Heart Of Darkness : The Story Of The Joshua Tree – CRUCIFIXION - U2 Feedback

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Old 11-10-2002, 09:01 PM   #1
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Heart Of Darkness : The Story Of The Joshua Tree – CRUCIFIXION

Heart Of Darkness : The Story Of The Joshua Tree – CRUCIFIXION

“And in the world a heart of darkness” – One Tree Hill

“On reflection of the title "The Joshua Tree," I believe that it represents the Cross. Jesus is Greek for Joshua, and trees were symbolic in the Old Testament for the Cross which was to come.” (Chris Trevino trevinofunk@hotmail.com) - U2MoL website

This project aims to gain a deeper appreciation of JT. A new and different way of looking at it. It is not in any way an effort of negative criticism. It is an attempt view the album as a coherent story or imagining if formed not only as the basis for soundtrack but also as the foundation for a film script.


1. Testimony*
2. Sweet Fire Of Love*
3. Silver And Gold*
4. Bullet The Blue Sky
5. Exit
6. Mothers Of The Disappeared
7. One Tree Hill


8. In God’s Country
9. Red Hill Mining Town
10. Running To Stand Still
11. Heartland*
12. Where The Streets Have No Name
13. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
14. With Or Without You

* All are tracks recorded during the making of The Joshua Tree sessions. I believe it was The Edge who revealed in the book Into The Heart that Heartland was dropped at the last minute in favor of Trip Through Your Wires. These four additional tracks were all produced by Daniel Lanois. Tracks 3 and 11 were co-produced by Brian Eno.

In the opening two tracks – Testimony and Sweet Fire Of Love – there is an exuberance and a boldness in the lyrics / vocals / and the music. The main character has an invigorated inner strength; he is “on fire” and he is ready to take on the world. Tom has had “a revelation like runaway horses” - “Here (S)he comes a-shining like a light / Here (S)he comes salvation in the night “ – a holy experience / a spiritual conversion. “Tom” has had his heart broken open and it’s been filled with a “sweet fire of love.” “I'm not afraid anymore / I'm not alone / I'm not the same anymore / Breathe in the sweet fire of love.” He has a new view of his life and the life of his community. Scales have fallen his eyes. America looks different. “Outside of America” appears different. Tom is prepared to travel – to go forth – to go outside of himself and move away from a self centered / self obsessed life. He is ready to “break the silence” / “beat on the drum” / “bear the cross” / “bear witness” “I will testify” / “speak the truth.” Tom is prepared to shed / to break away from his former world view / his past attitudes and mindset that he received from the cozy comfortable churches - Reagan and cohorts - ABC News – the BMW dealership and the Golf & Country Club - the Community Council in Suburbia (cocoons of bliss and blindness).


Written by Robbie Robertson and Bono - U2 performs - Bono = Bold

(Ooo, Ooo, yeah)
(Come on)

Look over yonder, Apollo at a distance
You can hear his music if you listen to the wind (blow)
I want to be there - I want to be right there
I want to see it with my own eyes

Bear witness, I'm wailing like the wind
Come bear witness, the half-breed rides again
In these hands, I've held the broken dream
In my soul, I'm howling at the moon

Testimony / Whoa-ah
Testimony / Whoa-ah
Declare yourself, I will testify
Testimony / Whoa-ah
Testimony / Whoa-ah
State the truth, I will testify

I had a revelation like runaway horses
Took to the road with a carnival show (roll on)
Those golden days on Smokey Mountain (lord)
Playing guitar in a one man band (that's right)

Bear witness, I'm howling at the moon
Come bear witness, I've danced among the ruins
In these shoes, I've walked a crooked mile
All my life I been searching for the nightbird

Testimony, testimony
Declare yourself - I will testify
Testimony / Ah-ha
Testimony / Whoa-ah
Speak the truth, I will testify

Are you ready to take the heat
Are you ready to blow the steam
Are you ready to bag the street
You got nothing to lose - but your chains

