U2’s new release is Songs of Surrender. It will be released on March 17, 2023. It is expected to be a four-disc album, containing 40 songs, all recreations of older U2 songs.
The first single from the album is set to be “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, which will be released to radio on January 11, 2023. A countdown clock on U2.com is counting down to to 12noon Eastern Time (5pm UK) and that may be when the single is expected to debut. (The original countdown was to 8am but this has shifted.) The track list we list above was announced via Spotify on January 9, 2023 through a bit of a puzzle.
Back in April 2022, we shared a rumour that U2 would be releasing an album called Songs of Surrender, an album of recreated U2 songs. At the time we were told that the album would follow the release of Bono’s memoir. Weeks later his book Surrender was announced and it was clear from the title there was a link between the titles. On January 9, 2023, the first tease of the album happened as 40 fans began receiving copies of a hand written letter from The Edge, announcing the album, and sharing “Music allows you to time travel and so we started to imagine what it would be like to bring these songs back with us to the present day and give them the benefit or otherwise, of a 21st century re-imagining. What started as an experiment quickly became a personal obsession as so many early U2 songs yielded to a new interpretation. Intimacy replaced post-punk urgency. New keys. New chords. New tempos and new lyrics arrived. It turns out that great song is kind of indestructible. Once we surrendered our reverence for the original version each song started to open up to a new authentic voice of this time, of the people we are, and particularly the singer Bono has become.” On January 10, 2023, a one-minute video, set to the new version of “Beautiful Day” was shared on U2’s social media platforms. This video, created by João Pombeiro, shows the evolution of U2 over 40 years. The video calls this a “re-imagined” album. The full announcement of the album is expected to happen with the release of the first single on January 11, 2023, which will correspond with the launch of pre-sales for the album, announcement of formats and more.
The Songs of Surrender album will be released on March 17, 2023. The album will have 40 recreated U2 songs, re-recorded by the full band. These recreated songs were started after U2 finished the 2019 tour of Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The songs were completed in 2020, and early 2021. Previews of many of these tracks have been heard in the audiobook accompanying Bono’s memoir, released on November 1, 2022. The 40 songs will be spread across four discs on vinyl and CD formats. Both of these physical sets (vinyl and CD) have been pressed in Europe, and will be distributed worldwide. Each disc in the set will be contained in its own unique sleeve, with each “cover” featuring one band member. (At the Cheltenham Literary Festival Bono mentioned the photo the Edge chose would see him bald on the cover, and indeed the trailer video shows an image of The Edge without hat.) Initial rumours shared in early 2022 that a one disc version with 14-15 songs may also be made available.
The album is also mentioned by name in Bono’s Surrender memoir in the “After the Afterwords” section:
Thanks to my band mates and our publishing house, Universal Music Publishing Group, for permission to quote from our songs and, in case some of you had noticed, yes, I have sometimes been rewriting some of the lyrics. During lockdown we were able to reimagine forty U2 tracks for the Songs of Surrender collection, which gave me a chance to live inside those songs again as I wrote this memoir. 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.)”
Although some of these recreations are acoustic in nature, not all of them are. The snippets included in the audio book give some previews, and we discussed many of these in our look at the audiobook. In many cases U2 have worked with producers who have previously worked with the band on the songs, including Daniel Lanois, Jacknife Lee and Howie B. The Edge will be listed as the producer for the album. Jacknife Lee has also worked with Bono on his recent “Stories of Surrender” tour to recreate some of the songs for that tour, as well as providing keyboards and percussion on the tour.
Adam Clayton first mentioned the project in 2021 in an interview with Rocky O’Riordan on U2 X-Radio, “Well, you know we are playing around with rearranging some of the songs that we have and setting them in a more acoustic environment. Edge got a bit of a bee in his bonnet and said you know, no pun intended, said let’s look at these songs and imagine them in a different context. So we are playing around with that. He’s putting a lot of work into changing the keys, and moving them onto piano and that sort of thing. And hopefully we will have something towards the end of the year that will show a different light on U2. I think it’s an opportunity to explore different versions of the band in a way. Because it’s very much the early days, it’s embryonic, it could go somewhere between Leonard Cohen or Johnny Cash – very stripped down and bare – towards something that is very lush. Very hard to say where it will end up or if it will all end up with the same tone across it, or if each song will be treated differently. I’m excited to see how the songs could exist in a different universe.” Initially Adam wasn’t confident on whether or not the material would be released as a single album, or possibly a series of EPs.
Side 1 – The Edge
02. Where The Streets Have No Name
03. Stories For Boys
04. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
05. Out Of Control
06. Beautiful Day
08. Every Breaking Wave
09. Walk On (Ukraine)
10. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Side 2 – Larry
01. Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
02. Get Out Of Your Own Way
03. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
04. Red Hill Mining Town
05. Ordinary Love
06. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
08. Dirty Day
09. The Miracle Of Joey Ramone
10. City Of Blinding Lights
Side 3 – Adam
02. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
03. Electrical Storm
04. The Fly
05. If God Will Send His Angels
07. Until The End Of The World
08. Song For Someone
09. All I Want Is You
10. Peace On Earth
Side 4 – Bono
01. With Or Without You
03. Sunday Bloody Sunday
04. Lights Of Home
05. Cedarwood Road
06. I Will Follow
07. Two Hearts Beat As One
08. Miracle Drug
09. The Little Things That Give You Away