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.