Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quick Takes - You've Got It

Whew.  After my last two reviews ("Easy Money" and "Death To My Hometown"), it is a relief to listen to a sweet, simple song.  Unfortunately, there isn't much to say on this song.  It is what it is - a straight-forward love song, and chances are that your first impression of it will be your last.  It will be interesting to see how it works in the context of the whole album, as thematically, it sounds more like a leftover song from Lucky Town, and doesn't sound like it belongs with the other politically charged anthems on the new record.

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - Car Wash

“Well my name is Catherine Lefevre
I work at the Astrowash on Sunset and Vine”
- Car Wash, Tracks (Disc 3)

The narrator in this song, Catherine, views her identity as tied to her profession and is unable to distinguish between the two. She dreams of being a professional singer instead of her current job at a car wash and can't imagine doing both simultaneously. She complains about her boss and views work as “doing her time.” She’s stuck in a dead end job and doesn’t have the drive to change her lot in life. It’s familiar territory for Bruce Springsteen. But what is so surprising about “Car Wash” is that Bruce chooses to sing from the perspective of a woman.

It’s not unusual for Bruce to sing about a woman, as he does in “Queen of the Supermarket” for example, but it’s hard to think of other cases where Bruce sings from the perspective of a woman. He does it for a verse in “American Skin (41 Shots),” but in that case he’s quoting rather than inhabiting character. Gotham Gazette notes that “Into the Fire” is sung from the perspective of a fireman’s widow and while the song suggests its from the perspective of a woman, the gender is not made explicit as is the case with “Car Wash.”

Gender-reversal between performer and narrator is a rare occurrence in general, especially in pop music. But it feels extra startling to hear a first-person female character coming from Bruce's ragged baritone. Perhaps the Bruce of “Hungry Heart” would be less jarring but there's no attempt to neuter his gender here (besides, we’re still not convinced Bruce actually sings “Hungry Heart.”)

“Car Wash” was originally written for Born in the U.S.A. As with several Bruce songs from the era, it's possible he originally wrote it for a female performer like he did with “Because the Night” and “Fire.” But even if that was the case, he could have easily swapped the gender when he performed it himself. Instead, he sings unambiguously from the perspective of a woman. Why does Bruce do that? Perhaps it's a bid for equal opportunity. Perhaps it's to change routine. Perhaps there’s something deeper.

Personally, I find “Car Wash” to be a very moving character study and feel like Bruce really does get in the head of his character, Catherine. Does the gender-reversal have an affect on your appreciation of the song? Would it have been too experimental for Bruce to put it on an original album? Are there other notable songs where the gender of the singer doesn’t align with the narrator?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Springsteen Week on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

For Jimmy Fallon and company, it is "Springsteen Week".  For all of us here at Legends of Springsteen, this is what we call a "week".  On Monday, Bruce showed up to play two hits from the new album, "We Take Care of Our Own" and "Wrecking Ball".

Both performances showed the Boss is in game shape for his upcoming tour.  This week will also feature Kenny Chesney, Elvis Costello, and John Legend covering Springsteen songs, before Bruce comes back on Friday.  Regardless of how the album eventually turns out, it has been fun to see Springsteen back in the national spotlight these last few weeks. 

Quick Take - Wrecking Ball

Unlike many, I wasn’t bowled over (sorry) when I heard “Wrecking Ball” first performed on September 30, 2009 (although I am appreciative I was there to witness its debut).

To me, “Wrecking Ball” sounds overly repetitive and yet all over the place. The upbeat rootin’ tootin’ barn burnin’ instrumental sections feel dissonant to the lyrics in the surrounding verses. I can accept the music as a symbol of standing strong in the face of adversity but there’s something about it all that doesn’t mesh together for me. It feels hurried and discordant.

The album version does a slightly better job of tying things together and deserves credit for making the song simultaneously about a moment in time (razing Giants stadium) and a rally call to defense (fitting in with the album’s overall themes).

