For twenty five years I have had my own U2 playlist called Chilled. I made it up from non album tracks, CD single b-sides, tracks from compilations, songs from Passengers and the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack. It’s a favourite. If any of these forty Songs Of Surrender had been released on such albums I would have snapped them all up for a revisioning of Chilled.

Yet, I am still not sure about Songs Of Surrender. 

If I go back to November in the Olympia as Bono did his one man show, a mix of theatre, memoir reading and song, I was so excited at the possibility of hearing the songs Bono sang just gently accompanied by Irish musicians Kate Ellis on cello, Gemma Doherty on harp and keys and voice, all orchestrated by Jacknife Lee. 

But… Songs Of Surrender is not that album.  

Instead word broke that we were getting 40 U2 songs, cleverly starting with One and ending with 40, stripped back to what matters, as Covid taught us, and re-fashioned by Edge. I have not been sure what to make of Songs Of Surrender since it was talked about, through a few single releases and even in the days after arrival. It is a lovely packaged thing (I got 4 black vinyl). 


Don’t get me wrong. I am fascinated by it, intrigued by why they did what to what song. 

I am loving Whose Gonna Ride Your White Horses, If God Will Send His Angels and the Edge lead vocal Peace on Earth and a little bowie-like quiver in his voice. The fragile piano intro of Stories For Boys and the looking back rather than forward of Out Of Control. The operatic drama of Sometimes We Can’t Make It On Our Own makes sense.

I am not convinced by the new lyrics, even more they add theological nuance. That’s what I normally love. The newer songs seem the most successful on first listens which might be obvious as even Bono would say that they have learned to write actual songs as they have matured.

So my jury is still out. Indeed, I am not sure what the jury is deciding. 

Maybe I just wanted Songs Of Ascent that we’ve been waiting for for too long instead.

Maybe I preferred the Bono Book Tour versions.

Maybe having heard their BBC Radio 2 Piano Room version of Abba's SOS (get why that song?!?!? - clever!) I thought a Bono & Edge covers record would be more fascinating. Imagine their Life On Mars? 

Maybe 40 re-imagined songs are just too much all at once.

Maybe with months to listen here and there, to let songs marinate, let them contrast and compare, and then go back to what was originally there. Maybe this will be a treasure trove of wonder.



Stephen Anderson

I like it. I think the songs are improved by stripping away the bombast.


I absolutely love “No Line On The Horizon” so the chances of a “Songs of Ascent” release makes me super excited! I really hope it will happen.

I wasn’t likewise excited when I learned that “Songs of Surrender” would be a recycling of old songs. But now when I have listened to it I must admit that many of the songs are still great, and some of the songs have new nuances added to them which makes them more interesting than most of what’s being released.

So far this year I only find Eric Bibb’s new album “Ridin’” more interesting than “Songs of Surrender”.


Bought it with trepidation as last couple of albums were dire to my ears. Listening in 1 disc chunks and actually it's a real grower. Especially enjoying newer songs where I disliked the production mix on the albums. I want U2 to be U2 not whatever they think relevant is. Oh and with such prominent ( brave) vocals I get to make out the lyrics better. Glad I got it.

Jørgen Lasgaard, 8660 Skanderborg, Denmark

Dear Steve - I hope the SOS have grown. I think their rock songs have changed to meditation songs, wonderful prepared for listening in the church. And the lyrics for Streets and Bad are wonderful message. Of Course I also long for their new masterpiece with rock and roll. But I also love unplugged folk music - like Dylan, Donoavan, Baez, Emmylou Harris, Melanie, Sinead o Connor, Joni Mithcel, Weyes Blood, and many more. The best rock is still Beatles and Stones. Thank U for your always interesting writings - Old emeritus Jørgen Denmark

Jan Vierhout

I have also mixed feelings about this album. I was also excited about listening to Bono's evenings about Surrender. But when I listened to the album I didn't feel the excitement. Of course the album is not live music. Seeing and listening to Invisible from the Disney documentary, I feel goosebumps. For me, in leading U2 prayer meditations, I can use these more quiet versions. Last Thursday I did a devotion about U2 and Easter. And it was good not to use the 'more heavy' version of Until the end of the world (it was early morning), but the version from SOS. So, I still look forward to Songs of Ascent. I believe that album gives us more than SOS.

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