Certain Songs #189: Cheap Trick – “Surrender”

Album: Heaven Tonight.

Year: 1978.

Here’s another one that’s difficult to write about. I loved “Surrender” unconditionally the very first time I heard it – probably on KKDJ – and have never ever gotten sick of it for even a moment all these years later.  If The Jam were able to emulate the style and sound of mid-1960s Who with their early albums, then “Surrender” packs nearly everything I loved about The Who’s entire first decade – power chords, teen anthem lyrics, drum roll hooks, even the synthesizer – into a single song.

And yet it would have never in a million years occurred to Pete Townshend to write a teen anthem about the things that bring the generations together – like weed and KISS – as opposed to what drives them apart. And that’s the genius of “Surrender:” it’s the rare teen anthem that’s sympathetic to the parents, and as the teens who loved it when it came out became parents and (gulp!) grandparents, it was still relatable. 

And of course, that’s also the prescience of “Surrender:” if weed-smoking, KISS-loving parents seemed weird and funny in 1978, by 1988 it was clear that’s who the next few generations of parents were going to be, and so

Mommy’s all right
Daddy’s all right
They just seem a little weird
Surrender, surrender
But don’t give yourself away

also became great advice for everybody involved.  And infinitely fun to sing.

Also infinite: the drum fills of Bun E. Carlos, especially the one that sets up the modulation into the third verse.

Surrender performed live at (where else?) Budokan, 1978

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