Sunday Bloody Sunday
by U2

Album: War (1983)
Play Video


  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Céire - Dublin, Ireland
  • 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.
  • Following "New Year's Day" and "Two Hearts Beat As One," this was the third single from War, the third U2 album and the one that made them a household name, at least in households where musically aware young people lived. None of these songs were huge hits, but they all earned some airplay and energized the band's live shows, which were still at theaters and similar-sized outdoor venues at this point. Word-of-mouth helped them snowball into bona fide superstars by the end of the decade.
  • Bono was trying to contrast the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre with Easter Sunday, a peaceful day Protestants and Catholics both celebrate.
  • While performing this, Bono would wave a white flag as a call for peace. This became an enduring image thanks to the music video, which 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.

    The version on the live album Under A Blood Red Sky was recorded at the Rockpalast festival in Germany on August 20, 1983.
  • 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. This 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.
  • War was the third and final U2 album produced by Steve Lillywhite, who rarely worked with artists on more than two albums but made an exception here. Lillywhite had only been producing for a few years when he started working with U2, which helped in that he was close to their age and didn't try to fit them into conventional strictures.
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jet - Seatown, ST

Comments: 70

  • Zach from Columbus, OhioI hate U2 with a passion, but I do find this song catchy. The beat is really good, there's a feeling of mounting tension, something lacking in every other U2 song I've ever heard. It still sounds a bit emo as f--k, but I won't deny that it's catchy.
  • Sean from AustraliaFirst generation emigrant
    As a man who can no longer live in my own land because troubles and sacrifices that had to be made
    I would love to hear one of ye boys tell my kids there not 100% irish ye boys have some balls saying that believe me when I say that
    And to our brothers in America you say they are not irish
    People left to survive if ye new any thing about anything you would see the doors these people opened for the Irish all over the world is why we succeed everywhere we go today
    Wise up boys
    N fxxk the song.
  • Colleen from Raymond, NhAwesome Song!!

    Patrick, Roswell, GA- You are not 100% Irish. You are not Irish-American. Your ancestors may have been Irish but you are 100% American.

    Matt, Bristol, England- If your parents are both 100% English and you are born in Spain, then yes, you are Spanish. We are talking nationality here not ethnicity. If you denounce Spanish citizenship and declare England citizenship then you are Spanish-English. Your way of thinking there are no other nationalities except African as that is where humans supposedly originated from. Your ancestors may be of a certain descent but nationality = where you were born.
  • Jeff from Toronto, Onim of irish decent live in canada we have our own goverment and not ruled by the british as all colonys should including ireland u2 is a great band j mcbride toronto canada
  • Amanda from Gretna, VtReally love this song! it's really sad the bloodshed that goes on, well, anywhere. i'd like to think this song is talking about any bloody Sunday that has happened, ot bloody Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. just any day violence happened.

    I would really like to go to Ireland, considering I'm Irish on my grandfather's side. hopefully one day i will.

    oh, and Leo from Westminster, U2 is an Irish band.
  • Leo from Westminster 1, MdSunday Bloody Sunday is a Rebel song for peace because U2 rock hard and are a brave American classic rock band. Thanks Bono for being my friend!
  • Sandy from East Gippsland, AustraliaMy apologies in advance to those which I may offend.(although the last 2 comments have been definately worth a read.Thanx Andrew and Andy) Give Ireland back to Ireland-A United Ireland, shouldn't evey country have that right? And as for the song, we all know it's another superb song, with or without the politics!
  • Brendan from Dublin, IrelandMarty from Australia I'm so happy you picked up on that fact,its kinda insulting as a true Dublin man to get those facts mixed up. By the way love Perth its a beautiful city and am a West Coast Eagles fan.
  • Mckala from Southport, NcI am of Irish decent. I have never been, but when I graduate I'd love to go back and visit my roots, maybe even marry an Irish man! Or at least make a lifelong friendship with one. Of course I am Dutch, Norwegian, and German too, but I am more than 50% Irish, and proud of it! This is such a sad song. It's my favorite though. I hear dit for the first time EVER on the radio this afternoon. It had a great beat and I fell in love with the meaning of the lyrics. I don't think the bloodshed was cool, but I think it's interesting yo ucan make a powerful song out of it.
  • Ben from Rochester, AfghanistanITS NOT BONO ITS BONOR COME ON U SXC PEOPLE

