On March 9th 1987, U2's fifth studio album was released. Eleven songs. Fifty minutes. (Eleven seconds). The Joshua Tree.

Is there an album which opens with three more powerful tracks?  'Where The Streets Have No Name', I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'With Or Without You', soundtracked an era, ensuring The Joshua Tree would become one of the biggest albums of all time.

But the numbers don't tell the real story. 

The real story is what the record meant to people who queued up late to buy it, shops opening specially at midnight.  Or to people delicately setting down that new vinyl disc on a turntable for the first time. Or hearing it on the radio... wondering who that band was.
The real story is how some songs or albums conjure up a certain period in your life -  taking you back to who you were and where you were, when you used to play it all the time.

The real story is what an album like The Joshua Tree can mean to someone at a key moment in their life - growing up, leaving home, finding someone... losing someone.

Got a story about The Joshua Tree from your life? Maybe it's the album - maybe it's just one song. 

Perhaps it takes you all the way back to when you first heard it, like John Noble, who wrote on Zootopia, that 'I cannot imagine my life without it.'

'Back in my bedroom, on my own, on the floor, on headphones, on a record player. The opening atmospheric anthem organ drone setting the scene… transporting me to the desert landscape perfectly portrayed on the album sleeve. Its like it was all designed this way, just for me, just for this moment…

 'Beaten and blown by the wind… and when I go there, I go there with you. It's all I can do'.'

Or perhaps it's a story about how this album was part of an unforgettable moment in your life.

Tell us your stories about what The Joshua Tree means to you - add them in the comments below. (There might even be a prize or two.)

(By the way, the photo is from U2tapecollector, responding to John's article in Zootopia by explaining how his local record store in Austria had a problem getting copies of The Joshua Tree in 1987… which seems to have inspired a certain subsequent passion.)


04 May, 2017
First U2 Concert
1987, Oakland, California. One day prior they did a "save the yuppie" concert at Justin Herman Plaza, I have an awesome bootleg! Oh my, where to begin? My 30 year high school reunion is this year too. I literally grew up with you. So many concerts ~ 45 since 1987. The Joshua Tree catapulted me on my own spiritual journey for the past 30 years. I think if I were to sum up how much that album and concert meant to me then - everything for my young spirit longing for truth. Now, it means so much more because I have become so much deeper into my spiritual practice. Watching, listening, and dancing to U2 takes me higher then and now and will forever. God Bless! See you in San Jose brothers! Peace, love, and light.
03 May, 2017
The Joshua Tree was my sanctuary
Listening to the Joshua Tree was like a sanctuary during some very tough times in my youth. I really can't put it another way. I have travelled the world in the military and have never had the opportunity to see U2 perform. Seeing this tour Is literally a dream come true for me.
28 April, 2017
"The Joshua Tree" came out on March 9, 1987, which was 10 days before my 17th birthday. I asked my parents if I could have my birthday present early because I couldn't stand to wait 10 WHOLE DAYS!!! Luckily, they agreed. I sped to our local record shop where my good buddies had my copy waiting for me. I spent hours and hours talking to those guys in that shop about music. We disagreed a lot because some of them were metal heads and I liked alternative music, but we ALWAYS agreed on one album. "The Joshua Tree" was so magic, it brought us together and opened our minds. I ended up working at that record shop shortly after. Listening to the "Joshua Tree" takes me back to a time where people who loved music could sit in tiny shop and listened to music together and agreed that EDGE IS A MOTHER FUC?!%# GUITAR GOD!!
