[Ed. note: This is the 5th in a series of essays by the @U2 staff about U2-related visuals and videos. Some essays may be informational and educational, while others may be more personal.]
It's my personal theme song. It clings to my soul. It makes me want to scream for joy at the top of my lungs. I'm talking about the sparkling anthem "Beautiful Day" from U2's 2000 record All That You Can't Leave Behind. "Beautiful Day" is a song that I gravitate toward when I'm in doubt over something or if I've had an awful day and my spirit needs a jump-start. It delivers every single time and the video for it reflects that feeling of empowerment.
Directed by Jonas Akerlund, the "Beautiful Day" video even starts off on a positive note before any lyrics are sung. A sky full of clouds that separate to reveal a perfect sun gives off a literal definition of a "beautiful day." Bono appears, black shades and coolness in place. But wait, now we see another Bono. This one is sans sunglasses, throwing money and skipping along without a care in the world. He approaches his destination (the airport) and playfully wraps an arm around an unassuming woman. When he enters through the revolving doors, Goofy Bono presses his face against the glass with a mischievous smile.
With this theme in place, the video immediately turns into "A Tale of Two Bonos." Rocker Bono is singing a song that defines them both, as they are each living a day of perfection. He is jamming with the biggest band on the planet and dancing with the mic stand. Goofy Bono is making funny faces and stealing luggage inside the airport. The lives of the two Bonos begin to cross as U2 make their way into the airport. The band members go through security and check their luggage, which includes the heart suitcase. I think it's a clever and adorable touch that the heart is actually "beating" as it makes its way through the X-ray machine!
While U2 are making their way through security, Goofy Bono is swinging along the rails of the escalator, not knowing his twin is there too. U2 are then seen chatting away at the gate of their flight as Goofy Bono sits down next to Adam. He sits there in wonder and crosses his arms. For me, I think what's running through Goofy Bono's head is, "Why would I want the life of being on a schedule and having to be someplace? I want to do things my way and with my rules!" He doesn't want Rocker Bono's rigorous, jet-setting life. He wants the life of having no real destination. He just wants to live for the day. Yet I don't think he would trash Rocker Bono for having that kind of life because it's what makes Rocker Bono happy. I feel like people become so consumed with what others are doing that we lose track of ourselves. We can't live a beautiful day in a beautiful life if we don't make ourselves a priority first.
Two more characters come into play at this point: a kissing couple. The next frames are interesting because all three sets of characters (U2, Goofy Bono and the couple) are intertwined with the scene of the clouds/sun from the video's opening. The couple are shown kissing by themselves; U2 are mingling around about ready to board; and Goofy Bono is at baggage claim stealing an apple from a woman. She doesn't even object to him taking it. Goofy Bono lies down on the baggage carousel, chewing on this apple with such a carefree vibe. We then see the kissing couple again, followed by Goofy Bono going through the tunnel where the bags go.
This section of the video is set to the part of the song that begins with "See the world in green and blue." I believe it's such an important part of the song because it sends a message about what it means to not let a beautiful day get away. Lyrics like "See the canyons broken by cloud" and "After the flood all the colors came out" tell you to take everything life has to offer you and savor it, even if it's just for a second. The sky is the limit when it comes to happiness. I don't know if the couple were reunited at the airport or are about to be separated, but they are kissing like there is no tomorrow. It's their beautiful day. Rocker Bono and his bandmates are heading to a destination perhaps to perform for a sold-out crowd. It's their beautiful day. Goofy Bono is literally taking a bite out of life by being his comical and frisky self. He isn't going to let his day get away. This is why I love this song so much. It's about taking life in the palm of your hands and molding it to your liking. Being a hopeless case is not an option for any of these characters and it shouldn't be for anyone else.
A whooshing sound is suddenly heard as an airplane takes flight over U2 rocking out on the airport runway. It's exhilarating to hear and watch because it's the same burst of emotion I feel when I hear this song in my car and in concert. U2 are seen walking to what is probably a private jet to their destination, as planes fly over them playing on the runway. They are literally taking flight, to their destination and also to an elevated degree of bliss. The band ecstatically play their hearts out in these frames. When Rocker Bono sings, "What you don't have you don't need it now," more planes are seen and it's absolutely fitting to that lyric. Any self-doubt, anxieties and fears should not be with you on your flight in life. Abandon them, because the only thing you need is a suitcase filled with love. In the final frames, Goofy Bono is running on the runway, like a giddy schoolboy who just scored a home run in a Little League game, and the couple are still passionately kissing in an embrace. They are all just enjoying a beautiful day the only way they know how.
It's very fitting that I'm writing about this video now, as a new year is fast approaching. As 2012 begins, I'm sure some of us have things we'd like to change about our lives or have had a crummy 2011 and are looking at Jan. 1 as a new beginning. I hope in the next year we can leave our insecurities behind and take flight on a new journey that gives us nothing but beautiful days. Just take a bite out of that apple.
(c) @U2/Marino, 2011.