- 05 Mar 17
Day 3 of our countdown to the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree, where we bring you some key tracks that didn't make it onto the final cut of the album.
This week, we'll be counting down the seven days to March 9 – the date when The Joshua Tree was launched, all of 30 years ago, in 1987. It was the album that fired U2 into the stratosphere, reaching No.1 all over the world and going on to sell 25 million copies.
To mark the occasion, Hot Press has selected for your delectation seven of the less familiar tracks from the recording sessions that generated The Joshua Tree – one every day from now till March 9th. Some of our choices were never intended for a U2 record. Others might arguably have made the album even stronger. And more again just didn’t fit the flow, in an era when artists were far more limited by a requirement to come in at or under the 40 minutes you could fit comfortably onto a vinyl record.
There are any of a dozen reasons why decisions can be made to include or exclude tracks. But what we can say is that herein is an even greater abundance of U2 gold. Here's our third installment, with your guide: Valentina Magli.
3) WALK TO THE WATER
‘Walk to the Water’ was originally entitled ‘Present Tense’. It is one of those b-sides that really should have made it to the album. It is a real jem! Very Patti Smith-esque in its narrative style, with hints too of Lou Reed in the delivery, it is a musical poem that, apparently, recalls the moment when Bono’s parents first met in North Dublin, and develops in a carefully modulated, growing, psychedelic atmosphere.
The track is introduced by a slightly discordant piano. There’s a basic but very effective bass line throughout, Edge’s sustained guitar is loaded with pathos, and underneath the drums seem to communicate an apparent calm.And Bono’s voice moves from lower register story telling to high altitude pleading.
The Edge liked the song a lot, but reckoned that the band didn’t have enough time to properly complete it for The Joshua Tree. Bono has revealed that in some ways the album felt almost incomplete. “'With or Without You' doesn't make much sense,” he offered, “without 'Walk To The Water' and 'I Trip Through Your Wires' doesn't make much sense without 'The Sweetest Thing'.” Not that fans seemed to mind!
Bono’s statement reflects the fact that during The Joshua Tree recordings, many of the songs were designed as "chapters" of the same story, which was in effect ‘being read’ aloud. To these ears, 'Walk To The Water' is a little bit like a lost masterpiece. The song was never played live but was used twice as a snippet: the first time within the song ‘40’ in 1987 and the second time during ‘Bad’ in 1992.