Emergency Broadcast Network
Written by U2
Music: The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr.; Lyrics: Bono
"Numb" (The Edge) Single by U2 from the album Zooropa
Released: June 1993
Mixed by Robbie Adams
"Numb" is a song by rock band U2. It is the third track from their 1993 album Zooropa and was released in June 1993 as the album's first single. The song features a monotonous mantra of "don't" commands spoken by guitarist The Edge amidst a backdrop of various sound effects and samples. The noisy composition and lyrical concept for "Numb" were inspired by the theme of sensory overload, which had prominently been incorporated into the Zoo TV Tour. U2 lead vocalist Bono and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. provided backing vocals on the track.
"Numb" originated as a discarded song from the Achtung Baby recording sessions called "Down All the Days". While recording Zooropa, the band transformed the song with mixing assistance from co-producer Flood, the addition of keyboards and samples by co-producer Brian Eno, and the addition of The Edge's monotone vocals. The song was released as a VHS single, featuring a music video directed by Kevin Godley, but it did not attain widespread commercial success. U2 added "Numb" to their live setlists after resuming their Zoo TV Tour in May 1993.
Guitarist The Edge said, "It almost worked," calling it a "quite unhinged electronic backing track with a very traditional melody and lyrics" sung by lead vocalist Bono.
"Numb" was an unlikely choice for a first single, and was released in an even more unlikely format, being released as a "video single".
The music video (directed by Kevin Godley) featured The Edge staring straight into the camera sitting under a dripping tap, while strange things happen to him, such as having feet put on his face, being tied down by the other group members, and a belly dancer perform in front of him. The video remix was produced by the performance group Emergency Broadcast Network and features a number of random television and audio clips. The video and sound segments from the video remix were eventually incorporated into the band's live performances of the song on the Zoo TV Tour. The commercial single itself was released in video format only on VHS, echoing the television theme from their Zoo TV Tour although limited copies of promotional vinyl and CDs do exist.
Bono sings part of the chorus in a falsetto, utilizing what he calls the "Fat Lady" voice, which he also uses on the songs "Lemon" and "Numb".
Bono – vocals, guitar.
Adam Clayton – bass guitar.
The Edge – guitar, piano, synthesisers, vocals.
Larry Mullen, Jr. – drums, percussion, backing vocals.
U2: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr.http://www.u2.com
© 1993 Island Records UK.