Beautiful Day
by U2

Album: All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
Charted: 1 21
Play Video


  • The lyrics were inspired by Bono's experience with Jubilee 2000, a benefit urging politicians to drop the Third World Debt. Bono describes the song as about "a man who has lost everything, but finds joy in what he still has."
  • U2 wrote this in stages. It changed drastically when Bono came up with the "Beautiful Day" lyric and the idea for the backing vocals. They knew it was a hit when their label boss Jimmy Iovine told them so. As Iovine tells it, the group was disappointed with their 1997 album Pop, and told Jimmy they didn't want to release another album until he told them they had a hit single. Iovine, who produced their Rattle and Hum album, make frequent trips to Europe to check in on U2 while they were recording the album, and when they played him "Beautiful Day," he declared it the hit. It was released as the first track and first single on All That You Can't Leave Behind, which fared much better than Pop.
  • The Edge recalled the recording of this tune to Mojo Magazine July 2010: "(The song) had come through various different incarnations and though we'd always felt it had something it was kind of hard to see where it was going. Really, the moment it got exciting was when Bono hit on the lyric: 'It's a beautiful day.' It seems in some ways such a banal sort of lyric, but combined with the music something wild happened and we all recognized it. Then Brian (Eno) contribution was that fantastically Euro kick drum opening and keyboard line, and that gave us the clue as to where it should go next."
  • This was featured in television coverage of the 2000 Olympics from Australia. It was used in a nightly video recap called "Images Of The Games." NBC made a donation to The Special Olympics in exchange for the rights to use it.
  • This song was one of the first major releases made available for download. Fans could stream the song from before it was released.
  • A live performance was taped for British TV show Top Of The Pops on the rooftop of a hotel in Ireland that Bono and The Edge own. They also taped a performance of "Elevation" that day.
  • This evolved out of a punk rock song U2 were working on called "Always," which was eventually used as the B-side to "Beautiful Day." "Always" was included on a 2002 album of rarities called U2 7, which was distributed through Target stores.
  • The video was first shown at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sep. 7, 2000. The clip was filmed at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Bono recalls in U2 by U2: "The video for 'Beautiful Day' was shot on the runway, which I couldn't believe we got permission for. The Concorde had recently crashed and they were very sensitive about the runway. But it was a beautiful day, literally. I had a character in mind, who was just a little half-cocked, a kind of uber-Bono. My favorite scene, which was done spontaneously, was getting on the luggage rack and being taken through that black hole where the bags go. Everyone wants to go through the hole, don't they?"
  • In England, this went to #1 its first week. It beat out a duet by Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue which was expected to claim the top spot.
  • When this went to #1 in the UK, Bono told BBC Radio One: "This tastes very sweet. You think to yourself, you're a rock band, you don't need the pop charts, but you do need the pop charts. Singles are what makes rock sharp, and we've not been great at singles. I can't tell you how excited we feel, we've been around for a while and to hear this song on the radio, it feels very special." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This won 2000 Grammys for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Rock Performance By Duo Or Group. The album was released after the 2000 cutoff date and was not eligible for awards, but this was because it was released as a single before the date. The next year, U2 won four more Grammys.
  • When accepting the Grammy awards for this song, The Edge wore a jersey with the number 3 as a tribute to Dale Earnhardt, a race car driver who died the weekend earlier in the Daytona 500.
  • U2 performed this at halftime of the 2002 Super Bowl after it won an online poll, beating out "Desire," "Pride" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Unlike the year before, when Aerosmith was joined by Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly, U2 had the halftime show to themselves.
  • Clips of this song are used as the theme music for The Premiership, a weekly TV show in the UK which shows that covers all the English Permier League football (soccer) games. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Andy - Halifax, England
  • This was used extensively by Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
  • This song was played at the end of a Smallville episode entitled "Nicodemus," where Clark takes Lana up on the windmill and shows her the Metropolis horizon line. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dawson - Draper, UT
  • Kurt Nilsen from Norway won the 2003 World Idol competition singing this song. World Idol brought together winners for the Idol competitions in various countries to compete against each other. 2003 was the only year it took place, and Nilsen beat 10 other contestants, including Kelly Clarkson, who placed second. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Christer - Jessheim, Norway
  • American Idol winner Lee DeWyze covered this for his coronation song. He said of his choice in a press conference: "I like that song a lot; it's a really good song. Is it something that is necessarily in my genre? No. There were songs on the table, and I went with the one I thought would represent the moment the best." His cover debuted at #24 on the Hot 100.
  • REM's Michael Stipe is a fan. "I love that song," he said. "It makes me angry that I didn't write it."
  • "The lyric expresses amazement, really, that whatever situation you find yourself in, as uncomfortable and upsetting as they can be, if you're alive and you are awake, then you have perspective on it," Bono explains in the band's book U2 by U2. "I was influenced by an Australian preacher I know called John Smith, who was a pastor for the Hell's Angels at one point and who is a very eloquent speaker with a brilliant mind. I remember him talking to me about how depression is a nerve end. Pain is evidence of life because it reminds you there are things in your life that aren't right. So you should be thankful for it really and celebrate that there is so much to live for."
  • The album cover was also shot at the Charles de Gaulle airport, the same locale as the music video, tying in with Bono's fascination with airports. "Airports are the first thing you see when you come into a city," he explains. "When you come into the Roissy terminal, with its kind of velvet concrete, you see the difference design makes to people's life. It's an ode to an airport. And it fits with the title perfectly. What's the destination? The future. And then, just because advertising pays, I thought I'd put God's phone number up in the airport's digital clock. J33.3. That's Jeremiah 33:3. The Scripture is 'Call unto Me and I will answer you.' It's celestial telephony."
  • Electron Love Theory, Saloa Farah, and the Christian artist Nichole Nordeman are among those who have covered this song. In a Songfacts said, Nordeman explained: "'Beautiful Day' just cries out for what's ahead. What's next. The light peering over the hill. The dawn. The crack in the heavy drapes. Don't let it get away."

