U2.

You’re on the road

But you’ve got no destination

You’re in the mud

In the maze of her imagination

You love this town

Even if that doesn’t ring true

You’ve been all over

And it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day

Don’t let it get away

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As an ‘80s baby who came of age in the 90’s, I’ve never known life without the music of U2. And I’m OK with that. A lifelong fan of the band – especially their magnetic front man, Bono – their songs are forever entwined with countless formative moments in my life. Whether it was the history teacher that used Sunday, Bloody Sunday to teach us about ‘the troubles,’ in Northern Ireland, the awkwardly sweet high school slow dance to With or Without You, the hostel café in Berlin where strangers from different parts of the world became friends while singing an acoustic version of Running to Stand Still, or driving around the neighborhoods of USC in my friend Ryan’s Volkswagen Jetta, belting the lyrics to Beautiful Day out of the car windows – just because we could – their songs are forever linked to my happy and hopeful past.

And while I’ve been to numerous U2 concerts over the years – each one its own spellbinding– almost spiritual – experience, there is one U2-related event in my life that has eclipsed all the others. It was the time I worked at the Grammy Awards and met Bono – if only for a nanosecond – backstage.

During my sophomore year of college, I interned for an entertainment PR firm in Beverly Hills that shared an office building with the event company in charge of producing the Grammy Awards. The Grammy producer became friendly with my boss, and asked if any of her interns wanted to work the awards ceremony, their main job being to escort the talent through the various backstage pressrooms. Umm, yes. Yes, I did.

This was 2001 – the year that U2 was nominated for a whole slew of awards for their album All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and in particular, their single Beautiful Day. I knew there would be a ton of security around the band, I knew they’d be hard to get to, but I also knew that this was my chance. I was going to meet them, or at least, Bono, if it was the last thing I did.

The week of the Grammys came. At a volunteer orientation, I let the powers that be know what a huge fan I was. Unfortunately, a high profile band like U2 already had ‘people’ to take them through the pressrooms. But, U2 would be doing a sound check at Staples Center the day before the awards ceremony. Would I like to attend that? Oh.My.God. YES.

I’ll never forget walking into that stripped down, empty arena, press pass swinging around my neck, my roommate Kate in tow, both of our eyes wide as saucers as Bono, short in stature but big as life, took the stage and started cracking jokes with the band and the crew. No big deal, just business as usual. The band played Beautiful Day a couple times to make sure everything sounded alright. It did. I could have died right then, one of only a handful of people witnessing a private U2 concert. All in all – it probably only lasted about twenty minutes. But it. Was. Magic.

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The actual Grammy ceremony and the nanosecond in which I met Bono, wished him congratulations and shook his hand when the band came backstage after winning the Record of the Year award for Beautiful Day was so impactful that I wrote a performance piece about it. It was a ten-minute monologue that I performed as part of a solo performance workshop during my senior year at USC. I called the piece Moxie, in which I recounted the night of the Grammy Awards through two dueling characters: Sarah (me) and Moxie, my braver, bolder, sassier alter ego who, rather than stammering like some idiot groupie, would have ever so coolly finagled an invite to the after party, hung out with the band, and become Bono’s bestie for life.

Thirteen years after that magical Grammy week, I still battle with the duality that I wrote about in Moxie. There’s the person that I show the world, and there’s the person that I know that I am, deep down inside. Though the disconnect between the two is shrinking as I get older and more confident, my ongoing struggle continues to be to challenge myself to be braver, to take more risks, and to live life on a larger scale. Essentially, to be more like Moxie.

Tomorrow – May 10th – is Bono’s 54th birthday (and perhaps coincidentally – or not – it is also the birthday of my friend and sound check buddy, Kate). So, in tribute to one of my musical idols and to a band that I’ve loved my whole life, I want to publicly say thank you. Thank you for the music. Thank you for providing the soundtrack that has helped shaped my life. Thank you for reminding me that even if I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, that’s OK. And thank you for the following lyric from that award-winning song; a song that’s all about keeping the faith in the face of despair, that no matter how bad things may seem, we are blessed with so much beauty all around us. A song that whenever I’m feeling a bit down, I return to:

See the world in green and blue


See China right in front of you


See the canyons broken by cloud


See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out

See the Bedouin fires at night


See the oil fields at first light


And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth


After the flood all the colors came out


It was a beautiful day


Don’t let it get away


Beautiful day

Touch me


Take me to that other place


Reach me


I know I’m not a hopeless case

What you don’t have you don’t need it now


What you don’t know you can feel it somehow


What you don’t have you don’t need it now



It was a beautiful day

Until next time, friends.

u211

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