'I cannot imagine my life without it.'

24 Feb 2017240

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.)

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This album is the theme of two different peroids in my life. I was 7 years old when my dad bought this album shortly after my parents divorced. It was a constant in his car for months. Whenever he came to visit I sat in the back seat and was surrounded by this voice, this beat, this amazing sound coming from a guitar, and it made me feel like things were going to be ok. Ten years later, I was a senior in high school and struggling with depression. I was living in a boarding school and would spend hours in bed with my Joshua Tree cassette playing over and over again. Again, something in the music made me feel like it would be ok somehow. This is my go to when I’m sure about myself and the world.
Glen Cousner
I fell in love with U2 as a 12 year old in 1981 when a really cool girl two years older than me used to talk about them a lot. Fast Forward to 1987, I was in Miami, 4500 miles from home serving on HMS Plymouth in the Royal Navy. We were lucky to be there the night U2 played the Orange Bowl on the Joshua Tree tour. That was my first ever gig.... of any kind. Since then, I've seen U2 on every tour since and can't wait to re-live that night. Tonight (8th July) is that night....Twickenham Rugby stadium in front of 80,000......bring it on!!!
I was 12 years old when my older brother bought the album. Myself and my buddy dave from down the road thought this was the greatest album ever and we decided we were to become musicians. We actually wrote an album where very song began with the line "i was walking down the road" or similar and then to hear bono steal our lyrics some 28 years later was great.
It was and still is mezmorizing.......
There used to be a great little bar up the street from my apt where I lived thru my 20's into my 40's. The guys and girls that bartended there (and hence controlled the music) were very much into anything new and anything to do with U2 and Irish rock music in general. One night the place is packed and thru the huge speakers comes the opening chords of "Where The Streets Have No Name". The bartender, Jimmy, must have got ahold of the album the day it was released because no one had ever heard this before. Most folks knew it was U2, but it was not like anything from U2 that they had heard before. The place was mesmerized. Everyone was just shut up and listened and kind of throbbed along with the music. Jimmy played the whole album and then he played it again. I had never before and have never since seen a big crowd like that have such a universal reaction of appreciation and outright love for the music as I did that night in a small bar in a small village in upstate New York. That whole scene repeated itself many times over that spring and summer of 1987 and it never ceased to amaze me. I had always been a U2 fan at that point, but that album and the whole feeling that it could create sealed it for me. Looking forward to the New Jersey shows. Walk On......
Life changing
I was 9 years old when I decided I did not want a relationship with my father. I hung up the phone with him, and went into my bedroom, and turned on the radio; it was the Top 40 countdown. The first time I heard With or Without You, I cried so hard, and at the same time felt at peace. I have been a fan ever since. The words cannot describe how I felt in that moment, and it has echoed my entire life. I lost my mother way too young, two years ago, and the music still brings me solace. I cannot wait to see them in Cleveland and Detroit. I will be the one in GA crying a river, as I do at every show, but I am forever changed by the music and lyrics.
U2 has been our guide for over more than
Dear Bono, Larry, Edge and Adam Me and my husband have been a huge fan of your music for over more than 30 years. Your album The Joshua Tree has brought us together, we have since then raised our children with your music and message and we have been to most of your concerts in Europe. The concert we saw in LA was impressive, but mostly because of the intro and the encore's. The songs of the Joshua Tree were brought without fire, like there were subordinate to the songs of the other albums, which we thought really did not do justice to the strength of the songs of this anniversary album. We will be joining you in Brussels on 1 august 2017, we hope we will see the fire in U2 as we saw it 30 years ago! Lots of love, Mieke, Belgium
The beginning
October 1986: I met Alain at the bus-stop after school. May 1987: the 13th of the month of may we shared our first kiss. As a 16-year old, my parents were against our relationship, I first had to finish university. However Alain and I were very much in love and both U2-fans. For our first month together, Alain bought me the album of the Joshua Tree. We listened to it together, the rest is history ... We got married, we had two children who grew up with the music of U2 and 30 years later, we get to go to the anniversary of the music that takes us right back to the beginning of our lives together. Thank you U2 for being such a huge part of our lives, we will see you in Brussels on 2 august 2017!! Love you, Mieke (Belgium)
I had just finished my active duty with the Navy when the album came out. I went to the Garden to see the Joshua Tree tour. So excited to be going to see the 30 year tour in New Jersey and Phila.!!!
Out of the ashes.....
I had listened to U2 - but can't say I was one of those die hard fans until 1996. In February I found myself spiraling out of control in a drug addiction and in a treatment center in Minnesota. I convinced my daughter to send me her Sony Walkman so I could listen to some music. The Walkman arrived and the only music she had sent with it was the Joshua Tree cassette tape. It was the only music I had for 27 days. I listened intently everyday as I went out to walk in the freezing cold on the grounds of the center. I focused on the lyrics. I sang along and out of tune as I walked along the path outdoors. Some days tears would flow down my face as I took some of the lyrics out of their original context and probably inserted my own -running to stand still seemed my life story. With or without you my ode to my drug of choice. When I left the treatment center, struggling to stay clean, failing, I would hear the haunting lyrics of Trip Through Your Wires play through my head. Eventually years later, I finally felt those healing hands of love from Exit. The Joshua Tree will forever be a part of my rebirth and my new life. Thank you!
