The 1980’s is one of those decades that never seems to go away. The movies from that time, such as The Breakfast Club, are now considered classics. The clothing styles, like shoulder pads and parachute pants are a fashion punchline many of us have re-visited at retro-parties. But most of all the music from the 80s, like Freddy and Jason, never quite seems to die. From Madonna and Michael Jackson to Prince and Public Enemy, the 80s produced some of the greatest albums of all-time.
Some may say the best album of the 1980s is U2’s The Joshua Tree (if not the best, at least in the top five). Though the band’s fifth album, and already MTV favorites, this album not only cemented U2 as a household name, but also their place in music history.
The first single, “With or Without You” was a powerful and haunting ballad. One might argue it’s one of the band’s best songs (if not THE best). But it turned out that it was only a precursor to an album filled with great tracks (and some amazing b-sides, too).
Though not a concept album, many of the songs seemed to share the same themes of longing and searching (and not getting), specifically in America. Quite a departure for the band’s Irish heritage.
The second single, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and the third “Where the Streets Have No Name” take us on both a physical and emotional journey with Bono and his band mates. The trips seems to conclude in their fourth single, “In God’s Country.” By that point, the album had already been out for eight months, breaking sales records all over the world.
There are few who would doubt that U2’s Joshua Tree was the pique of their career. Not that they haven’t had an amazing output of music since then. Constantly changing up their sound and taking some chances with experimentation. They’ve had some unforgettable hits: “One,” “Mysterious Ways” and “Beautiful Day” – to name a few.
Their tours are spectacles, but somehow still remain intimate. And the line-up has not changed in over 40 years: Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. are the John, Paul, George and Ringo of the modern age. Bono’s humanitarian work walks hand-in-hand with his music, but never overshadows it. The worst thing U2 has ever done was give everybody a free copy of Songs of Innocence automatically with an iTunes update. For shame!
This summer, U2 is already selling out stadiums for the 30th Anniversary of The Joshua Tree Tour (I couldn’t get tickets to the first Los Angeles Rose Bowl show, but did get them for the second). I personally can’t wait to hear live the songs from one of the albums that was the soundtrack to my younger days (but I’m not telling you how young). Something tells me this tour will inspire U2 to make even more great music. Who knows? Maybe 30 years from now, we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of their next groundbreaking album.
And what’s a concert without commemorating it with U2 t-shirts! Why wait for the show? I’ve got some great U2 t-shirt from The Joshua Tree and before and beyond! Make every day a beautiful day!