Sunday bloody Sunday - U2 - 80sneverend - Not a rebel song

Not a rebel song

U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

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
#U2 #SundayBloodySunday

The first thing Bono says when he introduces Sunday Bloody Sunday in concerts is: this is not a rebel song. Of course, it is a particular song that moves on the edge of a very delicate theme, bordering on painful stories and facts, but this song is not meant to divide or put peoples against each other.

Bono remembers Bloody Sunday of January 1972, when the British Army fired on the crowd protesting in the town of Derry, which unionists still call Londonderry, a town in Northern Ireland on the border with the Republic of Ireland. He was an 11-year-old boy back then. A boy of Protestant mother and Catholic father, who could not understand or justify violence in general, and above all violence inspired by politics on the pretext of religious reasons.

This memory remained clear to him, and was destined to reappear ten years later, in 1982, when U2 were in New York and were invited to participate in a show and parade to celebrate Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day.

As the day approached, however, the demonstration showed increasing political connotations, and when they learned that some members of the IRA, a political armed organisation, would be present, and probably protagonists, the U2 considered it appropriate to cancel their participation, in order to remain faithful to any kind of condemnation of the violence. It was not easy to explain in New York, in a square full of proud Irishmen, why Ireland’s most famous pop group decided not to participate in a celebration of Ireland. I think they risked their lives.

In any case, that episode was the spark that gave birth to this song. The music was born separately in a way; Edge had written it in the summer of 1982 while Bono was on a honeymoon with his newlywed. And the Edge wasn’t thinking about the damn Sunday, he probably lived a period of personal tension that poured into this music. Bono, however, put the words and some details into it, and so, in March 1983, U2 released this song destined to be forever among the most loved of U2. Just a few days earlier, they had release their third album, War, preceded by two other singles, New Year’s Day and Two Hearts Beat As One, which were moderately successful.

By the way, before the album’s release, U2 tried to play the song at a concert in Belfast. Bono was clear to the audience before they started: if you don’t like this song, we’ll never play it again. But the three thousand people present went crazy, and so this great song had a green light for success.

The text makes things clear: it is not a question of who is wrong or right, it is a question that nobody must die any longer for stories like this. How long, reading the incredible news in the newspapers, will we have to sing songs like this? That’s the real question that upsets Bono. And to clarify antimilitarian intent, Bono inserts several references to sacred scriptures into the text.

And over time, the anti-war and anti-violence meaning of the song becomes even more evident, because during the concerts, to balance the martial drums at the beginning of the song, Bono announces that it is not a rebel song, and during his performance he waves a white flag for peace. We also see it in the video, which shows an exhibition held a few months after the release of the song in the United States, just outside Denver, on an evening of rain and fog that highlights all the energy of U2 and of this song.

Sunday Bloody Sunday, although often considered a political or protest song, is actually a song against all forms of violence and against the atrocities of every conflict and war. I think it was fundamental in the evolution of U2’s success; this song led them to peaks of success never reached before. And after this hit, they will overcome their own success every time, from song to song, in an unstoppable rise.

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