Eleven O'Clock Tick Tock
by U2

Album: Boy (remaster) (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Bono is looking for something outside his bubble. He was inspired to write the lyric after watching an atmospheric performance by the rockabilly/punk band The Cramps. "This was the peak of Goth and the gig was filled with candles," he recalled in the book U2 by U2. "Voodoo was the order of the day, there was the atmosphere of Black Mass, and I was thinking it was the night of the tragically hip. There was a lostness in the looks on their faces. It was that sepulchral make-up, white face, dark eyes, stuff my mates in the Virgin Prunes were up to their painted eyebrows in. But it felt like the end of the world. To a very young boy, 19 years old, from the suburbs of Dublin, it seemed there was no life here at all. There might have been more humor than I was capable of spotting at the time."
  • U2 had released some material in their native Ireland, but "Eleven O'Clock Tick Tock" was their first single released outside that country and their first on Island Records. They did a series of shows in England to support it.
  • The title doesn't appear in the lyric. It came from a note Bono's friend Gavin Friday (from The Virgin Prunes) left on his door when he came to visit and Bono was not home. At one point the song was called "Silver Lining," which also isn't in the lyric.
  • An influence on this song was inspired by the fragmented punk scene Bono saw when they opened a show in 1979 for The Talking Heads and Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark.
  • U2 would need separate wings in their mansions to hold all their awards, but one they probably remember well is the nod for Best Single this song won in the 1980 readers' poll from the Irish magazine Hot Press.
  • The Edge ran his guitar through a cheap echo unit he bought called a Memory Man, which gave him a distinctive sound that evolved into his signature.
  • U2 recorded this in Dublin with producer Martin Hannett, who also worked with Joy Division. Along with the B-side, "Touch," it's one of two songs Hannett produced for the band. Steve Lillywhite came in to produce their debut album, Boy.
  • The studio version didn't appear on an album until it was included on the 2008 remastered edition of Boy, but live versions show up on various compilations and live albums, most notably Under A Blood Red Sky. On that album, it's the only track taken from a performance at The Orpheum in Boston on May 6, 1983.

Comments: 7

  • Beau from Phoenix, AzActually, Bono revealed in "U2 By U2" that the note was left by Gavin Friday.
  • Steven from Regina, SkCome on man, this song was NOT written in '87, it was a single released in 1980!! It also had nothing to do with clubs or gavin friday. The band was supposed to meet for practice in thier jam space where everyone showed up but Bono, the rest left and when Bono finally showed, a not had been posted by Larry on the jamspace door regarding him being late, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" . .they were supposed to jam at 11 that day!
  • Cristián from Santiago, ChileI guess it's been a long time since anyone could've posted a comment. Well, my tip is that this song was previously known as "Silver Lining", with different lyrics, as you may find out at http://www.u2-vertigo-tour.com/song250.html. It's from 1979.

    Cristián, Santiago de Chile.
  • Rudi from Uk, EnglandThis is actually about the crowd at a Cramps concert Bono went to in London. They were all turfed out at 11pm ("I hear the children crying ... and I know it's time to go") It was the sight of all these young punk kids spilling out onto the streets at 11pm. B
  • Ryan from Windsor, CanadaRichard, Newport, Isle of Wight, England, theres no way this song was about the 1987 bombings. Considering Bono was preforming this song in 1983 it would mean he's either psychic or was involved.
  • Richard from Newport, Isle Of Wight, EnglandThe title of this song, and the line "I hear the children crying", suggest that it is about the 1987 bombing by the IRA of a Remembrance Day parade in Enniskillen in the United Kingdom, which killed 11 innocent civilians. It is not about this, of course, as it was released seven years earlier! As a side note, the bombing is mentioned in the film Rattle and Hum: the night of the bombing, the band were playing a gig -during Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bono angrily denounced the IRA's act of mass murder that day, describing it as "leaving people dead and dying under the rubble of a revolution that most of the people in my country don't want."
  • Chris from Kingston, OtherNot really true that the only place to find it would be on the Under a Blood Red Sky album - it was released as a single in the UK back in 1980. The flip side of the single included another good but not often heard song "Touch"
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