U2's song Vertigo from their album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb begins like this:

Un, dos, tres, catorce!!

In Spanish that's "one, two, three, fourteen". Why "fourteen"?

I've read a number of theories, ranging from it being a reference to the Bible, to the number of North Korea's atomic bombs, to a nudge to their producer, to Bruce Springsteen saying that "rock and roll does not have to be one, two, three, four", to it being the number of albums they had made, to them being just too drunk to get the Spanish words right.

What is U2's official stance, if any, regarding the meaning of "catorce" in this song?


Found this reference on the net. Looks like it is a homage to John Ritter, an american comic actor famous for Three's Company sitcom, who died a year before the album was released.

The quote below is taken from the video description, link emphasized by me.

Bono did not come up with this phrase. It is really from the Three's Company episode "Double Trouble" - here is proof. I don't know why it has taken this long to be exposed

  • 2
    Thanks for your answer, looks like a good possibility. Has U2 confirmed this?
    – walen
    Feb 12 '18 at 12:34
  • @walen haven't found an official statement or interview confirming that. Maybe the quote is so famous that it does not need a proof (eg. "the only thing you done was yesterday" in John Lennon's How Do You Sleep is an obvoius reference to Paul McCartney - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Do_You_Sleep%3F_(John_Lennon_song)
    – TimSparrow
    Feb 12 '18 at 12:39

Bono's mother died when he was 14. That might factor in. It spun his world upside down, no?

She works her way into many U2 songs, and even Vertigo ends:

I can feel your love teaching me how
Your love is teaching me how
How to kneel

Which might be both a reference to his mother's love, and God, given Bono's faith.

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