I’m still not completely sold on the song, but this is definitely an improvement.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quick Takes - This Depression

Upon the first listen, I can't say I'm a huge fan of this song.  The territory of the song - someone is down and out, and he needs someone to get him through - has been well explored through rock music, and especially by The Boss himself.  The guitar solo in the middle, with long, sad notes meant to convey the singer's despair, comes off as slow and uninteresting.  And, while Springsteen's use of the first-person in this song does not necessarily mean he is singing about himself, I find it tough to buy in to someone, who has had 40 years of critical acclaim, singing that he's never been this down or low before.  I'm probably coming off as a bit harsh, but this is one song I'll probably be skipping over. 

Springsteen Video of the Week - Bruce Wins an Oscar

At the 84th Annual Academy Awards last night, we saw a mere two nominees compete in the Best Original Song category. The category has been in a major decline for many years now due to ridiculous eligibility requirements and voting processes as well as an overall decline in heavily marketed original power ballads (Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was nearly 15 years ago).

But instead of getting angry, let’s think back to a simpler time. March 21, 1994, to be precise, the day that The Boss became Oscar-winner Bruce Springsteen. The video above features Bruce’s Oscar performance of “Streets of Philadelphia” from Philadelphia followed by his win (announced with limited enthusiasm by Whitney Huston) and his moving acceptance speech laced with humility and praise for the power of popular art.

[Note: The only video I could find includes a Spanish commentator translating. Be not afraid, Bruce’s voice dominates.]

Friday, February 24, 2012

Springsteen Reflections: Born in the U.S.A.

Legends of Springsteen is delighted to present a guest post from James Layman – lawyer in training, friend of the blog, and North Jersey native. Here, James reflects on a defining experience with
Born in the U.S.A.

Anyone familiar with the 1990 Dodge Dynasty can share with its hallmark characteristic: the engine was too powerful for the chassis, the handling, and indeed, the entire car. Any significant pressure on the gas would produce a vibrato so commanding that the steering wheel would shake. By the time you hit 80, the entire frame was trembling, threatening to self-destruct into a thousand smoldering pieces on the freeway.

I drove one in the spring of 2004, delivering pizza in North Jersey. I was seventeen.

While iTunes and digital downloads revolutionized music in the latter part of the last decade, something was lost in the subversion. Single hits now exist on their own, outside the context of an album, like single chapters in a book. Digital downloads may have ushered in the death of the narrative, so I feel privileged to have been part of the last generation of listeners to appreciate an album as a story. And “back then,” we all had a story - something encapsulating an age, a season, a mood, or a place. A freeze frame of a halcyon era we could never return to, but never really escape.

In the spring of 2004, my story was Born in the U.S.A. The album was a 12-track epic about making peace with the love, loss, disillusionment, and despair of a stark American era. I’ll admit I couldn’t relate to all of Springsteen’s characters - the plight of a Vietnam Veteran returning home or the deterioration of a young man’s hometown were foreign to me, especially at seventeen. But beneath Springsteen’s earnest and painfully wrought portrait of American life was the constant need to escape. Characters stayed awake at night talking about “getting out.” They drank too much, chased old flames, and raised hell in Darlington County - always dreaming of an open highway to greener pastures somewhere far beyond. The theme wasn’t just definitive of Born in the U.S.A., but of Springsteen’s entire catalogue.

I used to get out of work sometime around midnight, and drive the Dynasty down my block to where it met Route 17, a highway that ran from East Rutherford up through New York State. I traced the road back to where it met the horizon, clinging to a romantic notion of where it might lead. I had four wheels beneath my feet, nowhere specific to go, and all the time in the world to get there.

Come graduation I left, like most of us did. Many to college, some to the military, and others to God knows where. At long last, honoring the relentless pursuit of our own stories and our own endless roads. It’s a natural part of growing up I suppose - rumbling forward with a purpose too big for your hometown and a heart too powerful for your body, into the great and wonderful beyond.

Quick Take - Death To My Hometown

Steve: When I saw the title “Death to My Hometown,” I assumed I knew exactly what the song would be – a soft lament somewhere in between “My Hometown” and “My City of Ruins.” I was worried it would be too familiar, too predictable. But I was wrong. The pulsing beat caught me completely off guard, as did hearing Bruce’s voice at its most powerful. This is a really interesting song and upon first impression, I like that Bruce is finding a new way to explore a familiar theme: the disillusion of one's hometown as a place of safety.

