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Bruce Springsteen; Milan, Italy Setlist June 7, 2012

The Springsteen Information Center once again thanks, Josh Hathaway and–Huntsville, AL resident Josh Hathaway has turned a lifelong musical obsession into a not-very-lucrative career as a freelance music writer. BlindedBySound is the best chapter in that adventure, where he serves as site publisher.

Bruce Springsteen - Milan, Italy, June 7, 2012 - Setlist - 6/7/12 - Wrecking Ball World Tour

Bruce Springsteen resumes his trek across Europe on the Wrecking Ball world tour, stopping tonight in Milan, Italy.

We have good news and bad news in this one and we’re going to be positive on this Thursday and start with the good. This is now the longest set of the entire tour coming in at 33 songs strong.

The good is “Candy’s Room” and “The Promise,” the latter performed solo piano. The good includes “Spirit In The Night” and “E Street Shuffle” played back-to-back. Good also includes “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” I also love seeing “Cadillac Ranch” in the encore.

“The Promise” is followed with “The River,” “The Rising,” and “Radio Nowhere,” which is an excellent suite of songs. There were several bowls of good poured out upon the fair people of Milan, Italy before they were doused with the bowls of Bruce’s wrath.

Not only did he insist on playing “No Surrender” but the legendary E Street Band, according to various internet reports, fucked it up twice before getting it right the third time. No, I mean fucked it up beyond the decision to play it. Maybe it was a mutiny. I’d like to think so but the time to do that is when Bruce brings a kid on stage for “Waiting On A Sunny Day.” “No Surrender” is weapons-grade bad, “Waiting On A Sunny Day” is a warcrime. At any rate, the poor people of Milan had to wait for the E Street Band to figure out how to play a song Bruce has been overplaying since the flood and then were subjected to “Working On The Highway.” “Bobby Jean” was a depraved act by a depraved man.

I know there are those of you who find yourselves tired of my bitching about turds in the setlists and wish I’d sit down and shut up. My response: I wish he’d stop playing turds. Bluntly put: I’ll stop when he does. I’m gonna be the hand gonna be beatin’ on him until he does it right.

  1. We Take Care of Our Own
  2. Wrecking Ball
  3. Badlands
  4. Death To My Hometown
  5. My City of Ruins
  6. Spirit in the Night
  7. E Street Shuffle
  8. Jack of all Trades
  9. Candy’s Room
  10. Darkness on the Edge of Town
  11. Johnny 99
  12. Out in the Street
  13. No Surrender
  14. Working on the Highway
  15. Shackled and Drawn
  16. Waiting on a Sunny Day
  17. The Promised Land
  18. The Promise (Solo Piano)
  19. The River
  20. The Rising
  21. Radio Nowhere
  22. We Are Alive
  23. Land of Hope and Dreams
  24. Rocky Ground
  25. Born in the USA
  26. Born To Run
  27. Cadillac Ranch
  28. Hungry Heart
  29. Bobby Jean
  30. Dancing in the Dark
  31. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
  32. Glory Days
  33. Twist and Shout

More Bruce Springsteen at The Pinkpop Festival In the Netherlands!

Bruce Springsteen Pinkpop Festival Setlist Landgraaf, The Netherlands 5/28/12 Setlist Wrecking Ball Tour Mumford & Sons

Thanks once more to our new friend, Josh Hathaway, who is a Huntsville, AL resident.  Josh Hathaway has turned a lifelong musical obsession into a not-very-lucrative career as a freelance music writer. BlindedBySound is the best chapter in that adventure, where he serves as site publisher.  He is also helping us spread the word of all that is Bruce Springsteen and more!

The E Street Band look to rebound from calamity in Cologne with their headlining set at the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, Netherlands tonight. This set being part of a festival, it comes in several songs lighter than recent stadium shows on the European leg of the tour.

It’s too much to expect a complete recovery, then, from last night’s debacle but it’s a step in the right direction. This abbreviated set actually improves on things because they didn’t play the turds; it was addition by subtraction.

Not only that but look at this stretch: “Spirit In The Night,” “Because The Night,” and “Radio Nowhere.” That’s mighty! Look at just before and just after them: “My City Of Ruins” and “I’m On Fire” (the latter being a tour premiere). It’s hard to imagine how much energy came out of the place after fiery “Because The Night” and “Radio Nowhere” down to “I’m On Fire,” but it’s one of the songs on Born In The USA that doesn’t make me cringe

This being a festival and Bruce being a man of the people, there were guest musicians who came out to hang with the band during the encore. Amazingly, you can get more people on stage with the E Street Band and the E Street sideshow! Garland Jeffreys joined them for a rendition of “96 Tears,” a cover they played when I saw them in Atlanta on the Working On A Dream tour.

