“This song is not a rebel song”. That’s what Bono said when he launched on stage in December 1982 Sunday, Bloody Sunday. Words that the leader of U2 will repeat tirelessly from concert to concert for this song played hundreds of times, entered in our memories and in the history of rock.
→ REREAD. “Bloody Sunday”: a man tried almost 50 years after the facts
The most political hit of the group formed in Dublin by singer Bono (Paul Hewson), guitarist and keyboardist The Edge (David Evans), bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr, refers to the bloody Sunday of January 30 1972 in Derby. Fourteen protesters, including seven teenagers, were killed when the British army opened fire on the crowd during a civil rights march,
A song “written from a human and non-sectarian point of view”
Ten years after the tragedy, the “Troubles” continue in Northern Ireland. Their heartbreaks are also felt in the Republic of Ireland. Dublin and Belfast share a common destiny that U2 sets to music by calling for appeasement in Ireland in Sunday, Bloody Sunday. The song opens the album War (“War”), released in 1983, which she sets the tone.
The music was first conceived by guitarist The Edge in early 1982. “The guitar riff he lays that day, embellished with a few lyrics, will serve as the basis for the future song”, writes rock critic Philippe Barbot in the magazine RollingStone. Bono rewrites the lyrics, removes a mention of the IRA which he considers too controversial. He replaces it with the phrase “I can’t believe the news today”. The band decided to make it a non-political or partisan song, and as bassist Adam Clayton will explain, “written from a human and non-sectarian point of view, which is the only responsible attitude”, specifies Philippe Barbot.
With poignant lyrics, the title calls for the rejection of hatred and violence. “The trenches dug in our hearts/And the separated mothers, children, brothers and sisters”. The authors allude to texts from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew or from the Letters to the Corinthians of Saint Paul, and launch into the refrain with this plea: “How long, how long do we have to sing this song? »
A huge reverberant sound throughout the album “War”
Musically, this title is also one of the most powerful of U2. “Steve Lillywhite (producer and sound engineer, Editor’s note) records the drums under a staircase, giving it that huge reverberant sound you hear throughout the album War and which, for better or for worse, would influence all of 1980s rock,” writes Stan Cuesta in his book U2 (Ed. Librio).
→ CRITICAL. “Bloodlands”, the ghosts of the Northern Irish conflict
“Larry Mullen’s playing, all in dramatic quasi-military rolls, reminds us that he was part of a marching band, adds the rock critic. The group has also invited violinist Steve Wickham (future member of the Waterboys) to the studio, who adds a strange touch to this piece, more spectral than typically Irish: the result is unlike anything known. concludes Stan Cuesta.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, beyond Ireland, has become a pacifist anthem during which Bono raises a white flag on stage. The song joins other committed tracks like BirminghamSunday, sung by Joan Baez to protest against the assassination of black girls, killed in 1963 by the racist attack committed against the faithful of the Baptist Church of Birmingham (Alabama), the protest songs by Bob Dylan or the great titles of John Lennon: Give Peace a Chance, Happy XMas (War is Over) and of course,Conceived.
→ REREAD. The French and music, a love story
A vein honored in France by Boris Vian (The deserter), Barbara (Göttingen), renaud (Manhattan-Kabul), and the songs written for Jean Ferrat by Louis Aragon, including The Song of Peace. “I say the pale and sudden peace/Like a happiness long dreamed of/Like a happiness that one hardly believes/Having found”, writes Aragon.