  • Ben from Rochester, AfghanistanI love this song i think they are soo fit... the guy at the top you are gay this song is memorable and your the biggest dickhead ive heard off
  • Shawn from Frostburg, MdI have been a huge U2 fan since 1983 and i can tell you that I absolutely hate this song. Well, I wouldn't say hate but totally tired of it. It is the one song that is totally wore out.
  • Stike from Aurora, Canadawow this song has great meaning and really touches mei think that ppl really didint know what to do and made really dumb disitions to do something so horible that ppl have to cry trough this song
  • Kevon from Philadelphia, Pathe band paramore does a cover of this song on their album riot!
  • James from Gettysburg, PaMy maternal great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island from Ireland early in the 20th century. Here in the early 21st, his great-grandson thinks almost every day about 9-11, how angry it makes him, and how he hopes that anyone who smiled on 9-11 will suffer. That same person (me) just before the 5th anniversary of 9-11 watched the film Bloody Sunday. Afterward, I put on my headphones and listened to U2's original version of the song. I sobbed throughout, still wanting war to defeat my enemies, but at the same time hating the feeling, and hating the awfulness of the world. I want war for peace, if that makes sense. Songs like this one and Zombie by the Cranberries keep me from being bloodthirsty and overzealous.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyTo Laura and Michelle of Derry: You described many of the people who attend the St. Patrick's Day Parade (at least here in NY), which is why I stopped going to it years ago. And to all of you who are arguing about who is "100% Irish" or whatever: Now you know why I don't identify myself by any nationality at all. I was born in the USA, but I am of mixed European heritages and my outlook on many things is different from those of most other Americans. It seems to me that arguments about who is or isn't 100% Irish or whatever can only lead to pointless violence and death. And I think that was one of the points this song made.
  • Sean from Armagh, IrelandLaura from's insane to say you are Irish because you "choose" to be. It doesn't work that way. I'm not denying anyone their heritage or their pride...I've seen buildings here blown up, people beaten and shot, been beaten and called disgusting names (and not just by civilians), I've seen what all this is about...but Michelle pretty much summed it up perfectly "people who once a year drink green beer and throw on an IRA t-shirt becs its cool and couldnt even tell you what the letters mean"...these people exist and they make me sick to my stomach.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI like this song very much, and I'm not even a U2 fan. It's almost at the very thin line seperating reportage from art, and that is one of the reasons why the song works. The vocal style is utterly visceral, which is entirely appropriate. To me, the problem with U2 is that they seem to sing all their songs as they sing this one, which doesn't make sense more often than not.
  • Lorenzo from Firenze, ItalyWhen U2 performed this song in Torino, on July 2001, Bono recalled the recent events occured the previous days in Genova during the G8 meeting, where a boy was killed by the cops, saying that
    "in the streets of northern ireland the streets of Genova...violence is never right..but we will always stand up for our rights" and then U2 merged the song with a version of Get up, Stand up by Bob Marley
  • Danleichty from Rochester, MnI Like U2 alot {They are one of my favorate bands] When I first heard this song, I started to have hope that the war in Iraq will end soon
  • Rusty from Raleigh, NcIt's about the Irish goverment.
  • Rebecca from Natick, MaThe Edge's voice sounds so intense! I have the U2 cd U2 18 Singles and on the photograph near the lyrics I think they're overdoing it. They look to serious.
  • Caroline from Naples, Flsong titles can't be copyrighted...
  • AnonymousThe reason Bono says "THIS SONG IS NOT A REBEL SONG" before he sings it is because there was a rebel song called "Sunday Bloody Sunday" written years before Bono wrote this song.A humble musician from Donegal by the name of Hughie McGettigan wrote a powerfull ballad about that awfull day.The question of who owned the rites to the song title "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was brought to the courts but the power and money behind the U2 defence force was no match for the 'one man band' from Donegal.The case unfortunetly had to be dropped and the rites to such powerfull lyrics went to U2.To add insult to injury Bono had to smuggly rub his nose in it by making his infamous quote about it not being a rebel song.Well done Bono, take it from me, You shattered a man.Hey don't forget to save the world
  • Laura from Derry, IrelandWOW!!! wot alot of fightin over a song!! how funny!! see this is how things start!!