I Believe In The Kingdom Come, Where All
Outside of my relationships with family and a handful of friends, the Joshua Tree really was what started my relationship with U2. For the first time, I reacted to a collection of music and a band that not only spoke to me, but spoke for me. This intersection at greatness of music, a band and their live performances after 30 years still moves me like no other. One Tree Hill reminds me of my mother gone too soon. The interplay between Running to Stand Still and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For defines me today. Shining like a star in Summer night, I remain filled with hope and a heart overflowing with love and gratitude.
For me the greatest album of the last 30 years - from anyone Yes I love Achtung and many albums from other great artists - but this was a game changer for me and can't wait for the tour as lucky to be seeing it in NYC, London & Rome As many hoping SOE is nearly as good but not hopeful having listened to the new song being performed and that DJ mix of Best Thing - both really lacking for me sio may be my last tour after I stopped counting after 70 shows - first one Oct 81 at Salford University
The Joshua Tree I cannot imagine my life
I was 12 years old when the album was released, saving my money to buy it, and the tape too, because I needed it in my backpack. My friends did't understand this love! Singing and memorizing the songs and waiting to watch some videos on TV, uau!!!! Crazy about it, the lyrics, the voice, the guitars, the chorus, the drums, the energy of the melodies, "unforgettable fire". Forever in my mind and heart! Happy Birthday!!! one of the most beautiful guifts that the boys could give us. I hope I can watch the show here in Brasil!!!!
it started my U2 carreer (12 concert since tehen) ...the Tree is on my Back and wowoy ist the song from me and my wife for the last 28 years :-)
History Repeats Itself...
The Joshua Tree came out with I was 14 years old and it forever has changed my life...I was a fan before...I have vivid memories of being at the beach listening to the "War" cassette with one of my vacation bible school counselors as she sang along to every song and told me how much she loved Bono... I was smitten with "With or Without You" as soon as it came out, I could not wait to buy the entire album and when I did I fell in love with every song.. I was raised in a very politically conservative family and for the first time ever I started questioning their beliefs and that America isnt the promised land for some. But I also got the message that U2 loved America, flaws and all...Later on that year they played at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, my cousin was supposed to take me, but had to work late so I went with my Dad... I was so embarrassed to go , well because I was 14 and I knew he would get upset with U2's political views... The day of the concert was Nov. 18th, 1987, it was cold and rainy, but my Dad drove through notorious LA traffic after being up since 3:30 am. I remember him buying every t shirt, poster and program I wanted...We sat through Steve Jones and the Pretenders and finally U2 came on to the tune of "Where the Streets Have No Name"..I literally got chills up my spine, I was mesmerized as was my Dad, who couldn't stop smiling during the entire show.. The next day at school everyone told me how lucky I was that my Dad went with me and how their Dad's would've never taken them to a concert like that..My Dad couldnt stop talking about it at work. as well. Years have gone by and I also got my two sons into U2, (they are now 21 and 16), their favorite songs are from the Joshua Tree. Earlier this year I got a phone call from my dad asking me if "The Joshua Tree" tour was the concert he took me to and I said "yes". He then told me that he would like to go to this current tour. This time it was my treat: I drove, I bought the tickets, I paid for the beers., my 16 year old also came along. This time around the weather was hot and not a cloud in the sky..Before the show we drank beers and discussed current politics, my dad told me that he has always admired Bono for standing up for human rights and feels that Sunday Bloody Sunday is a great song with so much history to it. Once again I got chills the minute they came on stage and cried during "Where the Streets Have No Name"...I4 year old me would've never imagined 44 year old me seeing U2 with my dad and son, 3 generations of U2 fans. Thank you U2, thank you for transcending generations and for a creating a bond with my Dad that will never be broken And thank you Dad for taking me that concert 30 years ago and for everything you have done for me....Here is a picture of us at the Rosebowl show on May 18th.....Martha
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.
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.
"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!!
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 http://thejoshuakeys.com Thank you U2, for your music that continues to inspire. - Owen
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.
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.
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.
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! :)
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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....
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.
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