Released in March 1987, the album The Joshua Tree catapulted Irish group U2 from the realm of noted but obscure bands into superstardom. This album quickly hit number 1 in the UK and US. It also won a Grammy for Best Album of the Year.

When the band started writing The Joshua Tree, they were becoming familiar with different types of American music, especially blues and jazz. Meanwhile, worldwide, U2 felt moved by the Ethiopian famine, Central American civil wars and the social contradictions within 1980s America.

Different songs evoke different emotions and situations. Much of the album is a love song towards the American southwest. In fact, the title "The Joshua Tree" was chosen after the band visited Death Valley, where such trees are common. Other songs, such as Mothers of the Disappeared and Bullet the Blue Sky, reflect loss and sadness in the El Salvadoran civil war.

Songs released as singles denoted in bold.

  1. Where The Streets Have No Name -- 5:35
  2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For -- 4:38
  3. With or Without You -- 4:57
  4. Bullet The Blue Sky -- 4:32
  5. Running To Stand Still -- 4:20
  6. Red Hill Mining Town -- 4:51
  7. In God's Country -- 3:37
  8. Trip Trough Your Wires -- 3:32
  9. One Tree Hill -- 5:24
  10. Exit -- 4:14
  11. Mothers of the Disappeared -- 5:14

U2 recorded many other songs around this time, and for a while considered making The Joshua Tree a 2-disc set. In the end, they didn't, of course, but some people have taken pains to put together theoretical compilations that U2 might have done. The ideas and songs flow together in an entirely new and enticing way, packed into an 80-minute CD. The suggested order I found on the Internet (source 2):

  1. Where the Streets Have No Name
  2. Silver and Gold (studio version)
  3. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
  4. Spanish Eyes
  5. With or Without You
  6. Luminous Times
  7. Walk to the Water
  8. Bullet the Blue Sky
  9. Running to Stand Still
  10. Red Hill Mining Town
  11. Race Against Time
  12. In God's Country
  13. Trip Through Your Wires
  14. Sweetest Thing
  15. One Tree Hill
  16. Deep in the Heart
  17. Exit
  18. Mothers of the Disappeared
Apparently you can get the extra tracks from the 2-CD set of U2's Greatest Hits 1980-1990 and the remastered gold disc version of The Joshua Tree. Or else you could tempt the RIAA's wrath and use Gnutella. YMMV.

Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. Recorded at Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin. Dedicated to the memory of Greg Caroll 1960-1986.

Sources: (highly recommended!)

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