"I'm a minimalist at heart. If a song doesn't need a solo, I'm not going to force one into it."
Joshua Tree Journeys: Brent Jones
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A.
February 16, 2017
[Ed. note: This is the fifteenth in our series, which highlights visits to the U2 Joshua Tree, as shared by our readers.]
In 2011, I made my second of three journeys to the Joshua tree with a few other U2 stops along the way. Here is my recap:
Harmony Motel & Downtown L.A. (June 2 - 4)
With Boy playing on the stock stereo system, I pointed my compass east toward 29 Palms. An hour and a half later, I finally came to The Harmony Motel. It was surreal, to say the least. The place seems to have hardly changed.
The single-story liquor store at 7th and Main in L.A. (where the video for “Streets” was filmed) is now a Mexican restaurant and it's pink instead of a drab gray. Pressed for time, I left the area after only 30 minutes or so, but not without some serious regrets. I wanted to at least get something from the restaurant before I left, but what I really wanted was to get up on the roof, just like in the video. I’m determined to make it back there someday to finish the job.
God’s Country & The Tree (June 5)
With “Streets” turned up to 11, I headed north on Highway 14 to hook up with 395, which would be my constant companion the next two days. From the 190 junction at Olancha, I went on memory alone to find the venerable old tree.
I enjoyed this trip to the tree. It was much different from the first visit, during which the hunt was half the fun. Gone was the U-Tube, replaced by a much sturdier, green, plastic, weatherproof storage crate. All of the previously scattered mementos had been gathered into the box, along with the guest books, for safekeeping. The only addition was a brass plaque a few feet from the tree reading "Thank you, lads!"
I found the same notebook Pat (the friend who accompanied me on my first trip) and I signed on the way to the Rose Bowl show in 2009 and registered my attendance once again. We spent about an hour there getting a few shots, but also enjoying some sweet solitude and awesome time with the Lord. I love that this place is here. I hope it'll remain for generations of fans to enjoy.
Bodie (June 6)
An hour and a half north, off the northern shore of Mono Lake, lies Bodie, an old boomtown founded in the mid-1800s that saw its last resident leave in the mid-1940s. It's been deserted ever since. The entire place looks like some Cold War-era nuclear test town: store shelves still stocked, houses completely furnished, as though all the residents just vanished.
Some of the most iconic photos of the band during this era were taken there and it was a thrill to walk those same streets and shoot photos where Corbijn shot.
One last climb … Oakland (June 6 & 7)
The final ascent, of course, was north for the next U2 concert.
We joined the hordes in Oakland as the gates opened, found our perch, and really enjoyed Moon Alice and Lenny Kravitz as the opening acts. With our $10 beers in hand, we heard the first bars of Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” and U2 360 was on …
I cannot even begin to thank my precious wife for insisting that I make this trip in spite of the cost, both financially and to her sanity. And thanks to my parents-in-law for giving her a helping hand much of the time I was away. I love you guys more than you know!
And God bless you readers for spending a few minutes on this old U2 hand's musings. Until the next tour …
(c) @U2/Jones, 2017.