There are songs that lived in my brain before memories did; or maybe they go so deep the songs themselves feel like a memory. “Where The Streets Have No Name” is one of my first memories, I remembered the sound of it before I knew what sound meant. In fact, it’s easy to latch onto Bono as a very small child — half of his lyrics are wordless wails that are primordial, glistening, instinctive. This song, though, meant more to me when I grew old enough to understand its significance. First, the guitar building like a sunrise, illuminating a dark expanse, then suddenly everything is bright and urgent: I want to run. Later, I learned that guitar was coming from a man called The Edge. My parents would smile when the said this so I knew it was both funny and serious; funny, because it was a name like a superhero, serious, because despite their smiles, they still called him that.
There are albums that become lodged in your heart before you understand what it means to be a fan, and The Joshua Tree is one of these for me. Sometimes, our taste is not dictated by us, but by our parents; the songs that surrounded us as infants become unshakable as adults. These songs run in my blood; I don’t just like them, I have no choice in the matter. They’re part of me. Looking around the Rose Bowl stadium on Saturday night, I realized a lot of people feel that way, too. All in all, there might be a couple million of us, or at least that’s the estimated number of people that will see the The Joshua Tree tour that the band are currently embarked on to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary. 1.7 million people across 33 shows, these people are my kin. We are related through these songs that burn in our blood, regardless of the year.
The Joshua Tree was a record that lived in me before I had any words to assign to it, but today I will — it’s a brave record. It’s a popular stance in 2017 to dismiss the overly earnest and the very tender as “corny,” but truthfully, this depth of feeling, this dedication to belief, is a feat of no small courage. On their current tour Bono and his crew do their damnedest to honor their initial impulse; they were off to look for America, and all throughout the show on Saturday night, Bono interpolated this line from a beloved Simon & Garfunkel song (“America”) into his intros and codas. In the midst of a particularly dark period for the country, it is important to hold onto the small, flickering lights that still exist. It is also important to stare down the darkness and acknowledge its existence. The Joshua Tree tour does both.