Since its initial appearance on the 1983 album War, “ Sunday Bloody Sunday” has become one of U2’s most popular singles, and a staple at live performances. Through various forms of musical, textual, and cultural analysis, I will explore various explanations for why this song has continued to fascinate audiences for the past twenty years. As I will demonstrate, the politically-charged lyrics and aggressive musical effects of the War recording provoked a remarkably wide range of interpretations, which then continued to multiply as the piece was performed in various live settings — including an emotional rendition after a violent day in Ireland, and an acoustic performance from the war-torn city of Sarajevo. From its early performances in Ireland, to its studio release, to the most recent performances throughout the world, the rich meaning and continually-evolving relevance of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” have made it a song that has stood the test of time.
Brian McMillin, ’06 Ottumwa, IA
Majors: Mathematics, Computer Science
Sponsor: Jama Stilwell