Early analysis from The Guardian is comparing the new album to Woody Guthrie and other folk music. “Death to My Hometown” certainly fits that description and aligns with “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Shackled and Drawn” in its anthemic sound and almost militant lyrics. Wrecking Ball is quickly feeling like a more aggressive version of the Seeger Sessions and a catchier Devils & Dust. No complaints so far.

Rory: Bruce channels The Pogues here, and creates an awesome song.  This song, like "Easy Money", shows a different aspect of Bruce.  Instead of the soul-searching songs by Bruce that we're all used to hearing, Bruce identifies the enemy.  The closing stanza:

Send the robber barons straight to hell
The greedy thieves who came around
And ate the flesh of everything they've found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Walk the streets as free men now

is about as direct a message as Bruce has ever sent.  There's no vagueness about this song whatsoever.  I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but is that the sound of a gun being locked and loaded at the 2:42 minute mark of the song?  When word got out that this would be Bruce's angriest album yet, they weren't kidding. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quick Take - Jack of all Trades

Bruce’s latest track, “Jack of All Trades,” has a very romantic sound and a reassuring chorus that becomes considerably less comforting by the time we get to the dark, sinister ending.

The song reminds me somewhat of “Livin’ in the Future” – a song whose weight I didn’t fully appreciate until I heard it played live and slowed down.

It should be noted that Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine guests on this track playing electric guitar. After hearing his accompaniment on the live version of “Ghost of Tom Joad,” I was really excited that the two were pairing again. However, while Morello’s solo at the 5:00 minute mark is strong and nicely integrated, what really strikes me in this song is the horn section. I have a feeling this is a song Bruce is going to play frequently and with heartfelt solemnity.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quick Take - Shackled and Drawn

First off, let me start by saying that I absolutely love the idea of releasing a song per day. The album is going to get leaked anyway, at least this way Bruce has somewhat control over it, while still being able to build anticipation. [Editor’s Note: It pretty much got leaked anyway, but at least Bruce is sticking to it.]

“Shackled and Drawn” sounds like a leftover track from the Seeger Sessions album, and I mean that in a good way. While I don’t think it’s a great song, it’s certainly good and seems like it’ll be a really fun song to see performed live. Lots of clapping hands and stomping feet and a really easy chorus makes it all but a certainty that this song will be played regularly on the upcoming tour.

However, just because the chorus is simple doesn’t mean the lyrics aren’t relevant. The clear allusions to slavery and injustice are abundant. All previews of Wrecking Ball said this was Bruce’s most political and angry album to date, and so far it has met that expectation. The three songs released, in addition to the three that have been played live in the past, all seem to contain angry and politically motivated lyrics. In addition they have been ironically set to mostly upbeat, catchy tunes that can easily override the meaningful lyrics, reminiscent of “Born In The USA” being mistakenly categorized as a patriotic song upon its release. And I think that’s what Bruce is aiming for here. Get the song stuck in your head, sing it to yourself, and then realize just what the song means.

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - Brilliant Disguise

"God have mercy on the man who doubts what he's sure of."
- Brilliant Disguise, Tunnel of Love

Tunnel of Love is probably Springsteen's most controversial album.  It was his first album after the departure of Steven Van Zandt.  Some fans consider it an E Street album, but others do not.  After the massive success of Born In The USA most people thought Bruce would take the easy route and create more simple pop anthems.  Instead, he released his most introspective album.  In the end, Tunnel of Love is basically Bruce singing about leaving his first wife, actress Julianne Phillips, for his current wife, E Street Band member Patti Scialfa.  The above-referenced lyric summarized the entire album.  A majority of the songs are about deception and mistrust.  When criticized for his affair with Scialfa, Bruce responded:

"It's a strange society that assumes it has the right to tell people whom they should love and whom they shouldn't.  But the truth is, I basically ignored the entire thing as much as I could.  I said, 'Well, all I know is, this feels real, and maybe I have got a mess going here in some fashino, but that's life.'"

