I love the opening to Red Hill Mining Town, the twanging guitar followed by the takeoff into the music when everyone joins in. Then the song gets a little samey, I think it remains that way for the rest of the song, with mild jumps and dips here and there. But that’s okay, because it’s good music, enjoyable all the way through. It is the emotion from the singing that lifts the song in this case.
So the story goes that it is about the mining community in England in the 1980s, when Thatcher was tearing apart the country and putting it back in a way that was all about the money. The song makes it clear that people are being left behind, the labor day (should have written this for Monday, shouldn’t I?) has come and gone, and there’s nothing left. That lights are going out on a place and way of life that was important to those people. It’s one thing to say screw you, we’re leaving and taking everything with us, and another thing to say life is going to change and we’re going to help you along. That’s kind of the process going on in other places, but like I said abandoning people is the wrong way to go. If you believe that things are only worth money (the whole “a sunset is only beautiful if you can monetize it” theory), then you’re probably not listening to much U2 anyway.
Okay, to the video, which is perhaps the most famous part of this song. Never released officially until the 20th anniversary CD, it has found a way out into the world. Supposedly shot and then held back for reasons I forget, maybe something to do with them not being happy with it? I don’t remember. But let’s face it, it’s a terrible video even now, or maybe especially now. They’re in a mine, and Bono is doing a whole bunch of posing in a wife beater, being about as obnoxious as you could imagine. I mean, this is the ultimate in Bono poser videos, it is all about him flipping his hair and going one way, then suddenly flipping back the other way. It’s kind of ridiculous really. The rest of the band is there for little reason, Larry does a lot of thumping on things hanging against the wall, while Bono looks anxious, or cross, or disturbed, or something, with poor lip-synching here and there. Larry and Edge hang around in the background with very little to do, basically standing there doing nothing, in fact there’s seriously about a two minute segment of the video where you see Adam out of focus in the background a couple of times and Edge not at all.
Adam does get in the action at one point, he comes around a corner in slow motion and throws some birds at the camera. How odd is that? But then Edge does the same thing, after a three second turn the corner slow-mo, a little later he pulls a bird out of a box and throws it. What is the deal? Freeing the canaries? Why would you, when they’re there to save your life, they’re supposed to be the warning that something is going wrong, and you go and get rid of them? Can you imagine being one of the crew on this video, and having the director tell you to go and get a couple of boxes of canaries? Maybe they were trying to warn us about Bono’s overacting and the video’s craptitude.
My rating for Red Hill Mining Town: 8 / 10