17 April, 2017
Title: Like nothing else in its time
I can still remember the first time I heard The Joshua Tree, by U2. It was like nothing else in its time—a defining sound for a generation. It resonated chords within me that were tuned to the frequencies of longing, hope, and liberation. “I want to run / I want to hide /  I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside” The concept of the album was so complete, from the music, to the design and photography; and every track had its own unique and powerful story. Stories worth hearing. And pulsing through it all, a soul that still believed hope was worth singing about. I was at the Elevation tour in 2001 in Vancouver, and was fortunate enough to get a chance to see the band in person before the show! But that's another story for another time, another place :-) One of my favourite memories of that show was hearing the band play Where the Streets Have No Name live, and being among the 20,000 ecstatic fans belting it out at the top of their lungs. I am a musician, primarily a pianist—I've played my own interpretations of these songs for years. As my way of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the album, I've created a record of the ideas and interpretations of the songs that I'd created over the years on solo piano. It's called The Joshua Keys. I'd love for you to hear it sometime. Check it out at Thank you U2, for your music that continues to inspire. - Owen
12 April, 2017
My brother, my son, my view of the world
My first love was the music. I had had other favorite bands before 1987, but I've never had a different favorite band since hearing the words, "I want to run" ring out that first time in my garage-turned-gameroom playing table tennis with my older brother. When I say we listened to it religiously, I mean every morning on our way to and from Mass during Lent. Every afternoon playing table tennis. All the time. My brother was more of a poet than I was, but after my love of the music, I discovered a love of the message. I helped form an Amnesty International chapter at my high school. I spoke up for human rights to my friends and family. I went on to lead the largest newspaper in Texas to reverse 100 years of support for the death penalty. All of this was motivated by U2 and, especially, this album. When my wife and I found out we were having twins, I used the opening of "Where the Streets Have No Name" for the video announcement. Building up the visuals more and more quickly showing our love story as parentless people and then announcing, with drums and guitar at a fever pitch, that we were expecting twins in the summer of 2012. And one of them would be named Joshua. What else? Joshua. My brother is gone, but the music always takes me back to those early mornings on the way to church and to those endless afternoons in our game room. And as I introduce my son to the music, and he smiles as I tell him to listen for the "jangly" guitar sound, I can't wait for the days when we can talk about the message as much as the music. This album is part of my life. His, too. It is a light that shines on the memories I have of my brother, that illuminates an imperfect world and calls me to action, and that flickers in a new generation, in a 4-year-old Boy who I named Joshua.
02 April, 2017
My first love of u2
I was 23 years old when I purchased the lp. It was my haven when my marriage broke up. I played "with or without you" over and over. I sang it to the top of my lungs. "God's country" was also a favorite. This album was a get away from the real world at the time. Certainly one of my favorite albums from u2. When i have attended concerts of theirs, these song are awesome to hear. Gives me shivers. Can't wait to hear them again in May.
30 March, 2017
It means everything for me. When The Joshua Tree was realeased I was 14, I'm from Spain, I could barely undertand the lyrics, but I memorized every single word, I fall completly in love with the band, oh my godness I was obssed with Bono!!!., and despite all this years I'm still in love!. Every special moment of life is linked to a U2 album, during this 30 years I had seen your everytime you've come to Spain, and this year I'm going to your hometown!!!!!, I wish I had the opportunity to tell you my feelings in person. See you in Dublin!!!. LOVE U2.
25 March, 2017
My jaw dropped....
For me it wasn't until the release of Rattle n Hum. I was 16, it was Friday night Nov 4, 1988. I had just passed my driver exam at 5 pm, picked up my mates for the 7 pm release of the movie that turned into a night I still remember. My jaw it the ground as Helter Skelter started to play. I knew very little of this band called U2 (I was into Pink Floyd at the time) but from that moment on, the soundtrack to my 44 year old life has been the songs of TJT. How could 4 lads from a small school in Ireland create a sound so resonating, that it sends chills up my spine, even to this day. I didn't make it to the original tour, but I'll be there this summer, as I have been every tour since the ZOO! :)
19 March, 2017
My real introduction to U2
Though I had heard of U2 briefly before The Joshua Tree album and its accompanying singles/videos, their music hadn't really grabbed hold of me yet; I wasn't listening to the radio at that time or keeping up with the music scene except what friends suggested I give a listen to. Then one day, I was watching MTV, and the video for "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" came on, and I was swept away by the music, the lyrics, the desire to be there dancing on the street with Bono. I am not a religious person, but that song became my favorite of theirs, right then; some day in the future, when my ashes are scattered at sea, I want that song played to send me off (and yes, I recognize the bit of irony considering the lyrics). I bought the album soon after that MTV moment, and have been a fan of U2 since.
18 March, 2017
Why haven't you let my memories of the Joshua tree for people to see. Have I been discriminated against because I'm an ex offender and don't fit in with your view on what a u2 fan is all about? Aren't my memories just as valid? Please have the courtesy to reply. Patrick
17 March, 2017
Its meaning came later to me.