He also noted that,

"I went through a divorce, and it was really difficult and painful and I was very frightened about getting married again.  So part of me said, 'Hey, what does it matter?'  But it does matter.  It's very different than just living together.  First of all, stepping up publicly - which is what you do: You get your license, you do all the social rituals - is a part of your place in society and in some way part of society's acceptance of you...Patti and I both found that it did mean something."

I don't think anyone enters any serious relationship, romantic or platonic, and envisions how it will end.  I don't think Bruce married Julianne Phillips with the intention of cheating on her, but I don't think he hired Patti Scialfa with the intent of having an affair with her.  But when Bruce followed his heart, he lost his wife, his band, and the support of many fans.  But instead of defending his actions, Bruce simply asked for mercy.  In the end, he was rewarded with a new marriage that he's been in for over 20 years, the reunion of his band, and the undying allegiance of millions worldwide.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quick Take - Easy Money

With Bruce releasing his new songs at a fast and furious pace, it will be difficult to digest them all.  And, furthermore, my thoughts and feelings about many songs change over time, as new experiences in my life will cause me to see art in a new context.  However, upon my initial digestion of "Easy Money", I'm very overwhelmed by its similarities to my all-time favorite Springsteen song, "Atlantic City".  
The characters are all back again.  The narrator, searching for a way out of a difficult situation, is going to the "shore" to settle the score.  He even requests his girlfriend to fix herself up for this affair.  However, "Atlantic City"'s tone is flecked with despair and sadness, whereas "Easy Money" takes a hopeful, marching beat.  While in "AC", the narrator comes to grips with the mistakes he's made, in "EM" the narrator is pissed and ready to get what is his.  The vengeful nature of the lyrics and optimistic tone of the music, with its whoops and na-nas, creates an unsettling image with me.  I feel like nothing there is nothing easy on the road ahead for the characters in this song. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Happy President's Day!

Even a celebration of our nation's great history wouldn't be complete without a nod to The Boss.  Could you imagine if the Gettysburg Address started off "Eighty-seven years ago..."?  The Civil War would probably still be going on today. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Great Moments in Springsteen Cinema History - Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead! 
If you haven't seen the blockbuster Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol by now, you missed out on one of the most thrilling moments in cinema history.  No, I'm not referring to the high-wire act along the Burj Dubai, nor the thrilling Russian prison break, nor a catfight between Paula Patton and Sabine Moreau.  I speak, of course, of this:

That's right, that is Tom Cruise rocking a Bruce Springsteen Born In The USA t-shirt.  Ethan Hunt changes into this outfit after escaping from the Kremlin.  He ditches his military disguise and dons this in order to appear as a common American tourist.  That, my friends, is a brilliant disguise.  While it is unclear whose choice it was to use this t-shirt (the internet has been sadly lacking on articles about Cruise using this shirt), I'd like to imagine that it is a silent tribute to Brian DePalma, director of the first Mission: Impossible movie and the "Dancing in the Dark" music video.

However, there is some intrigue surrounding the shirt's role in the movie.  As Ethan Hunt escapes, he is caught in an explosion and ends up in a hospital....sans the t-shirt!  Now, one may claim that the shirt could have been destroyed in the explosions, but it is revealed that the Russians found Ethan's military disguise.  So what is the deal here?  A minor continuity error?  Or a secret Russian plot to find out the secrets of Bruce's rockingness?  We'll have to see in the next installment, Mission: Impossible - Code of Silence.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week: The Promise

"I lived a secret I should'a kept to myself
But I got drunk one night and I told it"
- The Promise, The Promise

A secret or a past transgression is a common theme in Bruce’s songs (see our recent post on “Unsatisfied Heart”). In “The Promise” the reveal of a secret is the inciting incident that the leads the song’s narrator to reflect on his life in this painful tale of regret.

There’s a quality to this song, most specifically in the lyrics highlighted above, which makes me think the narrator is talking about his closeted homosexuality. While there isn’t conclusive evidence for this and the familiar iconography of the Challenger driving down Route 9 invokes blue collar Middle America, lost potential, and “Racing in the Streets,” there are a few lyrics that give room for speculation in regard to sexuality.

