U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

Of all the U2 songs this one is probably on the top of my list. The drum pattern sounds like they are marching off to battle. It’s raw and you can hear the conviction in what Bono is singing. The Edge’s guitar is crunchy and perfect.

The drum-beat was composed by Larry Mullen Jr., which was recorded in a staircase of their Dublin recording studio because producer Steve Lillywhite was trying to get a full sound with natural reverb.

“Bloody Sunday” was a term given to an incident, which took place on 30th January 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland where British Soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians who were peacefully protesting against Operation Demetrius. Thirteen were killed outright, while another man lost his life four months later due to injuries. It was reported that many of the victims who were fleeing the scene were shot at point-blank range.

The first person to have addressed these events musically was John Lennon who composed “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and released it on his third Solo album “Sometime In New York City”. His version of the song directly expresses his anger towards the massacre

The song peaked at #7 in the US Billboard Top Tracks Chart.

 

From Songfacts

There are two Bloody Sundays in Irish history. The first was in 1920 when British troops fired into the crowd at a football match in Dublin in retaliation for the killing of British undercover agents. The second was on January 30, 1972, when British paratroopers killed 13 Irish citizens at a civil rights protest in Derry, Northern Ireland. The song is more about the second Bloody Sunday. 

The lyrics are a nonpartisan condemnation of the historic bloodshed in Ireland – politics is not something you want to discuss in Ireland. Bono’s lyrics in the song are more about interpersonal struggles than about the actual Bloody Sunday events.

Bono used to introduce this at concerts by saying: “This is not a rebel song.”

U2 has played several times at Croke Park, the site of the 1920 Bloody Sunday in Dublin. They first performed there in 1985 on the Unforgettable Fire tour.

Bono started writing this with political lyrics condemning the Irish Republican Army (the IRA), a militant group dedicated to getting British troops out of Northern Ireland. He changed them to point out the atrocities of war without taking sides.

While performing this, Bono would wave a white flag as a call for peace.

Bono was trying to contrast the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre with Easter Sunday, a peaceful day Protestants and Catholics both celebrate.

The music video for this song was taken from a live performance that’s part of their Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky concert film. The concert took place June 5, 1983 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Directed by Gavin Taylor, it captures the live energy of the band as they fight through the wind and rain to deliver a high-energy performance. At this time, U2 liked their videos shot outdoors in a natural setting.

Larry Mullen’s drums were recorded in a staircase of their Dublin recording studio. Producer Steve Lillywhite was trying to get a full sound with a natural echo.

Steve Wickham, who went on to join The Waterboys, played the electric fiddle on this track.

This took on new meaning as the conflict in Northern Ireland continued through the ’90s.

U2 recorded this in Denver for their Rattle And Hum movie on November 8, 1987. It was the same day as the Enniskillen massacre, where 13 people in Northern Ireland were killed by a bomb detonated by the Irish Republican Army (the IRA). Angered by these events, U2 gave a very emotional performance.

The version on U2’s live album Under A Blood Red Sky was recorded at a show in Sankt Goarshausen, Germany on August 20, 1983.

In 2003, The Edge inducted The Clash into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his speech, he said, “There is no doubt in my mind that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” wouldn’t – and couldn’t – have been written if not for The Clash.”

A live version of this song plays during the end credits of the 2002 movie Bloody Sunday, which is a documentary-style drama recreating the events of January 30,1972 in Derry, Ireland. It stars James Nesbitt (you may remember him as “Pig Finn” from Waking Ned Devine) as a local Member of Parliament who is involved with the Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Yeah
Hmm hmm

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long
How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long

’cause tonight we can be as one
Tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

(Oh, let’s go)

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

How long
How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long

’cause tonight we can be as one
Tonight tonight

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

(Yeah, let’s go)

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
I wipe your tears away
(Sunday, bloody Sunday)
I wipe your blood shot eyes
(Sunday, bloody Sunday)

Sunday, bloody Sunday (Sunday, bloody Sunday)
Sunday, bloody Sunday (Sunday, bloody Sunday)

(Yeah, let’s go)

And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

(Sunday, bloody Sunday)

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
On

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

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