When I was younger, I used to think that music videos were a natural offshoot of being a musician. I imagined that all one had to do to make a successful music video was to show up, strike a pose or two, and that was the end of it. When I was a little older, I began to understand that music videos often required the artist in question to follow the commands of another artist, usually referred to as the director. It wasn’t until fairly recently, however, that I grasped the concept that making a music video could be difficult and that the artist who was supposed to be acting in the video often could be tired, bored, hungry, or just plain not in the mood to make a music video. I also realized that these small, four- or five-minute movies could take hours of preparation and filming and hard work and sheer frustration on the parts of all involved. Nowhere is that frustration more evident than in U2’s music video for “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” directed by frequent collaborator Phil Joanou. The video starts out innocently enough, with some footage of the band on stage at one of their ZooTV shows. It doesn’t appear that U2 is performing “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses? in this live footage, but rather that what is seen is a series of brief snapshots of the band in action. This live footage is intercut with footage of the four band-members performing individually in front of a white background. The director’s commentary to this video describes all the angles that Bono was made to film, and as the video progresses, it is clear that Bono was getting pretty fed up with the whole thing. I’ve always imagined that the singer was simply tired, but I suppose that it’s possible that there was something else going on that day. Much more than being about the song, this video turns into the story of a bad day at work for Bono. People always accuse the band members of taking themselves too seriously, and I have never gotten that sense. What I do get is that they take their music and their work very seriously. It is obvious in the way that it takes U2 years to record an album, and in every note that they play. As if further proof were needed, this video proves once and for all that rock stardom is more than simply fun and games for the biggest band on the planet. By the time Bono obviously drops an F-bomb in frustration toward the end of the video, it is clear that he’s had about enough, and Larry draws a hand across his own throat, signaling the end.
Curiously, this video utilizes a unique edit and mix of the song, mostly based upon the Temple Bar mix, but with a few added elements that make the video version of “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” unavailable elsewhere. Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts and feelings about this video, and come back next week as we examine another U2 music video.
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