I was not in my best head space right when The Joshua Tree came out, so I felt then that the band was too omnipresent; it left me feeling put off by it, even though I'd seen their earlier videos of Sunday, Bloody Sunday and Pride, to name a few. I even remember really loving "Bad", but the band had yet to gain traction with me. Then, I heard Rattle and Hum from checking it out of the University of Detroit's library and cranking it on the stereo in the little chapel of the Jesuit residence on a retreat. I was in a very numb state then and that record broke through to me, as did the film, especially the performance of Sunday, Bloody Sunday. In short, I reconsidered my opinion. Later, at the end of my time at Ohio State, I bought The Joshua Tree tape used at a record store near campus, and played the daylights out of it, especially Exit. I had just found out that I had survived a sexual assault when I was 16, and I discovered it at an intake appointment for a counseling center on campus. I was shattered, but Exit really spoke to me in Larry's smashing drums on there; the rest of the album was no less uplifting to my spirits. Later, when I was in another counseling session, a group one, the counselor tasked us with drawing our abuse in an art therapy exercise, I think. I took that tape into his office, used his boombox and cranked it so loud the neighboring office came in to complain; my counselor had to intercede on my behalf. Through the anger and the rage in that song, Exit, I found the grief behind it, drew a bunch of lines of light being sucked into a black hole, and wrote "Helpless" as its title. Their music has been good medicine to me ever since and takes up a sizable spot in my iPod.
17 March, 2017
19 years old, just turned, out of high school, lost, depressed, alone, sitting in my car late that Saturday night, heater on, parked at McDonalds eating whatever I had at the time, listening to K97 in Edmonton, then they announced that the new album was to played in it's entirety within 30 minutes; apparently announcing it all day and didn't know. Was a pretty big U2 fan at that point but wasn't prepared for what I was about to witness, hear, feel. The songs touched my heart, woke up my spirit, gave me hope, renewed my faith, made me smile, made me cry, made me close my eyes and feel the passion in the music and lyrics. That solidified me as a true U2 fan forever, which I knew in my heart anyways. No album or cd ever came close to drawing those emotions out of me. Some of U2's songs on following albums/cd's had similar feelings, but not an entire collection of songs on one records, never will. My first time seeing them was in November 1987.. never forget it. This May in Vancouver, same building, same songs, same feelings, passion, tears, smiles, dreams, hope, again.. one more time. Cannot wait. Thank you Larry, Edge, Bono, Adam.. this album saved my life, is a soundtrack to my youth and teens, every note, lyric and song. Something about the Irish, they are true to their hearts, genuine souls, know how to rub that goodness onto others to last a lifetime.
17 March, 2017
Was on my way home from Florida with my family when I first heard With or Without You, we were between Washington DC and Baltimore. I actually asked my family to be quiet so I could hear the song. Went more nuts when the radio station at home (WMMR) got their copy of the album, ended up taping most of it before the album was in stores (and blowing off a few classes at college to do so).
17 March, 2017
3/17 My Birthday
I remember buying the album on my 19th Birthday, rushing home to put it on my turntable. I was a huge fan of U2 by that time. the music and lyrics were so different from Unforgettable Fire, I was like whats this? The more I listened to it the more I fell in Love with it. Sat behind the stage for the show at mcnichols arena in Denver for the tour. I hope they play the album from to back on this tour. After all they opened with Streets in 1987.
17 March, 2017
First Album I bought.......
I bought The Joshua Tree as a 9 year old on cassette with my own money, which was actually a huge deal to me at the time. I used to listen to it on my shitty little Walkman at night under the covers in the dark, the pictures the music painted in y mind then still come to the fore when I listen to the record to this day. It still conjures the same feelings and emotions that I felt then, even though I didn't understand the subject matter of songs like Bullet the Blue Sky or Running To Stand Still, the anger and despair was obvious through the music and lyrics. This record has been with me for 30 years, through adolescence, marriage, parenthood and now as I head into my forties. I think someone else summed it up best- I simply cannot imagine my life without it. This album opened up a whole new world to me and for that I'll be forever grateful....
17 March, 2017
I was serving 8 months when this album was released.I couldn't get my copy until Augest 87. Thank The Lordy for medium wave radio as ANNIE NIGHTINGALE Played exclusive tracks from it. No spiritual awakening was had but definitely soundtrack to my largely mispent youth.
16 March, 2017
A Surreal first
The first time I heard With Or Without You something strage happened . . . I somehow knew the lyrics having NEVER HEARD THE SONG ! It was mystical, otherworldly and spiritual . I was attending University at the time. As I listened to the entire record I felt grounded and comforted during a very turbulent time of life. It made me desire God.
