U2 VidWorks – The Saints Are Coming

2005 was a bit of a messed up year, especially for those unfortunate souls living in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Hurricane Katrina landed that year, and to many observers, it seemed that the federal government was not very concerned with trying to help the victims of that natural disaster. It should come as no surprise that U2 got involved, trying to make things better in their own modest way. The band recorded a cover of The Skids’ tune “The Saints Are Coming,” joined by pop-punk outfit Green Day, and the video for this high-octane song is one of the coolest, most poignant videos that I have ever seen. The video starts out with black and white footage of the two bands recording the song in the famous Abbey Road Studios. Next, we are treated to some shots of the live performance of the song that took place at the New Orleans football stadium in September of 2006. For some bands, this would be enough…a performance video promoting their new song, raising awareness of the trouble that the people of New Orleans had been through in the aftermath of the hurricane. Not for U2, though, as much of the remainder of the video tells the story of what could have been, taking a much needed political stance on the issue. The video showcases an alternate reality wherein President George W. Bush used the might and power of the United States military for the honorable purpose of helping New Orleans. In the video, we see shots of jets and helicopters moving into the decimated city to assist those in need. A headline on the screen reads “U.S. Iraq Troops Redeployed to New Orleans” as we see a chopper airlifting children out of the flood. Another headline on the screen states “Navy Joins Effort to Dam Levees,” and we are shown a shot of jets dropping material intended to stop the flood waters. The CGI in this video is brilliant, with great attention paid to detail, making the footage seem almost real. As we see the planes dropping aid to the victims of the hurricane, I am reminded that there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we put our minds to it. Sometimes, it might mean giving up something we really want for ourselves, but like Spock said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Finally, we see the tanks moving down a neighborhood street disappearing, leaving behind a sign that says “Not as seen on TV,” a reminder that none of this really happened.
There was another video released for the promotion of this song, which consisted solely of the live performance from New Orleans. This live performance video was included on the 18Videos greatest hits package that was released in 2006. I imagine, although I don’t know, that this video was included in that set because the CGI video was not completed yet. Good art takes time, and in the case of the main video for this song, it was time well spent. Next week, I’ll be reviewing one of the videos for “Window in Skies,” another very cool effort from our favorite band.

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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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