"This image of 'the unforgettable fire' applied not only to the nuclear winterscape of 'A Sort of Homecoming,' but also the unforgettable fire of a man like Martin Luther King, or the consuming fire which is heroin."
Column: off the record..., vol. 13-587
October 06, 2013
When I meet U2 fans that didn't discover the band until the Pop album, or All That You Can't Leave Behind or something more recent than that, I always feel bad for them about two things: They missed the Zoo TV tour, and they missed seeing Rattle And Hum in theaters. Sure, the movie has been shown many times in theaters over the years since then, but something tells me it's not the same as it was seeing it 25 years ago at the height of U2-mania.
Twenty-five years ago. Really?
I was a junior at Pepperdine University, which is a short drive up the California coast from Hollywood. But rather than trying to crash the insane scene at the official Los Angeles premiere, several friends and I headed to Westwood -- UCLA's home town -- to catch the movie.
It was packed. Sardines. Lines down the road and around the corner. I loved seeing all the signage for my band as we got close to the theater -- huge U2 RATTLE AND HUM posters and signs and everything. Giganti-LARRY and enorm-EDGE.
I think our group had to scatter throughout the theater into whatever open seats we could find. I ended up sitting next to my girlfriend (now wife), Cari, and a couple other friends.
I remember giggling a lot throughout the movie, not just at the intentionally funny scenes. Giggling was how I expressed myself when something was Really Freaking Amazing Beyond Belief. Still is, actually. I giggle and think things like, Is this really happening?!!? Are you freaking kidding me??!! There was a lot of that the first time I saw Rattle And Hum on the big screen.
I loved the whole movie, but there are two moments for me that stood out head and shoulders above the rest:
First, the moment that the choir kicks in at the Harlem church during "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." This sounded amazeballs on a theater sound system. Instant head-to-toe goosebumps. Chills. Eyes and ears wide open.
Second, the first sign of red at the beginning of "Where The Streets Have No Name." That was like the original "Sh** is gettin' real" moment.
A year later, during my senior year at Pepperdine, I must've watched the Rattle And Hum VHS 100+ times. I was the RA of a dorm (the dorm's boss/leader) and had my own room, and bought a cheap VCR and just played that movie constantly. I wrote out an index card listing each song's start time, and would zip back and forth to whatever song(s) I was in the mood to hear.
Rattle And Hum was the soundtrack of my last two years of college, much like The Joshua Tree was the soundtrack of the first two. Good, good times.
All of that, of course, was a quarter-century ago. There's no big remaster/re-issue happening to mark Rattle And Hum's 25th anniversary, but we're going to do our best to celebrate the album and movie ourselves this month.
We're already running a R&H-themed poll question on our home page that asks which you like better -- the album or movie. Our weekly OTR columns will likely have a Rattle And Hum theme (like this one does), as will our monthly essays: Like A Song, U2 Lists and Like A Video. We're hopeful to have a couple interviews ready to publish later this month with some of the principals involved in the movie. We're going to check-in with some of the critics that panned Rattle And Hum back in the day and see if they feel any differently. And this week, we'll be publishing some of our staff members' memories of October 1988, when the album and film were first released.
So, stay tuned for all of that, why don't you?
Our friend Mary C., from WBWC/U2 Marathon fame, pointed out this recent quote from Elton John about his new album:
"I don't get played on the radio anymore, and quite rightly so, because it's other people's turn. At my age I can do what I want."
Elton's a little older (66 years old) than Bono and the gang, but there are a great many U2 fans that wish the band would adopt a similar attitude toward radio popularity.
And finally ... thanks to my friend Erik R. for sharing this link to an amazing acoustic version of "Streets."
See you next time!
(c) @U2, 2013.