16 March, 2017
Such Exquisite Frailty
In the summer of 1987, I was fourteen years old and freshly graduated from elementary school. The extent of my musical tastes at that point consisted primarily of film soundtracks and synth-heavy mid-80s pop: a-ha, Mr. Mister, Thompson Twins and the like. It was nice background, but none of it had really "consumed" me as a listener. I knew -of- U2, but few songs had yet to cross my radar. I bought "The Joshua Tree" during a trip from California to visit family in New England. I think I bought it on the strength of the TIME magazine article ("Rock's Hottest Ticket"), not quite knowing what to expect of it. What I do vividly remember is lying in bed late at night, unable to sleep because of the difference in time zones and the sweltering New England heat. I popped the tape into my Walkman and heard that sweeping intro and the resonating, escalating chords of Edge's guitar on "Where Streets Have No Name." I was absolutely transfixed; it was like nothing I'd ever heard before. I played the first few tracks, torn between the temptation to rewind and play them back again immediately, and letting the album play out to take me where it would. I ended up letting it play through, savoring each track and being impressed with how different each was from the last: the sweeping dynamics, the loud and the soft, the power and the fragility; the whole thing as vast and expansive as the landscape that produced the joshua tree itself. I don't remember how much time passed, but I played the album through a few times back to back, marveling at different bits of it each time. My lack of sleep that night ended up having little to do with time zones or humidity. I didn't get a chance to see U2 live until some years later on the Zoo TV tour (and several times since), but it was still an incredible experience, and I am very much looking forward to the upcoming anniversary tour. I never went back to mid-80s pop.
16 March, 2017
Awesome Memories
I was just 20 years old in 1987, working in Down Town Los Angeles and that was the year U2 perform live on the top of the roof singing their song "Where The Streets Have No Name!" I get a called from my cousin saying 'what are you doing? Come out and see that U2 are performing live!" I was shock and I just couldn't leave based on my duties, but I heard them on the radio with Kiss-FM - And it was such a great feeling and now after 30 years I will be turning 50 and it will be a awesome memories again when I see them in Pasadena!!! Thank you for great music!!
16 March, 2017
The Greatest Album Ever!
I purchased the vinyl version on the first day The Joshua Tree was available. I went home and played it on the turntable, and at the same time, recorded the album onto cassette tape. Being that the 'With Or Without You' video was the only song being played prior to the album's release, this album was the most anticipated record that I had ever looked forward to hearing for the first time. Little did I know that after listening to the entire album, how much my life was going to reflect the hysteria and love in which U2 and the Joshua Tree received soon after. Each time I listened to the album, the spectrum of musical genius and the brilliant expression within the lyrics, led me to find tickets to the Joshua Tree tour, which was going to be in L.A. two weeks after the release date. Now, thirty years after, I still feel the same feelings as when I did when I listened to the Joshua Tree for the first time on March 9, 1987!
16 March, 2017
The night the Joshua Tree came we waited rather impatiently , was with my Nephews & A few friends all Big U2 fans were waiting outside this Massachusetts record shop, not knowing the magic we were about endure. I bought the album on Cassette tap. at 12:01AM unwrapping the cassette as we walked to the car. So we popped the Cassette into my Pioneer with Alpine speakers . 1st song "Streets" 2nd song "Still Haven't Found..." And 3rd Song With or Without you .I agree with u2 fan above ,The best 3 songs ever to start a album ,then "Bullet " Runnin to stand still " I was totally blown away ,Then probably my favorite U2 song of all Red Mill Mining Town .Oh my God !!! that song was like "wow" when me & friends are together we were usually rowdy and quite loud , but i think listening to this album calmed us all down . then the rest of the album was just Icing on the cake.....My Favorite Album by far...Can't wait for June 25th 2017 @ Foxboro Ma....
16 March, 2017
A lifetime partner
At the time U2 seemed to be hitting the headlines with tracks from earlier albums, Pride (in the name of Love) Sunday Bl@@dy Sunday, these songs caught my attention brought me to buy the Joshua Tree. The rest is history, the album, every track tells a story, every track captures something in someone. The tracks are timeless, the album has secured it's place in history. It started a lifelong connection to U2, every new album greatly anticipated and appreciated, every move U2 made greatly observed, and every concert that was possible to get to, I went. Like a lifelong partnership, for over 30 years U2 and the Joshua Tree have been part of my journey, and in a tiny, tiny, tiny way I have been part of theirs. I'm not sure what or if the next 30 years will bring, but I look forward to continuing the journey for as long as I am able.
