War Turns 30

U2 War Album Cover

U2 War Album Cover

War is the third studio album by Irish rock band U2, released on 28 February 1983. The album has come to be regarded as U2's first overtly political album, in part because of songs like "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "New Year's Day", as well as the title, which stems from the band's perception of the world at the time; Bono stated that "war seemed to be the motif for 1982." While the central themes of their earlier albums Boy and October focused on adolescence and spirituality, respectively, War focused on both the physical aspects of warfare, and the emotional after-effects.  Musically, it is also harsher than the band's previous releases. The album has been described as the record where the band "turned pacifism itself into a crusade." War was a commercial success for the band, knocking Michael Jackson's Thriller from the top of the charts to become the band's first #1 album in the UK. It reached #12 in the U.S. and became their first Gold-certified album there. War has received critical acclaim. In 2012, the album was ranked number 223 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".

U2 began recording War on 17 May 1982. The band took a break soon afterwards, as newlyweds Bono and Ali honeymooned in Jamaica. It has been noted that it was not a typical honeymoon, as Bono reportedly worked on the lyrics for the upcoming album. The lyrics to "New Year's Day" had its origins in a love song Bono wrote for his wife,but the song was reshaped and inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement.

War
By u2

The album's opener, "Sunday Bloody Sunday", an ardent protest song, stems from a guitar riff and lyric written by The Edge in 1982. Following an argument with his girlfriend, and a period of doubt in his own song-writing abilities, The Edge — "feeling depressed... channeled [his] fear and frustration and self-loathing into a piece of music." Early versions of the song opened with the line,

"Don't talk to me about the rights of the IRA, UDA"

 After Bono had reworked the lyrics, the band recorded the song at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin. The opening drum pattern soon developed into the song's hook. A local violinist, Steve Wickham, approached The Edge one morning at a bus stop and asked if U2 had any need for a violin on their next album. In the studio for only half a day, Wickham's electric violin became the final instrumental contribution to the song.

During the sessions for "Sunday Bloody Sunday", producer Steve Lillywhite encouraged drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. to use a click track, but Mullen was firmly against the idea. A chance meeting with Andy Newmark (of Sly & the Family Stone) — a drummer who used a click track religiously — changed Mullen's mind. Mullen used the click track to stay in time for other songs on the album.Mullen said of the album in a 1983 interview, "I think the drumming has always been pretty simple, I don't think it needs to be flashy. For War I use a click track, something I haven't used before, it's a way of keeping time in my headphones. When I listened to the music in time with the click track I knew I had to bring it down to the real basics. Hopefully for the next LP it will be more complicated, I'll move on. I think of it as a musical progression for myself because I learned a lot recording this album, just about my own style and that's what I wanted to do. I think there is a definite style on War where there isn't on the previous albums."

The studio version of "40" was recorded right at the end of the recording sessions for War. Bassist Adam Clayton had already left the studio, and the three remaining band members decided they didn't have a good song to end the album. Bono, The Edge, and Mullen Jr. quickly recorded the song with The Edge switching off to both the electric and bass guitar. Bono called the song "40" as he based the lyrics on Psalm 40. In live versions of the song, The Edge and Clayton switch roles, as Clayton plays guitar and Edge plays the bass.

U2 by U2
By U2, Neil McCormick

Three of the tracks featured backing vocals by The Coconuts, of Kid Creole and the Coconuts. In the words of Steve Lillywhite, "they just happened to be in Dublin on tour, so we hung out with them and they came in and sang on "Surrender." So it was sort of random - this serious Irish rock band having the Coconuts on their album."

The album was titled War for several reasons; in 1982, Bono said that the album was called War because "War seemed to be the motif for 1982," adding that "Everywhere you looked, from the Falklands to the Middle East and South Africa, there was war. By calling the album War we're giving people a slap in the face and at the same time getting away from the cosy image a lot of people have of U2."The Edge said that "It's a heavy title. It's blunt. It's not something that's safe, so it could backfire. It's the sort of subject matter that people can really take a dislike to. But we wanted to take a more dangerous course, fly a bit closer to the wind, so I think the title is appropriate."

