"Surrender" was recorded on October 30, 1960 at RCA Studio B in Nashville. Inspired by the success of the adaptation of "O Sole Mio" into "It's Now Or Never", Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman undertook to rewrite the 1911 Italian ballad "Torna a Sorrento" by G. D. de Curtis and Ernesto de Curtis. The original title translates "Come Back to Sorrento". (Dean Martin had recorded the original song in 1952.)

Musicians for this session were: Scotty Moore, Hank Garland and Elvis on guitar; Bob Moore on bass; D.J. Fontana and Buddy Harman on drums; Floyd Cramer on piano; and Boots Randolph on the sax. The Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham provided vocal backup.

A splicing of takes became the single shipped out on February 7, 1961 with "Lonely Man" as the B-side. "Surrender" peaked at #1 for 2 weeks in its 12-week run on Billboard's pop singles chart in the USA. (No USA country or R&B chart action.) On the British pop singles chart it hit #1 for 4 weeks in its 15-week run.

Numerous artists have recorded this song, including: Michael Bolton, Sarah Brightman, Cheap Trick, Perry Como, Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine, Percy Faith, Sammy Hagar, Debbie Harry, Woody Herman, Kool & the Gang, Peaches & Herb, Tom Petty, Leann Rimes, Diana Ross, Spyro Gyra, U2, Vanessa Williams, and Lee Ann Womack. In cinema, instrumentals of the melody have been used in the score of "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and in the soundtrack of "Stargate".