"Wednesday Afternoon" (1976)

Demo Song

Background Information

“Wednesday Afternoon” may be one of the earliest songs that U2 worked on.

Larry Mullen is the member of the band that keeps bringing up the track “Wednesday Afternoon.” According to Larry the song was called “Wednesday Afternoon” but Bono claims that the song was called “What’s Going On?” The song was first mentioned in the book, U2 by U2, written in 2006.

Bono: “I wrote my first song while we were rehearsing at Adam’s house. That was interesting because it happened very quickly. I don’t know where I got the guitar or whose guitar it was, but I remember figuring out minor chords, and moving between them. It was chord I made up; it’s not that hard.”

Adam: “I think the first chord would be a B major seventh and then it was followed by an A major, and he just moved between those two chords and that became the song. There was a kind of magic about them. They had a mood and tone.”

Bono: “I got a chorus almost immediately – ‘What’s Going On?’ I thought that was very original!”

Adam: “We hadn’t heard of Marvin Gaye in those days, so we weren’t aware the title had been used before. But it was something.”

Larry: “I thought it was called ‘Wednesday Afternoon’, because we used to rehearse on Wednesday afternoon.We got so frustrated trying to do cover versions. One afternoon Bono just started strumming away on a few chords. After a while it started to sound like music.”

Larry brought up the song again in the article “From Dave Grohl to Ringo Starr: The Secrets of Star Drummers” published in The Guardian in September 2016: “I formed the band in Dublin in 1975, around the time of the punk explosion: it seemed anything was possible. Being able to play your instrument proficiently was the least important part; attitude was essential, which was really great news for us – we were not accomplished musically, but had a singer with attitude. At school, we rehearsed on Wednesday afternoons in Mr McKenzie’s music room – the first song we wrote was called Wednesday Afternoon. We argued endlessly over musical indiscretions – we still do.”

Larry made a mistake with the date in this interview, the band formed in 1976. The track name “What’s Going On?” does appear in some early written song listings, but we have not seen other mentions of “Wednesday Afternoon.” The photograph below is from U2 by U2 and shows “What’s Going On?” in a song list.

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