U2's 'The Joshua Tree': Do You Know These 10 Facts?
Three decades later, U2's The Joshua Tree is still sprouting new roots. The band is set to celebrate the landmark 1987 album with a special 30th-anniversary summer tour that kicks off May 12 in Vancouver, Canada. U2 have also announced a special collector's edition of The Joshua Tree featuring live tracks, B-sides and new remixes, set for release via various formats on June 2.
With sales in excess of 10 million copies in the United States, The Joshua Tree represents a milestone for U2. Prior to the album's release, the band had scored only one Top 40 hit and two albums that peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 (1983's War and 1984's The Unforgettable Fire). The Joshua Tree, the band's fifth studio album, hit No. 1 in more than 20 countries, spawned two smash singles and yielded a successful tour that drew 3 million attendees.
"I think this summer run is almost an opportunity to take it back," bassist Adam Clayton told Rolling Stone about the forthcoming tour, "and look at those songs and look at what was going on then and see where we are now."
With U2 preparing to celebrate The Joshua Tree in grand fashion, here are 10 lesser-known facts about their most successful studio album.
The Joshua Tree was originally conceived as a double album
With a wealth of material available, the band initially toyed with the idea of issuing a double album. "We disagreed vehemently about what songs should go on the album," The Edge told Hot Press in 1987. "If Bono had his way, The Joshua Tree would have been more American and bluesy and I was trying to pull it back." As a result, the band tightened the track order and relegated several songs to B-side single tracks, including "Walk To The Water," "Luminous Times (Hold On To Love)" and "Sweetest Thing."
The album's working title was Two Americas
"Two Americas was the working title," said Steve Averill, the sleeve designer for the album, on the U2 — Classic Albums: The Joshua Tree DVD. Bono's working title centered around the juxtaposition of "two types" of America: a desert landscape and a civilization landscape. The band ultimately made the switch to The Joshua Tree while reviewing locations for the album's cover image.
The album cover wasn't photographed near Joshua Tree National Park
In December 1986, while scouting photoshoot locales with photographer Anton Corbijn in tow, U2 spotted a lone-standing tree at Zabriskie Point in the Mojave Desert while driving on California State Route 190. The group stopped and took part in a spontaneous photo session that reportedly lasted 20 minutes, which resulted in the final album cover image. The location was actually more than 200 miles away from Joshua Tree National Park.
That haunting sound in "With Or Without You" was produced by a prototype guitar
Ever wonder what instrument made that haunting, whistle-like sound in "With Or Without You"? The Edge, a master of painting with different guitar colors, attained that unique sound via a prototype Infinite Guitar, which featured a special pickup that sustained notes indefinitely. Only two models were supposedly built, with the other belonging to The Joshua Tree co-producer Daniel Lanois.
The liquor store in the "Where The Streets Have No Name" video is now a Mexican restaurant
Designed as an homage to the Beatles' iconic rooftop concert, U2 filmed their video for "Where The Streets ..." atop Republic Liquor Store on 7th and Main St. in downtown Los Angeles. The location ranks No. 8 on a fan-generated list of must-see places to visit if you're a U2 fan. However, today the building is a Mexican food restaurant named Margarita's Place. The video for "Where The Streets ..." won a GRAMMY for Best Performance Music Video for 1988.
The Joshua Tree is dedicated to Bono's late personal assistant
Greg Carroll, Bono's personal assistant whose history with the band dated back to 1984, was tragically killed on July 3, 1986, in a motorcycle accident while scouting locations for the album photoshoot for The Joshua Tree. "His death really rocked us," drummer Larry Mullen Jr. said in U2 By U2. The band paid tribute to Carroll by dedicating the album to his memory. Bono also wrote the song "One Tree Hill" as a personal tribute to Carroll.
The Joshua Tree was the first new album to be issued on CD, tape and vinyl on the same date
Music formats were at a crossroads in 1987. Cassettes accounted for 60 percent of the retail market, and compact disc sales had overtaken vinyl sales. Perhaps recognizing the growing CD market, U2 released The Joshua Tree via all three formats simultaneously, the first album to be so issued. The move paid off: The Joshua Tree became the first million-selling CD in the United States.
Front-row tickets for The Joshua Tree tour cost $15.50
That's no typo. Front-row tickets to the first date of U2's 1987 tour in Tempe, Ariz., in support of The Joshua Tree cost $15.50 at the box office, according to The New York Times. In comparison, ticket prices for the best seats available for the upcoming 30th-anniversary tour on Ticketmaster ring up a $1,410 price tag.
The album scored two big firsts
With The Joshua Tree, U2 graduated from arena sensation to bona fide phenomenon. The album became the group's first No. 1 album on its way to becoming diamond-certified by the RIAA. Additionally, the album spawned their first chart-topping singles with "With Or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," both hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Joshua Tree netted U2 another huge first: their first GRAMMY wins
U2 landed their first GRAMMY nominations at the 30th GRAMMY Awards: Record and Song Of The Year for "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Album Of The Year for The Joshua Tree. They ended up winning the latter two awards, marking the first of the band's 22 GRAMMYs to date. "We set out to make music, soul music," said Bono during the group's acceptance for Album Of The Year. "To us, soul music's not about being black or white or the instruments you play or whether you use a drum machine or not. It's a decision to reveal or conceal." As further testament to its impact, in 2014 The Joshua Tree became the first U2 recording to be inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.