Song of the Day #14: ‘In God’s Country’ – U2

In 1987, U2 released The Joshua Tree and pretty much changed the face of popular music. The album not only propelled them to superstardom but made the marketplace safe for hyper-literate rock anthems, influencing the work of both contemporaries like R.E.M. and descendants like Coldplay.

This was my first U2 album and I went nuts over it, playing it nonstop in my bedroom that whole summer. It was also right around the time Paul Simon’s Graceland and Peter Gabriel’s So came out, and those three albums formed my holy trinity of new music.

But I write about The Joshua Tree (and my selected track, ‘In God’s Country’) not just to sing its praises 21 years later, but to reflect on the geeky association it forever carries in my mind.

You see, 1987 also marked the release of The Lurking Horror, the latest role-playing game by Infocom.

Now, Infocom is to today’s video games what a caveman beating a series of sticks against a rock is to an iPod. These were entirely text-based games, sort of glorified ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books. They’d give you a description of a place and you would type in a command like “Pick up rock” or “Go east” or “Pull lever.” The stories were rather complex, the puzzles often ingenious. And if you ask this old fogey (in computer gaming years), they rewarded the imagination far better than the Grand Theft Autos of the world.

So I spent much of 1987 playing The Lurking Horror (an average game by Infocom’s standards) and listening to The Joshua Tree. And I can’t hear three bars of any song on this album without being transported back to that second-floor bedroom in Northern Virginia, a 15-year-old boy in geek heaven.

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day #14: ‘In God’s Country’ – U2

  1. Alex says:

    What a cute super-geek you were. And still are.

  2. Dana says:

    I have to agree with Alex. You really are revealing your true geekiness:) As for U2, I must admit that I have never really gravitated to their sound. Too heavy on the Edge guitar and, frankly, Bono’s voice just annoys me. This song does nothing for me, and exemplifies most of what I dislike about U2. And I also take some exception to the notion that The Joshua Tree “changed the face of popular music.” To be sure, it was a critically well received album and their biggest commercial success, but if anything U2 did to change popular music, it would have come with War or Unforgettable Fire. And, while you perhaps may have read something about REM being “influenced” by U2, I would suggest that REM very much traveled its own path and had made its mark with Radio Free Europe and Murmur. Anyway, I am not saying I don’t like some of U2’s stuff (and might listen to it in the right mood, though I really haven’t been in that mood for about 15 years), but, for the most part, their music doesn’t do it for me.

  3. Clay says:

    Whiile their earlier albums were popular and put them on the map, The Joshua Tree was definitely the shot heard round the world. This is the album that got a 20th anniversary bonus re-release a year ago.

    I don’t really get the godlike status given to U2 by many of their fans, but I do think they’ve produced some truly excellent music. The Joshua Tree, in particular, is more than worthy of its classic status.

    Also, REM has admitted a strong U2 influence, and if you listen to their work post-Fables of the Reconstruction you can tell. That said, I certainly prefer REM to U2.

  4. Dana says:

    Joshua Tree was the shot heard around the world? Boy, I must have missed that. To me, it was simply their breakout album, but not the start of any music revolution. And, frankly, I must say that I have liked REM of recent albums far less, so maybe that U2 influence wasn’t such a good thing.

  5. Clay says:

    I was thinking more along the lines of Document and Green.

  6. Amy says:

    I have little opinion about this album or U2 in general. I associate the album with Clay being a 15 year old geek 🙂 and with the beginning of the stage that has yet to end where my kid brother would introduce me to new music. What I remember wondering at the time he got the album and listed to it incessantly was whether the Joshua Tree was significant historically and I had been cheated in school because I had never been taught about this famed Joshua Tree.

    Oh, and I look forward to the day when R.E.M. gets its song of the day turn, for then I will have more to say about the music.

  7. Clay says:

    Stay tuned next week…

  8. mom says:

    I too am a fan of U2 and Bono even though I don’t have any of their CDs. I remember when we were doing a walking tour in Dublin and being excited that his house was in the area. I also think Clay is a cute geek.

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