I’ve gone back and forth on U2 over the years. I’ve liked certain songs and not others. I’ve bought albums and then, given them away because I never listened to them.
This is likely because for many years their music was inescapable, played on every radio station, and their videos, the same on heavy rotation on MuchMusic. And then, of course, there’s the larger than life personas of the four band members, especially that of their frontman. I suppose I’ve suffered from U2 exhaustion for a number of years.
So why is “Beautiful day”, the first single off U2’s tenth studio album, “All that you can’t leave behind”, at the number eleven spot on my Best of 2000 list?
I place the blame squarely on my wife, Victoria.
It was because of her that I saw them live in 2005. It was then that Bono famously agreed to bring U2 to Ottawa to play Scotiabank Place at the behest of then Prime Minister, Paul Martin, as a favour between friends. Victoria, who had already seen them live twice, convinced me that I should at the very least see them perform once in my lifetime, so I duly queued up for tickets online and scored some pretty decent seats. As it turned out, I really enjoyed U2’s set. Maybe it was the lack of expected theatrics or maybe I got caught up in the passion of the fans who surrounded me, but it was some magical and I found new respect for the Irish quartet.
It was also because of Victoria that this particular song stuck out for me among the best when I was compiling the list of my favourite tunes of 2000. I think it was because it found a place on many of the mixed CDs I made for her, or for others on behalf of her, over the years that I cultivated a fondness for “Beautiful day”. I say “think” now because she had me doubting myself when I asked her for her thoughts on the song for this post and she replied that it wasn’t one of her favourites. Her very next words were to compare it with the Levellers song of the same name, which to my mind is the only real point of comparison.
I was beginning to consider abandoning ship and taking a different tack but then, I played it for her. And I saw that smile.
“It is driving fast with the windows down, the stereo blaring and the wind in your face. Being in love and not caring about anything else.” (And I’m paraphrasing here because I’m writing this a few days after the conversation but I think and hope I am getting it right.) “It has that intro that makes you want to jump up and dance. But Bono doesn’t give it to you. He’s singing at his own pace, like he’s moving slowly along to a different beat as the world is crashing and racing around him.”
A good description, I thought. But she didn’t really need to say all that because that smile of remembering said enough for me.
So turn it up and enjoy. No matter the weather, it’s Saturday. It’s going to be a beautiful day.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2000 list, click here.