"A Day Without Me"
Single by U2
from the album Boy
B-side"Things to Make and Do"
Released18 August 1980[1]
StudioWindmill Lane Studios (Dublin)
Producer(s)Steve Lillywhite
U2 singles chronology
"11 O'Clock Tick Tock"
"A Day Without Me"
"I Will Follow"

"A Day Without Me" is a song by Irish rock band U2, and the eighth track on their debut album Boy. It was released as the album's lead single in August 1980, and was their first release to be produced by Steve Lillywhite.


The song's lyrics refer to the removal of someone from their habitual social circle, and reflecting on what the world would be like without their presence.[2]

At the time of the single's release, an Island Records press officer was notifying enquirers who were corresponding with the record label about the band that the song's lyrics were written about the death of Ian Curtis, the frontman/vocalist of the band Joy Division.[3] However, this information was erroneous as the band performed the song in Dublin in February 1980, musically and lyrically unaltered from its release format, several months before Curtis' death.[4]


The single release was produced by Steve Lillywhite, and was the first time that he recorded with U2.

The B-side is an instrumental song called "Things to Make and Do."

Cover art

The image on the single's cover, photographed by Susan Byrne, is of a footbridge at Booterstown railway station in South Dublin.[5] The image echoes the Joy Division photoshoot on the Epping Walk Bridge in Hulme, Manchester, that featured in an article of the New Musical Express in January 1979.[6]

Live performances

"A Day Without Me" was played live during the first half of the 1980s. On the Boy Tour, it did not have a firmly defined set list position, initially appearing in the main set before moving to the encore. It did not appear on the October Tour until November 1981 (1981-11), when it was paired with "I Threw a Brick Through a Window", a song from the newly released October album. The two songs were linked by a drum segue leading from the end of "I Threw a Brick Through a Window" into "A Day Without Me", and this pairing lasted until April 1985 (1985-04). Since then, neither song has been played live, although snippets of "A Day Without Me" have been played on rare occasions.[7] A live performance of the song from Red Rocks Amphitheatre appears on the concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky.

"Things to Make and Do" was the only instrumental played live by U2 until the U2 360° Tour ("Return of the Stingray Guitar"), and it regularly followed "The Electric Co." on the Boy Tour. It has only been played once since the end of that tour, at an early date of the October Tour on 31 August 1981 (1981-08-31).

Track listing

1."A Day Without Me"3:12
2."Things to Make and Do" (instrumental)2:14


  1. ^ Sams, Aaron; Kantas, Harry. "U2 – "A Day Without Me" Single". U2songs.com. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  2. ^ Bono addressing the audience before the song's performance, Dublin Stadium, 26 February 1980. Published on Youtube, 26 February 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWkGgbljKpI
  3. ^ Letter from Island Records Press Officer Neil Storey, dated 16 October 1980, for sale on eBay 2 March 2018: "... A Day Without Me was based, loosely, on the death of Ian Curtis. The band were deeply affected by his death as they felt that it was a senseless waste of human life." https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/323088854785?_trksid=p11021.c100851.m5053&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20170803121420ul_noapp=true
  4. ^ Entry in 'U2 Gigs.com' website (2018) for the gig at Dublin Stadium, 26 February 1980, with setlist. https://www.u2gigs.com/show98.html
  5. ^ 'It was the Summer of '79, when the Heat was felt by McGuiness', by Declan Lynch. 'Irish Independent' 29 October 2006.
  6. ^ 'Kevin Cummins, Britain's Bands in Pictures', B.B.C. Radio 5 Live. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02xp86b/p02xnr1m
  7. ^ Mühlbradt, Matthias; Axver, André. "A Day Without Me". U2Gigs.com. Retrieved 2009-08-17.