"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. Lead singer 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.
"I Will Follow" was written three weeks before U2 began recording Boy. During early rehearsals of the song, the group frequently had loud arguments, as lead vocalist Bono was struggling to convey the aggression for the guitar riff that he was envisioning. Frustrated, he took the Edge's guitar from him and "hammer[ed] away" on the two-stringed chord the Edge had created to show his bandmates the urgency he wanted. Bono said, "It was literally coming out of a kind of rage, the sound of a nail being hammered into your frontal lobe". Bono has said that he wrote the lyrics from the perspective of his mother Iris, who died in 1974 when he was 14 years old, and that they were about the unconditional love a mother has for her child. The song features a glockenspiel to provide what Bono called "underlying instrumental coloring"; it was added at his suggestion, and was played during the Boy recording sessions by him and the Edge. For the middle eight section of the song, producer Steve Lillywhite recorded the sounds of silverware rubbing against the spokes of a spinning wheel on an upturned bicycle, as well as Bono smashing bottles.
It is the band's most frequently performed song with over 800 performances. It has been performed at every concert of The Joshua Tree, PopMart Tour and the Innocence + Experience Tour 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.
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."
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. The 1983 release was in a generic red sleeve with no cover artwork.