Author Topic: Is The Joshua Tree really about America?  (Read 672 times)

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Offline THRILLHO

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Re: Is The Joshua Tree really about America?
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2017, 09:25:13 PM »
i'm surprised no one's mentioned the original title, The Two Americas.

Offline RunningtoStandstill (The League of Extraordinary BonoPeople)

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Re: Is The Joshua Tree really about America?
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2017, 11:11:02 PM »
again, it's not about America the Place. It's about America the Idea.

Offline THRILLHO

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Re: Is The Joshua Tree really about America?
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2017, 08:04:40 AM »
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again, it's not about America the Place. It's about America the Idea.

well the music is obviously evocative of the american southwest.

Offline Hawkmoon255

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Re: Is The Joshua Tree really about America?
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2017, 09:45:54 AM »
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i never thought that the lyrics of every song were related to the US.  There's a lot of references in the lyrics that i know are specifically about Irish issues and locations.

Well, I don't think every song's lyrics have to be solely and explicitly about America for the album to qualify as American-themed.  But if the focus is more or less encompassed by 3 songs, 2 more directly,, and one by implication (MOTD), then it seems to be more of a heavy influence than anything approaching an album-atic "theme,"  - I would think - especially given the amount of verbiage the band, associates, fans, and journalists have given to the idea of America as the JT's "theme."

Offline Hawkmoon255

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Re: Is The Joshua Tree really about America?
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2017, 09:47:17 AM »
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I always took their comments as the albums music/lyrics being "inspired and influenced by" ...not necessarily 100% about America


That's a good point.  That may be it.  Bono in particular tends to run with ideas and overstate them.  I've heard him say the JT was "about" America - but that is probably too simplistic a statement.  I guess it's what you said, and what another poster said about the music itself (as opposed to just the lyrics).

Offline Hawkmoon255

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Re: Is The Joshua Tree really about America?
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2017, 10:12:05 AM »
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Yes, the album is definitively about America. But America thematically, not literally. The music, for one, is the sound of the desert, which represents the place from which the American dream both springs from and dries up in. The songs are lyrically about the promise of more and the duality of the fantasy and reality of this promise. Everyone, from the hopeless heroin addict in Running to Standstill to the murderer in Exit is looking for the promise of the American dream...but they can't really find it. It is both there and not there, just like a mirage in the desert. I did an intense two year study of the Joshua Tree for the novel I wrote, so I'm pretty definitive on this.

I think you make good points that help answer this question more fully.  Yes, the music (not just the lyrics) do evoke some relevant aspects that offer America as a theme.

I still don't harnesses the idea definitively, though.  I'm not basing my assessment on the American references, nods and hints in JT merely not all being literal or explicit.   Indeed, a theme can be discussed/addressed literally or metaphorically.  But IF it's a theme, then it has to be discussed or addressed in some fashion - otherwise it's not a theme at all.  In God's Country, Bullet, and Mothers are impossible to argue with.  Add on - like you said, the location some of the music evokes - maybe Streets, IGC, possibly Trip Through Your Wires, and maybe ISHFWILF (although we may all have this association in our heads b/c of the video).     
 
Heavy elements of American inspiration are undeniable, but given the volume of clear-cut references the band and others have made to it being "about America," that seems a bit too definitive and clear-cut to justify.  It seems to me more like an album of social, moral, and semi-political reflections, in which some American-related elements serve jumping-off points or touchstones.  It might possibly be more appropriately tagged as an album about the West.

The killer in "Exit" and the drug addict in RTSS can be grammatically tied to "America" with the verbiage of promise fulfilled and unfulfilled, but without any further nexus between the illicit drugs and/or murder in general - which happen all over the place - or the impetus for that addict or that killer in particular - then it becomes hard to make a coherent case for even a metaphorical addressing of America with those.  It seems rather like a tertiary an nebulous link that could apply to an addict or killer in Berlin, which isn't to say not inclusive of America's social landscape too, but that's hardly a metaphorical treatment over and against another society.

You make some good points though.  I just happen to think this might at least partially be an issue of Bono-overstatement. What was the novel you wrote, and how did it tie in to the Joshua Tree.  From that little snippet you appear to be a good writer, is it something I can find?

Cheers.