U2's 50 Greatest Songs

A definitive guide to 35 years of music that changed the world

Load Previous

3. "Beautiful Day"

After spending the Nineties creating music that didn't sound anything like the anthemic albums that had won U2 a massive audience during the Eighties, the band decided to kick off the 2000s by getting back to basics. "There was a big debate over the guitar sound on 'Beautiful Day,'" the Edge said. "That was really the sound of U2, the sound we made our own and abandoned. Whether or not we should bring it back became a real talking point." The group ultimately combined an unmistakable stripped-down sound with co-producer Brian Eno's electronic flourishes, and Bono wrote a set of lyrics about the importance of embracing painful moments that were inspired by Australian preacher John Smith. "He talked to me about how depression is a nerve end," said Bono. "Pain is evidence of life." "Beautiful Day" exploded onto radio in late 2000; it won U2 a Grammy for Song of the Year and helped their transcendent comeback album All That You Can't Leave Behind win Record of the Year. When Bono accepted one of the awards, he said the band was "reapplying for the job of the best band in the world."

Back to Top