The single for “Numb” is kind of an odd duck. As opposed to the traditional vinyl, cassette, or CD single with audio tracks, the single for “Numb” was released as a VHS cassette. The “A-side” is the promotional video for “Numb,” which we discussed last week. As you might expect, there are also “B-sides,” or additional tracks included to make the single more enticing to collectors who already bought the album. In this case, the B-sides are a remix of the video for “Numb,” and a video for Achtung Baby’s closing track, “Love is Blindness.”
I remember when I first bought my copy of the VHS cassette for “Numb,” (at a junk store, of all places) that when I got it home, I was a little disappointed with the “Love is Blindness” video. It is very avant-garde, as one might expect if they know that Matt Mahurin directed it. He also directed parts of the video for “With or Without You,” and he has a penchant for footage that is, well, strange. “Love is Blindness” is no exception, as it is stuffed to the brim with images that, at first glance, have nothing to do with the song. That said, as I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the video more than I did initially. I actually find it strangely affecting now. There are, in particular, a couple of shots of a small boy seemingly abandoned in a shopping cart. These shots move me in a deep way that is difficult to explain. Of course, we all fill in such an image with a little back-story in our heads. I think that Matt Mahurin knows that these images will get us thinking as we watch the video, trying to connect them with the theme of the song, and coming up with some pretty desolate ideas. On a purely artistic level, there is also a shot of a car, submerged in water, with a fish swimming above the car, that I find interesting. Again, part of what I like about this shot is the questions that it brings to mind. There are also some shots that tie into the song’s lyric in a more obvious way, like a sign on a gun store that appears when Bono sings “squeeze the handle, blow out the candle,” or footage of a funeral when the lyrics reference “A little death.”
The main thing that I dislike about this video is that the footage of the band performing live on-stage is not of the band performing this song. It is timed and cut to make it seem, to the casual observer, as though it might be actual footage of “Love is Blindness,” but if one watches closely, it becomes apparent that the footage is actually of other songs. For instance, there is is a shot of Bono and Edge that was taken, I am pretty sure, during a performance of “Trying To Throw Your Arms Around the World,” and some other footage of Bono in his “Fly” outfit, which is obviously not of “Love is Blindness.” I suppose that it shows some creativity on Matt Mahurin’s part, the way he cut this footage up to match somewhat with what is going on in the song…an example would be visual of Edge launching into a big guitar solo just as he starts playing the first guitar solo in “Love is Blindness,” but I dislike the deceptiveness of it.
Next week, we will be examining U2’s video for “Lemon,” which is another strange one, so come prepared. Thanks for reading, and feel free to drop a line down below to let me know what you think of this or any other of U2’s music videos.
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