White as new year's day snow

RTE has been doing a "30 years of U2" event, and in conjunction with this they put up a number of rare U2 radio and TV clips from their archives. Several of these are very early and well worth it purely for the hilarity value, but I do want to comment on one in particular.

Near the bottom of the first page of archives, there's a 5'45" clip where an especially horrifically-mulleted Bono talks to Gay Byrne about the video for "New Year's Day." Byrne asks: why snow? and Bono's response is so arcane as to have made me stop and rewind the player a couple times -- but indicative, I think. Essentially he says that the album they are about to release is titled War but its theme is actually surrender, and "I had this idea of using the snow as a sort of covering. [He explains about flying white flags as a symbol onstage.] And then I thought of the white snow, the ultimate sort of symbol of surrender."

I wonder what percentage of an audience would connect a white covering at all with surrender, much less see snow as its "ultimate symbol"? ("White as snow" is at least a direct quote that has some currency in the culture; this covering/surrender image is wandering around somewhere near the end of a series of conclusions drawn from... I dunno, things like Psalm 51:6-8, Rom 4:7, Rev 7:8-15, Gal 3:26-27 and maybe elsewhere?) It hits me how incredibly abstract, obscure and cerebral this intended symbolic message of the snow in the video is; if a fan independently argued for it on a forum, they'd probably be mocked for grasping at straws.

I sure never would have thought of snow = white covering = surrender, but for one thing, perhaps it throws a little more light on what's going on with the long-time live pairing of "Until the End of The World" and "New Year's Day."

1 comment:

Tim Neufeld said...

Great insight Beth! Thanks. Related to the theme of surrender, one of the show-stopping moments for me in Honolulu (Vertigo tour) was a very understated moment during “I Will Follow.” In the bridge where Bono usually sings “Your eyes make a circle,” he sang/prayed, “I surrender to your love” twice. It had the tone and quality of a hymn, I almost thought he was going to break out in the old evangelical hymn “I Surrender All.” I don’t think many people took note, and it was very quick, but it was quite shocking to me. And then of course he ended “Follow” by screaming “agape!” a couple of times. That was just the fourth song in the show and was followed by “Still Haven’t Found.” I have the recording if interested. Thanks again.