Thursday, June 5, 2014

Buy This Album - 'The Joshua Tree' by U2

Let me begin by saying that I'm not sure I can say enough about this album as it pertains to my musical life. Oh, I know, U2 has been the band du jour for just about every rock musician alive for the last 15 years and whole bands & an entire genre of Christian worship music seem to exist both because of & in order to rip off this record. But, for me, it was one of two albums that served to form my dreams and start me down the path toward a life in pursuit of all that music has to offer.

And, seeing as how The Joshua Tree is, by most accounts, one of the greatest rock albums of all time, I needn't spend too much time trying to convince to you to purchase it (if you haven't already). However, I could offer up a little sentimentality to try and distract you for a few minutes and perhaps give you a tiny peek behind the curtain of my musical identity.

It wasn't just the music with this one. I mean, it was, but it was something more than that. The intangibles of what make U2 who and what they are are part of what hooked me so hard. I mean, as I mentioned before, there are some very, very popular mainstream acts selling lots of records these days who wouldn't be anything if they didn't have U2 around to mimic. But there's something to U2 and to The Joshua Tree that these other, newer bands didn't quite get. Namely, that both the record and the band were more than the sum of their parts, more than the notes on the notated music sheets, and more than the particular chords and grooves they were playing. There was an identity there that went far deeper than the way the music appears on paper.

There was the joyful expectation of Where The Streets Have No Name immediately followed by the restless wonder of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. There was the heartbroken passion of With Or Without You immediately followed by the rage of Bullet The Blue Sky. There was the depth of empathy in Running To Stand Still and Mothers of the Disappeared. And, for whatever reason, all this (and more) is what I needed to find in order to fall deeply and madly in love with the idea of being a musician.

Because - not to put too fine a point on it - what I myself felt when I heard The Joshua Tree and saw the live performances from Rattle & Hum (the tour that followed the release of the record) was exactly - and still is exactly - what I want to make people feel when I play music. The depth of feeling; the empathy; the heart that had been kicked to the curb & the duality of its eternally, tenaciously, relentlessly hopeful spirit; the frustration with humanity & the sorrowful rejoicing in God; the insecure kid who can't wait to get on stage in front of thousands of people; the introvert who dreams of making the most noise in the room from behind a drum kit - all of that is what I heard, what I felt, and what I knew when I listened to The Joshua Tree.

And so, if you have yet to get yourself a copy of this marvelous record, do yourself a favor and.... well, 'ya know. But, if you get it, listen to it. Really, really listen to it. Carve yourself out an hour, sit down, and take it in. You'll hear what rock 'n' roll is capable of: what is possible in music and not simply what sells in the heat of a trendy moment.

Enjoy the listening.

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