Unknown Caller (6:03)

Cover of No Line on the Horizon

From No Line on the Horizon and 6 other releases

“Unknown Caller” is a song by Irish rock band U2 and the fourth track on their 2009 album No Line on the Horizon. It was written from the perspective of a drug addict, who begins to receive bizarre text messages on his cellphone. The song was developed very early during the No Line on the Horizon sessions, and was recorded in a single take.
The No Line on the Horizon sessions began with two weeks of recording in Fez, Morocco. Recording took place in rented the courtyard of a hotel Riad, which the band turned into a makeshift recording studio. “Unknown Caller” was recorded in a single take in this time, along with the songs “No Line on the Horizon”, “Moment of Surrender”, and “White as Snow”. A few iterations of the track had previously been developed, but the “definitive version was only ever played once.” Guitarist The Edge noted that they “were songs that pretty much came together in the space of a couple of hours, and therefore probably were played in the final incarnation maybe once or twice.” Co-writer and producer Daniel Lanois noted that the song “pretty much had its personality intact from day one.” The open-air Riad allowed the band to hear the overhead birdsong during their sessions; this was taped and included in the introduction of the song.

In an interview with The Guardian, lead singer Bono stated that he became tired of writing in the first-person, noting that “I’d just worn myself out as a subject matter”; as a result he created several characters, including a traffic cop, a drug addict, and a soldier serving in Afghanistan.

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