    al im sayin is dont be postin stupid "fact" unless uve researched them!! and who cares if u wer born in ireland or ur parents wer 1/2 irish 4times removed!! ur irish if thats wot u choose!! get over it-its a personal choice!! as in NO-ONE else has a right to tell u wot u are-thats oppression and half of wot started the fighting in ireland!! Loadsa luv ppl!!! xxx
  • Michelle from Derry, IrelandLet me please start by quoting kelly from cedar rapids " by now the Protestants have been there along time it would be similar to ask white americans to go back to europe" are you kidding me? this is not about throwing actual people out (as lovely as that sounds) this is about a united Ireland.....Peace ,Get it? this about people like me not being harrassed at a popular airport in England (hmmmm)Because my passport says "place of birth Derry" the not so nice gentleman welcomed me home and as i stated to him i will state again....I was born in Ireland, I am Irish and he came back with thats not what the passport says.....I came to the states in 1973 my mother lived through Bloody Sunday she went to 12 a baby the safest place she could take me for a walk was in the cemetary becs that would be the only place a riot wouldnt break out..Now I go back every 2 years most of my family is still there.....You dont have to be 100% to be proud ,you dont have to be 100% to educated about the "Facts" and you certainly dont have to be 100% to have commpassion...But what gets on my last nerve is the people who once a year drink green beer and throw on an IRA t-shirt becs its cool and couldnt even tell you what the letters sean,armagh....Tiocfaidh ar La
  • Dustin from My Home, Incheck this out if your a fan of this song
  • Sean from Armagh, IrelandAllison from Canada...the bloodshed was not really unnecessary. I don't really agree with it, but the fact is that if there had not been an armed and violent struggle, there would never have been peace talks and there never would have been any hope of having a multilateral government and absolutely no hope of Catholics being able to prosper. As far as the "revolution" goes, it's over and it would be best if Americans and everyone else would stop talking about it. Those days are long gone, politics is the only way forward now.
  • Boris from Maribor, OtherWhat can I say, this is just an amazing song. Excellent lyrics. U2 must feel something very special every time they performe it; one of the best
    U2 song, so powerful, so deep, just fascinating.
  • Erin from West Pittston, PaWith all due respect - Since U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday was written about 10 years before Greenday's Boulevard of Dreams, maybe the question about similarity of sound should be posed to Greenday rather than U2.
  • Lanto from Swansea, Walesreading the lyrics, listening to the song and watching him live makes me passionate and i'm not even irish. I love this song and its resemblence.
  • Katrina from Philadelphia, PaAt the risk of being shot down, I would like to comment on the "are you a 100% irish" question. Both my mother and father are from Ireland (Cork City and Dublin, respectively) and I have been there many times, but when some one asks my nationality, I say American. I understand the frustration the people in Ireland must feel, but the problem is that America lacks the type of heritage that every other country has. Unless we are Native American, we cannot say that we have American blood in us. While I am very proud to be an American, I am 100% Irish by heritage. Also, I had 2 cousins killed by the British army, and for them I will always support the revolution, though not the senseless acts of killing.
  • Allison from Vancouver, CanadaTo all the people speaking about.. whether you are 100% irish or not.. to be 100% irish, both parents would have to be born in ireland and be 100% irish themselves. If they travelled to say, canada, and had a child, you would still be 100% irish. But i think you would still be considered irish-canadian because you were born there. I dont think you need to be 100% Irish to feel the power in this song. I am not 100% Irish and im not trying to act like i am.. I have heard about this situation from my relatives in Ireland today, and from close family members. I guess my point is here.. it doesnt matter who you are.. or what your blood type is, you can still feel this song as strongly as someone born and raised in Ireland.
  • Allison from Vancouver, CanadaIt doesnt sound liek Blvd. OF Broken dreams by Greenday at all to me.
  • Allison from Vancouver, CanadaMy mother's side of the family is irish, so I have those great Irish roots, and of course the red hair to go along with it. Sunday Bloody Sunday is a powerful song, which i feel is sort of asking what was all that unecessary bloodshed for? Very great song through and through. Stay Irish U2!!
  • Sean from Armagh, IrelandWell, to Marcelo thank you for comment.
    To Angela, Hagerstown, MD...excuse me? Bono must know about violence in Ireland because he is from Dublin? Please research this topic before saying anything about it. Crossmaglen, which happens to be in Armagh, was for a very long time (and may still be) the most militarized area in Western Europe.
