Today is the 35th anniversary of the release of U2’s The Joshua Tree.
I was in college studying music at the time—meaning I was an insufferable twat—but I must’ve played this CD every day for weeks. (Along with everyone else, it seemed.) Which makes me wonder: When was the last time there was such unanimity around a pop music event?
I don’t mean being subjected to whatever tops the Billboard charts at any given moment (1987 also saw a lot of dreck, like Buster Poindexter and Richard Marx); I mean the appearance of a genuine work of art that not only unites disparate tastes, but also achieves both critical and commercial success. Maybe…Nirvana? Radiohead? I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that it saddens me a little at how fractured our culture has become. Part of the reason it’s worth acknowledging The Joshua Tree, or The Wall, or Sgt. Pepper, is that these are shared experiences. “The soundtrack of our lives,” and all that. But with the demise of radio and everyone “curating” their own playlists, I’m afraid those days are long gone.