The other guest tonight was Mumford and Sons, who joined the band on “Hungry Heart.” I’m actually curious what that sounded like. I wonder if they changed up the arrangement or the harmonies to include the Mumfords or if it was played straight.

In addition to “96 Tears” and “Hungry Heart,” the encore included the now familiar run of “Born In The USA,” “Born To Run,” and “Dancing In The Dark.” That asshole fan in Cologne may have done us all the greatest disservice of all by encouraging Bruce to start playing “American Land” again. There really is no justice in this world if that individual is not found and tried in The Hague for crimes against humanity.

Here is the full setlist for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at the Pinkpop Festival, featuring special guests Garland Jeffreys and Mumford & Sons.

  1. We Take Care Of Our Own
  2. Wrecking Ball
  3. Badlands
  4. Death To My Hometown
  5. My City Of Ruins
  6. Spirit In the Night
  7. Because The Night
  8. Radio Nowhere
  9. I’m On Fire
  10. Shackled & Drawn
  11. Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
  12. The Promised Land
  13. The River
  14. The Rising
  15. We Are Alive
  16. Thunder Road ### ### ###
  17. 96 Tears [with Garland Jeffreys]
  18. Born In The U.S.A
  19. Born to Run
  20. Hungry Heart (w/Mumford and Sons)
  21. Dancing in the Dark
  22. American Land
  23. Tenth Avenue Freeze-out

Video: Bruce Springsteen Credits Occupy Wall Street For Inspiring Newt Gingrich


 BROOOOOOCE performing at the Grammy Awards (AP)

 Coming off  an invigorating performance to kickoff the Grammy Awards, Bruce BROOOOOCE Springsteen was in Paris this week to formally introduce his new album, Wrecking Ball, for a select group of reporters. Springsteen gave over much of the press conference to discussing the current state of American politics, and how his “angry patriotism” was reflected in the new music: “Previous to Occupy Wall Street, there was no push back at all saying this was outrageous—a basic theft that struck at the heart of what America was about, a complete disregard for the American sense of history and community.”

Springsteen expects some people may misunderstand the politically charged songs—a mix of folk music, gospel music and the E-Street Band sound—on the new album, just as Ronald Reagan misunderstood “Born In The USA” almost 30 years ago. That’s especially true for the rousing first single “We Take Care Of Our Own,” an ironic song that sums up the broken promises of the country as far as Springsteen sees it. “I have spent my life judging the distance between American reality and the American dream…What was done to our country was wrong and unpatriotic and un-American and nobody has been held to account,” he later told the Guardian. “There is a real patriotism underneath the best of my music but it is a critical, questioning and often angry patriotism.”

Bruce Springsteen: Rocker Charges US Government With ‘Un-American’ Acts

Posted on Feb 17th 2012 4:00PM by Jason MacNeil

Taylor Hill, FilmMagic

Bruce Springsteen didn’t mince words Thursday night at the Theatre Marigny in Paris during a press conference while promoting his upcoming ‘Wrecking Ball‘ album. The topic: His utter disappointment with the current state of America. “What was done to our country was wrong and unpatriotic and un-American and nobody has been held to account,” Springsteen told The Guardian. “There’s a real patriotism underneath the best of my music. But it is a critical, questioning and often angry patriotism.” Springsteen, who gave critics an advanced listen of the new studio album, also said the fury behind some of the record’s lyrics, including the title track, was because “a big promise has been broken.” “You can’t have a United States if you are telling some folks that they can’t get on the train,” he said. “There’s a cracking point where a society collapses. You can’t have a civilization where something is factionalized like this.”The musician noted he plans to back President Barack Obama leading up to the November election but he may not offer his support as overtly as he did during the 2008 election. “I don’t write for one side of the street… But the Bush years were so horrific you could not just sit around,” Springsteen said. “It was such a blatant disaster. I campaigned for Kerry and Obama, and I am glad I did. But normally I would prefer to stay on the sidelines. The artist is supposed to be the canary in the cage.” As for Obama’s first term as President, Springsteen listed Obama’s healthcare legislation (“thought not the public system I would have wanted”), the death of Osama Bin Laden and bringing “sanity to the top level of government” as successes. But he also said “big business still has too much of a say in government” and felt the Guantanamo Bay detention camp “would have been closed” by now. Springsteen also cited the recent Occupy movements around the world, especially Occupy Wall Street, with pushing important issues to the forefront. “The Occupy Wall Street movement has been powerful about changing the national conversation,” he said, as reported by The Telegraph. “The Tea Party set the conversation for a while but now people are talking about economic equality. That’s a conversation America hasn’t had for 20 years.”

