February 21, 2005


Speaking of the Nick Coleman show - I noted while fisking it that he uses wall-to-wall U2 and Pogues music for bumpers and breakbeds.

Now, I've always loved U2 and the Pogues. "Unforgettable Fire" and "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" are two of my favorite albums, ever. We use "Gloria" (from 1981's October as a break bed - and that is one of my favorite songs of all time, perhaps the most wonderful song ever written for a Christian living in, and sometimes of, the world. Two verses of confusion, of confession, leading to the redemptive benediction: "Gloria, in te domine - Gloria, exultate. The song breaks down into a chaotic bridge - the drums and bass suggesting the profane pandemonium (in the classical Greek sense of the term) of The World. It nearly stalls with Adam Clayton's bass solo...

...and then The Edge rallies the troops with a guitar part that's all fanfare, and the band comes back in for the, ahem, glorious coda: "Gloria, in te domine. Gloria, Gloria!". It's the most joyful coda in the history of rock and roll, both in the profane sense - the breaking of the tension is almost orgasmic - and the sacred sense, as the feeling of redemptive joy washes over the song and, - played live - the audience.

Yeah, I'm a fan.

Now, someone told me they heard Coleman explain his use of U2 and the Pogues on the air once; to paraphrase, he was said to have exclaimed something to the effect of "It's Irish revolutionary music, and I'm an Irish revolutionary".


Wonder if Nick ever saw "Rattle and Hum".

The movie was a hash, of course. But it had a few great moments.

None was greater than moment at an arena gig in Denver, toward the end of the movie. It was right after they'd gotten news of the Enniskillen bombing - where a group of IRA thugs set off a bomb at a Rememberance Day observance, killing 11, mostly World War II veterans.

If you never remember "Rattle and Hum" for any other reason, remember it for this scene.

The band is onstage, looking visibly shaken, horrified. They're playing a fierce, jagged version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday", their 1983 anthem (which is, by the way, not a revolutionary song, but a jeremiad about Christians, the world, war, the battle for the world's soul; the song ends "...And so the battle's yet begun/to bring the victory Jesus won").

During the bridge, Bono hushes the band down to just the drums and the bass, while the Edge slowly figures and listens.

I'm sick of Irish Americans, who haven't been home in twenty or thirty years, come up to me and tell me about the glory of the revolution. The glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution. Where's the glory in dragging a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and children? Where's the glory in that? Where's the glory in bombing old age pensioners as part of a remembrance day parade, their medals polished up for the day? Where's the glory in that?
Where, indeed?

Where is the glory of your "Irish Revolutionary" bullshit, Nick Coleman? You're in America now. Leave your tired, old "Up the Union" baked wind back in the old country, with all the other squalid ideas and dehumanizing traditions that most of our anscestors came here to escape.

Not subtle, that Bono. Good thing.

Because subtlety is lost on philistines like Nick Coleman.

At the beginning of Rattle and Hum, as Edge is playing the beginning to "Helter Skelter", Bono says "Charles Manson stole this song from the Beatles. We're here to steal it back". It launched a thousand bar band jokes:

MITCH at bar in St. Paul, as "I Think We're Alone Now" starts: "Tiffany stole this song from Tommy James. We're here to steal it back".
Well, Nick, you're the thief; on a trivial, pop-culture level, you're trying to steal U2. On a more substantial level, you're trying to pilfer Minnesota - profaning the sacrifices of my anscestors, who settled in the northwest corner of the state, in the name of more taxes for your precious unions and programs and illusion about this state's history.

We're stealing it all back, Nick Coleman, we band of bloggers. Minnesota, U2, the airwaves, the public discussion, our hard-earned income - all of it.

Revolution. Pffft. What Bono said.

Posted by Mitch at February 21, 2005 10:43 AM | TrackBack

I was in high school when "Rattle and Hum" came out, but dang - now I need to see it again.

Unforgettable Fire is my fave U2 album too.

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at February 21, 2005 11:13 AM

I read somewhere that there are more people in America who identify themselves as "Irish-Americans" on some level, than there are actual living Irish people in Ireland. Coleman's obviously riding some kind of impedance mismatch wave where he, the rich American, gets to identify with some imagined downtrodden Irish co-ancestral counterpart. Wanker.

Posted by: Brian Jones at February 21, 2005 11:51 AM

You know it. "Irish" is a big thing in St. Paul - it's a big Irish center.

But Coleman is constantly yakking about being Irish, talking about his Irish Sodbuster anscestors...

...pretty much exactly as you sum it up.

Posted by: mitch at February 21, 2005 11:53 AM

Spot on! Although, don't you mean, "Up the Republic"? "Union," in Irish politics, doesn't mean the Teamsters.

Posted by: Jonathan Good at February 21, 2005 02:05 PM

That some comfortable, cliche-spewing, dolt in the Twin Cities would refer to himself as an "Irish Revolutionary" is too pathetic for words. Like most people who wear their morality and compassion on their sleeves, for ol' Nicky- boy, it really is all about their self-image, no matter how detached from reality. Just shaddup, will'ya, Coleman?

Posted by: Will Allen at February 21, 2005 02:10 PM

Chuck - Y'know, the movie drove me nuts - Phil Joanou works so hard to mysticize U2 and their tour, and so much of it fell flat. And yet when it was good, it was great. The scene at Sun Studios, the "Where the Streets Have No Names" shoot in downtown LA, and of course the "Sunday Bloody Sunday" clip from McNichols Arena were just kinetic, and really did capture U2 at their best. Maddeningly inconsistent!

JG: You're right. I'm mixing that with "There Is Power In a Union", a song my (very Irish) drummer used to sing.

Will: Couldn't have said it better.

Posted by: mitch at February 21, 2005 02:24 PM

I am wondering if anyone knows what 'Rattle and Hum" was named after, or what is meant to mean?
Curious. PLease email if you have any ideas.

Posted by: Natalie at March 9, 2005 10:12 PM

Rattle and Hum comes from a line in the song "Bullet The Blue Sky"

Posted by: Brad A at July 7, 2005 08:22 PM