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Ongoing History Daily: The origins of U2’s “Beautiful Day”

“Beautiful Day,” the song that leads off U2’s 2000 album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, was a tough one to write.  It began as a song called “Always,” which was considered just okay by everyone involved.  It wasn’t until Bono came up with the lyric “It’s a Beautiful Day” that the song started to move in a direction that everyone seemed to like.  The electronic drum-and-keyboard pattern at the beginning was supplied by producer Brian Eno. 

The finishing touch was the Edge’s background vocals, which were improvised one night along with co-producer Daniel Lanois.  If you listen closely to what the Edge sings throughout the song, you’ll hear that he’s singing the word “Always” in several spots. Those background vocals are an artifact of that earlier incarnation. 

Here. Listen carefully. You’ll hear much of the DNA from “Beautiful Day.”

And in case you’re interested, “Always” was finished and issued as a B-side to “Beautiful Day” in October 2000.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37868 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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