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The Joshua Tree
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that U2's No. 1-selling, Grammy-winning (Album of the Year) masterpiece The Joshua Tree is full of anthemic songs about the search for truth and faith in a cruel world. Religious imagery abounds, but the tone is always questioning, never preaching. There's some violent imagery (nails, crosses burning and otherwise, bullets), but none of it's graphic, and violence is not glorified at all; it's meant to illustrate the passionate search for a better world. There's no profanity on this album, nothing remotely consumerist (though "Bullet the Blue Sky" equates cash with war), and just a few references to sexual desire, but nothing graphic.
What's the story?
THE JOSHUA TREE is the fifth album by Irish rock band U2 (lead vocalist Bono, guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen). Though the band had been successful before making The Joshua Tree with producer Brian Eno, this album pushed the band over the top, from popular New Wavers to anthemic, stadium-packing megastars. Thematically, The Joshua Tree explores the search for truth and faith in a harsh world. Sonically -- with its layers of electric and acoustic guitars, soaring vocals, and thunderous drums -- the album builds on the type of songwriting and arrangements that the band had been perfecting. The public response was huge: The Joshua Tree went to No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Is it any good?
The Joshua Tree was a massive hit, and deservedly so. The way these songs build, often beginning with Edge's solitary guitars and growing sonically bigger and bigger, makes a huge emotional impact. U2's compositions don't have typical song structures, but the unbridled passion of their music remains intoxicating and memorable, even without any of the usual hooks songs use to catch listeners.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." What does the Christian imagery mean in this song?
U2 are known for their work as humanitarians and human-rights activists. Do you think artists should use their fame and resources to support political and social causes?
What are the connections lyricist Bono is making in these songs between religious passion and human passion, or between violence and love?