Watch Bruce Springsteen’s ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ Video

According to the rocker, the album’s first single ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ — which Springsteen performed last week at the Grammys — gets right to the point. “The song asks the question that the rest of the record tries to answer which is, ‘Do we?’ We often don’t,” he said as reported by The Evening Standard. “I write carefully and precisely and I believe clearly. If you’re missing it, you’re not quite thinking hard enough.” The Telegraph reports Springsteen addressed the strong emotion driving the album, too. “You can never go wrong in rock ‘n’ roll when you’re pissed off,” he said. “My work has always been about judging the distance between American reality and the American dream.” Springsteen also said “a lovely moment for me” on the album is the sax on ‘Land of Hope and Dreams,’ a song that features the late Clarence Clemons. “Losing Clarence is like something elemental, it’s like losing the rain, that’s a part of life,” he said. Springsteen launches the ‘Wrecking Ball’ world tour in Atlanta on March 18. The European leg begins May 13 in Sevilla and runs through July 31 in Helsinki. Although nothing is confirmed, there’s speculation a second North American leg is planned for later in 2012.

Exclusive: Bruce Springsteen Explains His Experimental New Album!

‘This is as direct a record as I ever made,’ he says

Bruce Springsteen performs during the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Lester Cohen/WireImage
By Andy Greene
February 17, 2012 5:45 PM ET

Two years ago Bruce Springsteen told Rolling Stone that he had just written his first song about a “guy that wears a tie.”  The songwriter had spent much of his career writing about characters struggling in tough economic times, but the financial crisis convinced him it was time to write about the people and forces that brought America to this ugly point.
The result was Wrecking Ball, a scathing indictment of Wall Street greed and corruption and a look into the devastation it has wrought. “This is as direct a record as I ever made,” Springsteen tells Rolling Stone. “That’s with the possible exception of Nebraska, which this record has a lot in common with.”
The stark subject matter is paired with an experimental sonic palette that Springsteen created with producer Ron Aniello. “The record basically started out as folk music – just me and a guitar singing these songs,” says Springsteen. “Then Ron brought a large library of sound that allowed me to explore – like  maybe a hip-hop drum loop or country-blues stomp loop. The actual drums came later. There was no preconceived set of instruments that needed to be used, I could go anywhere, do anything, use anything. It was very wide open.”
Album opener “We Take Care of Our Own” poses a question: Do Americans take care of their own? The songs that follow make the answer clear: The narrator of the slow waltz “Jack of All Trades” struggles to find work, while the anti-hero of the country-folk stomper “Easy Money” decides to imitate “all them fat cats” on Wall Street by turning to crime. The similarly uptempo “Shackled and Drawn,” meanwhile, offers a political analysis worthy of Woody Guthrie: “Gambling man rolls the dice, workingman pays the bill/ It’s still fat and easy up on banker’s hill/ Up on banker’s hill, the party’s going strong/ Down here below we’re shackled and drawn.”
The album’s themes shift midway through, as economic despair gives way to a quest for spiritual redemption.  It ends on a hopeful note with the ambitious “We Are Alive.” The song takes on an Irish-wake feel, as Springsteen celebrates Americans (and aspiring ones) who died fighting for progress: “I was killed in Maryland in 1877/ When the railroad workers made their stand/ I was killed in 1963 one Sunday morning in Birmingham/ I died last year crossing the Southern desert my children left behind in San Pablo… We are alive/ And though we lie alone here in the dark/ Our souls will rise/ To carry the fire and light the spark/ To fight shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart.”
There are genuine musical surprises throughout. The cinematic “Rocky Ground” expands on the hip-hop-inspired vibe of “Streets of Philadelphia,” while prominently featuring the voice of gospel singer Michelle Moore, who even delivers a brief, apparently Springsteen-penned rap. “Death To My Hometown”  is a Celtic-influenced foot-stomper that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dropkick Murphys album. “We Are Alive” borrows the horn riff from Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire,” while “Land Of Hope And Dreams” (originally written and played live with the E Street Band in 1999) has been re-worked with electronic drums and a gospel choir.
“Hope and Dreams” also has a saxophone solo by the late Clarence Clemons. The Big Man’s sax can also be heard on “Wrecking Ball,” alongside trumpeter Curt Ramm – who will be in the five-piece horn section (which also includes Clemons’ nephew Jake) that will be hitting the road with Springsteen on his upcoming tour.

