U2 VidWorks – Where the Streets Have No Name

This week we are looking at another absolutely wonderful video in the form of the promo video for “Where the Streets Have No Name.” This is probably one of the most well-known videos that U2 has released, and I believe that the video is nearly universally liked, as well — a favorite of both hard-core and casual fans. There are actually two separate edits of this video, and they each start off with different footage. The most widely shown video for “Where the Streets Have No Name” is the seven minute version, which starts off with an overhead shot of the liquor store where the band filmed the video while audio plays from the middle of “Bullet the Blue Sky.” The lesser-known version, shorter by about 2 minutes, opens with the tail end of “Bullet the Blue Sky” and some beautiful footage of the sun reflecting off of some clouds, then moves into some unique shots of the city of Los Angeles. Both versions show roughly the same performance footage. Also of note here is that in the background, one can see the sign for the Million Dollar Hotel, which inspired Bono to write the story that would become the film of the same name, directed by Wim Wenders.

The crux of the video is that the band and their associates were attempting to get enough footage to complete the video before getting shut down by the police department. The video makes it seem like they were only able to perform the song once, but the reality is that they played “Where the Streets Have No Name” a total of four times, along with a few other songs. This was at the end of March, 1987, when the band’s mass popularity was at its peak in America. This caused the problem of bringing thousands of fans swooping into downtown Los Angeles to see the free mini-concert that U2 was playing on the top of the liquor store. Of course, the local constabulary was unhappy about the dangers posed by this influx of people, so they felt that it was their job to put a stop to the proceedings. One can’t blame them, really, although I have always felt that, based on what the video shows, they could have been nicer about it.

This is another in a string o fantastic videos from our favorite band. The video paints U2 as the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll rebels, risking it all to get their video made. Like the video that preceded it, for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” this video is shot through with joy, and it is all about the emotion that the band’s music brings to the audience, especially the feeling of freedom. The band’s freedom, which is threatened, to shoot the video; the crowd’s freedom to gather and watch the band perform; the freedom to dance without restraint, and to express the feelings brought on by the music, are all central elements to this video. I believe that this is the best video that Meiert Avis directed for U2, and one of the top 4 or 5 videos that U2 has made. It is a real highlight in the band’s repertoire, and it goes along with the song that it promotes beautifully.

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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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