I Will Follow
by U2

Album: Boy (1980)
Charted: 81
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Bono's lyric was inspired by his mother, who died in 1974 when he was 14. Bono calls it "a song about unconditional love."

    The love he refers to is between a mother and a child, how no matter what the child does, the mother will still love him. There is a biblical component to the song as well, as it's an analog to the love of God as expressed in Romans 8:39: "In neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God."
  • This was the first song on the first U2 album. It was released as a single at the same time as the album Boy.
  • This song is an example of what would become The Edge's distinctive guitar style. He felt he could play only a few notes, but make it work by finding the right ones.
  • The spiritual themes in the lyrics were typical of early U2. Bono, The Edge, and Larry Mullen were members of a devout Christian group.
  • U2's first music video was for this song. Directed by Meiert Avis, is shows the band performing the song in front of a giant image of the album cover. It's one of those unfortunate early '80s videos that used green screen before it could produce a clean key, so there are some ugly edges on the band, who are superimposed in front of the image.
  • For sound effects, bottles were thrown on the floor and bicycle wheels were spun and hit with bottles and knives. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bill - Johnstown, PA
  • A glockenspiel, which is a percussion instrument similar to a xylophone, was used on this track.
  • A concert favorite, this appears on their live album Under A Blood Red Sky.
  • Bono sings the lyrics from a mother's point of view. "I know that's mad but I have done it a few times," he says. "But if you step out of that for a second and think it's a song about my own mother, it becomes a suicide note - 'If you leave me, I'm coming after you.' This is mind-blowing to me looking back. What drugs were we on? None!"
  • "'I Will Follow' came out of a screaming argument in the rehearsal room," Bono recalls in the book U2 by U2. "I remember trying to make a sound I heard in my head, and taking Edge's guitar from him and hammering away. It was literally coming out of a kind of rage, the sound of a nail being hammered into your frontal lobe."
  • What happened to the boy on the album cover? His name is Peter Rowen and he is the younger brother of Bono's friend, Guggi, a one-time member of the goth/post-punk band The Virgin Prunes. Peter also appeared on several other of U2's release covers and is now a renowned Irish photographer.
  • The Replacements recorded an answer song to this called "Kids Don't Follow" on their 1982 album Stink.
  • Collective Soul played this at Woodstock '99. Other groups who played it from time to time include Third Eye Blind and Hootie & the Blowfish. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
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Comments: 10

  • Fred from Laurel, MdA word of explanation about the glockenspiel. Sometimes called "the bells" ("glocken" is German for "bells"; "spiel" means "play"), it's like a xylophone, only about a ft by a ft-and-a-half, and the bars are solid metal (aluminum?), giving the instrument a very bright sound with a sustained 'ring.' A staple of every high school marching band, where it is carried in front of its player, who strikes it with a pair of hard mallets, it can be heard in almost any Sousa march, where it always stands out, audibly. In a marching band, it usually has to be out in front of the formation, in order that the rich, high-frequency harmonics it generates, not get absorbed and muffled by surrounding marchers. And, oh yes, this song is a great one!
  • Chaosz from Amsterdam, NetherlandsThe 1st number 1 hit for U2 in The Netherlands.

    Great song
  • Danleichty from Rochester, MnI really got into this song when I first heard it. Another great song by a great band. U2 FAN FOREVER!
  • Mark from Austin, TxThe Replacements were one of the pillars of alternative music in the 80s. It was pretty much U2, REM and The Replacements. They were never as popular as U2 or REM, but they had a VERY devout following.
    Check out Tim or Let It Be.
    Oh yeah...love "I Will Follow." I haven't heard The Replacements' song, but I'm sure it's cool.
  • Lucy from Raelingen, NetherlandsThe sond effects you hear is actually Bono breaking bottles an Steve Lillywhite running a knife through the spokes of a bike.
  • Trenton from Minneapolis , MnThe Replacements are good. And who cares about a positive message?
  • Tommy from Los Angeles, Caso what is the replacements point on there answer song "kids don't follow". I never heard of this song or the band for that matter. I guess the replacements were so bad they got replaced. You never hear of them helping world causes like Bono does. I hope they have a positive message in there answer song.
  • Nick from Kalamazoo, MiIn the song they sing "your eyes make a circle", they obviously don't know that eyes are oval shaped. I've even seen square shaped ones
  • Danielle from Toronto, CanadaOne of their best songs...it sounds current, even now.
  • Ryan from Albion, Nyi've discovered that this is the greatest u2 song that u can blare while on your way to hockey practice at 8 in the morning on a saturday..great song
see more comments

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