Joy has been complex for the last year, and if you think about it, for a long time. We have been marinating in people either pointing at others who are keeping them from their Joy, or even more dangerous, how could I possibly be Joyful when I am so downtrodden. The transference of our own ability to manage… ourselves … to others has been spectacularly executed. It may be why watching the recent NCAA championship was so fun – it was watching some amazing players who have navigated all of the crap this year and now are at the peak of their Joy…
… and the commercials with the Capitol One commentators are just laugh-out loud funny, watching them kidding each other about their each particular shortcoming. I love watching Charles Barkley who I think says things we all think, but he just blurts it out. At halftime of one game that was already lopsided, he was asked “What does the coach say now Charles?”. Without missing a beat, “The bus is leaving tomorrow at 9 am. They ain’t coming back”. Harshly executed, but spot-on comic timing.
I didn’t realize the story behind this song, but I knew I wanted to use it, and slotted into “execute” because it was one of the last slots I had. I apologize that the story puts that phrase into a whole different context. It starts Joyfully enough – the band is touring and meets an indigenous man in New Zealand who helps roadie gear through the many islands there for concerts. He becomes so integral to the team, that Bono suggests they take him with them to Australia for the next leg of the tour. That also goes so well that he is invited to come back with them to Dublin and become a permanent member of the team.
Back in Dublin, he was extremely helpful in many ways, including becoming close friends with Ali, spending many evenings there when Bono was working. He became almost like a brother to Bono, and one evening, he decided to do him a favor and run his motorcycle back home for him. It was a rainy evening, and halfway home, a car pulled out and he was unable to stop, collided and was instantly killed. Drummer Larry Mullen Jr. said, “his death really rocked us – it was the first time anyone in our working circle had been killed.” Guitarist the Edge said, “Greg was like a member of the family, but the fact that he had come under our wing and had traveled so far from home to be in Dublin to work with us made it all the more difficult to deal with.”
Bono said, “it was a devastating blow. He was doing me a favour. He was taking my bike home.” He later commented, “it brought gravitas to the recording of The Joshua Tree. We had to fill the hole in our heart with something very, very large indeed, we loved him so much.” They traveled back to New Zealand for his funeral, and upon returning, Bono wrote these lyrics after remembering the hike that Greg had taken him on to this highest volcanic mountain, and a spiritually significant site for the native Maori people. The music came from a jam session with Brian Eno playing along on keyboards, and Daniel Levois adding guitars, and he talks about having a very personal connection with the song, and has come on stage to play with them.
Charles had something to say the other day that also caught my attention. “Instead of talking about racial equality, racial justice, and economic justice, we spend all our time worrying about who’s kneeling and not kneeling, what things are being said on buses, what’s being said on jerseys. I think we’re missing the point. I think most White people and Black people are great people. I really believe that in my heart. The system is set up where our politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, are designed to make us not like each other so they can keep their grasp of money and power,” adding that they “divide and conquer. ‘Hey, let’s make these people not like each other,'” he mocked. “‘We don’t live in their neighborhoods, we all got money, let’s make the Whites and Blacks not like each other, let’s make rich people and poor people not like each other, let’s scramble the middle class.’ I truly believe that in my heart.”
We have all lost something, and yet, I believe we can get it back. Slowly, and with a focus on bringing control of ourselves back to…. Us. Externalizing it to anyone, and pointing outwards simply gives it away again. The changes are inside, including choosing to find Joy. Listen to what Bono said about the death of his brother: “it brought gravitas to the recording of The Joshua Tree. We had to fill the hole in our heart with something very, very large indeed, we loved him so much”. It was way too valuable to give away, and believe the Joy you hear executed on this track is available. To you, to me, to all of us. Can we come together on… One Tree Hill?