U2 VidWorks – Lemon

If you are living in the United States, you might have subscribed to U2 X-Radio, U2’s channel on Sirius XM Radio. If you haven’t, you really ought to, because, in addition to playing a full set of U2 tracks every day, they also play the occasional song by other artists that might introduce you to something you didn’t already know. There is also a lot of great, original programming involving the band and their music. One recent example of this original programming was a countdown of U2’s top 100 tracks as voted on by fans who wanted to host an episode of “Desire,” a program whereon fans are given the opportunity to DJ their own small set of five songs, talking about each song and explaining why it is important to them. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the picks on this countdown, as well as with where some of those picks showed up. A great example of these surprises came with “Lemon,” which I was pleased to see nearly cracking the top half of the countdown, coming in at number 55. Lemon is one of those songs that non-U2-fans just don’t seem to appreciate properly. Obviously, someone on the band or their organization thought highly enough of the song to record a promotional video for it, and I will be forever grateful to that person for several reasons. Firstly, the video captures the band members in their ZooTV/Zooropa costumes, including Bono, dressed as Mr. MacPhisto, his devilish alter-ego. The only small complaint that I have here is that Bono is shown without his devil horns. I think that these horns must have been uncomfortable to wear because he also frequently removed them while on-stage.
The promotional video for “Lemon” is based upon the work of Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer who lived and worked in the late 19th century. Muybridge was most known for his series of shots of objects and people in motion, often backed by a grid. he also developed an early mechanism for showing moving pictures, and I have a hunch that the name of this mechanism might be what first interested the band in his work. It was called the zoopraxiscope, a name that follows in the conventions established by several song and album titles during the early to mid-nineteen-nineties from U2. Once the band caught wind of Muybridge’s work, I imagine that it wasn’t difficult to come up with the idea for this video, which shows the band members in motion against a grid background, with appropriate sub-titles under the action. Most of the video is in black and white, but there are occasional flickers of color, such as a flame, a moon, and a bird in flight. The concept is interesting enough to sustain the viewer’s interest throughout the entirety of the song and is even strangely affecting at some points, such as when a man (Bono) is shown stumbling in darkness. There was also a video made with much of the same footage for the Bad Yard Club Remix of “Lemon.” Overall, this is an impressive and interesting piece of work and one that I am glad that U2 created for edification as well as our enjoyment.

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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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