16 March, 2017
A girl and a guitar
I first saw U2 in Rochester NY in 1983 when they played at the RIT hockey rink. Fast forward to 1987 and I'm working in Chappell favorite band had gone "commercial". That whole summer, while partying in the Hamptons, we sang With or Without You as loudly (and probably very off key) as possible. The sound of The Edge's guitar moves me in a way no other song or instrument ever has or will. It's unexplainable, but magical!!!
16 March, 2017
Life Saver
I emigrated from Ireland in February 1987. Moved to London and felt really homesick and lonely, finding it very difficult to settle into such a hectic and impersonal city. A month later the Joshua Tree was released and everything changed. Overnight U2 were the hottest thing in town, and by association, everything Irish was in vogue. Suddenly it was hip to be Irish in London. Never looked back from that moment. Cheers.
16 March, 2017
Months before this album was released - at 6:55 p.m. on Jan. 31, 1987, to be exact - my brother, David, died after enduring a horrible, painful two years suffering from AIDS. I wandered emotionally and spiritually in the intervening weeks and months, struggling to come to terms with the fact that not only was my brother's life cut short, but that I would live the rest of mine without him. When U2 released Joshua Tree, I was in a deep depression, unsure of what to do with the rest of my life. I had a college degree and a teaching credential earned during my David's illness, but teaching no longer interested me. I saw it as tainted by his struggle. When my grandmother died a few months after my brother and left me $5,000, I decided to take a solo trip to Europe. I took with me a Walkman and a handful of cassette tapes. I don't remember what the other ones were, but one of them was Joshua Tree. I remember because I played it over and over as I rode trains and stayed in hostels all over Europe and the UK. The music and the lyrics sustained and inspired me, often when I needed it most. Thirty years on, they still do. As a result, the album and my brother are forever linked in fond remembrance.
16 March, 2017
First time music makes me feel in love
Yes, I was 13 or 14 and I was playing billar with friends in my Hometown. Suddenly, on a TV screen, four guys started to play a live version of I still haven't found and I was shocked. It was a report of U2's live perfomnace in Madrid in 1987. I could not finish my billar play because I was felt in love with his music. This summer of 1987 I spent it listening all tracks of the Joshua Tree album and it will be a pleasure to meet this songs live again next July in Barcelona in my 6th U2 concert
16 March, 2017
Fan for more than 35 years now...
My first U2 concert, I was 16 years old, was amazing. It was in November 1981 in Holland (Leiden and Rotterdam). I hardly knew the band and a friend took me. It was a memorable concert and me and my friends ended up drinking a beer backstage with Bono in Leiden. He even rode my friends bike like a true Dutchmen at the Holiday Inn the next day! Two days later we went to a second concert in Rotterdam (we got backstage passes). After the concert we had drinks in a bar with Adam, Steve Lillywhite and some more people. We had so much fun and they were so kind. That was more than 35 years ago. I am now 51 and still fan. Albums I love most are the first albums like Boy and October. I am going to the concert in Brussels next summer. Can't wait!
15 March, 2017
"1" Song was all i needed to become a li
Thank you U2 for all of the songs that have given me a reason to live, when I've been at my lowest ebb, and only your music saved me from hurt and pain, again and again! THANK YOU!