For forty days and forty nights
I come across the desert
Apollo right by my side (rave on)

Bear witness, I'm wailing like the wind
Come bear witness, the half-breed rides again
In these hands, I've held the broken dream
In my soul, I'm howling at the moon

Testimony, testimony (tell them)
Declare yourself - I will testify
Testimony (oh oh), testimony
Speak the truth, I will testify

(This is my)
Testimony, testimony / Mmm this is my testimony
I will testify

Testimony ah ha
Testimony whoa ha
Speak the truth
I will testify

Testimony, testimony oh-ha
Declare yourself - I will testify
Testimony / (Oh oh)
Speak the truth, I will testify


Written by Robbie Robertson and Bono - U2 performs -Bono = Bold

(Ooh hmmyeah)
(Oh yeah, oh...)
Didn't we break the silence
Didn't we fear the storm
Didn't we move the earth
Didn't we shoot for the sky
And didn't we catch the fire
And didn't we call upon the spirits
And didn't we fall together
And didn't we die for love

Days on the run
Nights in hiding
Hoping that you were
The healing inside me

Breathe in the sweet fire of love / I'm not afraid anymore
Sweet, sweet fire / I'm not alone
Breathe in the sweet fire of love / I'm not the same anymore
Sweet, sweet fire / The sweet fire of love

The sweet fire of love

Didn't we cross new waters
Didn't we mix new blood
Didn't we build brand new bridges
Didn't we hold back the flood

Broken idols by the side of the road
They didn't fall on the side of the law
Here she comes a-shining like a light
Here she comes salvation in the night

Days on the run
Nights in hiding
Hoping that you were
The healing inside me

Breathe in the sweet fire of love / I'm not afraid anymore
Sweet, sweet fire / I'm not alone
Breathe in the sweet fire of love / I'm not the same anymore
Sweet, sweet fire / The sweet fire of love

Fire of love
(Sweet fire of love)

Didn't we shine like silver
Didn't we bear the cross
Didn't we bring down the hammer
Didn't we beat on the drum
Didn't we?

Days on the run / Here she comes a-shining like a light
Nights in hiding / Here she comes salvation in the night
Hoping that you were / I'm giving up the ghost
The healing inside me / I'm giving up the ghost

Breathe in the sweet fire of love / I'm not afraid anymore
Sweet, sweet fire / I'm not alone
Breathe in the sweetest fire of love / I'm not the same anymore
Sweet, sweet fire / Sweet fire of love

Sweet fire of love
Fire of love
Love, love
Sweet Fire of love
Fire, yes

(Hey, hey soul)
(Hey, hey, love)
(Hey, hey)
(Hey, hey love)

Tom goes on journey – a social / political / philosophical / and spiritual one. Not necessarily a physical journey in which Tom travels around the world and throughout America. In a fuller story we could see a variety of ways whereby Tom is able to make numerous observations and undergo particular experiences. It could involve a trip outside of America – a trip into the inner city of his community – a genuine film about a certain situation – an accurate book portraying specific place – new friendships with people who are able to provide him an authentic perspective of what is really happening to certain groups and locations. This story of The Joshua Tree could be seen as a “journey into the heart of darkness” – a similar interior and exterior trip found in “Apocalypse Now.” Tom witnesses the crucifixion of Central and South America by the U.S. of America. He witnesses the crucifixion of certain groups of peoples in another America – one within America / by America itself. He witnesses his own crucifixion of faith – deep anguish / doubts / fear / fidelity / the “silence” of God / the sacrifice and martyrdom of being a person of faith / etc. The story of The Joshua Tree is an intense and serious account about the struggle of one’s relationship with one’s conscience / with one’s faith in God and it’s implication of commitment to social justice. The story begins with the experience of joy and strength and it ends with an experience of “Agony in the Garden” and hanging on the “Cross”.

