U2 have reimagined 40 songs from across their catalog for a new album, Songs of Surrender, meant to complement Bono’s recent memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story. The album is set to arrive on March 17.
The band announced the project Tuesday, Jan. 10, with a minute-long trailer on YouTube. The clip features an atmospheric rendition of “Beautiful Day,” paired with a moving collage filled with video and images of U2 throughout their career, plus key moments from history and other bits of pop ephemera.
U2 did not share an official track list for Songs of Surrender — though it seems pretty safe to assume that it will more or less correspond with the 40 U2 songs Bono used to title the chapters in his book.
Additionally, some select U2 fans have started receiving handwritten letters from the band that offer a bit more insight into Songs of Surrender. One letter, signed by the Edge and shared on the fan account, U2Songs, reads in part: “The fact is that most of our work was written and recorded when we were a bunch of very young men. Those songs mean something quite different to us now. Some have grown with us. Some we have outgrown, but we have not lost sight of what propelled us to write those songs in the first place.”
The Edge went on to say that the project “started as an experiment” but quickly became an “obsession as so many early U2 songs yielded to a new interpretation.” He continued: “Intimacy replaced post-punk urgency. New keys, new chords, new tempos and new lyrics arrived… Once we surrendered our reverence for the original version, each song started to open up to a new anthemic voice of this time, of the people we are now, and particularly the singer that Bono has become.”
Bono also teased the project at the end of his book (which was released last November), writing that the sessions for Songs of Surrender took place during lockdown. The project “gave me a chance to live inside those songs again as I wrote this memoir,” he explained. It also meant I could deal with something that’s been nagging me for some time. The lyrics on a few songs that I’ve always felt were never quite written. They are now. (I think.)”
As for completely new music, it’s possible U2 were working on some of that as well (their last LP, Songs of Experience, arrived in 2017). Back in a November 2021 interview with Rolling Stone, the Edge said, “We are firmly locked in the tower of song and working away on a bunch of new things. I’m just having so much fun writing and not necessarily having to think about where it’s going to go. It’s more about enjoying the experience of writing and having no expectations or limitations on the process.”
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