Today is Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m sure the halftime performer – Katy Perry – will do a great job.
But I think it will be a long time before anyone outdoes the 2002 Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show featuring U2, which was – in the humble opinion of this author- the best Super Bowl show ever.
I think it’s fair to say it was the first major public nationally televised event after the September 11th attacks.
The first song is Beautiful Day, a celebration about simply being alive.
During the transition to the second song, you can hear U2’s lead singer Bono muttering something. It’s a prayer from Psalm 51:15: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” What follows is a cry that – under other circumstances – would just be a typical rock star thing for Bono to do. But in this context I think a great many viewers took it as a collective national (and perhaps international) cry of anguish, anger, hope, and catharsis. I know that was my sense at the time and I read comments and interviews with many, many others who took it the same way.
What follows is Where The Streets Have No Name, a song about Bono’s wish for a class-less society, where people are not judged as U2, who wrote the lyrics, perceived they were judged in their hometowns. Locals knew the poor streets and the rich streets and formed opinions about townspeople based on where they lived. The song expresses hope for a time when no such judgement would occur.
I read one article at the time in which Bono, lead singer for the Irish band, was said to have had a strong desire and sense of history that it was their role to encourage America at that time.
See below for the full video.