On Having What It Takes
I bought a copy of U2’s answer to This Is Spinal Tap, Rattle And Hum, from the Action Romania shop, for a pound. So I thought I’d better watch the fucking thing. Whatever you think of their work – and I’m ambivalent, they’re a bit like Zeppelin for me: quite like some of the music, hate the singing – it’s one extremely dull film. I should have gone for the glass fish. I knew I should have gone for the glass fish. But the film does contain one perfect vignette that tells you everything you need to know about why U2 are U2 and you and I are not.
Being on a mission here to reduce the entire history of rock music in the U.S. to a series of banal clichés, naturally they pay a visit to Graceland. And Larry wants to get a photograph of himself sitting on Presley’s Harley-Davidson. The woman who is showing them round is visibly reluctant. “Couldn’t he sit on the snowmobile instead?” So Bono takes her aside for a wheedle, and it’s agreed that Larry can have a still photograph of himself on the Harley, for personal use, as it were. They film him on it anyway. And they use the footage. Because Rattle And Hum, in so far as it’s about anything at all apart from U2’s wish to make more money, is all about how you’ve gotta, like, respect your heritage.