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We might get a new U2 album any second now (Okay, not quite. But soon.)

U2 fans worldwide are freaking out as a select number of them started receiving letters–actual physical in-the-mailbox letters–introducing a new album and hashtagged #U2SOS40. To the shock of no one, the album is entitled Songs of Surrender (hence the “SOS” in the hashtag), something the band has talked about for some time.

Anyone know what the “40” might allude to? At the top of the letter a number between one and 40, which may indicate that only 40 letters were sent out. There’s also the story that the album will feature 40 U2 songs that have been re-recorded. The title of the album is also spelled out in Morse code.

That’ tough to read, so here’s a transcript:

“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.”

New direction? U2songs.com says the following:

  • The release date is March 17, 2023. Wow. St. Patrick’s Day. Imagine that.
  • The 40 re-recorded songs were recorded between 2019 and early 2021.
  • Some of the new versions are acoustic, but not all of them.
  • We’re looking at four discs (vinyl and CD). Each disc will be in its own cover with each one dedicated to a member of the band.

Some U2 fans believe that this could be the album cover artwork. The Edge without a toque?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38553 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “We might get a new U2 album any second now (Okay, not quite. But soon.)

  • 40 is special number to U2…. It references Psalm 40 which also forms the basis of their song “40” from the War album (compare the lyrics to the Psalm’s first three verses in the King James version). As such, the 40 is certainly referencing multiple things…. Most directly, it references the 40 songs on Songs of Surrender as also alluded to into Bono’s memoir (the marketing tie-in) which is titled “Surrender: 40 songs, One story.” It also arguably references the 40 years since their first album (1980 to 2020) when this project and Bono’s memoir crossed paths (remember he finally wrote the book during the pandemic shutdown)…. So it all comes down to the number 40 coming up in a lot of meaningful ways to U2 at this time in their history…. It’s partly a form of mysticism perhaps but who can blame 4 christian punks from Ireland who became music legends from believing in the mystical power of their Creator?

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