U “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story” (Knopf), Bono, an activist, artist, and lead singer of the band U2, writes a memoir about a lifetime of music, personal struggles, and struggles for social justice.

Read the passage below and don’t miss Bono’s Norah O’Donnell interview on “CBS Sunday Morning” October 30!

From Chapter 9: “The Invisible”

Tourist bus


When we embarked on that first tour of the United States in March 1981, our white van was transformed into a giant blue bus that would take us through what Paul called “the land of our opportunity.” Sitting up front with Billy, the driver felt more cinematic and less romantic than driving around Europe. Now the windshield was a wide screen, and each of us took turns going in there, marveling at the sheer size of America through the window.

Freeways and our time on them were longer; the cities were higher and harder to get to outside of the East Coast. But the coach slept eight people in coffin-like rectangular capsules, curtained for privacy and stacked on top of each other in the middle of the bus. The quiet room was in the back, along with a larger common area with tables, and the makeshift kitchen was in the front.

You couldn’t help but read Jack Kerouac On the road or Sam Shepard Motel chronicles or not to notice, as you have seen, coming to another city, how American toponyms are also names. Even the cheapest hotel room turns into a palace when you can watch the riches of the Mississippi Delta.

New Orleans, overripe fruit just turning, noble rot, big oaks, steaming humidity.

Arizona, what a parched land to build on, what an unreasonable sun to build under.

Wonderful, which means absolutely wonderful. Americans are trying to build towers of steel and glass from molten sand.



Texas, a flat continent of freeways and fields, cities sticking their heads out of the black sticky earth. Black gold and the white privilege that stands above it are still fighting for freedom from the race and politics of the Civil War. The Bible belt and its unchristian attachments leave sores on the bare bottoms of unbelievers.

The bifurcated lightning of Dallas and Houston, the dust storms and intellectual static of Fort Worth, the bohemia of Austin.

Nashville, the buckle of the Bible belt, where the praise songs live in the office next door to the songs of the cocky redneck, so Irish it seems all too familiar.

And the liberal coasts, the rolling San Francisco, the Tenderloin, the City Lights bookstore, and back east to the Boston Celtics and the Ivy League, to Washington, Philadelphia, New York, where we started.

It was a year after the release of our debut album in October 1980 that I realized how right Paul’s strategy had been. In Los Angeles, Edge and I were stopped at a traffic light and noticed that “I Will Follow” was playing on the radio in the car to our right. And they are playing at another station, in the car to the left of us. Beautifully out of sync.

The boy was running. I had to run to keep up. Performances went, went, went. Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, USA. Back home in Dublin, the press cheered us on when they heard the headlines saying we were going to ‘make it in America’.

From Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono. Copyright © 2022 by Paul David Hewson. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this extract may be reproduced or reprinted without written permission of the publisher.

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