'an extraordinary day' -Bono

Did you happen to catch the NY Times this weekend, Bono had a chance to comment on the Saville report.  Bono’s Op-Ed  points out very directly that a 11 minute report does not clear away the wounds of a life time. Yet this does provide closure for some. What are your thoughts ? Bono holds back no punches to say that this report outlines the causes and the conflict between those that witnessed this event. Event may not be the right word. What we now know is that this was wrong, as if we needed a report to highight that fact. 11 people are dead for what ? Bono’s words below should give you something to think about. Often we brush things under the carpet to avoid conflict. This time its right in your face. 

Bono:

ONE of the most extraordinary days in the mottled history of the island of Ireland was witnessed on both sides of the border last Tuesday.

The much-anticipated and costly Saville report … the 12-years-in-the-making inquiry into “Bloody Sunday,” a day never to be forgotten in Irish politics … was finally published.

On that day, Jan. 30, 1972, British soldiers fired on a civil rights march in the majority Catholic area of the Bogside in Derry, killing 14 protesters.

It was a day that caused the conflict between the two communities in Northern Ireland — Catholic nationalist and Protestant unionist — to spiral into another dimension: every Irish person conscious on that day has a mental picture of Edward Daly, later the bishop of Derry, holding a blood-stained handkerchief aloft as he valiantly tended to the wounded and the dying.

It was a day when paramilitaries on both sides became the loudest voices in the conflict, a day that saw people queuing to give up on peace … mostly young men but also women who had had enough of empire and would now consider every means necessary — however violent or ugly — to drive it from their corner.

It was a day when my father stopped taking our family across the border to Ulster because, as he said, the “Nordies have lost their marbles.” And we were a Catholic-Protestant household.

Contrast all this with last Tuesday … a bright day on our small rock in the North Atlantic. Clouds that had hung overhead for 38 years were oddly missing … the sharp daylight of justice seemed to chase away the shadows and the stereotypes of the past. No one behaved as expected. The world broke rhyme.

A brand-new British prime minister, still in his wrapping paper, said things no one had imagined he would … could … utter ….

“On behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.”

And there was more ….

“What happened should never ever have happened,” said the new prime minister, David Cameron. “Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces. And for that, on behalf of the government, indeed on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.”

It was inconceivable to many that a Tory prime minister could manage to get these words out of his mouth. It was also inconceivable — before he uttered the carefully minted phrasing — that he would be listened to by a hushed crowd gathered in Guildhall Square in Derry, a place not famous for its love of British leaders of any stripe, and that he would be cheered while speaking on specially erected screens that earlier had been used to relay images from the World Cup.

Thirty-eight years did not disappear in an 11-minute speech — how could they, no matter how eloquent or heartfelt the words? But they changed and morphed, as did David Cameron, who suddenly looked like the leader he believed he would be. From prime minister to statesman.

Joy was the mood in the crowd. A group of women sang “We Shall Overcome.” There was a surprising absence of spleen — this was a community that had been through more than most anyone could understand, showing a restraint no one could imagine. This was a dignified joy, with some well-rehearsed theatrics to underscore the moment.

As well as punching the sky and tearing up the first “Bloody Sunday” inquiry — a whitewash by a judge named Lord Widgery who said the British troops had been provoked — these people were redrawing their own faces from the expected images: from stoic, tight-lipped and vengeful to broad, unpolished, unqualified smiles, unburdened by the bile the world often expects from this geography.

Derry is a community and these Derry people looked like guests at a wedding — formal only for as long as they had to be, careful of their dead but not at all pious. Some began to speak of trials and prosecutions but most wanted to leave that talk for another day.

Figures I had learned to loathe as a self-righteous student of nonviolence in the ’70s and ’80s behaved with a grace that left me embarrassed over my vitriol. For a moment, the other life that Martin McGuinness could have had seemed to appear in his face: a commander of the Irish Republican Army that day in 1972, he looked last week like the fly fisherman he is, not the gunman he became … a school teacher, not a terrorist … a first-class deputy first minister.

Both Mr. McGuinness and Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, seemed deliberately to avoid contentious language and to try to include the dead of other communities in the reverence of the occasion. Though a few on the unionist side complained that the $280 million spent on the inquiry, commissioned by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998 and led by Lord Saville, a top judge, could have been used to improve Northern Ireland’s schools or investigate unionist losses, they mostly accepted the wording of the report that the deaths were “wrong” and “unjustified”; Protestant clergymen spoke of “healing” and held meetings with families of the victims.

Healing is kind of a corny word but it’s peculiarly appropriate here; wounds don’t easily heal if they are not out in the open. The Saville report brought openness — clarity — because at its core, it accorded all the people involved in the calamity their proper role.

The lost lives rose up from being statistics in documents in the Foreign Office to live once again. On the television news, we saw them … the exact time, the place, the commonplace things they were doing … William Nash, age 19, shot in the chest at close range, his father wounded trying to reach him … William McKinney, age 26, shot in the back while tending the wounded … Jim Wray, age 22, shot twice, the second round fired into his back while he was lying on the ground outside his grandparents’ house. We saw their faces in old photographs, smiles from 38 years ago … the ordinary details of their ordinary and, as Lord Saville repeatedly pointed out, entirely innocent lives.

It’s not just the Devil who’s in the details … God, it turns out, is in there too. Daylight …

Even the soldiers seemed to want the truth to be out. In the new report, some contradicted statements they had been ordered to make for the Widgery report.

It is easily forgotten that the British Army arrived in Northern Ireland ostensibly to protect the Catholic minority.

How quickly things can change.

In just a couple of years, the scenes of soldiers playing soccer with local youths or sharing ice creams and flirting with the colleens had been replaced by slammed doors on house-to-house raids … the protectors had become the enemy … it was that quick in Derry.

In fact, it can be that quick everywhere. If there are any lessons for the world from this piece of Irish history … for Baghdad … for Kandahar … it’s this: things are quick to change for the worse and slow to change for the better, but they can. They really can. It takes years of false starts, heartbreaks and backslides and, most tragically, more killings. But visionaries and risk-takers and, let’s just say it, heroes on all sides can bring us back to the point where change becomes not only possible again, but inevitable.

U2 is in a studio in Dublin, playing its new song, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” to the record company. The melody is a good one but the lyric is, in hindsight, an inarticulate speech of the heart. It’s a small song that tries but fails to contrast big ideas … atonement with forgiveness … “Bloody Sunday” with Easter Sunday. The song will be sung wherever there are rock fans with mullets and rage, from Sarajevo to Tehran. Over time, the lyric will change and grow. But here, with the Cockneyed record company boss at the song’s birth, the maternity ward goes quiet when the man announces that the baby is “a hit”… with one caveat: “Drop the ‘bloody.’ ‘Bloody’ won’t bloody work on the radio.”

 

Bloody Sunday killings unjustified !

Nearly 40 years after British soldiers shocked the world by shooting to death 14 protesters in Northern Ireland, an official investigation concluded Tuesday that the demonstrators posed no threat and that the killings were completely unjustified.

The massacre on the streets of Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972, was seared in the British and Irish consciousness as Bloody Sunday and marked one of the most important turning points in the conflict in the British province of Northern Ireland. The incident radicalized Roman Catholic republican activists and ratcheted up the level of sectarian violence in “the Troubles,” which ultimately claimed more than 3,000 lives.

Tuesday’s long-awaited report overturned a government inquiry conducted immediately after the shootings, which acknowledged that the security forces’ actions might have “bordered on the reckless” but alleged that the victims had been armed with guns and homemade bombs.

Sunday Bloody Sunday” is the opening track from U2’s 1983 album, War. The song was released as the album’s third single on 11 March 1983 in Germany and The Netherlands.”Sunday Bloody Sunday” is noted for its militaristic drumbeat, harsh guitar, and melodic harmonies. One of U2’s most overtly political songs, its lyrics describe the horror felt by an observer of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, mainly focusing on the Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed civil rights marchers. Along with “New Year’s Day”, the song helped U2 reach a wider listening audience. It was generally well-received by critics on the album’s release.

The priest, Edward Daly, who is now retired, told the BBC in Londonderry on Tuesday that the new report has given him “a sense of enormous relief that this burden has been lifted from my shoulders and off the shoulders of the people of this city. It’s wonderful when the truth emerges.”

Sunday Bloody Sunday Part III

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” found itself placed in the middle of a political trio of songs on the Vertigo Tour.  All three songs, but mostly “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, centered on the theme of coexisting. The song was played immediately after “Love and Peace or Else” and segued into “Bullet the Blue Sky.” As it started, the word “coexist” was displayed on the video curtain with the Islamic crescent, the Star of David, and a Christian cross making up letters in the word. After Edge’s solo, Bono would usually drive the point home by saying, “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed, it’s true. All sons of Abraham.” This version of the song focused on the growing religious conflict around the world and was a call for all faiths to realize that they’re much more similar than they think.

Recently, this past year, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” became re-contextualized yet again as a tribute to the 2009 Iranian election protests. The song was also a focal part of the transition between the two parts of the main set. Bono has mentioned in interview that the first half is a personal journey, up until a techno version of “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” The backing beats and looped vocals fade out as “Sunday Bloody Sunday” kicks off the political half of the set. As the band played through the song, Iranian writing and footage from the protest appeared on the screen, tinted in a shade of green.

The live history of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” has shown how versatile it is as a song. A track originally written as a call for peace in Ireland has spread throughout the years to a call to the end of all conflicts. Its message is backed by the power of the lyrics and music that it contains. It’s a number that fans love to hear played live. However, every time they do, there’s one line that comes through over and over. “How long must we sing this song?”

Did not catch the whole story ? Check out each part via the links below

Part I

Part II

If you have an idea for a story let us know.

Sunday Bloody Sunday, Part II

U2TOURFANS/WAR inside cover U2 continued to perform “Sunday Bloody Sunday” as a staple of their live set. As their popularity increased, the band chose it as the opening number of their two-song set for Live Aid. With U2 flags sticking out of the crowd everywhere, the band played a passionate performance during which Bono had the entire Wembley Stadium singing the words “No more!” along with him.

The song reached its live peak during the Joshua Tree Tour. On November 8, 1987, a bomb placed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army exploded during a Remembrance Sunday commemoration in Enniskillen for those killed in all conflicts involving the British Army. The bombing killed 11 people and became the latest stage of the Irish conflict. Later that same day, U2 performed one of the angriest and most passionate versions of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” in their career. It started off with just Edge and Bono before the rest of the band kicked in halfway through. After Edge’s solo, Bono unleashed one of his most scathing rants against the violence occurring in his home country.

After the tour ended, Bono mentioned at one point that the band may never play the song again, since it became real on that day that the performance would never be bested. For the next few years, U2 kept to their word. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” wasn’t played on any of the dates for the 1989 Lovetown Tour. It made a few appearances during the band’s 1992-1993 ZooTV extravaganza, but it was mostly left out of the set.

The song only really returned midway through the band’s 1997-98 Popmart tour. The tour was the most extensive U2 had done up to that point, with dates in South America, Japan, and South Africa. One of the most special dates of the tour occurred when the band visited the war-torn city of Sarajevo. During ZooTV, Sarajevo was under siege by the Serbian Army looking to add the city to a new Serbian state. The conflict lasted for about four years, leading to thousand of deaths and injuries. U2 was closely involved with trying to get help to the citizens of the city and wanted to play there during the conflict. It was deemed too dangerous, though, so the band waited until their next tour to play Sarajevo. It was during this show that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” made its return, albeit in a very different structure. The Edge performed a slow solo version of the song that emphasized the sadness over the violence rather than the anger. It was this version of the song that Edge continued to play for all the remaining dates of the tour, dedicating it to Sarajevo every time.

During U2’s successful Elevation Tour, the “…Sunday” returned in its full band version. This time around, the song was centered on Ireland again. While the Troubles in Ireland had been resolved by 2001, U2 played the song in tribute to those who died in the Omagh bombing of 1998. The bombing killed 29 people in Northern Ireland and was carried out by the Real Irish Republican Army, a splinter group of the IRA. The attack was seen as a response to the nearly completed peace process occurring in the nation.  During performances, Bono would ask for the crowd to “Turn this song into a prayer.” During their emotional concerts at Slane Castle, Bono recited off the names of all the victims of the bombing in tribute to the lives lost. After 9/11, the song was played in tribute to those who died in the terrorist attacks. Instead of talking during the middle break, Bono instead hugged an American flag.

 Catch the whole series here. Part I currently available and Part III due to be posted on Wedneday.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

U2TOURFANS/WAR 2009“Sunday Bloody Sunday” first came together in 1982 while U2 were just starting to work on their third album. Bono was on his honeymoon with his wife Ali Hewson, leaving The Edge to begin working on the music in Ireland. After one particularly miserable day in which Edge got into a fight with his girlfriend and doubted his song writing abilities, he channeled all his anger into a piece of music that would become the song’s main riff. Though both sets of lyrics deal with the troubles in Ireland, Edge’s original lyrics were much more blunt and risky. Starting with the line, “Don’t tell me about the rights of the IRA, UDA,” the track was strongly anti-terrorism. The lyrics were later changed to ensure the safety of the band and their families, as well as to promote a message of tolerance on both sides.

The final version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was the opening track to U2’s third album, War. Kicking off with Larry Mullen, Jr.’s militaristic drumbeat, the song moved away from the echo-laden guitar the band had used on their first two albums.  Instead, the guitar notes were icy and had a brittle feel to them. The accompaniment of Irish violinist Steve Wickman helped to connect the track to traditional Irish music. The Bloody Sunday mentioned in the song called back to the 1972 incident in Derry where British soldiers fired on a crowd of protesters, killing 14 of them. Bono directed his anger in the lyrics to the loss of life in general, rather than pointing fingers. With lyrics like, “And the battle’s just begun/There’s many lost, but tell me who has won/Trenches dug within our hearts/And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart,” Bono conveyed the sadness and anger over such a loss of life.

Like many of U2’s songs, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” has evolved and changed throughout the years it’s been played live. When U2 performed the song on the War Tour, there was some trepidation on how the crowd would react, especially their Irish fans. There were some who saw the song as a glorification of the Troubles and a call for revolution. In order to squash these ideas, Bono introduced the song by saying, “This song is not a rebel song. This song is Sunday Bloody Sunday.” This statement, combined with the white flags that waved behind the band on stage, helped bring forth the song’s non-partisan intention for a peaceful solution.

Part two continued on Tuesday

Sunday Bloody Sunday Series

Wrapping up a week long conversation about U2’s most interesting CD/Album we have been thinking about a series on Sunday Bloody Sunday from the CD/Album war. Over the next few days we will be posting a series of stories related to War, and Sunday Bloody Sunday. We invite you to comment and share your thoughts around the CD/Album. We also have a new series U2 from your eyes starting mid november sign up and follow us via Facebook for all the details.( Check the facebook link below or on the side). This intro story is long story however it leads into the whole week so we did not want to shorten it up.

Sunday Bloody Sunday” is the opening track from U2’s 1983 album, War. The song was released as the album’s third single in March 1983 in Germany and The Netherlands.”Sunday Bloody Sunday” is noted for its militaristic drumbeat, harsh guitar, and melodic harmonies. One of U2’s most overtly political songs, its lyrics describe the horror felt by an observer of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, mainly focusing on the Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed civil rights marchers. Along with “New Year’s Day”, the song helped U2 reach a wider listening audience. It was generally well-received by critics on the album’s release.

U2TOURFANS 2009 File Photo

 The song has remained a staple of U2’s live concerts. During its earliest performances, the song created controversy. Bono reasserted the song’s anti-hate, anti-sectarian-violence message to his audience for many years. Today, it is considered one of U2’s signature songs, being one of the band’s most performed songs. Critics rate it among the best political protest songs, and it has been covered by over a dozen artists. It was named the 268th greatest song by Rolling Stone on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Recording:

Sunday Bloody Sunday” grew from a guitar riff and lyric written by The Edge in 1982. While newlyweds Bono and Ali Hewson honeymooned in Jamaica, The Edge worked in Ireland on music for the band’s upcoming album. Following an argument with his girlfriend and a period of doubt in his own song-writing abilities, The Edge—“feeling depressed… channeled [his] fear and frustration and self-loathing into a piece of music.” This early draft did not yet have a title or chorus melody, but did contain a structural outline and theme. After Bono had reworked the lyrics, the band recorded the song at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin. During the sessions, producer Steve Lillywhite encouraged drummer Larry Mullen Jr. to use a click track, but Mullen was firmly against the idea. A chance meeting with Andy Newmark (of Sly & the Family Stone) — a drummer who used a click track religiously — changed Mullen’s mind.] The opening drum pattern soon developed into the song’s hook. A local violinist, Steve Wickham, approached The Edge one morning at a bus stop and asked if U2 had any need for a violin on their next album. In the studio for only half a day, Wickham’s electric violin became the final instrumental contribution to the song.

Drummer Mullen said of the song in 1983:

 “We’re into the politics of people, we’re not into politics. Like you talk about Northern Ireland, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ people sort of think, ‘Oh that time when 13 Catholics were shot by British soldiers’; that’s not what the song is about. That’s an incident, the most famous incident in Northern Ireland and it’s the strongest way of saying, ‘How long? How long do we have to put up with this?’ I don’t care who’s who - Catholics, Protestants, whatever. You know people are dying every single day through bitterness and hate, and we’re saying why? What’s the point? And you can move that into places like El Salvador and other similar situations - people dying. Let’s forget the politics, let’s stop shooting each other and sit around the table and talk about it… There are a lot of bands taking sides saying politics is crap, etc. Well, so what! The real battle is a person dying, that’s the real battle.Dave Long 2009/U2TOURFANS

The studio version of the song opens with a militaristic drumbeat and electric violin part, both at a medium tempo, in a 4/4 time. The aggressive snare drum rhythm closely resembles a beat used to keep a military band in step. The distinctive drum sound was achieved by recording Mullen’s drumwork at the base of a staircase, producing a more natural reverb. It is followed by The Edge’s repeating arpeggios (see notation at left), which establish the minor chord territory of the piece. As the song progresses, the lyrics and guitar become more furious. The guitar riff has been described as the “bone-crushing arena-rock riff of the decade” by Rolling Stone. A bass drum kick on every beat provides the musical foundation until the first chorus, when Adam Clayton’s bass guitar enters.

In contrast to the violent nature of the verses, the emergence of major chords creates a feeling of hope during Bono’s “How long, how long must we sing this song?” refrain. During the chorus, The Edge’s backing vocals further develop this tread, using a harmonic imitative echo. The snare drum is absent from this section, and the guitar parts are muted. This part of the song deviates musically from the raw aggression seen in the song’s verses and gives the song a more uplifting structure. Bono once commented that “love is…a central theme” of “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

The band have said the lyrics refer to the events of both Bloody Sunday (1972) and Bloody Sunday (1920), but are not specifically about either event.[13] The song takes the standpoint of someone horrified by the cycle of violence in the province. Bono rewrote The Edge’s initial lyrics, attempting to contrast the two events with Easter Sunday, but he has said that the band was too inexperienced at the time to fully realize that goal, noting that “it was a song whose eloquence lay in its harmonic power rather than its verbal strength.”

Early versions opened with the line Don’t talk to me about the rights of the IRA, UDA. U2’s bassist, Adam Clayton, recalls that better judgment led to the removal of such a politically charged line, and that the song’s “viewpoint became very humane and non-sectarian…which, is the only responsible position.” The chosen opening line “I can’t believe the news today” crystallises the prevailing response, especially among young people, to the violence in Northern Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s. In successive stanzas, however, the lyrics appear to disown that anger and place the song in a religious context—paraphrasing text from Matthew 10:35 (“mother’s children; brothers, sisters torn apart”) and bringing a twist to 1 Corinthians 15:32 (“we eat and drink while tomorrow they die”, instead of “we die”). The song finishes with a call for the Irish to stop fighting each other, and “claim the victory Jesus won…on [a] Sunday bloody Sunday.”Dave Long/ U2 TOURFANS 2009

U2 was aware when they decided to record “Sunday Bloody Sunday” that its lyrics could be misinterpreted as sectarian, and possibly jeopardize their personal lives. Some of The Edge’s original lyrics explicitly spoke out against violent rebels, but were omitted in order to protect the group.[8] Even without these lyrics, some listeners still considered it to be a rebel song—even one which glorifies the events of the two Bloody Sundays to which the lyrics refer.

Commercially, the single had its biggest impact in The Netherlands, where it reached number 3 on the national charts.[16] In the U.S., the song gained significant album-oriented rock radio airplay, and together with the earlier “New Year’s Day” helped exposed U2 to a mainstream American rock audience.

Critical reception to the song was mostly positive. In the Irish magazine Hot Press, Liam Mackey wrote that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” “takes the widescreen view…a powerful riff and machine-gun drumming [is] crisscrossed by skipping violin.” Denise Sullivan commented for Allmusic that Mullen’s opening drumwork “helps set the tone for the unforgiving, take-no-prisoners feel of the song, as well as for the rest of the album.” In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “Sunday Bloody Sunday” 268th on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The staff of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selected “Sunday Bloody Sunday” as one of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Played Live:

Sunday Bloody Sunday” has been performed more than 600 times by U2.[5] It was first heard by a live audience in December 1982 in Glasgow, Scotland, on a twenty-one show “Pre-War Tour.” The band was particularly nervous about playing the song in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Upon introducing the song there at the Maysfield Leisure Centre, Bono promised to “never plays it again” if the crowd didn’t like it. The crowd overwhelmingly enjoyed the song; The Edge recalls that “the place went nuts, it drew a really positive reaction.”, also saying that “We thought a lot about the song before we played it in Belfast and Bono told the audience that if they didn’t like it then we’d never play it again. Out of the 3,000 people in the hall about three walked out. I think that says a lot about the audience’s trust in us.”[19] The band remained apprehensive, however. Even by the song’s sixth performance, Bono was introducing the song with the statement “This is not a rebel song.”Dave Long /U2TOURFANS 2009

Throughout 1983’s War Tour, Bono continued to reassure audiences that “This song is not a rebel song, this song is ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’” highlighting the non-partisan intentions of the lyrics. The live performances on this tour featured a routine during which Bono would set a white flag in the front of the stage while the band vamped three chords—B minor, D major, and G major. (though the band traditionally tune their instruments down a half step so the chords are B flat minor, D flat and G Flat). As the band vamped, Bono would sing “no more!” with the audience. These performances were highly effective with U2’s audience (at the time, U2 was most popular as a college rock act). Live performances of the song subsequently appeared on their 1983 live album Under a Blood Red Sky and their concert film Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky. In the Unforgettable Fire Tour of 1984 and 1985, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” continued to be a prominent midpoint of each U2 concert—as did the “no more!” interlude. Along with a performance of “Bad,” the song was performed at Live Aid in July 1985.

As U2 reached new levels of fame in 1987 with The Joshua Tree, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” continued to be a focal point of concerts. Some performances featured slower, more contemplative versions of the song; other concerts saw the wilder, more violent version. This tour marked the first time “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was played in Northern Ireland since 1982, and it has not been performed there since.

The 1988 rockumentary Rattle and Hum includes a particularly renowned version of the song, recorded on 8 November 1987 at the McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado.[24] On this version Bono’s mid-song rant angrily and emphatically condemns the Remembrance Day Bombing that had occurred earlier that same day in the Northern Irish town of Enniskillen:

“ And let me tell you somethin’. I’ve had enough of Irish Americans who haven’t been back to their country in twenty or thirty years come up to me and talk about the resistance, the revolution back home…and the glory of the revolution…and the glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution! They don’t talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What’s the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where’s the glory in that? Where’s the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day. Where’s the glory in that? To leave them dying or crippled for life or dead under the rubble of the revolution, that the majority of the people in my country don’t want. No more!

Dave Long /U2TOURFANS 2009After the Joshua Tree Tour, Bono was heard saying the band might never play the song again, because the song was “made real” with the performance in Denver, and it could never be matched again. Following their original intent, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was not played during any of the forty-seven shows on the Lovetown Tour in 1989. The song reappeared for a brief period during the Zoo TV Tour, and late during the second half of PopMart Tour (1997–1998), U2 played an emotional concert in war-ravaged Sarajevo that included a solo performance of the song by The Edge. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was subsequently played live in this style until the end of the tour in March 1998.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” was played at every concert on the 2001 Elevation and 2005–2006 Vertigo tours. Performances in 2001 frequently included parts of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Johnny Was”. A memorable mid-song message referencing the Omagh bombing of 1998 (“Turn this song into a prayer!”) is captured on the live DVD U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle. In concerts in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the “no more!” interlude was replaced by Bono holding an American flag.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” was used during the The Vertigo Tour of 2005 and 2006, as one of many politically driven songs performed during the middle part of the band’s set. Bono extended the “no more!” interlude to explain a headband he had donned in the previous song. The headband depicted the word “coexist” (written to depict a crescent, a Star of David, and a Christian cross). The Coexist symbol is trademarked in the United States by an LLP in Indiana, and the original artwork was created in 2001 by a Polish artist. As with the 2001 shows, the Vertigo tour saw the song applied to subjects further afield than The Troubles in Northern Ireland. During 2006 Australian shows, in Brisbane, Bono asked for Australian Terrorism suspect David Hicks to be brought home and tried under Australian laws. In subsequent Australian concerts he dedicated the song to the victims of the 2002 Bali Bombings – where 88 of the fatalities were Australians – saying ‘This is your song now!’. The song was also performed at every concert on the U2 360° Tour, paying tribute to the 2009 Iranian election protests on each occasion by projecting scenes from the protests and Persian writing in green on the video screen.

Music video:

This performance in June 1983 from the concert film Live at Red Rocks was later released as the song’s music video. Although a promotional music video had not been produced for the original release, the band used footage from a 5 June 1983 live performance filmed for the concert film Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky to promote the song. Directed by Gavin Taylor, the video displays Bono’s use of a white flag during performances of the song. The video highlights the intensity and emotion felt by many audience members during U2’s concerts, while the rainy, torch-lit setting in Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre further adds to the atmosphere. In 2004, Rolling Stone cited the performance as one “50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock and Roll” and noted that “[t]he sight of Bono singing the anti-violence anthem ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ while waving a white flag through crimson mist (created by a combination of wet weather, hot lights and the illumination of those crags) became the defining image of U2’s warrior-rock spirit and—shown in heavy rotation on MTV—broke the band nationwide.”

Other Releases:

The album version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was originally included on War, but it can also be heard on a number of promotional releases, including the compilations The Best of 1980-1990 and U218 Singles. Several live versions have been released; the video available on Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky is from a performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in June 1983, but the version on the live album Under a Blood Red Sky is from a performance in August 1983. Audio from the Sarajevo concert of 1997 is featured as a b-side on 1997’s single “If God Will Send His Angels.” The song also appears on Rattle and Hum, PopMart: Live from Mexico City, Elevation 2001: Live from Boston, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, Vertigo 2005: Live from Chicago, U2 3D and in the closing credits of the 2002 TV film Bloody Sunday