Contact Us

U2′s ‘The Joshua Tree’ – A Look Back at a Classic Album

U2 Joshua Tree
Island

There was no way that U2’s fifth album, 1987’s ‘The Joshua Tree,’ wasn’t going to be huge. Everything they had done over the past seven years was leading to this point. The spiritual yearning of 1981’s ‘October,’ the sociopolitical musings of 1983’s ‘War,’ the digging up of America’s roots on 1984’s ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ – they’re all pieces of ‘The Joshua Tree’’s bigger puzzle.

From the slow-building opening notes of ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ to the final mournful cries of ‘Mothers of the Disappeared,’ ‘The Joshua Tree’ is nearly flaw-free, the most perfect album the Irish quartet has recorded and one of the most significant albums of the past 30 years. It’s the moment where U2 turned the corner from really good band to great band, and they became global stars in its wake. ‘The Joshua Tree’ topped the charts worldwide, including in the U.S., where it’s sold more than 10 million copies since its release.

But the album’s legacy goes way deeper than numbers. ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ was a pivotal moment in U2’s career. MTV had driven up their stock the previous year, and the band’s interest in American culture bordered on obsession. If ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ uprooted Americana, ‘The Joshua Tree’ planted it back into the earth with freshly mined insight. The album doesn’t offer answers (‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ ‘Running to Stand Still,’ ‘One Tree Hill’), and it’s uncertain about many things (‘With or Without You,’ ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’), but the band plays with the genuine conviction that there’s hope on the horizon.

Through all the genre exercises – 1991’s ‘Achtung Baby’ plays with krautrock, among other things; 1997’s ‘Pop’ is a techno-blessed kiss – U2 still reference ‘The Joshua Tree.’ Their biggest album in almost a decade, 2000’s ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind,’ is structured on the classic U2 sound that was perfected on ‘The Joshua Tree.’ Tons of artists – from Coldplay to Taylor Swift – have adapted the group’s shimmering guitar lines and stadium-size anthems over the years. And more than a quarter century later, it still sounds like one of rock’s big moments.

Watch U2′s Video for ‘With or Without You’

Next: 10 Best U2 Songs

Best of the Web

More From Around the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://diffuser.fm using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on Diffuser.fm quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Please solve this simple math problem to prove that you are a real person.

Register on Diffuser.fm quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!