And Finally Artist News Releases

U2 reimagine 40 of their songs for new companion album to Bono’s memoir

By | Published on Wednesday 11 January 2023


U2 have announced that they are releasing a new album. News that will either fill you with joy or a sense of dread. Ditto the fact that it will have a tracklist of 40 songs. But if you prefer their earlier work, you might be pleased to know that the album will consist of new versions of songs from the band’s back catalogue. Equally, you may not.

‘Songs Of Surrender’ is set to be a companion piece to Bono’s memoir ‘Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story’, which tells his life story with 40 of the band’s songs as a jumping off point.

News of the album was shared by guitarist The Edge in a handwritten letter sent to 40 fans, many of whom promptly posted it online without even asking him first.

“When a song becomes well known it’s always associated with a particular voice”, writes The Edge. “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”, he goes on. “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”, he continues.

“What started as an experiment quickly became a personal obsession as so many early U2 songs yielded to a new interpretation”, he writes further. “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”.

“I hope you like our new direction”, he concludes, eerily echoing Spinal Tap launching into ‘Jazz Odyssey’.

Portions of some of these new versions can be heard in the audiobook version of Bono’s memoir, and in the acknowledgements for the book he also noted that the band had been working on re-recording the songs mentioned in said book.

He wrote: “During lockdown we were able to reimagine 40 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)”.

‘Songs Of Surrender’ is set for release on 17 Mar. Listen to a little bit of the new version of ‘Beautiful Day’ here: