Simple Minds

Belfast Child

Composed by Simple Minds / Traditional

Song Review by

Northern Ireland has remained an open sore on the British soul for more than 80 years now and, though there have been quiet times, "the troubles" (as the understating English have so euphemistically termed the conflict), have continued, bringing misery to all concerned.

The Eighties were a particularly tragic time, during which time the IRA first hoped to bring the British to their knees via hunger strikes; then, when that failed, by launching wave after wave of bombings, both on the mainland and in the province itself.

So much for background. Jim Kerr, however, has little need to touch upon such horrors, titling the song with almost emotive strength, but devoting just three lines of lyric to the terrible price paid in "flesh and blood." Instead, Simple Minds create a melancholy piece, filled with nostalgia and just a touch of hope for the future. It's an epic, heartstring-tugging song that's almost reminiscent of "Danny Boy", at least in its sparse, Celtic laced first half. But the piece gains even more power in its second half, when the drums and guitar kick in, and the arrangement billows out with instrumentation.

It’s an impressive effort, all the more so when compared to some of the other songs composed by non-Irish artists about the conflict (Lennon’s ”Sunday Bloody Sunday”, McCartney’s ”Give Ireland Back To The Irish”, the Police’s ”Invisible Sun”). Kerr's refusal to take sides, his obvious sympathy for all of Belfast's victims, and his hope that, someday, all those that have fled will be free to return, these thoughts spoke volumes, and the single, released in February, 1989 gave the band their sole UK chart topper.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Ballad of the Streets 1989 A&M
Street Fighting Years 1989 A&M / JDC Records / Virgin 6:40
Themes, Vol. 4: February 89-May 90 1990 Virgin 6:40
Glittering Prize 1981-1992 1992 EMI Music Distribution 6:41
In the Air Tonight: Virgin's Greatest Hits 1994
Various Artists
DA Music
Every Song Tells a Story 1995
Various Artists
Shock Media 6:39
Kuschelrock, Vol. 10 1996
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 6:02
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Promised: Night of the Proms 1998 EMI Music Distribution / Virgin
No Image 1998
Various Artists
Best Long Versions Ever 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
De Pre Historie: De Jaren 80, Vol. 2 (1989) 2001
Various Artists
Eva 6:40
The Best of Simple Minds 2002 Virgin 6:43
Eighties Number 1's [EMI] 2003
Various Artists
Seen the Lights: A Visual History 2003 Virgin
Everyone's a Winner: 60 Original No. 1's 2004
Various Artists
Empire Triples 6:41
Seen the Lights: Live in Verona 2004 EMI Music Distribution
Everyone's A Winner: 20 Original No. 1's [CD3] 2004
Various Artists
Disky 6:41
Produced by Trevor Horn 2005
Various Artists
ZTT 6:41
The Original 80s Number 1s Album 2006
Various Artists
EMI 6:41
Platinum Collection 2006 EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Barking Mad
Gift Pack 2007 EMI Music Distribution 6:43
EMI Presents the Great Big Scottish Songbook 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 6:39
Themes, Vols. 1-5 2008 EMD Int'l 9:15
This Is 1989 2008
Various Artists
Parlophone 6:40
The Ultimate Eighties No.1 Hits 2010
Various Artists
EMI 6:41
No Image 2012 Immortal
Celebrate: Greatest Hits 2013 Universal / Virgin
Icon 2013 Virgin 5:14
No Image Universal
Celtica [Sony #2]
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Hit Connection [EMI]
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Smash Hits: No.1s
Various Artists
blue highlight denotes editor's pick