In so many ways, Springsteen’s music is timeless. Without prior knowledge of a song’s release date, it can be difficult to pinpoint what decade it was produced. While Bruce’s songs may be instantly recognizable as his own, they are rarely defined by the decade in which they were released. Even with the massive popularity of the Born in the U.S.A. album, you’re less likely to find his songs on a “Best of the 80s” compilation than you are to find the work of the Go-Gos or Tears for Fears. However, Springsteen does have a few songs that are a bit easier to characterize. What follows is a list of songs that scream the decade they were created. Decade by decade, I’d argue these are his “most 70s” or “most 90s” sounding songs. Disagree? Let us know in the comments!
1970s – “The E Street Shuffle”
Lengthy instrumentals, background chatter and abrupt changes in pace. This is easily the grooviest song on Bruce’s grooviest album.
1980s – “Tougher than the Rest”
Synth-heavy with a lot of deep organ sounds. Is this Bruce Springsteen or an outtake from the Top Gun soundtrack?
1990s – “Man’s Job”
Every time the background vocals come in on “Loving you is a man’s job, baby” (see 0:50 for the first instance) I just picture ripped jeans, mullets and old school VH1 logos.
2000s – “Worlds Apart”
Bruce’s most clear attempt at “world music” boasts a Middle Eastern influence and a distinct vocal styling that denotes a time when global consciousness received heightened awareness.
2010s - ???
It’s too soon to tell – both due to the newness of the decade and the prospect of more albums to come down the road (fingers crossed!). But if I had to speculate, “Wrecking Ball” sounds like an old school barn burner, “Rocky Ground” feels more like early 2000s and “Death to my Hometown” just feels like it exists in its own time and place. For now, my money is on “We Take Care of Our Own.”