For the second entry in our series of Bruce for Beginners playlists, I’m sharing a list I sent a friend who became a fan after he heard “Happy” played at my wedding (which means that my marriage is unequivocally a success). My list isn’t representative of his entire discography but it attempts to sample his many modes and styles.
1. Livin' In The Future – Magic
I decided to open with a more recent track, one that captures all the rock n’ roll fun but is easily digestible without long instrumental sections. It’s also not as popular as "Radio Nowhere," "The Rising," or "Working on a Dream" so it feels fresh but also in line with pre-conceived notions of Bruce Springsteen’s music.
2. Bobby Jean – Born in the U.S.A.
Similar thought process here, keep the energy up with a track from a popular album but a song you don’t hear on the radio. Also, it introduces his trademark sadness while still keeping you rocking out.
3. Downbound Train – Born in the U.S.A.
Continuing along those lines, we feel more pain and acquaint ourselves with Bruce’s songs of futility and depression.
4. The Promised Land – Darkness on the Edge of Town
More sadness but at least you can commiserate with the dogs on Main Street.
5. Reason to Believe – Nebraska
Slow it down a bit to introduce Bruce’s folk side and his ability to go minimalist.
6. The River – The River
It’s a bit early to be going sad Bruce back-to-back but "The River" is a must-listen. If you want to be a Bruce fan, you have to let him break your heart.
7. Rosalita – The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle
Tracks 5, 6, and 7 are the testing ground of the playlist, they’re all a bit challenging (even though it’s fun, "Rosalita" is seven minutes long) but this triptych gives you distilled insight into everything you need to know about Bruce.
8. Lucky Town – Lucky Town
I’ve been a fan of this song since I first heard it during the opening credits of the forgotten Eric Bana poker movie, Lucky You.
9. Ain't Good Enough For You – The Promise (Disc 2)
Bruce knows how to rock in any decade; here he is at his most raw and carefree.
10. I'm Goin' Down – Born in the U.S.A.
Forever one of my favorite Bruce songs. Even though it’s about a soured relationship, I can’t help but smile every time I hear it.
11. All I'm Thinkin' About – Devils & Dust
Now a very different sound for Bruce that gives a taste of his range. It’s an uncanny song somewhere between Beautiful Bruce and Folk Bruce.
12. Nothing Man – The Rising
With the preparation of track 11, we go deep into Beautiful Bruce.
13. Sad Eyes – Tracks (Disc 4)
More soulful crooning with a ‘90s beat.
14. Lonesome Day – The Rising
This is the song that first fostered my Bruce obsession. Everything in life seems all right when Bruce tells you so.
15. Janey Don't You Lose Heart – Tracks (Disc 3)
What a chorus. Here’s another song that offers encouragement through the hard times, but does it in a subdued, confident manner.
16. Backstreets – Born to Run
“But I hated him, and I hated you when you went away.”
17. Thundercrack – Tracks Disc 1
Bruce’s greatest instrumental bridge. It’s not as accessible as "Rosalita" so I’ve saved it for the end but everyone in the band is rocking as hard as they can and you should too.
Stay tuned for OB’s Bruce for Beginners playlist and read Rory’s here.