U2’s Joshua Tree was the epitome of the band’s brand

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

10 January 2017

There is a different U2 before and after Joshua Tree

There are a handful of albums that hold a deep place in my heart. Perhaps the most poignant of them all is U2’s Joshua Tree.

Van Morrison’s Moondance and Tupelo Honey come to mind. Perfect songs fill them to the brim. Steeped in simplicity and a vibrancy of life. I could, quite honestly, listen to “Into the Mystic” from now until my end of days and be satisfied.

Crosby, Stills and Nash’s self-titled EP with the tracks, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Helplessly Hoping” produces the magic for me too.

I could also sit raptured by the poetics of the late Leonard Cohen on Songs of Love and Faith for days on end.

“It defines musical spiritualism. It is explorative. And it’s richly produced by the hands of masters, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.” 

Joshua Tree is being plastered all over entertainment aggregates because the band is hitting the road to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the seminal work. Everything about this album speaks to my condition, from 30 years ago to now. It defines musical spiritualism. It is explorative. And it’s richly produced by the hands of masters, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Sadly, too, it marks the turning point from a band of spiritual seekers to mainstream rockers writing on superficial themes.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree, one of the greatest albums ever recorded.

Joshua Tree is U2’s crowning achievement

Nope, Joshua Tree is not Aching Baby. That early 90s U2 album embraced its new pop persona head-on. (I think that was also when Bono ushered in his alien glasses as well.) The songs are just not as good. Joshua Tree cemented the band’s brand as musical mysticism in 1987. “I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For” was an anthem for those seeking contentment. I echoed in my care when Bono sang, “Yes, I am still running.” I was running too. Still running and searching. The immediacy of “In God’s Country” brought inner elation and said we have nowhere to be but where we are. But, what’s more, the singer and players felt it. They lived it. And they breathed it. These songs were U2’s manifesto.

I often wondered where that exuberance surrounding the search for self went. While the music to come was always good, it never was perfect that contained in Joshua Tree. Had the band been seeking celebrity status all along? I hope not. U2’s music was never be the same again after Joshua Tree ushered in that sea change.

Even so, I’d still love to see these celebrity rockers play my favorite album in full. So long as Bono takes off those stupid glasses.

See more posts in the following related categories: Bono Joshua Tree Leonard Cohen Music U2 Van Morrison


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