Remastered "The Joshua Tree"

I'm not going to say anything about the jaw-dropping sonic differences other than "check them out!" But I do want to make two comments on the book that comes with the deluxe version of the remastered "Joshua Tree" album.

My short comment: everybody make sure to read the draft lyrics to "Streets," with several interesting differences from the finished version.

My longer comment has to do with the title itself. The story that I've always known (I don't have time to look up a source for this) was roughly that during the desert photo shoot, someone suggested the title "Joshua Tree," whereupon Bono got his Bible out, looked up something, and agreed. This anecdote has long baffled me, because there's nothing specific for someone to look up. Obviously there are many resonances with the desert, exodus, various Biblical trees, Jesus=Joshua, tree=Cross, and so on... but "the Joshua tree" per se is a phrase from Mormon history, not a Bible verse.

However, in his essay in the new book, photographer Anton Corbijn tells a different story. This version has him mentioning the phrase to Bono one night, and then the next day Bono arrives with his Bible, saying the title of the album should be "The Joshua Tree." This gap of some hours, rather than a minute or two, gives time for not just finding one reference, but doing some research -- including, wouldn't you think, at least looking through the one Biblical book actually named "Joshua"?

Well, what's the book of Joshua about? It's about the Israelites' half-finished, compromised conquest of the Promised Land, demonstrating their inability to hold fast to the pure vision of Moses. And what does that half-conquest produce? A territory that has two aspects -- one of which is dedicated to Yahweh, and another of which is still enmeshed in idols, war, complacency, plunder, etc. A situation that to me echoes directly the album's original title (and its main theme of) "The Two Americas."

I've certainly heard many comments on the rich symbolism of U2's title and its various scriptural connections. But I don't believe I've ever heard anyone mention this possibility before. Thoughts?


Fearfully Human: On a wave of sorrow

Take a look at this reflection from Fearfully Human drawing briefly on the new/old U2 song "Wave of Sorrow." Excerpt:
I'm heading back to a place - the so-called "third world" - that I've come to see as the "real world", and my spirit needs it desperately. I've only been home for a few months and see now that my sense of urgency has slackened, my spirit has become greedy for the cheap trinkets our culture has on offer. I often feel and suspect that I need these people more than they need me; as though there's a trade going on that fills their stomach but heals my spirit. I can't help but think I return with the deeper blessing.


"Blessed are the meek who scratch in the dirt/ For they shall inherit what's left of the earth"

Not much has been going on relevant to the topic of this blog lately, but I'm happy to be able to invite you to drop over to U2.com for a look at a video of Bono talking through one of the heretofore-unreleased Joshua Tree-era songs, "Wave of Sorrow." It's apparently a reflection on his time with World Vision in Ethiopia, but the reason I post it here is because it's interesting to watch him explain some of the Biblical allusions while he's singing along with the track. Appearances are made by Solomon, the Beatitudes (both new ones and paraphrased old ones), Ezekiel 37, and more. Check it out.