Monday, September 07, 2009

MAPS - 'Where the Streets Have No Name'

So today is Labor Day and on this second most American of holidays (after ‘Bring your Gun to Work Day’) what better band to focus on for a MAPS than the one that loves America the most - U2. Sorry, chest thumping country artists, your love for America pales in comparison to that of Bono, Adam, Larry and the guy that refuses to admit he is bald.

‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ was shot in 1987 at the corner of Seventh and Main in downtown Los Angeles by director Meiert Avis. Mr. Avis has been shooting videos since the very, very early days and on VideoStatic you can see he is still booking jobs today. I look at the depth on that credit list and I wonder why he doesn’t get as much credit as some other video pioneers. Maybe he should use more camera tricks.

The video for U2 takes place is the very commonly shot downtown section of LA. It is not far from the Tower Theater and at the edge of the seriously skeevy skid row area. Perhaps this location full of homeless folks was a purposeful tie in to the ‘no name’ aspect of the streets. More likely, it was one of the few places that would let a rock band play on the roof for a few hundred bucks.

Check out the map and click onto streetview - the place on the corner is still a liquor store, but the name has changed. Watch the video of 'Where the Streets Have No Name' here.

The beginning of the ‘Streets’ clip has lots of lead in before the song starts – something other videos would try to copy without much success. The live LA radio warning about traffic and the quality of the neighborhood (so maybe not that much has changed in LA) and the threats from the LAPD that the production was going to get shut down was all very effective.

It seems to me, re-watching the video, that the band got more than one run-through of the track, but the finished video makes it seem like po-po was closing the set down AS they were shooting. The video is a classic and it gets referenced all the time for new jobs – even twenty years later.

For more U2-ish fun, check out the feature documentary ‘It Might Get Loud’ starring the Edge, Jack White and Jimmy Page. The music is amazing and it is great to see Mr. Jimmy looking so lively and rocking at 65.

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