U2 One in three music videos

“One”, performed by U2 on their 1991 album, “Achtung Baby”, was released on three music videos in six months during 1992. Three film directors, Anton Corbijn, Mark Pellington and Phil Joanou, presented “Berlin”, “Buffalo” and “Bar”, each music video with its own interpretation and function in U2’s promotion of the song. We also cover a version featuring Mary J Blige and U2’s use of the song in an ESPN football commercial.

Buffalo One and Flower in U2 One video by Mark Pellington

Video One – Berlin

“Berlin”, The first music video for One was filmed in February 1992 by Anton Corbijn and featured the band dressed in drag, Bono’s father, trabants, and Berlin. The music video opened up interpretations connected with Bono’s relationship with his father, the tensions being experienced in newly united Berlin, and the impact of AIDs on gay men and their fathers.

Corbijn worked with producer Richard Bell and editor Daniel Goddard.

Bono, father and Trabant in U2 One music video

Video Two – Buffalo

The band discovered that the first music video was being misinterpreted as sexualising the AIDS crisis. Proceeds from the single were being donated to AIDS charities. They didn’t want to jeopardize that cause and so sought a second interpretation in film. Mark Pellington was called in to work with an photograph by gay artist David Wojnarowicz featuring buffalo falling over a cliff. The second music video was to be used on a huge screen as the backdrop to U2’s performance of the song in the Zoo TV tour. The resulting work combined words, running buffalo and flowers.

Pellington worked with producer Carina Rubin and editor Bob Gleason to attempt to include stark footage of the band singing in the video. It was soon evident that the inserted footage jarred with the existing symmetry of the video. Mark continued working with U2 to prepare footage for the large screens used in the Zoo TV tour. The buffalo version of One was stunning on the large screen. However MTV managers felt that the video was not suitable for constant screening for two reasons. The band didn’t feature anywhere in the film. Most viewers just didn’t get the symbolism – it was too artsy.

David Wojnarowicz buffalo falling

The Pellington version of the One video is available in the extras on the U2 18 Music Videos DVD.

Video Three – Bar

A third video was commissioned, this time with Phil Joanou as director. Phil took a more conservative approach, filming U2 in concert, and Bono in a Philadelphia bar, with a woman, Serena, brought in for good measure. Over seven days the band and director had to come up with the concept, film it and get the copy to MTV.

Joanou worked with producer Ned O’Hanlon and editor Glen Lazarro.

More Recent U2 One Videos

U2 and Mary Blige perform at the Grammys.

U2 perform One for Live 8

U2 perform One for ESPN Football Cup commercial – The Inspiration Room Review

U2 One Lyrics

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame

You say…
One love, One life
When it’s one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without

Well it’s too late, tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head?
Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing

Now it’s all I got
We’re one
But we’re not the same
We hurt each other
Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life
With each other

One life
But we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other