One way I thought of helping to more fully “see” this story of The Joshua Tree is thinking of excellent films and documentaries that would accompany particular songs.
· Silver And Gold (apartheid in South Africa) - ?
· Bullet The Blue Sky / Exit / Mothers Of The Disappeared / One Tree Hill > Romero – Men With Guns – Salvador (I haven’t seen this one) - Missing
· The other side / the underside of the U.S. (In God’s Country / Red Hill Mining Town / Running To Stand Still / Heartland / Where The Streets Have No Name) – films and documentaries ?
· The greed and corruption of the U.S. – Wall Street / ?
· Where The Streets Have No Name (the mid-eighties famine in Ethiopia) - ?

One of the working titles of JT was “The Two Americas” so I set up Side 1 as dealing with Central and South America. Yet, I can see Central and South America also representing at the same time the rest of the Third World and America’s direct and indirect involvement. Silver And Gold is geographically set in South Africa’s apartheid and I believe the anger of it helps to set up the rage expressed in Bullet The Blue Sky. After knowing and seeing what America is doing “outside of America”, the song Exit has Tom struggling with whether or not to turn to violence with and on the behalf these people. “Bono sometimes introduced "Exit" as a song about a religious man who became a very dangerous man – this is a story about the hands of love.” (Richard R. Johnson rrj8q@virgina
.edu) “To expand and agree with what Richard Johnson said. I've heard it introduce "about a man who misunderstands the hands of love" The hands of love are God that the man misunderstands. He is a religious zealot that is killing for what he believes is God's will. (Michael Aaron Smith mismit24@vt.edu) - U2MoL website. In Mothers Of The Disappeared, Tom has decided to turn away from the response of violence and instead he stands with and for them in sorrow. We see the allusion to crucifixion in the lines “Night hangs like a prisoner – Stretched over black and blue” and especially in the line “In the trees our sons stand naked.” The song One Tree Hill continues the grieving, speaks out against the injustice and oppression, (reference is made to the “crucifixion” / assai nation / execution of the Chilean poet and protester Victor Jara) and looks to future for final and ultimate justice (“I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky and the moon has turned red” - scriptural reference from the Book Of Revelation). I find that the title itself One Tree Hill evokes the image of the cross.

In God’s Country is the bridge to and begins the journey through another America inside / within / alongside the America of wealth and comfort / of illusion and delusion. “Hope faith and vanity – The greatest gift is gold.” America’s “faith” is oblivious to the pain and suffering of it’s own poor and the poor throughout the world. In Heartland we hear that “belief goes on” but what kind of belief ? “Crooked crosses.” (Bishop) Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street preaches "Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed cuts through, clarifies, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit." A large portion of America is asleep. For Tom faith has awoken him – he is wide awake to God and reality whether it be during the day “The rivers run but soon run dry” or during the night “We need new dreams tonight.” “The chorus may refer to anesthetized ignorance (Sleep comes like a drug) and corrupt religion (Sad eyes crooked crosses) as representing the true nature of America or "God's Country". Bono then goes on to refer to the Statue of Liberty (She is liberty, And she comes to rescue me). But only to poke holes in that symbol of American virtue. He says that while America may preach of hope and faith, it is only done for "Her vanity" - to look like a pious nation in spite of the Reagan-sponsored wars in Central America among other things. Bono continues by exposing the true motives of the U.S. - greed. While hope and faith are nice to talk about, the politicians still think "The greatest gift is gold". The last verse seems to refer once again to the statue of liberty. The naked flame could be her torch. The sons of Cain could be a universal reference to outcasts (refugees, the poor, take your pick), and Bono says he will stand in solidarity with them against what he perceives to be an oppressive regime. This song was probably largely inspired by Bono's experiences in Central America where he witnessed the other side of the U.S. rear its ugly head. Ultimately, I think "In God's Country" was a great protest song which got lost on all the people who only heard that catchy guitar and bass riff. “( Dan Gouge gouge@ican.net) - U2MoL Website. Tom sees the injustices and oppression, i.e., layoffs, unemployment, poverty and the cracking or broken marriages in Red Hill Mining Town and the addictions, escapism, and the struggle in Running To Stand Still. Yes – Red Hill was about a British miners strike and Running was about Dublin addicts but to keep the story together let’s imagine Tom is observing similar events and effects in America. Besides I wouldn’t past U2 to have deliberately included these songs on JT to make a parallel connection between the horrible ideologies and disastrous results of Regan and Thatcher. U2 vehemently protested against both. I believe Heartland can flow well into Streets. Both songs make reference to “burning” and “poison rain”. Both evoke an intense frustration and yearning. The way Bono pronounces / screams Heartland near the end sounds moke like Hardland. America began as a fertile land for freedom – liberty – and the pursuit of happiness but it has turned into a Hardland.

