Like many of you, I’m sure, I was beyond ecstatic when “Beautiful Day” came out nearly 20 years ago. I worked at a record store at the time, and I was able to order for myself a physical copy of the single as an import. I think I opened it up in the store and played it over the in-store speaker system, which I definitely wasn’t supposed to do. I remember thinking that, of course, “Beautiful Day” was aces, but that the B-sides were quite good, as well. It wasn’t until I got home and I was able to sit down and focus on what was being sung and said in the lyrics that I realized that there is a lot of wisdom to be found on that little three-track single. “Summer Rain” was an immediate favorite, just because it doesn’t sound like a lot of things that the band had done before. Even now, I can’t think of many songs other than live recordings or alternate versions that have as their base the acoustic guitar like “Summer Rain” does. Even with the acoustic guitar, Edge manages to make things interesting by applying a small shimmering effect that really sounds quite lovely. During the second verse, the drums and the bass come in, with a particularly energetic fill from Larry and a great groove from Adam. All in all, musically, “Summer Rain” is a spirited, lively affair despite the fact that the main instrument throughout the song is the acoustic guitar. I often think of acoustic songs as slower, somber pieces, but that is definitely not the case with “Summer Rain.”
I mentioned earlier that there is a lot of wisdom to be found here, and I think it is worth taking a look at the lyrics to draw out some of that depth. The first verse consists of the lines “When you stop seeing beauty, you start growing old. The lines on your face are a map to your soul. When you stop taking chances you’ll stay where you sit, you won’t live any longer but it’ll feel like it.” I especially love this stanza, and I am learning to appreciate it more and more as I age. I feel like I am still pretty youthful for my age, in my appearance and otherwise, and I think that a lot of that vigor can be credited to my obsession with U2. Their music and indefatigable spirits keep many of us fans feeling younger than our chronological ages would otherwise indicate.
Like most B-sides, “Summer Rain” has never been performed live, and I think that it is time for the band to address this oversight. Probably not on this current tour, since it is focused on The Joshua Tree, but when the band tours again, it would be dynamite if they played “Summer Rain” from the B-stage as part of a semi-acoustic set. The song would be a perfect fit, and I think that the song is energetic enough to support the attention of casual fans. Obviously, a rarity like this song would appeal strongly to super-fans, and everybody would be happy.