Surrender – Unpacking the Lyrical Tapestry of a Rock Classic


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Cheap Trick's Surrender at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Parental Paradox: When the Cool Kids Age
  5. The Generational Dance of Discontent
  6. The Hidden Meaning Behind ‘Some Indonesian Junk’
  7. Narrative Nuance: The WACs Reference
  8. Memorable Lines that Echo Through the Ages

Lyrics

Mother told me, yes she told me
I’d meet girls like you
She also told me stay away
You’ll never know what you’ll catch

Just the other day I heard
Of a soldier’s falling off
Some Indonesian junk
That’s going ’round

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

Father says your mother’s right
She’s really up on things
Before we married Mommy served
In the WACs in the Philippines

Now I had heard the WACs recruited
Old maids for the war
But Mommy isn’t one of those
I’ve known her all these years

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

Whatever happened to all this season’s
Losers of the year
Every time I got to thinking
Where’d they disappear

Then I woke up, Mom and Dad
Are rolling on the couch
Rolling numbers, rock and rolling
Got my Kiss records out

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

Away

Surrender, surrender (Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright)
But don’t give yourself away
Surrender, surrender (Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright)
But don’t give yourself away

Surrender, surrender (Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright)
But don’t give yourself away
Surrender, surrender (Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright)
But don’t give yourself away

Surrender, surrender (Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright)
But don’t give yourself away
Surrender, surrender (Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright)
But don’t give yourself away

Full Lyrics

In the pantheon of classic rock anthems, Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’ holds a special place for its arresting blend of power pop hooks and wry, satirical lyrics. Released in 1978, the song immediately resonates with its iconic opening lines—a mother’s warning to her son—which sets the stage for a witty and complex exploration of rebellion, conformity, and the generational chasm.

A closer inspection of the track reveals multilayered themes riveted beneath its catchy melody. ‘Surrender’ not only captures the zeitgeist of the late 70s but also offers a rich commentary on the sociocultural dynamics at play. Let’s delve into the lyrical labyrinth of this ageless Cheap Trick offering and scrutinize what lies beneath the surface of this audacious rock proclamation.

Parental Paradox: When the Cool Kids Age

At first listen, ‘Surrender’ seems to portray parents as out-of-touch figures with alarms about a complex and frightening world, warning of soldiers ‘falling off’ and the vague dangers of ‘some Indonesian junk.’ But as the song unfolds, it dismantles this very archetype, revealing parents who are unexpectedly ‘alright’—albeit ‘a little weird.’ This contradictory image serves as a sly nod to the inherent strangeness within every family unit, suggesting that rebelliousness and unconventional behavior aren’t exclusive to youth.

By recounting the mother’s wartime service and the final scene of parents rolling on the couch, the song subverts expectations, presenting an older generation that isn’t as square as assumed. It’s an ode to the realization that the figures of authority in our lives were once themselves agents of subversion, hinting at the cyclical nature of rebellion.

The Generational Dance of Discontent

The chorus, with its beguiling cry to ‘surrender, but don’t give yourself away,’ resonates as an anthem of ambivalence. Here lies a tension between yielding to the pressures of the world while maintaining a sense of self, a balance that every generation struggles to find. It’s a call to recognize the game—a surrender to the societal norms and expectations laid out by predecessors—without sacrificing one’s individuality and spirit.

As the song addresses ‘all this season’s losers of the year’ and contemplates their disappearance, it touches on the transience of social status and the fleeting nature of ‘cool.’ It poses a haunting question: How does one cope with the fickle tides of social acceptance? The response seems to be that surrender, in some form, is inevitable—but it shouldn’t cost your soul.

The Hidden Meaning Behind ‘Some Indonesian Junk’

The line ‘Some Indonesian junk that’s going ’round’ operates as a deft metaphor that’s open to interpretation. It could symbolize a scare, a drug epidemic, or simply the uncertainties and rumors circulating during that era. The specific phrase introduces a tinge of the exotic and the unknown—evoking both intrigue and paranoia about the wider world beyond America’s borders.

This mysterious reference encapsulates the song’s wider themes of the fear and fascination with the ‘other’—those people, places, and things that parents often instinctively seek to shield their children from. It’s an apt metaphor for the challenge of parenting: the desire to protect the innocence of youth against the inevitable exposure to life’s darker complexities.

Narrative Nuance: The WACs Reference

The song’s second verse dives into the mother’s past, serving in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) in the Philippines—an unexpected twist that breathes life into the character, transcending the trope of the out-of-touch authority figure. By specifying the mother’s tenure in the WACs, the song evokes the rich history of women’s evolving roles during wartime and nods to the unseen depths and histories of older generations.

It’s an anecdote that adds flavor and context, subtly empowering the mother character. Within the arc of ‘Surrender,’ her backstory is not one of spinsterhood (‘Old maids for the war’), but of a life lived with its own adventures and countercultural dalliances. This revelation pushes listeners to reconsider their judgments and underscores the universal truth that everyone has a story worth telling.

Memorable Lines that Echo Through the Ages

Few songs manage to distill the essence of an era while remaining timeless, and ‘Surrender’ achieves this with deceptively simple yet impactful lines. ‘Then I woke up, Mom and Dad / Are rolling on the couch’ shifts the narrative lens revealing that the ones preaching conformity are, themselves, immersed in the rock-and-roll lifestyle they’ve seemingly outgrown.

The song’s enduring appeal lies in its ability to encapsulate the eternal struggle of youth to understand their place in a lineage of rebellion and order. With the commanding refrain ‘Surrender, surrender / But don’t give yourself away,’ Cheap Trick has created a rallying cry that transcends generations, urging an embrace of life’s paradoxes while holding fast to one’s authenticity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...