Outside It's America

Outside It’s America was a documentary following U2 on The Joshua Tree tour, a behind the scenes look at what’s going on when a band is touring. This is the kind of thing I like, the thing I’ve talked about a number of times this year as being interesting to me, seeing what’s really going on when the cameras are off (although of course the cameras are on here, so they do a little mugging here and there). But again, that inside look, so you can watch and dream about being in the band, hanging around backstage, or with the band, doing this and that.

The documentary contains videos for Streets and Spanish Eyes among others, and of course a lot of shots of the band playing different things, whether live, in rehearsal, or even in a bar somewhere (we get to see them playing I Walk The Line in a bar, I kept thinking of the Blues Brothers, where they are playing the local songs so that the locals don’t get mad and start throwing bottles at them). 

There are other bits, like the photo shoot for the Time magazine cover, which has part of it on stage in front of a crowd, part of it backstage in a set of some kind (and the amount of people and production that goes on just for that is crazy), and then part of it outside on top of buildings here and there, which is fairly repetitive and odd, as Bono says boring. Those I guess are the parts of the job that really feel like work, rather than like the fun that being in a band should be. Other parts, which are the fun parts, are the parts we imagine when we think about being in a band, you never think of the grind to get to the shows. Flying in planes, which they make look like a lot of fun, although I guess it could end up being monotonous when you end up doing it every day for a year or more on a large tour. 

Seeing them in rehearsal isn’t completely uncommon, there are regular shots of that happening, and even occasional bits from fans outside listening to the rehearsals. What’s interesting is again the amount of work to get there, when they are trying to solve a problem like the feedback that happens when a certain piece of equipment is turned on, or Bono complaining about the gigantic drum sound he is getting just in front of his head (I don’t know why that would be a problem when you’re in a band).

One of the more interesting parts is when they’re in one of the bars, and we see Bono at the jukebox in the background, he is listening to whatever song it is that is playing, and you can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he is trying to get that sound, that lyric, that feeling, whatever, and keep it there, stored perhaps for another day when he is going to write a song like Heartland or something similar, talking about the time he spent in a bar in the middle of nowhere, or perhaps about the people who live in the middle of nowhere and yet they don’t leave. Who knows what inspiration that moment will bring him some day in the future.

Interesting note: today I passed 200,000 words for this blog this year. That’s like two novels of writing right here. All yours for free. And as they say, if you don’t like it, double your money back.