Making of The Unforgettable Fire

There was a mini documentary a while back, half an hour long, it was called the Making of the Unforgettable Fire. A slice of life in the history of the band, it showed a little of the recording process, a little of the studio work, and a little of them messing around here and there. I’ve seen it several times over the years, it is always a fun time watching it. The sound quality isn’t that great, it tends to go up and down in both the ability to hear and understand them, and the volume, which is surprising given that it came from a recording experience. But it is certainly an enjoyable video to watch.

At the very start of the video Bono says “I believe the song’s already written,” and I think that’s something that I have discussed over the last several months. The idea of him trying to get the words out, that he is singing the words that haven’t formed yet, that’s been a bit of a theme. He starts by making noises, sounds like words, that slowly as they go back and forth making the song, that I think is what he is getting to here, and it is a really profound thing to say. The idea that you’re not creating it, that it already exists and you’re just revealing it. It’s like the infamous block of marble, where the sculptor just chips away all the bits that aren’t the statue he’s carving. Really interesting thought.

They all look so different today, of course. Larry as always looks like a little kid hanging around with the grownups. Edge, hair receding, looks surprisingly like Brian Eno. Bono with the mullet, how fun was that, how stylish? I’m doing a program with some kids at my son’s school, they’re supposed to create a play set in the past, I wonder if I can convince them to do the 80s and have them dress up with Bono mullets? That’d be great. And Adam, he’s changed by far the most from this, I don’t remember him looking like this in photos, he looks positively normal in many ways. The dark hair is what throws me, it makes him look so different.

It’s funny watching Bono singing in the film, there are a few times (when he’s wearing these crazy looking boots) when he looks like he really needs to pee. Like he’s so desperate to pee, and his voice keeps getting higher and higher as he tries to hold it in. So funny to watch. But then you see other shots of him, and he looks like this earnest young man (remember they are mid 20s at this point) trying to make music history. I don’t know, I guess this is good based on the results, but I can’t help feeling that if I’d been hanging around there at the time I would have thought he was a bit of an ass.

The video really shows how much influence Eno and Lanois had on the band, them playing or singing or telling the band what to do, pointing them in the direction they wanted them to go. There are parts of the video when I’m wondering which of them is actually in the band, these two guys at the mixing board or those bunch of punks laying on the sofa behind them.

And it ends with “I hope you don’t mind a bit of volume boys” as they roll into the Pride video. A neat ending to the film, which is in many ways a deconstruction of how Pride was created. An enjoyable stroll through music history you might say.

My rating for The Making of the Unforgettable Fire: 7 / 10