An Open Letter To The Haters

A few days ago, an opinion piece I wrote on how I feel about U2's album The Joshua Tree was published. (Spoiler alert: I said it was overrated.) When you take issue with an iconic album that has sold millions of copies over 28 years, people aren't going to agree with you. I expected it. It's far from my first dissenting opinion. I once received a death threat from a band who didn't like my review of their covers album. I'm still here doing my thing. I don't look over my shoulder in fear.

I think what took me aback was the several people who went beyond the usual profanty-laced dissent in the comments box and clicked on the "Email The Author" link to write me personally. While voicing their displeasure, they made some assumptions about me and my tastes. I respond to their concerns below.

To Whom It May Concern, 

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to address your concerns with my opinion piece on The Joshua Tree. I really do appreciate it when someone reads my work. Let me respond and answer some of your questions.

I am a 37 year old who's loved U2 for as long as I've loved music. A sticker featuring the band's logo was on my bedroom door after War came out. I'm pretty sure I still have my VHS copy of Rattle and Hum. I've been outside of record stores at midnight in the dead of a Midwestern winter waiting for their next album to finally come out. I saw them perform an acoustic version of "The First Time" in Milwaukee during their 2005 tour.

This obviously isn't a contest to prove who's the bigger fan. I just want you to know where I'm coming from. You took issue with the word "overrated" being in the same sentence as the title of your favorite album by a certain Irish rock band. You clicked on the link with a closed mind eager to prove me wrong.

This is the way our content-hungry society works nowadays. The gatekeepers want you to react and get riled up. Political blogs do this all the time. They take a sound bite from Fox News or a tweet from a B-list celebrity and make it a mountain when a molehill will do. Most people don't even read the post. They just call Obama an idiot in the comment section and move on without bothering to research how factual the article is. They're simply relieved that someone out there is speaking up for them, not realizing the author is getting paid very well to have a dissenting opinion they agree with.

If you had read more than a paragraph or two, you would have noticed the only negative word I use to describe the bestselling album you love so much is the very word that made you click on the article in the first place. I still really like The Joshua Tree, but when you compare it to the tone of The Unforgettable Fire, the guitar work on Rattle and Hum, and the cohesiveness and passion of Achtung Baby, it's not their best. When U2 goes back to The Joshua Tree template, that's when you realize the band's creative well is running a little dry.

More importantly, my piece was an opinion. It's one that I've held for at least 20 years and others share. With the band coming to Phoenix, I wanted to share my feelings in an eloquent way. You don't have to agree with it and I'm glad that you don't. I've found that from conflict wonderful compromises can be reached. I know this discovery might not necessarily apply to musical tastes, but I think we can all agree that "Desire" is U2's best single. Period. 

Bono wouldn't want us arguing over this anyways. Perhaps our time would be better spent dealing with the conflicts and injustices that the album addresses head on instead of worrying about how I feel about 11 songs made 28 years ago.

I will likely follow your advice and listen to the album more closely next time. However, I am going to politely refuse your invitation to "pick on someone [my] own size like Miley Cyrus." 

Thanks again for reading!