A Story Of One

There are songs, and then there are songs. One of those songs is One, which is one of the best U2 songs ever, one of the best of anyone songs ever. I was always confused about how the song came to have multiple videos, and for a while I thought the song was just so good that it needed more than one. Of course, that wasn’t the case, and I read about the videos and then saw a documentary called A Story Of One, which was on the Best of 1990-2000 DVD. It told the story - or maybe a story - about the videos.

I really thought that each of the One videos were fun and interesting. The most famous version was probably the one where the band dressed up as women, but the two others gave their own moments as well. I guess you would call them the buffalo version and the Bono version. 

The first version, which I usually think of as my favorite, is also a little odd. It has the band standing in the studio in Berlin performing the song, but then it twists as they turn to Bono sitting in the living room while the rest of the band sits next to him dressed as women, and then for some reason Bono’s dad shows up. I must admit that these parts confuse me, I don’t get the reason for the guys to be dressed that way, and even in the documentary they don’t adequately explain it. And Bono’s dad, again with no explanation, or rather that it was somehow related to AIDS and the idea of a person having a conversation with their father, and I didn’t quite get it and it didn’t quite work.

The other famous part of the video was the Trabants, which went on to make more famous appearances in various U2 shows. It was a symbol of the collapse of the Berlin Wall at the time the band were there, and of course led itself to many jokes. My favorite Trabi joke is this: why did Trabants have heaters on their rear windows? To keep your hands warm while you push.

Version two, the buffalo version, is by a guy called Mark Pennington. It was very slow, featuring a whole lot of video of buffaloes running in a very out of focus way, along with a few stills of the word One in different languages. Can’t recommend this version, it is quite dull, possibly the worst U2 video out there. The documentary points out that it was put out quickly because they were afraid the guys dressed up as girls was a slam against AIDS, and they got this done and out onto MTV to try and remove the old one. Of course that couldn’t happen these days, as it would already have been all over the internet.

The third version is the Bono version, or maybe you should call it the Phil Jounou version. Talking to the camera, rather singing to the camera in many closeups, twists, strobes, etc etc. It goes along with footage from one of the shows. It’s somewhat boring, I think, not really much happening other than a love affair with Bono. Which is okay for some people, but honestly it doesn’t do that much for me.