The Real Star of U2’s Classic Anthem — “Pride (in the Name of Love)”
For those of us of a certain age, raised on a steady diet of MTV (when music videos were played exclusively), many of us will remember U2’s huge breakthrough hit, “Pride in the Name of Love,” recorded in 1984 which came off The Unforgettable Fire album, a masterpiece.
That’s always been one of my favorite rock songs, written by Bono and intended as a tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Long before other musicians were winning Oscars for other anthems dedicated to MLK, U2 did their own salute, which certainly stands the test of time. Rolling Stone magazine routinely picks that as one of the greatest songs of all time, and rightfully so. Even if you weren’t around back then, you’ve probably still heard it.
However, the powerful imagery associated with “Pride in the Name of Love” isn’t American, at all. It’s unmistakably working-class Irish. The video endures as a timeless postcard to what’s known as the Dublin Docklands, now in the midst of a modern renovation and high-tech boom. One of Dublin’s dirtiest, dangerous, and most rundown areas has been transformed into one of the most desirable areas of the city in which to work and live.
Thirty years ago, when the video for “Pride (in the Name of Love)” was played over and over again on MTV, most of us sang along with Bono’s shrilling voice, seemingly about to crack towards the end of the song. At the same time, we watched and absorbed the images of what looked to be an industrial wasteland, dominated by smokestacks towering above a waste dump, bordered by a river port, somewhere. Unless you actually lived in Dublin and recognized the familiar scenery, there was nothing in the video to identify this place as the aging bricks which gave way to the roots of a new sound, typified by a pulsating bass, The Edge’s melodic guitar riffs, and Bono’s emerging role which would ultimately extend beyond music and pop culture and delve into social awareness and international philanthropy.
As powerful as the music, the imagery at the start and end of the video really stands out. It was mostly shot in and around the port area, which is the waterway’s funnel into central Dublin from the Irish Sea. Positioned on the city’s outskirts on a peninsula is the Poolbeg Generating Station, mainly recognizable because of its two huge smokestacks. The plant was built during the 1890s. But the towers, once affixed with flashing lights atop, served yet another purpose — a giant lighthouse and beacon to ships at sea trying to navigate murky currents and the constant threat of fog and drizzle.
Earlier today, I drove near the Poolbeg Generating Station. As I passed by, I thought those two towers looked familiar. That’s when I found out here’s where U2 shot their video. Unfortunately, I also discovered that the plant is no longer is in service and now has an uncertain future. I hope someone decides to protect the two smokestacks since they stand as an iconic piece of the Dublin skyline and a clear connection to the port.
Here’s the music video of “Pride (in the Name of Love).” Three versions of this were shot, two of which feature the Dublin Docklands area prominently. The best shot of the smokestacks appears at the end of the song.
Writer’s Note: Special thanks to Paddy Power Poker for what’s been an interesting trip to Ireland. More to come….