While waiting for a meatball parm sub at Wawa last week (if you can imagine a concept more rooted in Jersey culture), I found myself perusing through a back issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. The cover story featured a ranking of the 100 greatest rock guitarists to ever pick up an axe. As I wound down the list of usual suspects, from the Hendrixes, to the Claptons, Van Halens, and Santanas, I made a startling discovery. Coming in just under the wire at number 100 was none other than the Boss. Don't get me wrong - while Bruce's faded wood-toned Telecaster is an unmistakable grail of rock iconography, a Springsteen concert might not be the first place you'd go to hear a litany of face melting guitar solos. That said, the Boss can still shred, and his ranking is more than earned. Here are five of the greatest guitar tunes ever imported from E Street.
An explosive opening solo makes this tune among the most dynamic on Born in the U.S.A. - no small feat considering the magnitude of the album. There is a certain frenzied pace to each scale that compliments the desperation of the lyrics perfectly, setting the tone for a wonderful song.
The Promised Land
One of Bruce's greatest compositional qualities is his ability to pair guitar solos with solos from other instruments (usually saxophone or harmonica), allowing for a unique musical contrast (see "Because The Night" and "Jungleland). The harmonica and guitar in "The Promised Land" compliment one another flawlessly.
Sometimes it isn't the speed or technicality that makes the guitar solo, but its placement in the song. Little Steven's work on "The Rising" track kicks in at exactly the precise moment, helping to elevate the song into the post-9/11 redemptive hymn we've all come to love.
Perhaps Bruce's greatest musical composition, "Jungleland" has risen to the level of a nine-minute opera. While undoubtedly remembered for its riveting and heartfelt sax solo, "Jungleland" also features some of the most impressive guitar work on the entire Born to Run album.
Youngstown (Live in New York)
Yes - live versions count, and this one brings the unbridled energy of a Bruce Springsteen live performance tenfold. The song closes with a Nils Lofgren solo so raw, reckless, and unchained you can almost hear Madison Square Garden shaking on its foundations.