Comments: 41

  • Cynthia Lark from Ogden, UtahL.S., hope you see this. What he does is adds in a lyric from Bowie’s “Starman.” It works beautifully and is my favorite version of Beautiful Day.
  • L.s. from LouisianaIn the BBC video on YouTube I just watched there is an added verse about meeting a man in the sky. I can’t find this added lyric. Anyone have a copy or noticed this before? I’d like to see a written version.
  • P.a from Co. Spgs., CoAbsolutely, one of my favorite U2 songs. The power of life and happiness are the ultimate "highs" I swear. How Edge soars in the stratosphere with his licks is the perfect counterpart to Bono's deep deep expressions is really epic. Live, love and life... I agree U2.
  • Chris from Winnipeg Mb, Mbur partly right Wesley.... Triple H was out of action for 8 or 9 months, and they used this song to promote his upcoming return to action.... i believe it was in 01 or 02
  • Katie from Aquidneck, Rigetting lyrics from this song tattooed on myself in a few weeks...cannot wait. absolutely my favorite song. a message that everyone, no matter their circumstance, needs to remember. hence why it will be on my ribs forever :)
  • Janey from Shenandoah, IaBeautiful, It's not a beautiful day in my state or town, the lyric "See the bird with the leaf and her mouth, after the flood all the colors came out" reminds me of Noah's Ark, The big flood. Love this song.
  • Ben from Wellington, New ZealandAbsolutely fantastic
  • Shawn from Frostburg, MdWhat an uplifting and inspiring song. Instant U2 Classic.
  • AnonymousThis song is also used on Bandits,a cool movie,that give me notice too - don't throw the golds in our hands,to catch another to advant- khanif,pekalongan-indonesia
  • Dana from Coventry, RiOne of the greatest songs of all time. period.
  • Rob from Los Angeles, CaIt's transcendental. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Give me health and a day!"
  • Francois from Bloemfontein, South AfricaIsn't life all about a Beautiful Day!!! A new start, a new beginning. That's what Father God gave all of us in Jesus Christ. A new start : A Beautiful day, don't let it get away like the lyrics said! Jesus Christ is Alive....... Halleluja. Thxs Bono you also expierienced just that! I hear the message right through your music!!
  • Dora from Doha, QatarThis song is absolutely amazing! It keeps me optimistic!!!!! Go U2!!!!!!
  • Jose from Guadalajara, MexicoThis is my favorite song in the whole world. During the Vertigo Tour in Mexico (February 2006), U2 changed part of the lyrics:

    See the world in red and green
    Mexico city in a waking dream
    From Guadalajara to Monterrey
    Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco Bay
    A new world is in motion
    From the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean
    See Cancun with a leaf in her mouth...
    After the flood all the colours came out...