    As far as the whole debate about how Irish you are, you have to understand how frustrating it is for anyone from Ireland. Every time I am in America someone tells me they are Irish too, when asked where from none can give a proper answer, they have never been, or their family was from Ireland 10 generations ago.
  • Tom from East Lyme, CtTell me if I'm crazy, but doesn't this sound like Blvd. of Broken Dreams by Green Day?
  • Ruy from Campinas, BrazilJen, I attended one of the four U2 shows in Brazil in 1998, and they did play it there. Actually, The Edge gave a great solo acoustic performance of it in all the four shows, one of them being on the 26th. anniversary of the events in Derry.
  • Sarah from Fort Atkinson, WiI'm agreeing mostly with Matt but over-all I need to say something. It doesn't matter where the heck you were born, where you live now, or how Irish you are. This song can move anyone in the world. It has moved me greatly and I am less than an 8th Irish
  • Ben from Nyc, MsThis song rocks. Larry Mullens drumming sounds great.
  • Laura from Belfast, IrelandMatt - Re-read Patrick's comment. He says he is Irish-American and was born in America. He also still lives there considering his location says so. From this I'd assume he was born and raised in America. If so, he cannot be 100% Irish if he was not born nor raised in Ireland. That is the difference between him and being born whilst on holiday.
    Kelli, Cedar Rapids, IA - Though you should be given points for trying to explain the situation here, you are incorrect with some of your "facts". There were terrorists in Ireland before Partition. The first terrorist organisation to be formed in Ireland was actually a Loyalist organistion, the UVF.
  • Matt from Bristol, EnglandLaura, Belfast, Ireland and Graeme, Tamhlacht, Ireland, if my mother is 100% english, and my father is 100% english, but I am born whilst on holiday in Spain, does that make me spanish? Didnt think so. Think before you open your mouth
  • Kelli from Cedar Rapids, IaWhen England took power in Northern Ireland, Protestant immigrants came to Northern Ireland. Basically, you have a situation where the Catholics have long been discriminated against, treated as second class citizens. Not dissimilar from African Americans in the US. This, of course, created terrorists among the Catholics who would strike against the English who were in power. To complicate things more, many Irish Catholics felt that Northern Ireland should be returned to the Republic of Ireland ("Give Ireland back to the Irish") and that the Protestants should be expelled. By now, the Protestants have been there a long time, it would be similar to asking white Americans to go back to Europe. A great example of how injustice breeds terrorism
  • Ross from Perth, AustraliaIm an australian with roots in Ireland, Still dont understand much about the war between the catholics and the protesetants, other than much unneeded bloodshed is a result of it. enlighten me please!
  • Angela from Hagerstown, Mdif both your parents are Irish, you are only Irish by blood - nothing else. To Sean (Armagh, Ireland), we are not saying "F*** the Revolution" ourselves - that's what Bono said in the Rattle and Hum video. now, i don't know how educated Bono is on the subject, i've never spoken to him about it, but i'd imagine he knows quite a lot, being from Dublin, and paying attention to those sorts of things (who can't?).
  • Maureen from London, Englandthe song by John Lennon, although this one is good, is much much much better!
  • Michael from Atlanta, GaIf both your parents are 100% irish then it doesnt matter where you are born you too will be 100% irish....duh
  • Joseph from Adelaide, Australiaim an irish-australian and, like the irish-americans here, was not born in ireland but have been brought up with a strong sense of my background and so this song has always meant a lot to me. similar acts of persecution caused my catholic family to flee ireland and so i support bono and u2 in saying that death and war helps no one yet as sean from armagh said, to support the movement is a different thing and i indeed do support the cause.
  • Marcelo from Campinas, BrazilTo Sean (Armagh, Ireland). Let me present my highest respects for your poitn of view. Although I'm a fan of peace, I'm also a fan of justice.
  • Faby from Temecula, CaBefore all of these bloody sunday's.... let's not forget that there was a bloody sunday in Russia during the russian revolution when czar nicholas II was still ruling!!!
  • Laura from Belfast, IrelandI was just reading through some of these comments and would like to clear a few things up. This song was not written in reference to the first Bloody Sunday in Croke Park. Bono has said he wrote it specifically about his reaction to the Bloody Sunday that took place in Derry. However, when performing it in Croke Park Bono makes reference to the massacre that took place there because it is obviously poignant.

