To Bono, Adam, Edge, and Larry:
Each night throughout The Joshua Tree Tour 2017, as the colored stage lights shine like sun through stained glass upon the crowd, the majority of us will be from Generation X. Taking The Joshua Tree back on tour is not only significant, it is truly epic -- specifically to a generation of Americans who grew up in a Crisis Era. From the days you were a garage band, Generation X has watched society fall apart -- from corporate greed to recession, from scandals to toxic meltdowns, from riots to war -- it has all been part of continued Crisis for us.
If Reagan was the grandfather we didn't quite understand, but tried to love because our family told us we should, Trump is the stepfather we hoped would never unpack his bags in our house. Reagan was inaugurated when many of us Gen Xers were still too young to vote, and most Gen Xers I hang out with voted for anyone but Trump. You understand we are dealing with resurgent issues our generation first confronted in the 1980's. You already know that in some ways, it feels that our society has taken a step backwards.
If we were raised with a weak moral compass, your music helped us calibrate it. You opened our eyes to those around the world who have suffered even more than we have. If we were taught to value 80's materialism, you opened our eyes to famine and suffering around the world. In a decade when it was tempting to be consumed with fashion and image, you shifted our thoughts to the pain of The Troubles in Ireland, to the wounds from Apartheid in South Africa, to the injustice and suffering in Latin America. Even now, your messages of women's rights, extreme poverty, and ending HIV in our generation encourage us to keep raising our voices, to keep fighting the good fight. In 2013, I did a photographic pilgrimage to the Mojave Desert about The Joshua Tree album. What it got me thinking about is that we should do all we can as a generation to leave this desert a better place than we found it, to work to alleviate the suffering of others, to pass on glimpses of hope as we get glimpses of it ourselves.
When the first Joshua tour took place, I was just a kid in New Mexico who didn't have enough allowance money for a ticket, and no one to drive me west to Tempe or south to Las Cruces. That's part of why this tour, this second chance is so incredible. And for those Xers who can't make it to any of the Joshua concerts this time because of the weight of life, perhaps you could perform spontaneously in some city as they commute home from work. As you did in LA or here in San Francisco in 1987... maybe rock and roll can stop the traffic once again.
It took a few miracles, but I somehow found my place up front during your recent Santa Clara show. As I stood between the branches of the Joshua Tree shaped stage, the show was everything I hoped it would be. More than once my veins were filled with adrenaline. More than once my eyes were filled with tears. It was worth the 30 year wait.
Our cell phones will be lighting up arenas like ten thousand candles - a reflection of the light you brought to us. And if the last three decades have worn us down, if your performance of some song or another is not quite as strong as before, know that the rhythm and chords of our lives will lift like incense to the top rows of stadiums in these upcoming summer nights and we will sing the words for you. We know those words well, because those words have carried us, you have carried us, let us carry you.
To second chances and grace,
San Jose, CA
(c) Writing and photos by Chloe - The Mojave Desert,
U2's The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 at Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA