Sunday Bloody Sunday
Writer(s): U2 (see lyrics here)
Released: March 21, 1983
First Charted: April 16, 1983
Peak: 7 AR, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 78.9 video, 320.23 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
The Irish rock band U2 started building their following in the early ‘80s with songs like “I Will Follow” and “Gloria” from their Boy and October albums respectively. Their third album, War, was “a passionate, politically charged album” SS cemented the band’s place amongst college radio with “New Year’s Day,” “Two Hearts Beat As One,” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
The latter was one of the band’s most overtly political songs, shining a light on the horror of the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident in Derry, North Ireland where unarmed civil rights protesters were shot and killed by British troops. There was also a Bloody Sunday in 1920 when troops fired into a crowd at a Dublin football match, but this song refers more to the 1972 incident. SF
Of the song, drummer Larry Mullen said, “People are dying every single day through bitterness and hate, and we’re saying why? What’s the point?” WK An early version of the song started with the lyric, “Don’t talk to me about the rights of the IRA, UDA” but was replaced with “I can’t believe the news today.” Bassist Adam Clayton said the band opted to remove the line because it was so politically charged and the “viewpoint became very human and non-sectarian…which is the only responsible position.” WK
A video shot at a performance on June 5, 1983, at the Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Colorado helped build the band’s reputation as a live act because of the energy and lead singer Bono’s charisma and stage presence in leading the audience in chanting “no more” and waving a white flag. He opens the song saying, “This song is not a rebel song. This song is ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday.’” All Music Guide’s JT Griffith considers it a strange comment because, “though it does not advocate violence, it is one of the most famous and moving rebel songs ever written.” AMG Time magazine expressed a similar sentiment in naming it one of the top 10 protest songs of all time. WK Bono, however, has explained that he introduced the song that way as a means of emphasizing the band’s non-partisan intentions. WK It has become a staple in U2’s live show and one of their signature tunes.
First posted 8/13/2021; last updated 3/31/2023.