Don’t let it get away

OK, so it took us a day to recover from St. Patrick’s — hey, we’re Irish! And so are these guys, as we return for another few days of our change-in-the-weather Spring Cheese theme.

I’m not your biggest U2 fan, but this one has grown on me a bit:

(Official video, with mildly NSFW moments, depending on where you W.)

“Beautiful Day” is a little preachy and a bit sophomorically political — we are talking about U2 here — but it has such a joyous sound to it, doesn’t it? Though it begins with a personal perspective, in the second person, addressed to a “you” who’s feeling stranded and lonely. In the third brief verse:

You thought you’d found a friend
To take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace

“Someone you could lend a hand” doesn’t scan at all, and Bono runs into it like the speedbump that it is, but otherwise his approach is nicely and uncharacteristically smooth and subtle in the opening verses. But it’s of course in service of U2′s patented big buildup, and at less than a minute in, he’s shouting as usual. But it’s hopeful shouting, not outraged or over-emoted bellowing:

It’s a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

It’s not deep, but it’s a good thought, isn’t it? The singer continues to empathize with the “you” he sings to:

You’re on the road
But you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud
In the maze of her imagination
(I am not 100 percent sure what this means.)

But after another chorus urging hopefulness and perspective, he shifts to first person for the bridge, the best part of the song:

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case

It’s oddly affecting, in context.

The whole thing goes off the rails a bit after that lyrically with some weak sort of environmental-political lines that don’t add up to much and on which Bono sounds very strained; his range, never great, was by this time quite naturally narrowing as he slid into his 40s. But then there is that lovely, chiming guitar from the Edge (he and Phil Manzanera really can “play the guitar just like ringin’ a bell,” as a member of the oldest old guard sang). I just love the guitar behind this rather dopey segment — it’s so sweet, but so driving, building tension and letting off steam at the same time, before the refrain comes around again: “It was a beautiful day/Don’t let it get away…”

The grand bridge comes around again, then there’s some nattering about “What you don’t have, you don’t need it now” (easy for you to say, rich boy), but it’s all about Edge and Larry Mullen at the end, with the guitar and drums in intense conversation, trading phrases and moving back and front for a beautiful half-minute or so before the guitar wins the argument with a final echoing chord. A fine addition to our spring songs.

Random video-related observation: Like many Irishmen, Bono walks like a cowboy.

About Bridey

Bridey has been a music nut since falling in love with Elton John's "Caribou" album in grade school (why that one? I was nine). She's a magazine editor by trade who writes regularly about radio, music, and related industries.
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One Response to Don’t let it get away

  1. Michele says:

    I like U2, though I can’t exactly pinpoint why, not a huge fan, but I like them.
    I’m really not a Bono fan, with all the posing and such,
    in the video I liked the architecture more than the shots of the band, lol.
    At around 2:47 though, now that’s what makes U2 enjoyable for me,
    the unexpected, it’s like a little piece of freedom no matter where you are at the time.

    Thank you for this one Bridey ♫