U2's 50 Greatest Songs

A definitive guide to 35 years of music that changed the world

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4. "Sunday Bloody Sunday"

"There's been a lot of talk about this next song," Bono famously tells the crowd in the version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" that appeared in Live: Under a Blood Red Sky. "Maybe too much talk." It was a new level of ambition for U2: "We were trying to be the Who meets the Clash," Bono later said. His inspiration: the 1972 massacre when English soldiers shot and killed 14 unarmed protesters in the Northern Irish town of Derry. "We realize the potential for division in a song like that," the Edge told a journalist. "So all we can say is that we're trying to confront the subject rather than sweep it under the carpet." It wasn't the first song about Bloody Sunday – John Lennon and Paul McCartney both had protest records in stores before 1972 was over. But U2 made it a grand statement of militant Christian pacifism, with Larry Mullen Jr.'s martial drums, violin from Steve Wickham – a stranger the Edge met at a Dublin bus stop – and Bono waving a white flag onstage. As Bono told Rolling Stone at the time, "I'm not interested in politics like people fighting back with sticks and stones, but in the politics of love."

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