There are, frankly, too many days that could be called Bloody Sunday to pick just one as the date to write about this song, so I picked November 8, to instead remember a day that actually mattered to U2 themselves, the day of the Enniskillen bombing that was memorialized in Rattle And Hum during the lead-in to the song. And today is the anniversary of that day, and yet another Remembrance Sunday. How long must we sing this song?
If you are a U2 fan - and for many who are not - this is one of the greatest songs ever. At the start of the year I ranked all the U2 album songs to begin the project, and the one debate I had more than all others was the ranking of the top two songs. I argued and argued with myself in both directions, before ultimately putting Sunday Bloody Sunday as the second best U2 song of all time. In reality I suppose I would put it and Streets as tied for best.
There have been so many different variations of Sunday Bloody Sunday over the years, from the fast and furious to the slow-burning. I generally prefer the faster ones, thinking of them as better than for example the version that is currently being performed on the Innocence + Experience tour, but even that’s not really true. They’re just variations on the same great theme, and the current one is just as powerful as any other.
But back to the original paragraph, the idea of the song. You will remember from Rattle And Hum that they have that little bit just before the song, where they are talking and debating whether it should even be on the movie, that it was so difficult to play on a night when there had been a bombing earlier in the day. It brings out the deep emotion in the band, in Bono, and you see that very clearly during the movie. I have seen that song on the movie a hundred times, I have listened to it a thousand times (I copied it onto a tape way back when and would listen to it over and over). I know the words and the movements and the emotion of the song deeply, and I feel it all the way down my soul. “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.” I feel like crying just thinking about it while I am writing those words.
The song has far more emotional attachment to the Irish than to me, and yet I think this may be a song that brings the Irish plight to the world more than anything else. It’s also a song that can and has been sung about conflict around the world. “I can’t believe the news today” is one of those phrases that has entered the common lexicon, something that says here we go again, we’re repeating this news over and over. It’s gone from shocking to everyday though, especially if you want to talk about something like gun violence. We need the world to look at Ireland, to look at how things changed there, at least in part because of this song. Bring that to the rest of the world, please.
My rating for Sunday Bloody Sunday: 10 / 10