I’ve made an effort over the last few weeks to cover the few tracks from War that I hadn’t already written about since this year that album, an important album in U2’s history, celebrates thirty-five years of existence. Today is the last of my articles on War’s album tracks, so I think that next week I might start on Zooropa. It is likely that I will return to War at some point this year to discuss B-sides and other related tracks, but after today, we will be moving on to something else for a few weeks. With that said, I am excited to be closing out our series on War today with a focus on “Surrender.”
As a young U2 fan, in the very early 1990’s, I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to “Surrender.” In fact, it was only recently that I realized how great the song came off live, and thus began to give “Surrender” its proper due, while I was viewing the “Live at Red Rocks” DVD. The studio version has kind of a dreamy quality, with those ethereal backing vocals, Edge’s classic chiming guitar and that eerie slide-guitar solo, that sets it apart from anything else on War–it almost feels like an outtake from October to me. Live, however, the song takes on an entirely different, much more aggressive, feeling. I can’t say even now which one I prefer, but I believe that both have their charms.
The song’s lyrics also make “Surrender” feel like a song that was leftover from the previous album, as they reflect the band’s Christianity in a much more overt way than most of the rest of War. The crux of the song’s lyrics deals with the idea that one must surrender themselves, their life, and all that they possess to Jesus Christ in order to gain eternal life. It is not an idea that I personally ascribe to, and may be the reason that I tended to overlook the song in my younger days, but they do have a basis in the Bible, much like “40,” which famously quotes Psalm 40.
The band thought highly enough of “Surrender” to play it at nearly every show of the War Tour, and the song even gained a few airings on the Unforgettable Fire Tour which followed. I have to admit that I was a little surprised that it wasn’t revived on the original i+e Tour, with all of the talk of “surrendering” that came up during that tour’s run. It would have fit in perfectly. As it is, I still have some small hope of U2 bringing this song back someday. I think that long-time fans would lose their minds if U2 were to play this again, and the song is upbeat enough to get even younger or more casual fans, who may not be familiar with it, interested. After all, it was a live performance of “Surrender” that got me to finally appreciate it properly. Who knows what a revival could accomplish!