It could be in reference to a number of things, but the phrase “living a secret” directly describes a profound difference between the private and public self. There’s also the character of Billy, who bookends the song with his reference in the opening lyric and his return in the conclusion:

Thunder Road, Billy and me we'd always say /
Thunder Road, we were gonna take it all and throw it all away

Bruce has told many a tale of intense male friendship that may or may not be romantic, “Backstreets” being an often cited example. In the book, “Runaway dream: Born to run and Bruce Springsteen's American vision,” Louis P. Masur debunks the homosexual reading of “Backstreets” by citing live performances where Bruce’s storytelling reveals Terry to be a girl. Similarly, most analyses of “The Promise” lump it with “Racing in the Streets” and tales of lost youth and inability to escape a dead-end existence.

But I think there is room for interpretation here and the sorrow in “The Promise” doesn’t need to be confined to the inability to escape the small town. In the opening lyric, we learn that Billy works downtown – and in a sense – has already escaped. While the final lyrics might be lamenting the narrator’s inability to join Billy in his success, there’s also a sense that in his dreams, the two of them were going to start a life together.

Regardless of the nature of the narrator’s secret, Bruce captures the pain of living with something you feel must be kept to yourself and yet, just how easy it is to let it slip.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bruce Springsteen Kicks Off the Grammys, E Street Style

Legends of Springsteen is proud to present a guest post on Bruce's performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards from Jess, friend of the blog and fellow Springsteen fanatic.

In general, I don't get overly excited about award shows, but when it was announced on February 2 that the E Street Band was added to the 2012 Grammys roster, I knew for sure I would be tuning in. Even better that they would be the opening act! And I have to say that each time I hear “We Take Care of Our Own,” it grows on me a little more.

Not only was The Boss the perfect way to open the show, he also surprised everyone by joining Paul McCartney for a guitar shred-athon. Paul belted out a medley of tunes from Abbey Road, including a blend of 'Golden Slumbers' and 'Carry That Weight' from behind a piano before jumping up and moving to guitar for 'The End,' when he was joined by Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Joe Walsh of the Eagles for an unexpected but fitting end to the awards show. If you turned off the show before this ending, please watch it here now!

But what’s even more exciting for E Street fans is what is yet to come. March 6th Wrecking Ball is released, and the tour kicks off March 18th in Atlanta. The Grammys performance was just enough of a “tease” to hold me over for the next couple months! I think Bruce said it best last night as he opened the show, “America, are you alive out there?” Yes, Bruce. We are. And we’re listening.

Want more inside scoop on E Street’s Grammys appearance? Check out Maureen Van Zandt’s Twitter handle, @MVZaGoGo.

I'm Happy in a Love Like This

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t be more excited to present a guest post by my beautiful wife Lisa. Here, she reflects on the experience of having Bruce Springsteen’s “Happy” as our first dance on our wedding day (April 30, 2011).

Though it’s up for debate who is “The Boss” in my relationship with Steve, after nearly four years of dating, it was Bruce who came as one of the first signs that Steve was contemplating making me his wife. Steve sent me a YouTube link to the song “Happy” and told me that the song made him think of me and that he’d like to use it as our wedding song one day. Very excitedly, I quickly blurted that I thought it was a great idea and as I listened to the song the first time, I paid no attention to the lyrics or the Gilmore Girls tribute images in the random fan video, as I could only think about walking down the aisle to meet Steve. Though I withheld my initial elation, for the next several months I watched that video multiple times a day. Eventually I could look past Steve’s comment about it as our wedding song and took the time to think about the lyrics. I recognized what a perfect song this was to describe the feelings Steve and I have for each other.

Fast forward two years and Steve and I were in the midst of planning our wedding. Our band was booked and despite their best efforts to convince Steve that they would do an amazing cover of the song, it was decided that we’d rather pay $145 for them to rest for three minutes than to not hear Bruce sing “our song.” We had a blast taking dance lessons, listened to the song while repeating the steps in our head, and moved the furniture around our studio apartment to create enough space to practice. The day before we were to travel to Chicago for our wedding, I decided that I must have Steve’s ring engraved with its lyrics and am forever grateful to the jeweler who I convinced to complete my request faster than he originally quoted.