    I was in the Azteca Stadium and that was a very nice surprise.
  • Summer from Nashville, TnThis makes me think as an optimist. It makes me "wake up" and helps me to stop worrying about the little things in life. I look around and see beauty everywhere.
  • Simonj from Melbourne, AustraliaVery interesting interview with Springsteen in Time magazine from 1975, where he disparages writing about "a beautiful day",9171,913583-8,00.html. I wonder if Bono read this article?
  • Emma from San Deigo, CaU2 and greenday got together for the Super bowl after Hurricane Katrina and U2 sand Beautiful Day along with greenday singing The Saints are Coming.
  • Emma from San Deigo, Cai love this song it is so beautiful and i 've heard nothing like it U2 is amazing and Bono seems like a wonderful ,caring person! This song always makes me happy and be thankful for what i have!
  • Dani from Fuquay Varina, NcThis song really makes me think about how life is beautiful, and even when it's been a really bad day, there's still oppurtunities and hope.
  • Matthew from Milford, MaMaterialism can be shot full of holes, tossed in a ditch, and left to rot for all I care. Actually, that would be nice... *goes off to murder tycoons*
  • A.c. from Auckland, New Zealandthis song is about coming out of a period of chaos and depression, and realizing the beauty all around in nature. the crucial line is the one which references the story of Noah. The tie-in with Noah is symbolic - the flood is the period of depression but "see the bird with the leaf in her mouth, after the flood all the colors came out." The song captures that moment, like the rainbow after the flood, when one sees the world in a totally different light. Amazing song!
  • Danleichty from Rochester, MnI like this song alot. It is a very happy song. I feel good every time I hear it.
  • Wesley from Oklahoma City, OkI believe they used this song in the WWE when they did lil segments on different wrestlers' lives each week on Raw and Smackdown. One of the wrestlers was Triple H
  • Amy from Fond Du Lac, WiI'm not a huge fan of U2, but this song always makes me stop and think. I always seem to hear it on the radio when I'm driving, and no matter what kind of day it is... rainy, snowy, gloomy or sunny, it makes me reflect on how it really is a beautiful day. Even when things aren't what we want them to be, each day is special. I can be a pretty cynical person at times, but this song brings out the optimist in me.
  • Joe from Grove City, OhI have lost several aunts and uncles over the past 5 years, as well as a cousin recently. Each time, the funeral was held on a bright sunny day. Standing in the cemetary as we prepare to depart, to say goodbye to that person's physical presence for the last time, I have been reminded of this song, how 'it's a beautiful day, don't let it get away.' Each time I hear it, also, I am reminded of these special people and how they impacted me, and how I should really take advantage of each day, as it is a beautiful day.
  • Sean from Lake Charles, LaOne of U2's greastest ever!
  • Kelly from Middle Village, NyMy friend & her husband played this song at their wedding (???) I love U2 but this is NOT a wedding song.
  • Joel from Nottawa, CanadaI really like this song too, Sanctus Real does a really good cover of this, a little heavier, and faster, you should check it out ;)
  • Rick from Humboldt, IaMaterialism sucks!!! Rock on U2!
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaGo Victor!
  • Grace from Fairfax Station, VaU2 is the most talented bunch of guys in the history of music. Their lyrics and music are always just so amazing. God gave these dudes a gift, and that's why they're my favorite band. This song is no exception. My favorite parts are when he's describing things ("See the world in green and blue") and near the end ("What you don't have, you don't need it now").
  • Declan from Liverpool, EnglandMy favourite song ever

    Try climbin a mountain with this on repeat :)
  • Ger from Camross, IrelandI was a U2 gig in Dublin rcently and this song absouloutley rocked
  • Gary from Bangor, OtherThis is actually one of my fav songs the other being queen-hammer to fall, the link being that both songs are actualy about the end of the world not seeing the beauty of life it about the beauty after all life is gone.
  • Victor from Vienna, VaThis song has convinced me to get rid of my material things, and I am starting little by little to enjoy life more and more.
  • Wesley from Midwest City, OkI forgot the year, but WWE used this song for different wrestlers who talked about their lives and struggles
  • Aziz Valika from Chicago, IlDuring the Grammy's, Bono mentioned in a very brief interview that the lines starting with, "See the world in green and blue" were all descriptions of images that were visible from outer space. "See China right in front of you / See the canyons broken by cloud" etc. Hence, signifying - feeling down, so step back and see the bigger picture? Something like that....
  • Billy from Pittsburgh, PaThose particular lyrics, at least, are a reference to the Flood...I'm not sure the whole song is, though.
  • Zach from Horn Lake, MsI think that this song is a referance to Noah and the Great Flood. The lyrics - "See the bird with the leaf in her mouth, after the flood all the colors came out". It was definately a Beautiful Day
  • Raja from Austin, TxInspired by a friend of Bono who survived cancer and realized the beauty of life and the need to enjoy every minute of it.
  • Ashley from St. Paul, MnLove it. Absolutely love it!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Steely Dan

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Oliver Leiber

Oliver LeiberSongwriter Interviews

Oliver Leiber talks about writing and producing hits for Paula Abdul, and explains his complicated relationship with his father, the songwriter Jerry Leiber.

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear: Teddy Bears and Teddy Boys in Songs

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear: Teddy Bears and Teddy Boys in SongsSong Writing

Elvis, Little Richard and Cheryl Cole have all sung about Teddy Bears, but there is also a terrifying Teddy song from 1932 and a touching trucker Teddy tune from 1976.

Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root

Michael Glabicki of Rusted RootSongwriter Interviews

Michael tells the story of "Send Me On My Way," and explains why some of the words in the song don't have a literal meaning.

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)Songwriter Interviews

Richie talks about producing the first two Kiss albums, recording "Brother Louie," and the newfound appreciation of his rock band, Dust.

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?Song Writing

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.