"Acrobat" is a song by rock band U2. It is the eleventh track on their 1991 album Achtung Baby. The critical failure of Rattle and Hum (1988) led the band to seek a harder sound in their music. The song developed from a riff created by guitarist The Edge, and is played in a 12⁄8 time signature. Thematically the song contains elements of hypocrisy, alienation, and moral confusion. "Acrobat" has never been performed live, although it was rehearsed prior to the third leg of the Zoo TV Tour.
Inspiration, writing, and recording
"Their strategy had been radical. Take everything you know and throw it out. Work with music you don't know, in a place you don't know, in a way you haven't worked before. Disorientate yourself."
Lead singer Bono was influenced by the work of Delmore Schwartz when writing the lyrics of "Acrobat", to whom the song is dedicated. The title of one of his short stories, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, is quoted in the final verse. Bono noted the book "was on my mind when I was writing the words... It's hard to wrap the book up in a few lines, but Delmore Schwartz is kind of a formalist... I'm the opposite. I'm in the mud as a writer, so I could do with a bit of [Schwartz], and that's why I enjoy him." The song was developed from a riff guitarist The Edge developed during a soundcheck in Auckland, New Zealand, on the Lovetown Tour in 1989. He noted that the beat is unusual for a U2 song, saying it "was the jumping off point, to try and do something with an unusual beat."