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"Peace on Earth" is a song by rock band U2 and the eighth track on their 2000 album All That You Can't Leave Behind. Its lyrics were inspired by the Real IRA Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland on 15 August 1998.

"Peace on Earth"
Song by U2
from the album All That You Can't Leave Behind
Released30–31 October 2000
LabelIsland / Interscope
Songwriter(s)U2 (music), Bono (lyrics)
Producer(s)Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, with additional production by Mike Hedges

The song lists the names of people killed in the bombing. Similarly, inspiration for the lyric, "She never got to say goodbye / To see the colour in his eye / Now he's in the dirt" comes from the funeral of James Barker, another victim of the bombing. The Irish Times quoted his mother as stating, "I never realised how green his eyes were." [1]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, "Peace on Earth" took on additional meaning and consequently, was used as an encore song in the Elevation Tour, coupled with "Walk On". The two songs were similarly paired during the band's performance on the telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes.


Writing and inspirationEdit

U2 wrote "Peace on Earth" in response to the Omagh bombing of August 1998.[2] The song is a tribute to the victims of the bombing. Moreover, its lyrics include the names of the people killed (Sean, Julia, Gareth, Anne, and Breda)[2]

Live performancesEdit

The band has performed the song most notably during the Elevation Tour in 2001, using it along with "Walk On" as an encore. On 21 September 2001 U2 performed a few verses of "Peace on Earth" along with "Walk On" in London, England for the simulcast telethon "America: A Tribute to Heroes".[3] The telethon was produced to raise money for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.[3] During that performance, Bono replaced the original "I'm sick of hearing again and again that there's gonna be peace on Earth" with "I'm sick of hearing again and again that there's never gonna be peace on Earth."


Irish journalist Niall Stokes calls "Peace on Earth" the band's most "agnostic song yet", saying that it "takes that sense of abandonment" felt in "Wake Up Dead Man" "a stage further".[4] Bill Graham echoes this view asking if this is "'Wake Up Dead Man' part two?".[5] Exclaiming that, "Bono does little to hide the bitterness as he spits out the words "peace on earth".[5] Critics have also compared and contrasted the song with the band's earlier single "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Višnja Cogan writes the "two songs deal with the same subject: the conflict and violence in Northern Ireland, whichever side it comes from. However, 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' deals with an historical event and is approached in a particular way: the ideas of surrender, forgiveness and neutrality are very much present. "Peace on Earth" was written in the aftermath of Omagh and is much more emotional."[6] Ryan Jones of the Bergen Record felt that "Peace on Earth" contained echoes of the band's 1987 song "Mothers of the Disappeared" in its lyrics and the tone of the instrumental prelude.[7]

After the September 11 attacks, "Peace on Earth" gained widespread popularity in the United States. For instance, a Las Vegas radio station began playing the song immediately afterwards and it soon became one of their most requested songs.[8] It subsequently became highly requested on different radio stations in other American cities as well.[8]



  1. ^ " - Songs / Lyrics FAQ". Archived from the original on 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  2. ^ a b Minihan, Mary (2000-10-27). "U2 in Song Tribute to Omagh Victims". Irish News. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  3. ^ a b de la Parra 2003, p. 258
  4. ^ Stokes 2005, p. 157
  5. ^ a b Graham & Oosten de Boer 2004, p. 73
  6. ^ Cogan 2008, p. 89
  7. ^ Jones, Ryan (29 October 2000). "Guitar-driven U2 Gets Reacquainted With an Old Friend". Bergen Record.
  8. ^ a b Bordowitz & Swenson 2003, p. 130


External linksEdit