    Nee, Smallville, Canada - Whilst we are all well aware there have been a lot of bloody Sundays in history, Bloody Sunday is the name given to a particular event in Irish History and that is why it is mentioned in the title of the song.

    Patrick, Roswell, GA - You are not 100% Irish because you were not born here.

    Will, Roswell, GA - To the best of my knowledge, Pearl Jam have never covered this song. There is however a slower version that was recorded acoustically by Bono that many people have mistaken as covers by various other bands, including Radiohead and Pearl Jam.
  • Keir from Santa Barbara, CaJen in Boulder is a little off when she says "the song took a break for at least a decade". "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was indeed performed regularly on the later legs of the 1997/98 PopMart tour. It was a solo performance by The Edge- only his vocals and guitar. The first time it was played that way was in the Sarajevo PopMart show on September 23, 1997. This version ended up as a bonus track on the 1998 single "If God Will Send His Angels". An Edge-solo performance also appears on the band's video from that tour, "PopMart Live in Mexico City".
  • Aj from Cleveland, GaI think this song speaks for itself about war. A great one of U2's hits nonetheless.
  • Sean from Armagh, IrelandI find myself asking the same question Graeme asked, and I still haven't been given a decent reply.
  • Graeme from Tamhlacht, IrelandPatrick, Roswell, GA - how can you be 100% Irish if you weren't even born here ?
  • Sean from Armagh, IrelandI find it interesting that there are no Irish people leaving comments about this song. As someone who has had family murdered and imprisoned, even though they were innocent, by the British army I feel I need to chime in here. I see everyone saying F**K the revolution, even though they have not experienced first-hand the reason there is a "revolution". Study the history before you make statements like that, I support the cause...not always the actions...of the Irish Republican movement.
  • Ryan from Albion, NyGreatest U2 song,so powerful,emotional,and its so hard to get out of your head once u hear it
  • Jack Lee from Nottingham, EnglandThis is my favourite song of all time, brilliant, I love it. U2 are so lyrically powerful
  • Colin from Glen Rock, NjAn awesome song that means a lot to many Irish. PEACE IN IRELAND.
  • Nee from Smallville, CanadaThere are many bloody Sundays.Not just in Irish history but in the world's history. Think of every Sunday in every war ever fought. Wars do not stop for Sunday dispite the Christian (c'est moi) view of Sunday as a holy day. I love this song. It speaks more of my views than I can.
  • Alejandro from Mexico D.f., Mexicoin the elevation tour dvd (boston) somebody throws something to bono's face when this is beggining... bono is so pissed for this, that he makes the f--k off signal to the crowd... after that he starts to sing
  • Will from Roswell, GaU2 performed this at Live Aid in 1985. What a performance. Absolutley great. Pearl Jam also has an excellent cover of this. Its more quiet and slow but it is a great song to begin with.
  • Jen from Boulder, CoThe song took a break for at least a decade at U2's live performances up until 2001. They brought the song back for the 2001 U2 Elevation Tour after the release of All That You Can't Leave Behind.
  • Steve from Wallingford, PaWow, I always thought this song was about the Sunday Shootings during the Civil Rights movement here in America....Wow I feel stupid.
  • Patrick from Roswell, GaIm an irish-american although born in the US. 100% irish and proud to be so. But u guys r right when u say there is no glory in the revolution. just a bunch of sence-less murder
  • Track1 from Boston, MaJohn Lennon actually also did a song called "Sunday Bloody Sunday" that was released on the Sometime In New York [live] cd on June 12, 1972. His song was more stinging and critical of the British than Bono's and more radical, but in my opinion was a better song.
  • Edog from Spokane, WaIf he'd help a brother out with airfare, I'd head on back to County Tipperary. What do you say Bono? Slainte.
  • Marty from Perth, AustraliaCroke Park in Dublin was the site of the 1920 shootings, Derry,Northern Ireland was the place of the Jan 1972 killings.A terrible sad day for Ireland in '72.I remember it well.It was the catalist for most of the killings in Northen Ireland from then on.
  • Andrew from Seattle, WaNow let me tell you something.

    I've had enough of Irish Americans who haven't been back to their country in 20 or 30 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. F*CK THE REVOLUTION!

    *Crowd goes wild*

    They don't talk about the glory of killing for the revolution.

    Whats the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children. Wheres the glory in that?

    Wheres the glory in bombing a rememberence day parade of old age pensioners, their medals taking out and polished up for the day. Wheres 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!

    Say. Crowd: NO MORE!

    NO MORE! Crowd: NO MORE! (Repeat 4x)

    Wipe your tears away...

    *song continues*
  • Andy from Halifax, EnglandBono has been known to make speeches during a break in this song. He attacks "Irish-Americans who havent been back to their homeland in 30 or 40 years and talk about the glory of the 'revolution'". This speech climaxes about half way through when Bono shouts "f*** THE REVOLUTION" which is greeted with applause and cheers.
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