Streets was written after returning from Ethiopia, Africa and seeing the difference and feeling the experience between the First and Third Worlds. There is a quote with Bono stating this. “The refugees lived in an big "cities" of tents, a dusty place where the streets had no names. I want to hide, I want to run in the beginning probably is about the frustration he must've felt, but can also reflect the wishes of the refugees. Jonas - Maintainer of U2MoL. “ There is the contrast with wealth / “desert” with our modern cities. “The city's aflood - And our love turns to rust - We're beaten and blown by the wind - Trampled in dust.” And the contrast with wealthy individuals and groups > “An interesting story that someone told me once is that in Belfast, by what street someone lives on you can tell not only their religion but tell how much money they're making - literally by which side of the road they live on, because the further up the hill the more expensive the houses become. You can almost tell what the people are earning by the name of the street they live on and what side of that street they live on. That said something to me, and so I started writing about a place where the streets have no name....” Bono speaking to Propaganda 5, 1987 (rahulrana rahulrana@ic24.net ) - U2MoL
Website. Bono may be saying that he wishes he could present America the love he has found between a people who have nothing. “I'll show you a place - High on a desert plain - Where the streets have no name. “ Therefore – a great way to tie together the story and begin the finale trilogy of songs. The last three songs deal with an interior conversation / struggle / agony between Tom and his conscience and with God regarding all of the observations and experiences of The Two Americas.

In the context of this story - WOWY ends the record by dealing with a person’s relationship with one’s community / city and one’s society / country – its injustice, poverty, pollution, corruption, greed, corporate mergers and unemployment, addictions, government bureaucracy and neglect, urban wastelands / city deserts. Literal ghost towns. Figurative ghost towns. “Love has turned to rust.” Tom loves America but the suffering and the horror he has seen has brought him to a point of such pain that he can’t live with or without America.

WOWY ends the by record dealing with one’s relationship with the rest of the world. The push and pull to turn off the news, turn away from newspapers, magazines, documentaries, books, organizations, etc. To ignore what’s going on in the world. To turn one’s back on any personal awareness, responsibility and action “ I don’t care what my company does in the Third World. I don’t care about what I consume and the products that I buy. “ And the culmination of these 3 relationships in combination with this person’s relationship with God – the apparent powerless and ineffectiveness of God, the guilt of turning away from God / one’s sin and hypocrisy, the pull of one’s conscience to remain true to God, the temptation to abandon God and just live for one’s own pleasure / to hell with God and everyone else, the temptation to abandon God and become a terrorist supporter or even an actual terrorist fighting injustice and oppression in one’s own city, country, and Third World countries. Tom has come to love people outside of America. They have taught him a lot about the value of love – joy – and solidarity. But the pain he has experienced from seeing what has and what is happening to them by the hands of America has brought him to the point that he can’t live with or without Central & South America (Third World)

Tom loves God but the suffering he is experiencing - the loss of the initial joy and strength of his new found faith (or conversion) – the lack of “answers” from God – a recent situation of God’s “silence” has brought him to a point of such pain that he can’t live with or without God. Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus’ crucifixion. “On a bed of nails (S)he makes me wait.”

The album ends in agony but also as a mystery. It is left at a point of “to be continued” in the imagination of the listener. What will happen to Tom ? What will he do ?
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