G Harmonica

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Album Review: The Joshua Tree, by U2

Music possesses the delightful ability to mingle sounds and voices in a blatantly cathartic way. In the history of music, very few bands or musicians have really dedicated themselves to the mysterious sway of art that exploits the abundant resource of creativity to convey a profound message to an audience. U2 has spoken repeatedly to our hearts, but never with the honesty and genuineness of ‘The Joshua Tree’.

Released in 1987, the fifth album of U2 seduces the masses on its own terms. Striking a healthy equilibrium between the extravagance of ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ of 1984 and the rebellious rock of their early years, ‘The Joshua Tree’ sets a more refined direction with synth orchestrations and lamenting Harmonica that create an almost psychedelic atmosphere.

The aggressive rock of ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’, the jingle vibes of ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and the emotion of ‘With Or Without You’, all are romantic affirmations of the sincere emotionality of the album.

Then, things get gloomier. ‘Running to Stand Still’ is an archetypal blues dream anchored with the ethereal sound of harmonica; ‘One Tree Hill’ is a charming, memorable blessing on a U2 crew member, who passed away in a motorcycle accident; the blissful punk-blues of ‘Trip Through Your Wires’ echoes the enticement by the Evil.

Then things get political. ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ echoes the wrath and tragedy of the right-wing intervention in El Salvador; ‘Red Hill Mining Town’ is a reference to the failure of the UK miners’ strike in 1984; ‘Mothers Of The Disappeared’ builds a scenery around isolated images of loss referring to the Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo in Argentina.

By waving the flag of morality, love, desire and resentment, ‘The Joshua Tree’ represents rock in its most spiritual form. Standing up to its name like a rocky tree that grows up to the American Southwest desert, it bears an intrinsic spirituality that shows the way to the Promised Land, surviving with resilience while threatened by social and political despair.

In the setting of blazing hopes, pointless violence and suffering, U2 produce an album that is full of empathy and serene. With a unique atmosphere that is the result of the cooperation of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois in the album’s production, ‘The Joshua Tree’ is, in effect, the album that influenced the course of U2 by mingling all their trademarks in an inexorable swap of roaring anthems and silky tunes.

In 1987, ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ ranked #13 in The Billboard Hot 100 charts and #11 in Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ ranked #1 in The Billboard Hot 100 charts and #2 in Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks. ‘With Or Without You’ ranked #1 in The Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks. Without making too much noise, the harmonious toughness of ‘The Joshua Tree’ makes it one of the best albums of the 80s. The album reached #26 in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time having sold 25 million copies globally.

About the Author

I work as a financial and investment advisor but my passion is writing, music and photography. Writing mostly about finance, business and music, being an amateur photographer and a professional dj, I am inspired from life.

Being a strong advocate of simplicity in life, I love my family, my partner and all the people that have stood by me with or without knowing. And I hope that someday, human nature will cease to be greedy and demanding realizing that the more we have the more we want and the more we satisfy our needs the more needs we create. And this is so needless after all.

How to Play Harmonica: Key of G


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