Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

by Bono
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

by Bono


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Notes From Your Bookseller

Rock legend, activist, icon. Here, Bono invites readers in for the whole story. From his childhood in Dublin to the origin, rise and success of U2, his ongoing philanthropy, and his activism throughout the world. With original artwork throughout, this candid and lyrical memoir is a must for fans and music lovers alike.

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • Bono—artist, activist, and the lead singer of Irish rock band U2—has written a memoir: honest and irreverent, intimate and profound, Surrender is the story of the remarkable life he’s lived, the challenges he’s faced, and the friends and family who have shaped and sustained him. A VOGUE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

“A brilliant, very funny, very revealing autobiography-through-music. Maybe the best book ever written about being a rockstar.” Caitlin Moran, award-winning journalist
“When I started to write this book, I was hoping to draw in detail what I’d previously only sketched in songs. The people, places, and possibilities in my life. Surrender is a word freighted with meaning for me. Growing up in Ireland in the seventies with my fists up (musically speaking), it was not a natural concept. A word I only circled until I gathered my thoughts for the book. I am still grappling with this most humbling of commands. In the band, in my marriage, in my faith, in my life as an activist. Surrender is the story of one pilgrim’s lack of progress ... With a fair amount of fun along the way.” —Bono
 As one of the music world’s most iconic artists and the cofounder of the organizations ONE and (RED), Bono’s career has been written about extensively. But in Surrender, it’s Bono who picks up the pen, writing for the first time about his remarkable life and those he has shared it with. In his unique voice, Bono takes us from his early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was fourteen, to U2’s unlikely journey to become one of the world’s most influential rock bands, to his more than twenty years of activism dedicated to the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. Writing with candor, self-reflection, and humor, Bono opens the aperture on his life—and the family, friends, and faith that have sustained, challenged, and shaped him.
Surrender’s subtitle, 40 Songs, One Story, is a nod to the book’s forty chapters, which are each named after a U2 song. Bono has also created forty original drawings for Surrender, which appear throughout the book.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525521044
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/01/2022
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 12,492
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

The lead singer of U2, Bono was born Paul David Hewson in Dublin. He met The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton at school, and in 1978, U2 was formed. The band released their first album, Boy, on Island Records in 1980 and to date have released a total of fourteen studio albums that have sold 157 million copies worldwide. Heralded by Rolling Stone as “a live act simply without peer,” the band’s record-breaking 360° Tour (2009–2011) remains the highest-grossing concert band tour of all time. U2 have won numerous awards, including twenty-two Grammys, more than any other duo or group, as well as an Academy Award nomination and the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award. In 2005, U2 was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Alongside his role in U2, Bono is a ground-breaking activist. A leader in Jubilee 2000’s Drop the Debt campaign, he next took on the fight against HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty, co-founding sister organizations ONE and (RED). ONE is a movement of millions of people dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. With ONE, Bono has lobbied heads of state and legislatures all around the world, helping to ensure the passage of programs, such as the U.S. PEPFAR AIDS program, that have helped to save tens of millions of lives over the past twenty years. (RED)—which partners with companies to raise public awareness about, and corporate contributions for, the AIDS crisis—has to date generated more than $700 million for the Global Fund to treat and prevent AIDS in Africa. Since 2020, ONE and (RED) have also been fighting COVID-19 and its impact on the developing world. 
In 2016, Bono co-founded the Rise Fund, a global impact fund investing in entrepreneurial companies driving positive social and environmental change in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Bono has received a number of awards for his music and activism, including the Freedom of the City of Dublin (with U2), Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal of Honor, the Légion d’honneur from the French government, an honorary British knighthood, the Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, and TIME magazine’s Person of the Year (along with Bill and Melinda Gates). He lives in Dublin with his wife Ali Hewson.

Read an Excerpt


Lights of Home

I shouldn’t be here ’cause I should be dead
I can see the lights in front of me
I believe my best days are ahead
I can see the lights in front of me.

I was born with an eccentric heart. In one of the chambers of my heart, where most people have three doors, I have two. Two swinging doors, which at Christmas 2016 were coming off their hinges. The aorta is your main artery, your lifeline, carrying the blood oxygenated by your lungs, and becoming your life. But we have discovered that my aorta has been stressed over time and developed a blister. A blister that’s about to burst, which would put me in the next life faster than I can make an emergency call. Faster than I can say goodbye to this life.

So, here I am. Mount Sinai Hospital. New York City.

Looking down on myself from above with the arc lights reflecting on the stainless steel. I’m thinking the light is harder than the steel counter I’m lying on. My body feels separate from me. It is soft flesh and hard bone.

It’s not a dream or vision, but it feels as if I’m being sawn in half by a magician. This eccentric heart has been frozen.

Some remodeling needs to take place apart from all this hot blood swirling around and making a mess, which blood tends to do when it’s not keeping you alive.

Blood and air.

Blood and guts.

Blood and brains are what’s required right now, if I’m to continue to sing my life and live it.

My blood.

The brains and the hands of the magician who is standing over me and can turn a really bad day into a really good one with the right strategy and execution.

Nerves of steel and blades of steel.

Now this man is climbing up and onto my chest, wielding his blade with the combined forces of science and butchery. The forces required to break and enter someone’s heart. The magic that is medicine.

I know it’s not going to feel like a good day when I wake up after these eight hours of surgery, but I also know that waking up is better than the alternative.

Even if I can’t breathe and feel as if I am suffocating. Even if I’m desperately drawing for air and can’t find any.

