One Tree Hill
by U2

Album: The Joshua Tree (1987)
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  • U2 wrote this song about Greg Carroll, a Maori from New Zealand who became an assistant and close friend to Bono. Carroll was hired as local help when the group came to New Zealand in 1984 to kick off their The Unforgettable Fire tour. He endeared himself with his personality and work ethic, and was hired on full time (at Live Aid, he could be seen on stage handing Bono a microphone).

    Carroll was killed in Dublin on July 3, 1986 when he was hit by a car while running an errand for the band on Bono's motorcycle. The album The Joshua Tree, as well as this song, are dedicated to him.
  • One Tree Hill is the tallest of five volcanic islands in Auckland where Greg Carroll took Bono his first night in New Zealand. It is a tourist attraction in Auckland, with a monument at the summit dedicated to John Logan Campbell, one of Auckland's founding fathers. Bono shared his memory of the experience in the 2009 band biography, U2 By U2:

    "They took me up to the top of a place called One Tree Hill, where a single tree stands at the top of the mount, like some stark Japanese painting, and we looked around at this city that's made by craters of volcanoes. I remember it so vividly, I think, because it meant something to me about my own freedom."
  • In 1994, the One Tree Hill tree was the victim of a chainsaw attack by a Maori activist which almost ringbarked it. A further attack in 1999 all but finished the job and the life expectancy of the tree was estimated to be only three years. By October 2000, the pine had become unstable and was a danger to the public. After careful study of the condition of the tree, the decision was made to take it down. The felling operation was successfully carried out on October 26 amid much public attention, and the Auckland skyline was changed forever. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Copper - Auckland, New Zealand
  • "Jara" refers to Victor Jara, a folk singer from Chile who was killed after a military uprising for his political beliefs.
  • Bono felt he could perform this only once, and did just one take in the studio. The band left the song off their set on The Joshua Tree Tour until the third leg, when Bono felt he had a better handle on his emotions. It made its live debut on September 10, 1987 at a concert in Uniondale, New York.
  • There is a place in England called One Tree Hill, but it has nothing to do with this song.
  • The American TV show One Tree Hill, which went on the air in 2003, was named after this song. The show takes place in a fictional North Carolina town called Tree Hill. The show's creator, Mark Schwahn, decided to use the name after hearing the song. The title implies that there is only one Tree Hill - one place the characters can really call home. The song was used in the closing scene of the series finale in 2012.
  • The Joshua Tree is U2's fifth studio album and the one that brought the Irish band worldwide fame. It was their first album to hit #1 in the US, and it also topped charts around the globe, including the UK, France, Germany, Canada, and Ireland. "One Tree Hill" was only released as a single in Australia and New Zealand; it reached #1 in the latter country.

