U2 Re-Record 40 Songs for New Album 'Songs of Surrender'

Bono's new book and letters mailed to fans point to some 'Songs of Surrender' coming soon

Photo: Rick Clifford

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jan 9, 2023

Depending on your opinion of U2, you may have groaned upon the announcement of Bono's new memoir and accompanying tour last year, dreading the possibility of Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story materializing on your bookshelf without warning (he's sorry about that, by the way). If you feel the opposite, then you'll be excited to know that his book — and some new teasers mailed to fans — appear to point to a new album's imminent arrival.

UPDATE (01/10): U2 have announced that the Songs of Surrender, for which they've re-recorded 40 of their own songs, will arrive March 17. Hear a snippet of a reworked "Beautiful Day" in the teaser below.

Long-running fan community U2Songs points to listeners in "several countries in Europe" (and definitely not Scranton, PA) receiving physical letters in the mail authored by the Edge, which speak to songs in the U2 catalogue and a "21st century re-imagining" and "a new direction." You can find a complete transcript of the letter alongside a screenshot below.

The site notes how the letters also feature the hashtag #U2SOS40, while potential album title Songs of Surrender is found in the header in Morse code. Additionally, each letter appears to be numbered in an edition of 40 in the top right-hand corner of the page.

As it turns out, Bono may have given the game away in Surrender, which arrived in November. As U2Songs points out, he appears to mention the new effort by name in a section titled "After the Afterwords":

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.)

Additionally, U2Songs previously shared that the audiobook edition of Surrender finds all 40 chapters introduced by short clips of music that could be featured on Songs of Surrender. As far as the forthcoming LP goes, the site claims the 40 re-recorded songs will arrive March 17.

Songs of Surrender would mark U2's first release since 2017's Songs of Experience.

Bassist Adam Clayton previously made mention of a re-recording project in a 2021 appearance on Sirius XM's 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."

When a song becomes well known its always associated with a particular voice. I can't think of Tangled Up in Blue without the reedy timbre of Bob Dylan or All The Time in the World without the unique voice of Louis Armstrong.

So what happens when a voice develops and experience and maturity give it additional resonance?

U2 have been around long enough to know what that is like. It's true for us all, but it's particularly true for Bono.

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 essence of those songs is still in us, but how to reconnect with that essence when we have moved on, and grown so much?

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 a 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.

I hope you like our new direction.

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