Weekend Songs: Cheap Trick, ‘Surrender’
Classic rock is about heavy hooks, power chords, and tight harmonies, but it’s also about letting loose and enjoying the good times — and there’s no better time than Friday evening, when we pick up our paycheck, punch out of work, and enjoy a couple days of much-needed rest and relaxation.
This Friday, we’re hoisting our lighters to one of classic rock radio’s strongest staples: Cheap Trick‘s 1978 single ‘Surrender,’ a rousing singalong anthem that doubles as a tongue-in-cheek examination of the culture clash between the World War II generation and their hairy, reefer-smoking kids. Pointing out that sometimes the dividing line between the past and the present isn’t always as clear as we like to think, the song finds its young narrator taking suspicious inventory of some bewilderingly hip behavior on the part of his fuddy-duddy parents — starting with his mother’s warnings of catching exotic venereal disease from “girls like you” and concluding with “Mom and Dad … rolling on the couch / Rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my Kiss records out.”
But even if you aren’t paying attention to the lyrics, ‘Surrender’ gives the casual listener a perfect opportunity to shout along with one of the most instantly memorable choruses in the Cheap Trick catalog — which, as fans of the band are well aware, is really saying something. Arguably even better is the song’s overriding sentiment that yes, we’re all alright — as evidenced by the fact that it’s repeated by tens of thousands of people in any of the multiple live versions available.
Of course, like a lot of Cheap Trick songs, ‘Surrender’ didn’t truly flourish until it was unleashed in a live setting; although it broke Billboard’s Hot 100 during its initial release as a single, it didn’t get terribly far, peaking at No. 62. But it enjoyed a second life thanks to its inclusion on 1979’s ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan,’ which achieved Top Five status and sold more than three million copies on its way to becoming one of the defining live records of the decade and cementing the band’s status as power pop royalty.
These days, as Cheap Trick fans find themselves turning into their own parents (or — gulp! — grandparents), ‘Surrender’s’ insistence that “Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird” has become less of a wry observation and more of a comforting assurance. And as we pull out of the office parking lot at 5 P.M. on Friday, the song’s exhortation to “Surrender, surrender / But don’t give yourself away” sounds more poignantly prescient than ever. We’ve embedded the song below, so do the sensible thing and hit grab the nearest four-necked guitar, hit play, and let the weekend start now.
Hear Cheap Trick, ‘Surrender’