15 March, 2017
Youth, fate, death and closure 30 years
I was a senior in high school in a smallish Texas town outside of Dallas in 1987. I had already seen a U2 show and the experience solidified me as a fan to this day. The year before, on a road trip with family from home to California, I went through 24 hours of AA batteries on my Walkman listening to Boy, Gloria, War and The Unforgettable Fire. I knew every beat by heart. The morning of the day the single With or Without You was released, I had learned of the unexpected death of my best friend. Best Friend doesn't fully explain the depth and joy of our friendship. It was a platonic M/F pairing and we were soulmates. I was not in the popular crowd, but in the "new wave/freaks" clique and struggling with how to identify as a gay person in the pre-internet, pre-acceptance world of the 80s. Losing her almost destroyed me. I found a solace in the lyrics of Bad, but the pain lingered and wasn't diminishing. I have a bittersweet memory of one of my friends playing the song for me. The music box bells of the intro, the swell of the emotional lyrics, the words Bono was singing just ripped the scabs off and I bled tears. I needed it, but I still hurt. When the full album was released, I had car trouble and was relying on friends to drive me to the store to purchase my CD. Not being as high a priority, they got me there at almost closing and I was told they had sold out. My heart sunk. As I was leaving, the clerk called out to me. "Here," he said. "I will sell you the one I set aside for me. I've listened all day and you're clearly a fan." I looked him in the eye and thanked to fan. When I got to my room, closed the door turned off the lights, put the disk in the try and put my headphones on, my life was forever changed. My touchstone for music was revealed, never to be undone. From the first, barely heard organs of WTSHNN to the haunting and vivid dance of Mothers of the Disappeared. I knew I had just experienced genius. A solitary and almost religious experience, the sounds and the lyrics washed over me and I found the tools, armor, concepts I needed to help me decipher where I was and what even life and death meant to me. I heard what I needed to hear, just as another would hear something completely different. It is not just an album to me, it is a flag in the landscape that stands in my mind to this day. It is a landmark that I cling to when I wander around in my mind and revisit my former self from that time. He and I share this music, these words, the love and friendship of these four men. It sounds dramatic, but it saved my life. I let it save my life. The power it has over me is as strong today, 30 years through time. I cherish this memory, this music and this era of U2. There's more to the story, and it bookends nicely, almost fatefully with the tickets I have for the anniversary tour in May. When the tour came to my town in 87, me and my friend Sherry as freshly-graduated kids could not afford to buy tickets. We decided to go down to the venue in Fort Worth, TX, loiter outside and hope the walls were thin enough to glean something of the show. Sitting outside, it appeared we were the only two with the idea. Probably because in reality, we heard nothing of what was going on inside. As we started coming to terms, three girls approached in a rush as the show has just started. One came up and explained in a desperate tone, "I have an extra ticket. One of our friends was too sick to come and asked me to try to sell it to recoup the money." We explained we had nothing to help her with. We sat and watched as the other to paced impatiently seeing that besides the two of us, there was no one else in sight. They gave up and started to go inside. I yelled, "Hey! Are you just going in with the ticket? Why not let us have it if you can't sell it? Don't waste it!" She whined, "Do you really want it?" I kept my normally sarcastic personality muzzled and just squeaked out, "Yes." She reluctantly handed me the ticket and she and her impatient friends disappeared inside the venue. Then I slowly turned, ticket in hand, and my friend Sherry and I made eye contact. She sighed and said, "Walk me back to my car at least." My heart raced. I walked her safely back to her car in the dark and SPRINTED back, found my seat and once again had a personal and solitary Joshua Tree experience. I was blown away by the night's events and my 2nd life-changing U2 show. I called Sherry the next day, trying to balance my review between my joy and not rubbing it in her face. We decided to catch lightning in a bottle and return that night for the 2nd show in Fort Worth (this show made it into Rattle and Hum). For an unknown reason, this night was entirely different. The sidewalks surrounding the venue were FULL of fans without tickets. They were socializing loudly and there was a very carnival feel to the night. I found Sherry, with her boyfriend that I didn't know would be there. I chit chatted and we eventually drifted apart in the crowd. I happened upon another high school friend, there with her art gang of Starck Club regulars, fashion-forward beauties and brooding, gel-haired angels. She swooped me up and immediately spoke of their "plan" to get into the venue by pooling the groups cash and bribing an usher/doorman. (Remember, 1987, pre cloud, pre-handheld scanners, etc.) There were 5-6 of us and once counted we had just over $200 cash...since we had not had to announce our contributions, no one was aware I had only put in a mere $5, but it was all I had in the world. We called the doorman over, relayed our proposition to him bluntly and he simply walked away. A moment later he walked back and said, "Do you see that woman I was just talking to?" My heart jumped. We'd been ratted out. He continued, "She is my boss. When she walks away, this is how it will go down. You walk single file, first in line hands me the cash, you enter and then you're on your own." The plan went off without a hitch and once inside we scattered to the four corners, never to see each other again that evening. I came in randomly right near the stage, scanned the crowd and jumped right into an empty seat closest to me. No one ever showed up to claim the seat I chose and that I sat in (most of the time) and had my third personal, solitary and emotionally expanding Joshua Tree experience. The moment with BB King that is captured in Rattle and Hum is the night I am speaking of and the camera angle and distance is roughly from the very position I was seated in. That recording means the world to me. The perfect storm surrounding this album and the events that lined up to put all of this in my path was astounding. I swore to Sherry, "One day I'm gonna pay you back for letting me have that ticket on the first night." We have laughed about it for 30 years. It gave me an incredible satisfaction to make the call a couple of months ago to let her know I had a ticket to the anniversary tour and it was specifically for her...with one caveat. You just have to walk me to my car, dear friend. My friend, Robin, whom I lost just before the album's release, live in the lyrics. She lives in the notes and in Bono's voice. She is stitched in every track. But to this day, I shed a tear for her every time I hear these lines from One Tree Hill, I'll see you again when the stars fall from the sky And the moon has turned red over One Tree Hill. We run like a river runs to the sea We run like a river to the sea. And when it's raining, raining hard That's when the rain will break my heart. I know no one will read this. It was written to that boy back in 87. You made it. This album didn't save you alone. Your strength, your tenacity, your creativity and humor pulled you here. Keep living, for you and for her. She is still alive in me.
