I have a love-hate relationship with Beautiful Day. It’s a fantastic song, in general I love it, but there come certain times when I hear it and really don’t want to be hearing it. I’ll fast-forward to the next song so I don’t have to listen to it. I don’t know why, I don’t know if it’s a mood thing or what. I can tell you that every time I heard it in Chicago I had a brief thought of “why didn’t they play something else in this slot?” and also the thought that it’s a little out of place where they are playing it. It seems like an early song, a dawning song within a show, and odd to play it so late as they do. But that’s just me.
The point I’m trying to make with the dawning comment is that it feels like a taking off sort of song. Bono actually said that about the song, it was an attempt to get the album airborne (All That You Can’t Leave Behind), and it is very successful at that. It is the opening song on the album, it makes you stand up and sing and shout straight away, does it really well. But playing it late in the show, you should have already taken off and been flying by that point.
Interesting song, it mixes in a few different sounds and a few different feelings. The start of it is a little slow, melancholy perhaps, with the religious vibe of nowhere to rent in the town, along with the rest of that verse. But then it booms into the chorus and you get that takeoff feeling going. In fact the video was filmed at an airport with planes taking off around them, which also points to the theme of the song.
Even when you get to the bridge, all the “see the” lines back and forth, it still sounds interesting, in fact this might be my favorite part of the whole song. It’s like a little pause there, I don’t know how you’d define it in terms of a plane taking off, but if it were a rocket heading to space it would be the point where the boosters break away, just before you ignite the next stage to head to the stars. I like that image the bridge brings across of spinning across the globe, looking down on different things happening around the world. I have a small problem with the tour though, at that point the video on the screen is showing a world on fire, all blacks and reds and not looking good at all. Not sure if that was the point they were going for, but it is one of my small dislikes as well.
I do like the way Bono has mixed up those lyrics in the bridge, in that there is the recorded version, and when it is sung live he sings some of those lines, skips others, adds in newer or different versions here and there. Not necessarily intentional, he may just have forgotten the actual lines, he’s been known to do that too (registration 1385-WZ anyone?).
My rating for Beautiful Day: 7 / 10