I’m happy in love like this

Our wedding day really was everything I had ever hoped it would be. Even in my dress, which I was convinced was too long and would cause me to trip, we made it through our first dance just as planned. We may have been a bit off beat and I certainly wasn’t the most graceful. But we nailed the steps and I remembered to let Steve lead as we chatted about the day’s events and quietly whispered some of the lyrics to each other. Though it’s not a song I’m likely to hear in the grocery store or in the car (unless I’m listening to E Street Radio), whenever I do take the time to play it, Bruce’s voice will continue to fill me with a sense of comfort and love each time I hear “Happy.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Can't Help Falling In Love

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  As prolific a songwriter as Bruce Springsteen is, he actually doesn't have many love songs.  Scratch that, he doesn't have many happy love songs.  Sure, there are a few, and some of them are great, but this week I decided to go with Bruce's cover of what I consider to be the most romantic song ever written.  Bruce decided to go with a more synthesized, almost reggae-like, sound.  This was recorded on the tour to support the Tunnel of Love album.  Bruce was definitely using a more synthesized sound at this point in his career, as was the style of the 1980s.  Springsteen still covers this song fairly regularly, but not in this style.  I wish he would do it in this style, as I really do love this cover.

The late 1980s was a tough time for Bruce.  His first marriage was ending, he was starting a relationship with Patti Scialfa (must to the disapproval of the rest of the band), and he was getting ready to break out on his own, away from the rest of the E Street Band.  Tunnel of Love contains some of his most heartbreaking material.  Songs like "2 Faces", "Brilliant Disguise", and (ironically enough) "Valentine's Day" tell tales of deception, loss, and heartbreak.  However, even with all that in his writing, he still saw the positive in his live, and, on this night in Germany, went out and played this song of faithfulness, devotion, and, above all else, love. So grab that special someone, hold them close, and enjoy our pick of hte week.  And, if you're single, like your beloved writer, just enjoy the damn song.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bruce and the City

On a mild November day, I took a break from a run through Central Park to lie on my back and take in the sights of the city. “Jungleland” came on my iPod and I thought to myself, "Ah, what a perfect New York City song."

But after a moment I realized it really wasn't about the urban jungle at all. It’s really about what’s happening just outside New York. Aside from the opening salvo - "The rangers had a homecoming / in Harlem late last night" - there isn't anything in the lyrics that distinctly grounds the story in New York (And Bruce isn’t even talking about the hockey team). While the lyrics are not distinctly New York City, the saxophone solo still screams inner city New York to me.

It got me thinking about how few Bruce songs are distinctly about New York. Even on an album like The Rising, where the majority of the songs are written in the key of 9/11, the lyrics all come from a national or at least suburban vantage point. The most explicit song, “Empty Sky,” feels very much written from the perspective of a neighboring suburb.

I posed the thought to fellow Legends of Springsteen contributor OB, who pointed me in the direction of “New York City Serenade” and “Incident on 57th Street”. The next day I listened to The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle in its entirety. From an album standpoint, it has a more distinctly New York City vibe than any of his others (it’s also his grooviest). OB also suggested “10th Avenue Freeze Out.” But really, other than the big man joining the band, who knows what the Hell is going on in that song, let alone where it's happening.

But how much do the lyrics matter in the end? They're only half the story, right? For me, “Jungleland” will always be a New York City song. Dear readers, are there other Bruce songs that will always feel like they’re about New York City to you, even if their lyrics are telling you otherwise?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - Wrecking Ball

Now my home's here in the Meadowlands
Where mosquitoes grow big as airplanes
Here where the blood is spilled
The arena's filled
and GIANTS play their games
-- "Wrecking Ball", Live at Giants Stadium

As you could tell in our Super Bowl post, we here at Legends were rooting for the Giants.  Not only did we all pick the Giants to win, but I even nailed the final score!  In a fantastic game, the Giants made all of New Jersey proud.  I'll always love the fact that a group of rich athletes can unit people from a specific geographic area (that the players themselves are just loosely affiliated with) in a moment of pure exhilaration.  So here's to you - Eli, Osi, Tuck, Mario, JPP, Nicks, Cruuuuuuuuuuuuz, and the rest - on your great victory in Super Bowl XLVI.

