On this day in music history: March 9, 1987 - “The Joshua Tree”, the fifth studio album by U2 is released. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it is recorded at STS, Danesmoate House, Melbeach and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from January 1986 - January 1987. After the release of U2’s previous album “The Unforgettable Fire” and the extensive world they undertake in support of it, the band take their first extended break from the road, sitting out much of 1985 to rest and begin writing material for their next album. Many of the albums songs are influenced by the bands travels while touring the US in 1984-85, as well as their participation in the Amnesty International “Conspiracy Of Hope” tour in mid 1986. The albums cover photos are taken by photographer Anton Corbjin at the Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert in California. Corbijn tells the band about the trees, which are named (according Mormon legend) after the prophet Joshua (in the Old Testament in the Bible), as the trees reminded them of the prophet with his hands raised in prayer. Out in the park, they find one tree by itself (unusual since they normally grow in groups), and take several pictures standing next to the lone tree. Intrigued by the underlying religious significance, Bono decides to name the album after the tree. The album is an immediately huge critical and commercial success, cementing the bands fame on a worldwide basis. It breaks sales records in the UK, selling over 300,000 copies in just two days. In the US, it enters the Top 200 at #7 on April 4, 1987, making it the highest chart album debut since the Eagles’ “The Long Run” in 1979. It spins off four singles including the chart toppers “With Or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. U2 tours extensively in support of “Joshua”, with it being documented in the film and album “Rattle And Hum” issued in late 1988. In February of 1988, it wins two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year in 1988. The album is remastered and reissued on vinyl and CD in 2007 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its release. For its thirtieth anniversary, it is announced that a new reissue is scheduled for June of 2017, including a Super Deluxe box set featuring extensive bonus tracks including a full live concert recording. "The Joshua Tree" spends nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, receiving a Diamond Certification.
AN: So this one is a bit different. I wanted to make it a bit ambiguous, so it could either be about Josh or Tyler. I’m letting you decide. This isn’t a romantic fic, but I really enjoyed writing this one. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Cloaked in black, he stood there, drum mallets in hand. We screamed up at him, his crown of light blinding our eyes. Those lucky enough to hold up the platform on which he stood had tears streaming down their faces. I envied them. If I could just get closer, if these people would just move out of my way…
Our King knelt down, reaching out a hand to those that were near him. They scrambled to grasp him, to brush their fingers against his skin, if only for a brief moment. He smiled at them, pure joy filling his features.
My body was rocked forward by the push of the crowd, the breath squeezed out of my lungs. I, too, reached out to my King, only to realize that I was still too far away. Mere inches separated my fingertips from his. I had waited years for this. I stood for hours in the rain only to get to this moment, and yet I was just out of reach of his blessing.
Our King stood once again, raising one of his mallets above his head. Every person in the arena collectively held their breath. This was it. We were ready.
As he brought the mallet down on his drum, clouds of color burst around him, filling my vision. He beat out his final rhythm, as familiar to us as our own heartbeats. We shouted with him, raising our fists in the air in triumph. Triumph over our demons, victory over our darkest days, for we were finally with him, celebrating our unity.
I jumped along with the drumming, laughing and singing. Strangers next to me held my hand and danced with me. We were all friends here in our King’s presence.
Before I could catch my breath, the song ended, and our king looked out over his kingdom, memorizing the faces of his people. We adored him, he had protected us, and fought for us. He had given us words to identify our fears, and a drum beat to chase them away.
The King looked down at us below him, and again I pushed forward, reaching out my hand. He looked like an angel, a halo of light surrounding his head. It made it hard to discern his features, but I thought I saw him looking at me. I stretched as far as my body would let me, hoping that he would kneel down and grasp my hand as he had with the others. But he didn’t. He just stood there, looking down at me, his face unreadable in the light.
I didn’t know what else to do, but I wanted to leave him with a message, to let him know how much he meant to me. He wouldn’t be able to hear my voice over the din, so instead, I signed that I loved him, hoping he would understand.
I was now sure that he could see me, because he nodded and held his hand to his heart, before looking away towards the rest of the crowd. It might have been a trick of the light, but it seemed as if he was getting choked up.
My King saw me! I didn’t think it was possible but my spirits lifted even higher than they already were. I shouted his name along with the others, and we all cheered our praises. He blew us one last kiss, and then stepped off his platform. His guards came forward to help him, and to carry away his drum.
With one last glance, he signed the symbol of our kingdom to all of us. Everywhere I looked, the gesture was returned to him by thousands of people, and I raised my hands to do the same. It wasn’t often that the people got to see their King in person. It was an almost spiritual experience, our hearts full of respect and joy for him.
As I watched the King disappear behind his guards, and the crowd began to disperse, I hoped that one day I would get to experience this again.
There was a light that had bloomed inside my chest, I hadn’t felt this free in a long time. As I looked at all the smiling faces around me, I knew that they could feel it too. It was then that I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I would do anything to come back to this place, to see him again. I would keep a memory of this feeling, and I would try and spread it to any new friends that I met along my way.
This feeling of peace, of salvation. The feeling of coming home.
