There are three variations of the video for the second single, “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own” from U2’s eleventh album, “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.” All three of these videos used some of the same video footage, and two of them are, in fact, extremely similar — with only some changes to the audio to differentiate them, so I have decided that I am going to attempt to cover all three of them in one article today. My favorite of the three videos is what I have labelled as the “Live Vocal Intro.” This video starts out with Bono walking down a busy side-street in Dublin, Ireland, as some thoughts from the singer about his late father appear on the screen in Bono’s own handwriting. The music in this version fades in slowly with Bono singing the words to the song nearly a cappella at first. After about a minute of Bono walking down the street, we see the rest of the band performing the song without their lead vocalist. There are also some shots of Bono in his childhood home singing the song to his father, but by the song’s climax, all four members of the band come together in a gorgeous old theater to complete the song. The rest of the video consists of footage of Bono on his trek through Dublin and of the band in the theater playing the song. The second variation of this promotional piece seems to have contained all the same video elements, but the song doesn’t fade in at the beginning. The third promo video for “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own” is titled the “single take video” and features only footage of Bono’s walk through Dublin. No footage of the rest of the band is contained here. Additionally, Bono’s live vocal can be heard throughout the video, alongside an edit of the original studio recording of the song.
Considering that the song was written for and about Bono’s father, Bob, all of the elements of the video are affecting and poignant, and they come together in one moving package. I think that this is a great video, and I have strong memories of being broken down to tears the first time I saw it. I love that Bono revisits Dublin town here, especially his childhood home, as there is something about one’s hometown that is very difficult to escape. A song about one’s parents can’t be sung without revisiting the city where that one was birthed. Once again, director Phil Joanou does his usual exemplary job behind the camera. Unfortunately, this is the last video that Joanou has done for the band to date. I harbor a hope that if U2 ever record another album, Phil Joanou will direct a video or two from it.
Next week, we will be taking a gander at U2’s video for the fan-favorite song “City of Blinding Lights.” In the meantime, please join in the conversation on this song and let us know your thoughts on the videos for “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.”
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