fender Stratocaster with Lace Sensor pickups. In 1997 on the PopMart Tour, the song was segued into immediately after "Mofo," for which Edge used a Gibson Les Paul Custom. The PopMart Tour version, seen in PopMart: Live from Mexico City also had some altered lyrics: "You took the soul of me/Put a hole in me/You should've said/That's your lie."

The song appears on the live recordings/films Under a Blood Red Sky, U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky, Live from the Point Depot, PopMart: Live from Mexico City, Elevation 2001: Live from Boston, Live from Boston 1981, Live from Paris, and U22. It also appears on Vertigo 05: Live from Milan, the bonus DVD that is included with the U218 Singles compilation and as a bonus track for UK/Australia releases of the CD.

U2 performed the song on the BBC2 television show The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1981. The performance was later released on DVD on a compilation of performances from the show.[7]

When the song is played live, Bono sometimes changes the lyric "his mother takes him by the hand" to "his lover takes him by the hand."

Reception and legacy[edit]

In 2005, Blender ranked the song at number 214 on its list "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born". The magazine wrote, "The first song on U2's first album introduced the guitar sound that would define their work. [...] The arena-ready clarion call also established Bono's trademark lyrical earnestness, one of the reasons the song remains a fan favorite and a staple of the band's recent tours."[8]

Track listings[edit]

7" Ireland, UK, Australia, and New Zealand release
No. Title Length
1. "I Will Follow"   3:37
2. "Boy-Girl" (Live from the Marquee Club, London, England, September 22, 1980 (1980-09-22)) 3:24
7" Canada and US release
No. Title Length
1. "I Will Follow"   3:37
2. "Out of Control" (Live at Paradise Rock Club, Boston, Massachusetts, March 6, 1981 (1981-03-06)) 4:25
The Netherlands release
No. Title Length
1. "I Will Follow" (Live in Hattem, the Netherlands, May 14, 1982 (1982-05-14)) 3:51
2. "Gloria"   4:12
1983 release
No. Title Length
1. "I Will Follow" (Live from West Germany, August 20, 1983 (1983-08-20)) 3:40
2. "Two Hearts Beat as One" (Import mix) 3:42
2011 Glastonbury release
No. Title Length
1. "I Will Follow" (Live at Glastonbury Festival 2011, Somerset, England, June 24, 2011 (2011-06-24)) 4:01

The Netherlands release was recorded for the Veronica TV concert series Countdown, and was reissued in Germany in 1983. The cover of the Canadian and U.S. releases feature the same image as the North American release of Boy, to avoid accusations of pedophilia due to the image of the naked boy. The 1983 release was in a generic red sleeve with no cover artwork.


Chart positions[edit]

1981 release[edit]

Chart (1981) Position
US Billboard Top Tracks 20

1982 release[edit]

Chart (1982) Position
Netherlands Top 40 12

1983 release[edit]

Chart (1984) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 81[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bono in San Antonio". U2 Magazine No. 3. May 1, 1982. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  2. ^ Stokes, Niall (1996). Into The Heart: The Stories Behind Every U2 Song. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 0-7322-6036-1. 
  3. ^ Verbal interaction with the audience at a U2 concert 28 June 2015, Chicago, U.S.A
  4. ^ Graham, Bill; van Oosten de Boer (2004). U2: The Complete Guide to their Music. London: Omnibus Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-7119-9886-8. 
  5. ^ Snider, Mike (September 28, 2015). "'Rock Band 4' gets U2 as music video game rivalry reboots". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved September 28, 2015. 
  6. ^ "I Will Follow Performances". Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  7. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003. 
  8. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born". Blender (41). October 2005. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  9. ^ "U2 - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 

External links[edit]