The Joshua Tree – One Tree Hill

I encourage you to listen and watch the video above.

I think the footage is from a recording from the third leg of the original Joshua Tree tour.  One Tree Hill was not part of the set in the first two legs of the tour, for Bono felt he would be too emotional to finish the song.  You see, the song is written about Greg Carroll, someone close to him and the Band and who had died just before the recording of The Joshua Tree.

Bono met Greg in Aukland, New Zealand in 1984 during the Unforgettable Fire tour.  Apparently, Bono was not adjusting to the time difference from Europe when arriving in Aukland.  In the middle of the night, he wondered around and met some folks who showed him around the city.  Greg was one of these people and they ended up taking Bono up One Tree Hill, one of the highest and most spiritual mountains of the local Maori people (Greg was Maori).

It happened Greg had been hired locally to help with the concert and U2 and management was so impressed with him they hired him for the rest of the world tour and also to help the band back in Ireland after the tour.

Unfortunately, Greg was killed in a motorcycle accident in Dublin in 1986.  The event shocked the band and was devastated by the incident.  The body was flown back to New Zealand and buried in the in the traditional Maori manner.

One Tree Hill was written soon after the funeral and was one of the earlier recordings.  Still stricken by the loss, Bono recorded the lyrics in a single take fearing he would be unable sing the lyrics a second time.

Oh, how Bono can irritate people.  He can be pompous, arrogant, condescending, and acutely assholeish.  But it’s hard to argue that he isn’t a caring person, nor thinks about a lot of folks outside the Bono arc.  Re-listening to the songs off of The Joshua Tree has reminded me why U2 so affected me years ago.  The boys played music from their heart and were not reticent about leveraging each of their instruments as a conduit of their internal feelings to you, the listener.  Bono’s instrument is his lyrics and voice, and I think One Tree Hill may be the best example of this from the album.

I’ve internally debated if one of these posts should be an argument for the greatest of Bono, hell, I’m the one that coined the phrase “Bono Hot”.  How the good he attempts overshadows the off-putting rock star shit he can’t seem to shake.  How he is still happily married to his high school sweetheart.  How he openly admits that he shamefully pursues and spends his “Super Star Coinage” to do good in the world.

Our relationship has certainly shifted over the last thirty years.  My tolerance for Bono being Bono has lowered.  Listening to One Tree Hill again after several years reminded me that, although now becoming somewhat blemished and weary, U2 was an intimate, emotional group that was able to convey and project internal feelings and emotions while playing good music.

I hope you feel the same.

C. Smith

Author: C. Smith

    “All you have to do is write one true sentence.” Ernest Hemingway I’m no Hemingway. But this web creation is a part of writing that one true sentence. Of being inspired by fellow contributors that have, if not something meaningful, but interesting to say and are willing to invest energy beyond 140 characters. Of creating an open forum for these ideas, capturing a thought or a moment in time. But more importantly, this is about a personal commitment to putting a thought to paper and throwing it against the wall to see if it sticks. Enjoy.

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