(On a side note, the song "Wrecking Ball" debuted at the end of 2009, when they were closing Giants Stadium.  When I first heard that Bruce had written a special song to commemorate the occasion, I was secretly hoping that he would just sing "Jungleland", but replace the word "Jungleland" with "Meadowlands".  While "Wrecking Ball" is a great song, I sort of wish I got to hear that imaginary "Jungleland" revamp.  Ah well.  I still have "Tim Tebow's Fire".)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Jon Stewart's Tribute At The Kennedy Center Honors

As mentioned in the first week of the blog, Jon Stewart is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. When I saw The Daily Show live last December, the last song he played before emerging from the back to greet his audience was "Born To Run". In this video, Stewart, like your humble blog editors, claims not to be an expert on music or music history, but, like us, he "is from New Jersey." He delivers a beautiful, poignant, and funny speech, with some amazing lines. ("When you listen to Bruce's music, you aren't a loser - you are a character, in an epic poem....about losers") The latter half of the video regrettably ditches the comedy and focuses on the sentimentality, but is worth watching for some great old photos and concert footage. Plus, you have to love the Kennedy Center honor - a medallion with a rainbow collar. It's tough to make this award look masculine, but Bruce pulls it off.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lost Songs - Unsatisfied Heart

It’s hard to believe that with the four discs of Tracks, the two discs of The Promise, and countless B-Sides, there are still songs that Bruce has yet to release. And they’re great songs too! I came across this gem on Sirius XM’s E Street Radio the other day, and haven‘t been able to get it out of my head. An outtake from Born In The USA, “Unsatisfied Heart” is Bruce at his best. Unfortunately the quality of the recording isn’t the best so I’ve included the lyrics as well (

If you were to ask me what my favorite aspect of Bruce’s music is the answer would undoubtedly be his ability to tell a story. “Unsatisfied Heart” does this masterfully: A man who seemingly has an ideal life, but apparently has done something in his past. What that something is, the audience is never told. But whatever it is, when a stranger arrives in town and threatens to bring this to light it causes the song’s main character, George, to lay awake at night and wonder how to make his problem go away. He then comes to the painful decision that the only way to possibly do that is go away himself. And the song’s chorus repeats George’s woeful lament over and over as he questions the audience if they’d be able to do what he’s done.

While Bruce certainly has some great upbeat songs, “Mary’s Place” comes to mind as a personal favorite, I think his legacy is best cemented in incredible narratives that show the hard struggles faced by the working class. Some of the best examples of that are “Downbound Train”, “Stolen Car”(in particular the version found on Tracks), and now I would absolutely include “Unsatisfied Heart”.

With the 30th anniversary of Born In The USA coming up in a few years, I really hope this song can be re-mastered and released so it can get the recognition it deserves. To my knowledge Bruce has never played this song live, and that’s just a shame. I know “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” but this song is just too good to not be more well-known.

Are there any unreleased Bruce songs that you wish more people knew about? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Breaking News - Bruce To Perform At the Grammys

In what I suspected was coming, news just broke that Springsteen will be performing at the Grammys.  With it being just about a month until "Wrecking Ball", the promotional machine will be in full gear.  I suspect we'll see more announcements of Bruce appearances - the Apollo concert was just announced, and I would put my money on him making a few stops on late night comedy shows.

While it is my opinion that the Grammy Awards rank somewhere between the ESPYs and the Blockbuster Video awards in terms of relevance to society, they'll be must viewing for Springsteen nuts this year.  So mark down February 12th at 8:00PM in your calendars.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - Fade Away

"Tell me what can I do, waht can I say
'Cause darlin' I don't wanna fade away"
- "Fade Away", The River

A lesser known song from disc two of The River, "Fade Away" is performed in the style of the laconic '60s doo wop perfected by bands like The Shirelles and The Platters.  While the instrumetns ease out a toe-tapping rhythm, the lyrics express the desperate please of a man on the verge of being dumped.  While the verses appeal for giving the relationship another chance, the chorus repeatedly reveals an even harsher fear, being forgotten all together.