U2 Lyrics for Fan Club Gift

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2023-04-15)

UPDATE: April 19, 2023
U2.Com have changed the details of the subscriber gift, and the first collection will now cover 1979 – 1988 instead of 1978 – 1995. The second volume will now cover 1991 – 2023 instead of 1996 – 2023.

Original Story: April 15, 2023

U2 announced the new fan club gifts for 2023 as well as 2024, a two-part collection of lyrics, to be published in two volumes. The first set will be published this year and will cover 1978 – 1995. The second volume will follow for the 2024 subscription year and will feature lyrics from 1996 – 2023. Those who wish to subscribe to get a copy of these gifts, can do so at U2.com.

U2 are the latest long-established act to offer up a published version of their lyric catalog. In late 2020, Dolly Parton released Songteller, a collection of 175 song lyrics, including stories and memories about the songs, including unpublished images from her personal archives. Paul McCartney worked with Irish poet Paul Muldoon on his collection of lyrics, published in two alphabetical volumes. The collection included 154 song lyrics, with commentaries on his life and music, looking at the origins of the songs. Bob Dylan released The Lyrics 1961 – 2020 which featured lyrics from throughout his career, and also notable, in many cases, Dylan edited the official lyrics to match what he prefers to sing live. Queen was one of the earlier acts to put out a commercial collection of lyrics, The Complete Illustrated Lyrics, releasing the book in 2012 for their 40th anniversary. Like the other books mentioned above, the lyrics were mixed with photographs of the band, handwritten lyrics and other images, and was designed by the band’s creative director.

These books from other artists tend to sell well, and perhaps it is a bit of a surprise that U2 are offering these collections up only to the fan club. McCartney’s collection reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller non-fiction list. Parton and Dylan’s collections also made the bestseller list. And designed as collectors editions, the books often do not come cheap, with list prices for the above books ranging from $50 (Parton) to $100 (McCartney) for US Booksellers.

In an interview with Billboard to promote Songs of Surrender Adam Clayton spoke about recent efforts by the band “We’re amazed by the amount of material out there on the Beatles or whatever, and there’s some real value to that material. During this whole lockdown period we kinda started to go back through our archive and develop some stuff…and put together some sort of narrative on the history of U2. I think everybody thinks they probably know the U2 story reasonably well at this point…and of course it’s only one version of the story. There are other things to our story that we’re excited to bring to people.”

Although Adam doesn’t mention these lyrics collections directly, we do know that the band is in the midst of looking back on their career in a couple of ways. Filmmaker J.J. Adams has confirmed that he is working on a biopic series based on U2, which will air on Netflix in the years ahead. U2 are involved in the development of that series. As well, U2 have been working on a tourist attraction for Dublin, which would feature a look back at their career in a exhibition in the Dublin Grand Canal Docks area. Unfortunately during COVID, plans to develop that building were put on hold and it is not know where it currently stands, but throughout the lockdown The Edge was actively seeking out articles for an eventual exhibition. Bono’s recent memoir, and the Songs of Surrender album were also looks back on the overall career of the band, and a film of the Stories of Surrender tour is being developed to appear on a streaming service after the current run of tour dates is over.

What do we know about the lyric book? Not much. The gift was announced late this year, and we just got a brief announcement yesterday. In the weeks ahead we will likely get additional details. From what was shared we will be getting U2’s lyrics split among two books. This will include the original versions, as well as updated versions of lyrics recorded for Songs of Surrender. They’ve also announced that the book will include pictures and drawings as well as stories, “That we haven’t read.” We are hoping this is far more than a collection of lyrics, and actually lets us look into the development of songs, and shares some stories behind the songs like the previous mentioned books by other artists. The article announcing the book shared that the band and their creative team have already been putting this title together, and mentioned that it will be a “one-off” suggesting it will only be released via the fan club.

Some may remember a previous book called The Complete Songs. That previous book was published in 1999 and covered the early days up until the album Pop and was done in conjunction with U2. That book was designed by Averill Design Associates, and featured lyrics in alphabetical order, an introduction by Bill Flanagan, a discography of releases, and included album lyrics as well as the B-Sides. The bulk of the book is made up of guitar arrangements for the songs. The book was released in only select countries, and has been out of print for some time. U2 also maintain an online archive of lyrics, which includes 243 entries, but some of those entries are missing lyrics. The online archive is accessible to subscribers.

There has been mixed reaction to the announcement of these two fan club gifts. There is definite excitement from some in response to our sharing of the news. However, those who prefer music as part of the gift have shared displeasure at this gift not including any audio bonuses. It is only the 3rd (and 4th) time that the annual gift will not include music in some form since annual gifts started in 2006. In 2014 the band released another book North Side Stories which looked at the early days of the band through the eyes of people who were there and reports from the time. In 2016 the band released five serigraphs as the annual gift. Another book, From the Ground Up, the 2013 gift, had included a single disc of live tracks from the recent U2360 tour. Many fans are waiting to see the quality and the content of the final product with cautious optimism, knowing it could fall anywhere from a quick replication of the U2.Com online lyrics repository, to a lavish celebration of the lyrics with lots of new content in a beautiful package.

One personal request? If the two volumes are indeed designed to complement each other, and are of a similar size, please consider offering a slip case to house both books with the 2024 gift. It would be a nice addition to the gift. And don’t stay clear of releasing music as a fan club gift too long, or maybe surprise us all and release a few digital goodies in the months ahead!

For those looking for information about all of U2’s fan club gifts over the years, check out our U2 discography.

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