The non-album single was produced by legendary producer Martin Hannett, who was more famous for his work with Joy Division, a band influential on U2. The band first met Hannett while he was producing "Love Will Tear Us Apart" with Joy Division. Thus, U2 were silent studio onlookers during the session. It debuted live in August 1979 with alternate lyrics and was then known as "Silver Lining." It evolved into "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" between March and May 1980.
During the first half of the 1980s, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" was one of U2's most popular live songs and it appears on the 1983 live EP Under A Blood Red Sky. On U2's very early tours, it was often played twice due to a lack of material - once early in the concert, and then during the encore. Until December 1982, it was routinely paired with "The Ocean", a song from the band's debut album Boy. This live pairing is available on the "Fire" single.
After the Unforgettable Fire Tour concluded in July 1985, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" essentially vanished from live set-lists, appearing only twelve more times, including seven performances on 2001's Elevation Tour. Nonetheless, the frequency of its early performances means that it still holds a place as one of U2's twenty most-performed live songs.
"Touch," the B-side on the "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" single, evolved from an earlier song called "Trevor." "Touch" was played live at many dates on the Boy Tour in 1980-1981, but has never been performed on any subsequent tours.
Three mixes of "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" exist, all studio cuts. The 1980 single features the 3:44 mix. The Martin Hannett tribute album And Here Is the Young Man features a 4:03 mix. The final mix is a 4:10 version with a longer intro that features on the "Pride" single.