Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Song Spotlight - "Mary Queen Of Arkansas", Tracks Version



When I first discovered Tracks, it was rather late into my Springsteen fandom - circa 2005 or 2006.  And, boy, what a treat it was.  Clocking in at over 4 hours and 66 songs, it is a project that I still haven't fully absorbed.  I'll get obsessed with one song, listen to it over and over again while ignoring the rest of the album, then forget about it for a few months, and then repeat the cycle.

Recently, I've been obsessed with the first track on the album, "Mary Queen of Arkansas".  It is from Bruce's four song tryout for Columbia Records, the other three demo songs also being included on Tracks.  The stripped down feeling I feel works better than the Greetings version, and, looking back, you can see how this demo influenced future projects such as Nebraska.

But, I'm beating around the bush.  What TRULY hooks me to this song is right in the front: that voice introducing the song!  I assume it is the voice of producer John H. Hammond, but I cannot confirm this for sure.  This voice is irksome to the blog's local crank OB, and I can see why: it is old, un-hip, and incredibly nasally.  It is fascinating that they decided to leave it on the track, and it has caused me countless minutes of deep contemplation as to why that choice was made.  Perhaps it stood out to Springsteen as the first voice he heard in his illustrious career, or maybe the voice was left in to keep the authenticity of the track.  I personally feel that the track helps date the song in its time and place, as you know that this is Springsteen's biggest challenge in his young life, and helps you hear the youthful passion and beginner nervousness in his voice.  Regardless, this song is the Tracks track I'll be obsessing over for the next few weeks, and I can't wait to discover the next one in several months.

(On a side note: could we please note label Youtube videos as "RARE"?  It's on Youtube - every video is as easy to search for as any other video, for pizza's sake!)