Even if I can’t breathe and feel as if I am suffocating. Even if I’m desperately drawing for air and can’t find any.

Even if I’m hallucinating, ’cause I’m seeing visions now and it’s all getting a little William Blake.

I’m so cold. I need to be beside you, I need your warmth, I need your loveliness. I’m dressed for winter. I have big boots on in bed, but I’m freezing to death.

I am dreaming.

I am in a scene from some movie where the life is draining out of the actor in the lead role. In the last moments of his life he is vexed and questioning his great love.

“Why are you going? Don’t leave me!”

“I’m right here,” his lover reminds him. “I haven’t moved.”

“What? It’s not you leaving? Am I the one walking away? Why am I walking away? I don’t want to leave you. Please, don’t let me leave.”

There are some dirty little secrets about success that I’m just waking up to. And from.

Success as an outworking of dysfunction, an excuse for obsessive compulsive tendencies.

Success as a reward for really, really hard work, which may be obscuring some kind of neurosis.

Success should come with a health warning—for the workaholic and for those around them.

Success may be propelled by some unfair advantage or circumstance. If not privilege, then a gift, a talent, or some other form of inherited wealth.

But hard work also hides behind some of these doors.

I always thought mine was a gift for finding top-line melody not just in music but in politics, in commerce, and in the world of ideas in general.

Where others would hear harmony or counterpoint, I was better at finding the top line in the room, the hook, the clear thought. Probably because I had to sing it or sell it.

But now I see that my advantage was something more prosaic, more base. Mine was a genetic advantage, the gift of . . . air.

That’s right.


“Your man has a lot of firepower in that war chest of his.”

That’s the man who sawed through my breastbone speaking to my wife and next of kin, Ali, after the operation.

“We needed extra-strong wire to sew him up. He’s probably at about 130 percent of normal lung capacity for his age.”

He doesn’t use the word “freak,” but Ali tells me she has started thinking of me as the Man from Atlantis, from that 1970s sci-fi series about an amphibian detective.

David Adams, the man I will owe my life to, the surgeon-magician, speaks with a southern twang, and in my heightened Blakean state I begin to confuse him with the crazed villain of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I overhear him asking Ali about tenors, who are not known to run around a stage hitting high notes.

“Aren’t tenors supposed to stand with two legs apart, firmly rooted in the ground, before even considering a top C?”

“Yes,” I say, without opening my mouth and before the drugs wear off. “A tenor has to turn his head into a sound box and his body into a bellows to make those glasses smash.”

I, on the other hand, have been racing around arenas and sprinting through stadiums for thirty years singing “Pride (In the Name of Love),” the high A or B depending on the year.

In the 1980s the stylish English songster Robert Palmer stopped Adam Clayton to plead with him. “Will you ever get your singer to sing a few steps lower. He’ll make it easier on himself, and all of us who have to listen.”

Air is stamina.

Air is the confidence to take on big challenges or big opponents.

Air is not the will to conquer whatever Everest you will encounter in your life, but it is the ability to endure the climb.

Air is what you need on any north face.

Air is what gives a small kid on a playground the belief that he won’t be bullied, or if he is, that the bully will have the air knocked out of him.

And here I am now without it, for the first time.

In a hospital emergency room, without air.

Without breath.

The names we give God.

All breath.




Without air . . . without an air . . . without an aria.

I am terrified because for the first time ever, I reach for my faith and I can’t find it.

Without air.

Without a prayer.

I am a tenor singing underwater. I can feel my lungs filling up. I am drowning.

I am hallucinating. I am seeing a vision of my father in a hospital bed and me sleeping beside him, on a mattress on the floor. Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, the summer of 2001. He is deep breathing, but it’s getting shallower and shallower like the grave in his chest. He shouts my name, confusing me with my brother or the other way around.

“Paul. Norman. Paul.”


I jump up and call a nurse.

“Are you okay, Bob?” she whispers in his ear.

We are in a world of percussive, animated whispers, a world of sibilance, his tenor now become short tiny breaths, an s after every exhalation.

“Yesssss sssss sss.”

His Parkinson’s disease has stolen the sonority.

“I want to go home sssssss I want to get out of here sssss.”

“Say it again, Da.”

Like the nurse, I am leaning over him, my ear close to his mouth.


Followed by another silence.

Table of Contents

Part I

1 Lights of Home 3

2 Out of Control 11

3 Iris (Hold Me Close) 17

4 Cedarwood Road 31

5 Stories for Boys 43

6 Song for Someone 55

7 I Will Follow 69

8 11 O'clock Tick Tock 83

9 Invisible 107

10 October 133

11 Two Hearts Beat as One 147

12 Sunday Bloody Sunday 161

13 Bad 179

14 Bullet the Blue Sky 191

15 Where the Streets Have No Name 201

16 With or Without You 211

17 Desire 223

Part II

18 Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses 233

19 Until the End of the World 245

20 One 257

21 The Fly 271

22 Even Better Than the Real Thing 289

23 Mysterious Ways 297

24 Stuck in a Moment 309

25 Wake Up Dead Man 319

26 The Showman 335

27 Pride (In the Name of Love) 353

Part III

28 Beautiful Day 375

29 Crumbs from Your Table 391

30 Miracle Drug 403

31 Vertigo 429

32 Ordinary Love 443

33 City of Blinding Lights 461

34 Get Out of Your Own Way 471

35 Every Breaking Wave 489

36 I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For 505

37 Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way 521

38 Moment of Surrender 533

39 Landlady 549

40 Breathe 553

After Words 559

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