Driving through the California desert, somewhere between Lake Havasu and Los Angeles, you begin to notice strange shapes emerging on the horizon. Alien-like branches, half tree, half cactus, creep up on you like ghosts… Joshua Trees. A member of the agave family, the Joshua Tree is prevalent in the Mojave Desert and few other locations. Amidst the rocky, barren landscape of the desert, the trees stretch their prickly limbs towards the light and at sunset their silhouettes stand dramatically against the fiery sky.
The landscape of Joshua Tree has always intrigued me. Not only for its beauty, but there’s a mysterious air to the photos and tales that have emerged from its rocky terrain. One that always comes to mind is the story of Gram Parsons, who became enamored with Joshua Tree in the late sixties. Alone, he would disappear for hours and wander the land. He made his last trip there in 1972, sadly dying from an overdose while staying in the Joshua Tree Inn (guests can still book Room #8 to this day). Prior to his death Parsons claimed he wanted to be cremated and his ashes dispersed at Joshua Tree, and his body was famously stolen from LAX by his friends and taken back to Joshua Tree where they attempted to fulfill his wish.
Dream beneath a desert sky
The rivers run but soon run dry
We need new dreams tonight
Dreamed I saw a desert rose
Dress torn in ribbons and in bows
Like a siren she calls to me
– U2, from the Joshua Tree album