Just about every musician I know can name a handful of albums (remember those?) that marked them. For me, one of those albums was U2’s The Joshua Tree. I remember buying it at the record store at Tecumseh Mall in Windsor. Remember when malls had little record stores? I bought it on cassette and I remember the sales girl trying to sweet talk me into buying a head cleaning cassette to go with it in order to ensure that Bono’s vocals remained pristine even after the hundredth listen. Though I was a naive lad of only 16, I managed to discern that she was neither interested in me, nor Bono’s vocals… just the commission from the upsale. I walked out, popped the cassette into my walkman (remember those?) and the world was never the same. It would be years before I could figure out what those multiple layers of delayed guitars were really doing, but for that entire spring and summer, there was only one album in the world. There were only 11 songs ever written. The universe contained on two sides of a cassette. I studied that record. I pored over every lyric, sussed out ever chord. My voice strained to keep up with Bono, my lowly acoustic guitar played along with edge… a stick figure next to the epic landscapes he painted with vast array of guitars and effects.
Oh, I want to go back and live that summer again. I’m off to see U2 tonight here in Winnipeg. I’m hoping I catch a bit of that magic.