It was 30 years ago today, March 9, 1987, U2 released my favorite, and in my opinion, their best album THE JOSHUA TREE. It is truly a part of me. It is ingrained in me. Its songs are second nature to me. The Joshua Tree is like being home. The Joshua Tree is the album that got me into U2 at age 14 and 30 years later is still my favorite album. I missed The Joshua Tree Tour in 1987 because my mom said I was too young, but I am not missing it in 2017. Because of The Joshua Tree I found U2. Because of U2 I have made many friends, traveled all across the United States (a few times) and discovered I loved to write and share my stories, which led to my blog and my book. The Joshua Tree changed my life.
I was a freshman in high school when I had heard “With or Without You,” the first single off U2’s The Joshua Tree in March of 1987. I realized it was by the same group who sang that song “Pride” I had heard before and liked, but I didn’t know who they were or anything about them. I had to check out to see what U2 looked like because at 14 it is very important to a have a crush on the band you like. I noticed a picture of U2 in a magazine a classmate had. Larry stood out right away as the attractive one and someone whose pictures would soon decorate my locker. I immediately bought The Joshua Tree (and Under a Blood Red Sky). That summer, I remember walking along the beach in Ocean City, Maryland with my big boom box blaring “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which immediately became my favorite song. I noticed U2 because of “With or Without You,” but I fell in love with U2 because of Larry Mullen and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Even though I had all of U2′s albums, The Joshua Tree was all I listened to constantly from 1987 to 1991 (along with Rattle and Hum). Besides “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” my favorites off The Joshua Tree are “Red Hill Mining Town” (I was obsessed with this song!), “Running to Stand Still,” “Trip Through Your Wires,” “In God’s Country,” and b-sides “Luminous Times” (my second favorite song – still gives me chills after all these years), “Walk to the Water,” “Deep in the Heart” and “Spanish Eyes.” I love the b-sides of The Joshua Tree as much as, if not more than, the songs that actually made it onto the album. The Joshua Tree was also all I watched for five years. I taped everything off MTV – documentaries, videos, concerts, award show appearances and interviews. My favorite is the first U2 I ever taped off tv, the documentary Outside It’s America– I know it by heart because I used to watch it everyday.
My favorite song off The Joshua Tree and my favorite U2 song of all time is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” I cried when U2 played it at the second show in Anaheim on the 360 tour because they hadn’t played it yet that leg. Actually, I cry almost every time I hear it played live. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was my first favorite U2 song and still is 30 years later. It is what solidified me as a U2 fan. (I find it ironic that my favorite Larry is on the cover of the single of my favorite song.) “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is my mantra. 30 years later, I still have not found what I am looking for. But I am loving the journey, the quest for what truly makes me happy. Besides being a fantastic, spiritual and uplifting song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is an amazing video, my favorite video. It captures U2 during The Joshua Tree era in Las Vegas, my second favorite city.
My second favorite song off The Joshua Tree and my second favorite U2 song of all time is the b side “Luminous Times.” This song has given me chills every time I hear it, even though I have listened to it over and over again the past 30 years. The lyrics are SO passionate and the way Bono belts them out is so heart wrenching and intense. I absolutely love it! My favorite part of “Luminous Times,” the part that really gets to me is, “I love you ‘cause I need to, not because I need you. I love you ‘cause I understand that God has given me your hand. He holds me in a tiny fist, and still I need your kiss. Hold on to love.” U2 has never played “Luminous Times” in concert (but I am crossing my fingers they will this summer). When I met Bono on the ZooTv tour, I told him how much I loved “Luminous Times” and asked if they would ever play it in concert. Bono answered me by saying they were thinking of putting out a b-sides album. (Huh? That’s not what I asked.) Then before the 360 tour began, Edge mentioned that they were thinking of playing some b-sides that they had never played before like “Luminous Times.” Could this summer bring the first ever playing of “Luminous Times?” If so, I will be the puddle on the floor in The Larry Mullen Band shirt.
I will hear “Red Hill Mining Town” on tour this summer as U2 has promised to play the entire Joshua Tree album in its entirety (just wish that included b sides too) on their 30th Anniversary Joshua Tree Tour. “Red Hill Mining Town” is not necessarily my third favorite U2 song of all time, but it is my third favorite song off The Joshua Tree after “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Luminous Times.” I love “Red Hill Mining Town” because, like “Luminous Times,” it is one of the most passionate songs I have ever heard. I think it’s one of Bono’s most passionate performances ever (along with “Luminous Times” of course). I love how he speaks part of the song – sort of like Elvis in “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Look for the girl doing the ugly cry wearing The Larry Mullen Band shirt when I hear “Red Hill Mining Town” for the first time this summer – heck probably the next 9 times I hear it too.