My top 35 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1986-2016)
1# “Ok Computer” by Radiohead (1997)
2# “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West (2010)
3# “The Queen Is Dead” by The Smiths (1986)
4# “The Joshua Tree” by U2 (1987)
5# “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones (2002)
6# “Automatic For The People” by R.E.M. (1992)
7# “Saturdays = Youth” by M83 (2008)
8# “channel ORANGE” by Frank Ocean (2012)
9# “Yeezus” by Kanye West (2013)
10# “Nevermind” by Nirvana (1991)
11# “Depression Cherry” by Beach House (2015)
12# “Debut” by Björk (1993)
13# “Metallica” by Metallica (1991)
14# “Dangerous” by Michael Jackson (1991)
15# “Yield” by Pearl Jam (1998)
16# “All Eyez On Me” by 2Pac (1996)
17# “Discovery” by Daft Punk (2001)
18# “The Black Album” by Jay-Z (2003)
19# “Californication” by Red Hot Chili peppers (1998)
20# “Ready to Die” by The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
21# “808’s & Heartbreak” by Kanye West (2008)
22# "Back To Black” by Amy Winehouse (2006)
23# “Rage Against The Machine” by Rage Against The Machine (1992)
24# “Is This It” by The Strokes (2001)
25# “In Rainbows” by Radiohead (2009)
26# “Madvillainy” by Madvillain (2004)
27# “Loveless” by My Bloody Valentine (1991)
28# “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns N’ Roses (1987)
29# “The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill (1998)
30# “LP1” by FKA Twigs (2014)
31# “Favourite Worst Nightmare” by Arctic Monkeys (2004)
32# “American Idiot” by Green Day (2004)
33# “Devotion” by Jessie Ware (2012)
34# “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends” by Coldplay (2008)
35# “Visions” by Grimes (2012)
Honorable Mentions: “Ten” (1991) by Pearl Jam, “The Suburbs” (2010) and “Reflektor” (2013) by Arcade Fire, “Lonerism” (2012) by Tame Impala, “Blackstar” (2016) by David Bowie, “Demon Days” (2005) by Gorillaz, “Modern Vampires of the City” (2013) by Vampire Weekend, “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” (1995) by Oasis, “…Like Clockwork” (2013) by Queens of the Stone Age, “Psychic” (2013) by Darkside, “Arular” (2005) by M.I.A., “Rock Steady” (2001) by No Doubt, “Take Care” (2011) by Drake, “Sign o’ the Times” (1987) by Prince.
To say the ‘Save My Soul’ video means a lot to me would be an understatement of stupendous proportions. It’s not just that Jo and I have been wanting to collaborate for most of the 10 years we’ve been friends, though that’s certainly an important part of it… nor is it the terrifying fact that this was my first turn getting to direct, an honor and responsibility I’m still shocked the ‘grownups’ let me do. It’s not even our shared experiences with addiction and loved ones who suffered from them, though that is the very real inspiration behind this song and video…
In the end, the thing I am most grateful for is the trust Jo had in me to help her tell a story I know has been percolating in her for a very, very long time.
Save My Soul is Jo’s very real, very honest ode to addiction, and in her expressing her truth, I wanted to give others the opportunity to do the same. So, because I like to make things interesting (and arguably difficult), I decided to drag a therapist’s couch into the middle of Joshua Tree and make our wonderful band of misfit friends sit on it, Jo and I included! No, you don’t get to hear their truths, that’s my responsibility alone, but the courage it took Jojo to sing this song deserved courage in return, and each of them delivered on that a hundred fold. I wanted the real, beautiful emotions of people we both know and love to be the instruments that played alongside Jo, and that’s exactly what I got.
That couch looks like an island in the middle of the desert for a reason, because I know how isolating it can be to try to express yourself. Showing emotions in a world that seems averse to them can be scary, and more often than not it feels as though you’re the only person on the planet going thru it! But I promise you, for every one who doesn’t understand, there are others out there who will, others who may be comforted to know they’re not the only ones. Everyone’s got a story, whether you’ve heard it or not. I’m grateful Jo let me help her tell hers. Hopefully, it’s only the first of many, many more to come.
Sneaky addendum, but I’d like to take a moment to thank four people without whom this whole video would never have come to be. To Alannah Campion and Joshua Thurston, two of the best friends AND producers anyone could ask for, thank you, from the bottom of my (probably still sandy) heart for making my bizarro desert island of misfit toys run smoother than silk. It would, without a doubt, have self-destructed without you. To Drew Bienemann, my DP, you beautiful, zen, visionary bastard! I’ll forever be in awe of how you capture the world, and I cannot wait to go on so many more adventures with you. Thank you for your unwavering humor and calm, and for never once looking at this plucky 26 year old being given her first shot and laughing in her face. Instead, you brought to life something strange, wonderful, and above all, goddamned gorgeous. I’m forever in your debt for that. And last, but certainly not least, to Jojo. I’ve said it before, but I’ll happily say it again; I’m so grateful to have spent 10 incredible years as your friend hunny. I watched as you spent the lion’s share of the time we’ve been friends being told you could not do the one thing the entire world, myself included, knew you were born to do, and still, you soldiered on and never gave up on finding a way. To be able to take part in your return into an industry that never should’ve been without you is an absolute honor and a pleasure, one I can’t wait to look back on when we’re wrinkly old farts on a porch somewhere, laughing about our rowdy younger days. But not yet. We have so many more adventures to go on and things to create before then.
So many more to thank, but I’ll do so with hugs and toasts in person. 2016, you’re off to a beautiful start! Xo, Zelda