Comments: 26

  • Jackie from Glasgow, ScotlandI was in NZ in 1996 and, because of my love of the song, made a trip to see it. Magical!!! However, please can someone help? I am CERTAIN that MANY years ago, I saw a video game of U2 performing the song at the free on One Tree Hill. However, none of the videos online show it. Did I imagine? Thank you.
  • Willy from Gold CoastThis song was written for Greg Carroll as person from Auckland myself, and being in Auckland when Greg Carroll was killed in motor accident in Ireland. From what I remember U2 was touring NZ and Bono couldn't sleep, so went out for a walk while walking around Queen St Auckland when he met a young guy up from Wanganui with some friends. Bono was talking to them when Greg said do you want us to show you around? One Tree Hill was the first places they took Bono to, from that meeting on Queen St both Greg and Bono became good friends. Bono took Greg Carroll's body back to NZ the funeral in Wanganui where Greg had grown up and his family were. Back in those days Auckland closed with the pub closing of 10.00 pm I think it was.
  • David Taumata from Wanganui New ZealandGregg Carroll had his Tangi at Kai Iwi marae and was buried at Aramoho cemetry Wanganui.
  • David Taumata from Wanganui New ZealandThis song was not written for Greg Carroll.
    The song was written about the Chilean folk singer/songwriter Victor Jara.
    I recall the picture in our local newspaper of the U2 members standing
    next to one of the old Greyhound buses here in Wanganui the week of Greggs tangi.
    This article claims "The lyrics describe the traditional Maori burial that Greg Carroll was given at One Tree Hill".
    There are no Maori burial references in this song!!!
    Greg Carroll was not buried in Auckland on one Tree Hill.
    Gregg was buried at Kai Iwi marae just outside of Wanganui 400 miles away from Auckland.
    The article also claims
    " Greg Carroll, met the band in 1985 while they were in his country".
    U2 never came to New Zealand prior to Gregg's death.
    After Greggs death U2 "dedicated" the song to Gregg Carroll.
    Over 20 - 30 years "dedicated to Gregg" has become "written for Gregg"
    for many young New Zealanders many not even born when Gregg died.
    Song interpretation happens all the time and is a wonderful option.
    As U2 became a world musical mega star so
    the Myth gained traction in the hearts and minds
    of younger NZers wanting to be some how "part" of U2's fame.
    The spirit of the song lives on in the hearts of many
    who interpret the lyrics in many different ways.
    And why not.
    Takoto Takoto Takoto Mai.
    Tihe mauri ora
  • Jimmy Wooldridge from Hull One Tree Hill is great studio but even better live. Sang it in New Zealand on 360 tour dedicated it to miners at Pike River who just lost their lives. Brilliant version, just chilling. Lyrics are incredible.
  • Jimmy from Belfast, United KingdomHelen from Auckland. Why don't you and the locals organize something and get another tree planted there. It doesn't have to be a sapling. A young tree will take OK if it's not too old. Get something back there as a refusal to lie down...a symbol.
  • Eddie from East Islip, NyBoys speak their hearts then bleed for it a metaphor for life's twists and turns.
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaGreat song and sometimes forgotten on"The Joshua Tree", I always liked it becouse of it's content. R.I.P. Greg
  • Sam from Grove City, PaThis is my favorite U2 song of all time. While it written of a friend from New Zealand it takes me to thoughts of Africa. One bit of beautiful irony in these lyrics is that Bono has become a champion of human rights development in Africa--central Africa is referred to as the "Heart of Darkness" in works of literature and remains a "fire zone" as Africa is home to nearly half of all ethnic conflict and civil wars in the world today. How many poets speak their hearts and bleed for it in Africa today? How much blood cries from the ground there?
  • Shawn from Frostburg, MdTruely one of U2's best. right up there with "Bad" I knew it was written for thier freind that was killed but I always wondered about the "Jara" part, who he was and what his story was. Now I know..
  • Helen from AucklandI am lucky enough to live right near Cornwall Park (the park surrounding One Tree Hill) in Auckland, New Zealand, ten minutes walk from the summit.
    Sadly the tree was taken down after a maori activist attacked it in the name of making a political statement in 2000. It is often referred to now as 'Un-tree Hill'.
    The song One Tree Hill inspires such raw emotion.
    "The moon is up, and over One Tree Hill... we see the sun going down in your eyes"...
    I am lucky enough to have seen the moon up over One Tree Hill :-)
  • Graystroke from San Francisco, CaMy Favorite U2 song! So much feeling, emotion.......that's what music is about!
  • Miles from Vancouver, CanadaQuite possibly the best song on The Joshua Tree.
  • Benjamin Parsons from Wellington, New ZealandOriginally the tree on One Tree Hill was a native, as Nga Tangata Whenua (people of the land) were the original founders of Auckland. That tree was cut down by colonialists from England and replaced with a pine tree. Maori iwi (tribes) were displaced by lawyers and war-mongers. Tangata Whenua are still seeking justice and equality. Cutting down the pine was an act of utter frustration at 200 years of disenfranchisement by a government with a will to reep Godzone for international economic interests.
  • Conor from Swinford, IrelandThe lyrics Jara sang his song a weapon, in the hands of love / You know his blood still cries from the ground referred to the Chilean folk singer/songwriter Victor Jara. When dictator Pinochet overthrew the government, Jara was tortured by having both his hands cut off and made to play the guitar while he bled to death.
  • Carmen from Palmerston North, New ZealandA song that us New Zealanders claim for our own. RIP Greg. Thanks Bono and U2 for a true classic
  • Vince from Brooklyn, NyTo me this song is very powerful and in the busy world we live in I always want to do nothing when listening to this song. I remember reading about this song in Rolling Stone mag. shortly after The Joshua Tree was released. Living in CA at the time, Joshua Tree is also a very magical place. The ending of this song is so powerful because it seems like you can hear Bono almost crying during his lyrics - a true masterpiece of allegory.
  • Ale from Necochea, ArgentinaOnce again, excellent lyrics by Bono... Not just because of Greg Carroll's part, but for us, from this part of America (Southamerica I mean, not the USA), the Victor Jara's part is quite touching.
    His death was awful but yet evidence of artistic integrity, honesty and compromise. The man was taken to the Estadio Nacional de Chile, whith tousands of students. They were tortured there, but there were people like Jara, who became counselors and guides for the young students there. They suffered, bleed, but they kept believing in freedom, in democracy, in comunism i should say. Jara himself was thought to be a comunist!
    The fact is that Jara's death itself is an allegory of comittment to art and social issues. Jara's hands were cut, chopped, and then, thos military pigs threw a guitar at him and told jara to play it. Jara picked up the guitar and used it as a drum with his bleeding arms.... He was shot after that.

    ("And in the world a heart of darkness
    A fire zone
    Where poets speak their heart
    Then bleed for it
    Jara sang, his song a weapon
    In the hands of love
    You know his blood still cries
    From the ground")

    Truly, just like many many others's, Jara's blood "still cries from the ground"

  • Javier Montoya from Houston, TxThis song reminds me of when our house burned down. The single tree was scorched and I just stood there looking at my house with my wife beside me. I promised my wife everything would be ok. It was.
  • Shoshannah from Seattle, WaOh my gosh. This has always been one of my favorite songs b'c it felt so passionate and intense. Now I know why. I had no idea...Very moving, bless his heart.
  • Andrea from --, NyThis song's so beautiful...I heard it then went to research the place and found out the tree was gone. I was literally pretty depressed about it for a few days afterwards. I'll never get to see it (I want to move to NZ in a few years)...
  • Anastasia from Anaheim, Caummmm....zach, one tree hill is about a boy whose mother got pregnant with him in high school and his father is the most popluar man in the city; which makes his enemy his half-brother/he himself doesn't find this until high school. one tree hill is the school's address where he goes...
  • Aj from Ontario, CanadaWhy do some of the best songs have such sad stories behind them? This is yet again, another great U2 song.
  • Michael from New York City, Nya bit of "joshua tree" trivia- the band almost called the album "the enduring chill", which is a lyric from this song.
    because it's such a personal song to the band, for many years bono would not play it in concert, and it was released as a single only in the new zealand market. however, it's become one of the most popular songs from "the joshua tree" album because so many people respond to the intense emotion of the song. it's definitely my favorite U2 song...
  • Copper from Auckland, New ZealandThe Maori name for One Tree Hill is "Maungakeikei" and it was a great spot to sit and listen to U2 songs blasting loudly, until the 26th October 2000 when the tree was dismantled piece by piece over the course of a very sad morning.
  • Zach from Somewhere, Mnthere is also a show on the WB called one tree hill, it is aobut a boy whose parents are dead... i think
see more comments

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