Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own

"Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the third track on their eleventh studio album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004), and was released as the album's second single worldwide except North America on 7 February 2005. It debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart becoming the band's sixth number-one single in the United Kingdom. It also topped the charts in Canada, Scotland and Spain, and reached the top 10 in Denmark, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway. Originally titled "Tough", the song is lyrically about the relationship between the band's lead vocalist Bono and his father Bob Hewson, who died of cancer in 2001. The song won two Grammy Awards for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Song of the Year at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony in 2006.

Background and writing

During the recording of U2's 2000 album All That You Can't Leave Behind, lead vocalist Bono was aware that his father, Bob Hewson, was beginning to die from cancer. Bono subsequently wrote a song about him called "Tough", as that was the impression he always had of his father; he called him: "A tough old boot of a guy. Irish, Dub, north side Dubliner, very cynical about the world and the people in it, but very charming and funny with it." After Bob died in 2001, Bono sang the song at his funeral. For the recording of the band's following album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, they revisited the song. While listening to it with Bono and guitarist the Edge, producer Steve Lillywhite critiqued the track, telling them that it did not have a chorus and that each verse simply was followed by the line "sometimes you can't make it on your own". Bono then asked for a guitar to play and spontaneously sang the lines "And it's you when I look na na na na / And it's you du du du du du du du / Sometimes you can't make it on your own". Even though Bono had not yet written the rest of the lyrics for this new segment, Lillywhite said: "all of a sudden the song was finished. That song had been around for the best part of five years and no one had ever said to them that it didn't have a chorus."


"Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" was released worldwide on 7 February 2005. The song was added to BBC Radio 1's C-list playlist on 29 December 2004. It moved to the B-list a week later and to the A-list a week after that. The song was also playlisted by XFM.

Chart performance

The song debuted at number one in the UK, marking the first time that a U2 album has produced two UK number 1 hits (following "Vertigo" in November 2004).

The single was also the third release in the United States. It reached number 15 on the Adult Top 40 chart, and number 29 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart in April 2005. It also reached number 97 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Formats and track listings


Weekly charts

Year-end charts