Our love runs cold
In the caverns of the night
We’re wounded by fear
Injured in doubt
I can lose myself
You I can’t live without
Red hill mining town | The Joshua Tree, 1987
2017. Somewhere © Veronica Lisi
After Running to stand still, Red hill mining town is the second track that departs from Reagan’s America. It is rooted in Margaret Thatcher’s England and, specifically, during the famous UK miners’ strikes that occurred in the Country between 1984 and 1985. The outbreak of the protest was the decision of the “Iron Lady” to shut down many mining facilities, causing the dismissal of thousands of workers and throwing the latter into a state of profound discomfort.
U2 face the issue from the human side by preferring to avoid, or at least to indirectly mention, any reference to English politics.
The heart of the song is in the first line, “From Father to Son”, enclosing in just four words the deep bond between father and son, where the latter is the essential reason for the first to continue to endure profession fatigue and dangers. Therefore, children, are the force that allows miners to descend into the heart of Earth at the expense of their own life. However, loss of work puts their lives in jeopardy as it deprives the fathers of a future for their loved ones. Bono has tried to highlight how humanity manifests itself even in the darkest moments and to do this he looks beyond the directly involved people, focusing on writing about those that were at that time little considered: the children.
Thus, the text is a praise to the family and to those who encourage workers to endure a tough and extravagant profession like mining. By entering the mine, the father brings with him his wife, his children, those who indirectly suffer his struggles and who are the recipients of the fruits generated by his perseverance.
“From Father To Son” encapsulates the most pure and visceral human solidarity: the family that holds a desperate man, “you’re all that’s left to hold on,” and becomes the only true certainty in a brutal society capable of giving the cold shoulder to its own workers. 120,000 people lost their jobs, due to that shut down, but those who lost hope were at least three times that. Politicians could not see that those who entered the deep rock tunnels were not really just expert men, but often – behind the scruffy look and tear-covered eyes – the dreams of children and teenagers were hidden.
What most strikes is how these issues are re-emerging nowadays with policies of job reduction, causing a constant, growing, mistrust in young people. Is it fair to say that nothing has changed since 1984? No, it is not, as many things have changed, but what has not changed is the inability of politics to identify in the worker, in those people who place in the latter projects for a better future.
We’re still waiting… the lights go down on Red Hill Town…