U2 VidWorks – Gloria

Following “I Will Follow,” U2 did not record another official promotional video for any of the other songs from their debut album, Boy. Oddly enough, they didn’t even make a video for the first single, “Fire,” from their second album, October. No, their next video did not come along until it was time to promote “Gloria,” which was the opening track and the second single from the October album. I wonder what criteria the boys (and/or their record label) used back then to decide which songs would get videos.

I imagine that a factor in the decision to film a video for “Gloria” was the newly-launched video channel, MTV, which came on the air on August 1, 1981, just over two months before “Gloria” was released as a single. Considering the simplicity of the video, I don’t think that it had a long gestation period before the band went in front of the cameras, so it certainly is feasible that the band knew about MTV before deciding to make the video–they were in the industry, after all–and that someone in their circle of influencers thought to test the waters of this new television station with “Gloria.”

The promotional video for “Gloria” was, just like the video for “I Will Follow,” directed by Meiert Avis, which I guess is an indication that all concerned were pleased with the director’s work on the former. If you read my last article, you will likely recall that while I like the video for “I Will Follow,” there were some choices made during the creation of that video that I take umbrage with.

Fortunately, there is very little dancing in the video for “Gloria”. This time around, Bono has a microphone to expend his nervous energy with. The entire display is much more like what we would come to expect from U2 in the early ’80s, which is to say that they looked more like professionals and less like a high school garage band. The video is filmed at the Grand Canal Docks in Dublin, which is where the photoshoot for the cover of October took place.

This is the first time the band would film themselves performing on a conveyance, as our heroes spend a large portion of the “Gloria” video performing on a barge in the water. Later on in the video, some locals begin to gather to observe. I have always liked this small element of the video, as if the director is saying to those viewing, “U2’s songs and performances are so great that you can’t help but be drawn in. Come join us!”

One last small thing that I want to comment on regarding this video is the coloring. For the longest time, I was confused about what color the sky is supposed to be in the video for “Gloria,” as it appears to be a very unusual shade of orange. I thought that the color balance in my VHS recording was off, producing that odd hue, but now, in the YouTube age, I have come to realize that it was intended to be that way. I’m sure that there is some symbolism there that I am missing, but I can’t come up with a reason why the band or the director might have wanted it that way, even after googling it. If you have an idea, please drop a line in the comments below. Next time, we will be talking about the promo video for “A Celebration.”

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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