In the band bio U2 by U2, Bono recalled how the song came together: "The chorus came to me at the very end of the sessions for Pop, which were getting a little turgid and tiring. It was four o'clock in the morning of the last night in the studio. We had people mixing who hadn't been in bed for a week. Paul was waiting to take the tapes to New York to master the record. I started singing the line: 'You've got to give it away.' Don't turn it into work was the message. Which was exactly what we were doing. We were supposed to be making an uplifting expression of what happens when rock 'n' roll meets club culture. Instead, it felt like a load of men on an oil rig in the middle of the North Sea. My voice was completely shot, which is why we put so much echo on it and Edge sang along with me to cover it up."
For two days in May 1997, traffic in Kansas City was tied up while U2 was shooting the video. The author William Burroughs and model Sophie Dahl appear in it.