Story of the Song: Beautiful Day, U2, 2000

Robert Webb
Friday 13 August 2010 00:00
Comments

Sessions for one of the defining millennial anthems began in Dublin in the winter of 1999. The producer Brian Eno devised the rhythm on a sequencer and drum machine.

Around it, Edge built one of his trademark guitar riffs, this one harking back to the band's earliest days. After some while improvising, Bono threw out his arms and filled the room with an ecstatic yell: "It's a beautiful dayeeee". They had the title, and more.

Eno's co-producer, Daniel Lanois, was sitting in the control room. "The track at that point was really pumping," he said. "The mix that we did had the power of shattered metal." Lanois heard Bono singing about immaculate beauty in the midst of flying shrapnel. "It was only a glimmer at the end of the jam version," he said. But it was the hook they needed. Lanois urged Bono to develop a moment of spontaneity into the chorus for his new song. The result was, Bono said, a song about "a man who has lost everything, but finds joy in what he still has". It took on a new dimension with Bono's endorsement of Jubilee 2000 (now the Jubilee Debt Campaign).

Another producer, Steve Lillywhite, was drafted in to complete the final mix. Launched as a single to promote the band's 10th album, 'All That You Can't Leave Behind', "Beautiful Day" made No 1 around the world and won a Grammy. It was later appropriated by Barack Obama for his presidential campaign and found a fan in REM's Michael Stipe. "I love that song," Stipe said. "It makes me angry that I didn't write it."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in