The Boss is still the boss
Springsteen has done it again. You’ve got to look for the silver lining in these troubled times and if the economic and social train wreck that’s engulfed the mighty United States of America has to be endured at least it’s producing some of the best new music heard in years.
From Todd Snider’s biting Excitement Plan through Ry Cooder’s gritty Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down - and much in between and next door - we’ve heard some fantastic commentary set to heart breaking and soul lifting music.
Perhaps Aleo Blacc’s I Need A Dollar is the anthem of the hard times so far but the Boss comes roaring back with a very bitter judgment on social inequality and you can bet it will stir some controversy.
Springsteen, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his signing with Columbia Records this year, has put the finishing touches to a new album, Wrecking Ball, due for release next month and for a taste of what’s to come he’s released a single, We Take Care Of Our Own, which has been bouncing around the digital clouds for a month.
Just as Born In The USA was misinterpreted in the mid-80s as a rousing piece of patriotic cheering, this new tune has been portrayed by one commentator as a “an affirmation of our national glory” with a title that “borders on jingoism”. Nothing could be further form reality.
After he released Born In The USA, Springsteen had to lodge a legal objection to Ronald Reagan’s campaign team for using it at political rallies. They couldn’t have listened to the lyrics.
In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the opening stanza: “Born down in a dead man’s town/The first kick I took was when I hit the ground/You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much/Till you spend half your life just covering up.”
Springsteen has offered up a new kick in the guts for that fading American dream in his new song with a bad taste echo of Hurricane Katrina and the injustice it unleashed in New Orleans:
“From Chicago to New Orleans/From the muscle to the bone/From the shotgun shack to the Superdome/We yelled ‘help’ but the cavalry stayed home/There ain’t no-one hearing the bugle blown/We take care of our own…”
It’s set to that big Springsteen sound with loops, pounding drums, some electronic percussion, swirling guitars and that marching, jumping beat which settles down to a trademark piano line behind the sweet, no drama vocal. There’s even a clap line and one of those classic rock’n’roll yelps. God, it doesn’t get much better than this.
I picked it up on iTunes a week ago and can’t stop listening to it.
The album should be a cracker. Wrecking Ball is the song Springsteen wrote for the demolition of the Giants Stadium in Newark in his native New Jersey in which he dares the destruction of his beloved sporting arena: “Take your best shot/Let me see what you’ve got/Bring on your wrecking ball.”
Also on the album are Land Of Hope and Dreams and American Land, songs he’s been performing live for some time and can be found on the internet. With other songs carrying titles like This Depression, Easy Money and Death of My Hometown, you can bet it’s going to be an album for the ages. It’s the first record since his saxophone sidekick Clarence Clemons died last year and will add to the rich musical heritage the Boss and his E Street Band have been entertaining us with for the last 40 years.
Springsteen is supporting the record with an exhaustive US and European tour - which includes headlining at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and an appearance at Austin’s South By South West music extravaganza. It also features what could be the gig of the century - Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Apollo in New York! The tour winds up in Helsinki at the end of July but there are rumours he’ll add dates in Japan, East Asia and Australia in our Spring. Bring it on.
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