Like many people I firmly believe that music has a social responsibility. Where I and – say Bono – differ is in what that social responsibility is. The ironically challenged U2 lead singer may say that the role of pop music in this day and age is to hold up a mirror to the injustices of the world and to open the eyes of the privileged few to a conscience they may not have realised they had. Bono would say something like that, he wrote Sunday Bloody Sunday which is about as deep as GCSE History piece of empathy coursework.

“January 28th 1972, Derry

Dear Mam,
I have just been caught in a terrible street battle in Derry – though some people call it Londonderry cos they are Unionists. The army shot at us and lots of people dies. I am very sad, and angry about the injustice of it all – as I have some strange knowleidge that justice will probably not be done by the inquiry in thirty years time and the knobnose James Nesbitt will be in the filum about us.
Your Loving son
PS Larry wants to come round and borrow Dad’s snare drum as he says any deep and meaningful song about warfare always has a snare drum in it and he saw that dirty toerag Jim Kerr buy the last one in the shop last week.”

Sunday Bloody Sunday was written in a period of U2’s career when they thought it was important to be earnest. In rock music terms this usually comes through in frowning lots, wearing black and shouting. It is often followed by a period of getting to the roots of their music and patronising old Blues players. The highpoint of this period occurred when the literally stopped the traffic when they played on the roof for a video. Of course they stopped the traffic, have you ever seen fifty cars all simultaneously trying to throw a U-turn and put their feet on the accelerator. Where was your social conscience then, Bonio?

The song has been very successful in spreading the story of the Bloody Sunday massacre around the world. Why, who cannot help be transported to those Ulster streets when the evocative chorus comes up: “Sunday Bloody Sunday/ Sunday Bloody Sunday/ Sunday Bloody Sunday/ Sunday Bloody Sunday”>/i>. For all Johnny Appleseed in Arkansas knows this is a song about Bono being pissed off that he has to go to church early in the morning. Or that Songs Of Praise is on at that part of the day which reminds everyone that they have to go to work/school the next day and that hymns really are fucking terrible.

Are U2 really saying anything serious about the events of January 1972, or have they hit upon a subject which will sell records. If he was treating the subject with anything like half a brain he certainly wouldn’t have had a penny whistle on it. If he was truly being socially responsible he would never have written the tune in the first place. Then this is where our views on the social responsibility of music differ though. Music should not document tragedy – for it is a tragedy in its own right. And U2 make a lot of money out of that tragedy as well.

I Hate Music