Its landscape is peopled exclusively with sufferers and self-flagellants, wailing endless jeremiads to the slate-gray sky. We "turn away to face the cold enduring chill" (as opposed, one assumes, to the warm enduring heat); rivers, wells, and bottles "run dry" with such alarming frequency that one wonders why we don't move to well-irrigated Salt Lake City, if we like the goddamned desert so much; we're forever running through alleys, streets, storms, valleys, mountains, deserts, plains and fields in an effort to escape fire, rain, demons, locust winds, darkness, heat, cold, dust and thunder. The Joshua Tree is the Godzilla v. Mothra of rock albums. All is cinder, rubble, and death from above. . . .
There are seventy-two instances of first-person pronouns on The Joshua Tree (the next most prominent poetic element, water imagery, clocks in a distant twenty-six times; fire comes in third, with nineteen appearances); I stand with the sons of Cain, I lie on a bed of nails, I have climbed the highest mounts, I'm thirsty, I'm cold, I'm bare-assed naked, I, I, I, me, me, me. Bono, honey, come down off the cross. We can use the wood.
Count 'em here.