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‘The Joshua Tree’ Turns 25: U2 & Other Songs Inspired By The Desert
March 9, 2012
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It was twenty-five years ago today that U2 released their pivotal album, 'The Joshua Tree'. And what an album it is, from the anthem 'Where The Streets Have No Name' to the subtle 'Running To Stand Still'. The record is arguably where U2 refined their sound, and it includes songs that have remained staples of their live set list ever since.

With over 25 million copies sold, it's also one of the best-selling records of all time. For the album art, Anton Corbijn, one of U2's favourite photographers, joined the band on a trek into the Mojave Desert to shoot the Dublin boys in a lonely setting that captured the feeling of a band on a spiritual journey.

Many other musicians besides Bono and co. have visited this area of California, and found inspiration there. We've brought together a playlist of songs, artists, albums that were influenced by the desert locale.

Joshua Tree by George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight on Grooveshark

One of the most famous visitors to the Joshua Tree was Gram Parsons. He died from an alcohol and drug overdose in the infamous 'Room 8' of The Joshua Tree Inn. It's believed that his manager stole his coffin from LAX and Parsons' cremation took place at the Joshua Tree, where a memorial remains today.


Keith Richards, a close friend of Parsons, took a trip to the Joshua Tree with Parsons and Anita Pallenberg in 1969. This journey and its steady diet of country material made its way into the Stones's sound soon after. Around that time, British folk-singer Donovan decided to move his family out to the Joshua Tree and raise his children as an "alternative family". Jim Morrison drove his Shelby GT500 Mustang ("The Blue Lady") through the desert with his friends, and was very inspired by the scenery. And John Lennon recorded his rare 'Joshua Tree Tapes' EP during the mid-70s, which included renditions of 'Yer Blues,' 'Give Peace A Chance,' and 'Johnny B. Goode.'

More recently, First Aid Kit's 'The Lion's Roar' LP was heavily influenced by Parsons and the desert. And the ongoing Desert Sessions project - a musical collective series - has involved Josh Homme, Victoria Williams, PJ Harvey, Soundgarden and other artists from the Palm Desert scene. Homme, a Joshua Tree-native has said, "I feel lucky to be in a place where there's nothing. There's something that's overpowering, grander than you."


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