15 March, 2017
The Heart and Soul of the Joshua Tree
Back in 1987 on the heels of The Unforgettable Fire I couldn't wait to see where U2 was going next and knew I wanted to be along for the ride. My expectations for the Joshua Tree were through the roof before it came out. When With or Without You hit the radio as the first single I thought it was a solid song but there was a part of me that felt slightly disappointed that I wasn't absolutely blown away by this song. And then I bought the album and everything changed. For me the true greatness of the Joshua Tree, the heart and soul of the Joshua Tree, were the songs that never sniffed the radio back in '87. Specifically in ny opinion the top 6 songs on the Joshua Tree in order were and are: 1. Running to Stand Still--to me this is still the greatest song U2 has ever done that stands the test of time so incredibly well 30 years later. In my mind I've travelled to and from the depths of Seven Towers 100's of times over the last 30 years via this song. No matter what may have been going on in my life time after time this song always resonated with me so strongly and somehow brought me comfort despite the heartbreaking theme. Lyrically, vocally, and musically I just don't know how this song can be topped. An absolute master piece. 2. Exit--you know you have a truly great album on your hands when you find your favorite songs on said album to be ever changing and you're constantly finding yourself discovering new songs and facets of songs. The first time I listened to Exit I didn't quite what to make of it. I had never heard another U2 song like it or any other group for that matter. Exit took time to grow on me and it was actually seeing the live McNichols Arena performance of the song in Rattle and Hum that took the studio version of the song to a completely different level for me. While Bono's vocals are spot on per the usual this song is all about the two separate balls out musical explosions from Edge, Larry, and Adam. Edge's guitar working its way up to crescendo, Larry absolutely hammering the drums, and Adam's bass holding it all together. 3. Bullet the Blue Sky--Bullet is one of the few U2 songs where I actually prefer the studio version to any live version I've ever heard. From the get go of Larry's opening drum Bullet is in your face and unrelenting. It's also my favorite Adam bass line of all time. As usual Bono's lyrics painting a crystal clear picture of what's unfolding and making his case for how you should feel about it. And to top it off that Edge riff that was made iconic to U2 fans thanks to Bono's use of the strobe light during the song in Rattle Hum. I remember ready my a quote from Bono about how he asked Edge to channel the horrors of San Salvador through his guitar and that's exactly what he did. 4. Red Hill Mining Town--the start of side 2 of the record....scorch the earth, set fire to the sky. Bono's vocals in the chorus, "I'm hanging on, I'm hanging on." Phenomenal. Once again unlike anything I had heard from U2. 5. Mother's of the Disappeared--such hauntingly sad subject matter about the atrocities of the Pinochet regime made to feel somehow, someway uplifting in a way only U2 can do it. When I would listen to the Joshua Tree from start to finish and end with Mothers of the Disappeared I would always feel like I had been on this amazing emotional journey ("it's a musical journey") and that the way I felt as I heard this song fade out was that there was no better song to end this journey. 6. One Tree Hill--Rainin', rainin' in your heart! Need I say more? That vocal is insane. I also love the quiet pause before "oh great ocean....". Then that quietness feeds right into the subdued I tro of Exit before it explodes in your face. Like a puzzle all of the songs on the Joshua Tree all work so well together and even the song sequencing couldn't be any better. Can't believe it's been 30 years!!!
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