Surrender has been a theme of U2’s music throughout the band’s career. This could be, in part, because surrender is an important idea in Christianity–the idea of surrendering one’s whole life to God. It could also be important to the band members because of the thought that when, in a battle, one side surrenders, the battle is supposed to come to an end. This ties in to the white flag that Bono used to wave from the stage on the War Tour, and of course to the song titled “Surrender” from the War album.
Man years later, during the Innocence + Experience Tour of 2015, Bono would sing, “We come here to surrender, surrender to your love. We come here to surrender to the spirit of a holy dove” during the middle eight of the song “I Will Follow”. Of course, this hearkens back to the subject of religious surrender that I mentioned in the first paragraph, but I believe that Bono was also singing about the band surrendering to their audience that night–tearing down all of the metaphorical walls between performer and spectator.
I think that all of these types of surrender were on Bono’s mind when we penned the lyrics to “Moment of Surrender.” The song is all about recognizing that there is something greater than oneself, and giving one’s being over to that thing. That greater something could be spirituality, (a belief in God) peace, or community. Certainly, U2 has taught us that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the band has also fought against over the years. Bono’s hero, Martin Luther King, believed that the idea of peace was greater than his individual life, and he ended up surrendering everything he had to that idea. This concept reminds me a bit of a belief that pops up occasionally in Star Trek…”The need of the many outweighs the need of the one.” When we come to that realization, we begin the process of sublimating the ego that drives us and coming to terms with where we fit in the greater scheme of things. I believe that all of this is what Bono was saying, much more artistically, in “Moment of Surrender.”
The music of “Moment of Surrender” is, simply put, gorgeous, with an off center rhythm track that keeps things interesting, strings, layered harmonious vocals, and a fantastic guitar solo. There’s a wordless chorus at the end that was designed to be sung by thousands of fans in a stadium, and that’s part of what made “Moment of Surrender” so special, and such a great closer to the 360 Tour concerts. The song left us fans with the idea in our heads that coming together is the thing to do. Individuality is fine and great. I really believe that, but coming together doesn’t mean giving up what makes us unique. It means working together to accomplish greater things, and this song demonstrates that in spades.