11.23.2009

The Joshua Tree inspiration

My fondness with the music of U2’s Joshua Tree album began in the summer after my 6th grade year. I went on this six-hour drive with a whole bunch of kids and a couple of cool counselors from Anchorage to attend marine science camp in Homer, Alaska. All I remember from the drive is that the counselors played Joshua Tree the entire way down and back. Consequently, we all memorized songs such as “With or Without You” and sang them to each other during a week of coastal exploration—looking for octopus and hiking the temperate rain forests across Kachemak Bay.

Aside from passing interests in Huey Lewis and the News and LL Cool J, this was my first meaningful relationship with any sort of contemporary music. Joshua Tree became the soundtrack that accompanied my travels across the lower 48, in drives from Alaska through the Yukon Territory, and overseas. I even convinced a bus driver in Ecuador to pop it into the tape deck as we navigated narrow highways through the Andes. It went with me to Spain, India, Nepal, Mongolia, and Morocco. And, as if reassuring my taste in good music, I’ve heard the album blaring from bars in southern Mexico, market-places selling cassettes in Peru, and at an Internet café in Tibet. U2 has a truly global appeal.

These days, at 31 years old, I can listen to the album endlessly—any time and any place without tiring of it. Songs like “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “In God’s Country” can take me on a trip around the world just by memory association. While I love all of the music of U2, it is Joshua Tree in particular that has this effect on me.

So it seems fitting to use “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” as the backdrop for a visual trip I want to take you on. In September of 2009, I traveled from a little island in the Bering Sea (far west USA) to Boston (far east USA) to photograph a wedding. U2 was playing a show in Boston the following day and, finally, I got to see the band I’ve most wanted to see live for at least half of my life.

This piece documents the trip out to the concert using sequences of video footage taken en route. In total, it was a 4100-mile trip.

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