The videos from Songs of Innocence were somewhat unusual for U2 at the time in that there were a couple of short films that did not feature video footage of the band at all. The first short film was Aoife McArdle’s video for “Every Breaking Wave.” The second short film was Vincent Haycock’s video for “Song for Someone,” the subject of today’s article. Unfortunately, many of the videos released for Songs of Experience follow this precedent and do not showcase the band in any way. The saving grace for this video, the short film promoting “Song for Someone,” was the performance of star Woody Harrelson.
“Song for Someone” could easily be titled “Song for Anyone” or even “Song for Everyone,” because it is a song about the commonalities to human experience. The things we go through when we are young and inexperienced that lay the foundation for our personalities for years to come. Being in prison retards the natural development of a person because they miss out on common human experience, such as what a parent would experience with their child. This video tells the story of Aaron Brown, a prisoner who is getting released from jail. His daughter, played by Woody’s real-life daughter, Zoe, arrives tp pick him up and from their interactions it is clear that they hardly know one another. I love the tentative handshake that follows Aaron’s abortive attempt to touch his daughter’s face, because it says all the viewer needs to know.
The video really allows Woody’s performance to shine, with all sorts of small nuances that might get edited out in a standard short-form promotional video. An example comes as Aaron is being led out of the prison, down a long hallway. He passes a man who is being led into prison through the same hall, and Aaron turns to watch the newer prisoner as they pass. Aaron’s face speaks volumes about where he is at that moment compared to the man he has just passed. When Aaron breaks down in tears a few minutes later, the viewer can feel the emotions that are running through his head. Relief, excitement, fear, and who-knows-what-else, all come together in a potent mixture of emotion that overwhelms the soon-to-be ex-prisoner momentarily. When the guard finally opens the gate to allow Aaron to walk freely past the prison, Aaron turns to nod at his former captor, and it is easy to see on his fact that, at this point, he just wants to get on with things. He’s ready for what’s next, and although he might feel some trepidation, he won’t let that stop him. Too often in TV shows and movies, a prisoner’s release from jail is shown as a good time party, but I think that this must be more in line with what it is really like.
Next week, we will be reviewing Matt Mahurin’s more traditional video for “Song for Someone” that followed this short film on the release docket. If you enjoyed what I had to say here, or if you hated my ideas, please comment below and let us know your thoughts on Woody Harrelson as Aaron Brown in Vincent Haycock’s short film. Thanks for reading!
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