One Tree Hill

Once again, the global scope of The Joshua Tree‘s lyrics re-appears, and this time the stop on the world tour appears to be New Zealand. The song itself is a tribute to friend, colleague and New Zealander Greg Carroll, the titular One Tree Hill is in New Zealand, and the song itself was released as a single in New Zealand. Once again a scene is set of harsh temperatures, light and (in this case, a lack of – The sun so bright it leaves no shadows) shade and (actually embedded within the chorus) the other major Tree theme of rain, rivers and water – You run like a river/On to the sea. In essence, this could be a quintessential Joshua Tree song, lyrically, tying in geographic imagery, panoramic sweep, Biblical power (I’ll see you again/When the stars fall from the sky/And the moon has turned red/Over One Tree Hill) and a fight against injustice (While bullets rape the night/Of the merciful) to this tribute and lament. Oh, and there’s also Victor Jara turning up too, Hidden away on track nine, far away from the opening three hit singles, this is actually the sort of multi-layered lyricism that Bono never quite achieved on previous albums, and it’s a highlight of the album as a result.

As for music, I can’t help but think that it’s somewhere between “Stories For Boys” and “The Wanderer”; that is, it’s a song that’s very much about vocals, harmonies soothing the loss of something, although here the loss is physical, as opposed to the losses of innocence and certainty in the aforementioned other songs. That vocal harmonies are critical is only highlighted by the false ending; the true ending consists of those vocals, with only the slight shading of keyboard behind it. That said, the stalking bass and clattering drumming suggest an urgency, an illustration of running like said river. The guitar(s) (there’s a fair few overdubs going on), which chime through most of it, kick up at the mention of “rain”, acting as the downpour. Overall, a triumph; one of U2’s best ballads.

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~ by 4trak on August 10, 2008.

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