Read more:

Bruce Springsteen: “America Was Robbed”

Bruce Springsteen: America Was Robbed

Thursday, 16 February 2012
Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen explores “the American Dream” throughout his new  record.

The American music icon is currently promoting his upcoming album Wrecking  Ball.

British newspaper the Telegraph reports that Bruce, who has always lauded his  blue-collar upbringing, wanted to address his country’s current cultural and  fiscal crises through his music.

“My work has always been about judging the distance between American reality  and the American Dream,” Bruce explained at a press conference in Paris this  week. “[The 2008 Wall Street crisis acted as] an enormous fault-line [that]  cracked the American system wide open and its repercussions are just beginning  to be felt.”

Bruce believes that this recent financial meltdown has left much social and  pecuniary carnage in its wake.

“An outrageous theft occurred that struck to the heart of the American idea.  And there has been no accountability,” Bruce explained. “[The title of my new  album Wrecking Ball represents] the flat destruction of some American ideals and  values over the last 30 years. It seemed like a good metaphor.”

Bruce remains optimistic about the US. He believes that Occupy Wall Street  protestors are benefitting society through their dissent.

“The Occupy Wall Street movement has been powerful about changing the  national conversation,” Bruce explained. “The Tea Party set the conversation for  a while but now people are talking about economic equality. That’s a  conversation America hasn’t had for 20 years.”

Although Bruce is happy to touch on political subjects in his music, the  singer wouldn’t even consider taking on a role in government.

“As an artist, its better to maintain a certain distance from the seat of  power,” he explained.

Bruce’s album Wrecking Ball will be released in the US in  March.

Read more:

Bruce Springsteen: “I Enjoy Artists Who Take On The World!”

Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio album is his most overtly political yet.

At its launch in Paris, the blue-collar icon reveals why

Bruce Springsteen: 'I enjoy artists who take on the world'

Bruce Springsteen: ‘I enjoy artists who take on the world’ Photo: Rex Features

6:25PM GMT 16 Feb 2012

“You can never go wrong in rock’n’roll when you’re p—ed off,” according to   Bruce Springsteen. In Paris yesterday to unveil his new album, Wrecking   Ball, to the world’s media, Springsteen admitted it had been written in a   spirit of political anger. “My work has always been about judging the   distance between American reality and the American Dream.”

Right now, he suggested, the distance was greater than it had ever been in   his lifetime. With the financial crisis, “an enormous fault-line cracked the   American system wide open and its repercussions are just beginning to be   felt.”

Wrecking Ball is the 17th studio album from America’s blue-collar rock icon.   Befitting troubled times for the working man, it is Springsteen’s most   overtly political collection of songs. The title, he said, reflects “the   flat destruction of some American ideals and values over the last 30 years.   It seemed like a good metaphor.”

While the album is underpinned by a dark fury, in person Springsteen was relaxed, amusing and philosophical. Asked if he felt that his role as voice of protest was a burden, he laughed out loud. “I’m terribly burdened at night when I’m sleeping in my big house. It’s killing me,” he joked. “The rock life is brutal, don’t let anyone tell you different.”

Actually, he conceded, just to be a musician was “a charmed life. That’s why   they call it playing.” But he spoke eloquently about how his family   background, growing up in a household where his father had been   “emasculated” by long-term unemployment, fuelled his interest in the   underlying political causes, describing his songwriting as “having a   conversation with myself”.

Despite the anthemic roar and gutsy drive of the opening track, We Take Care   Of Our Own, Wrecking Ball is not the kind of back-to-basics E Street rock   Springsteen has been essaying in recent years. Reaching into the raucous   roots of his Seeger Sessions, referencing gospel, folk and blues while   bringing in drum loops, hints of hip hop and a raw mix that pushes vocals   high, Springsteen appears keen to build bridges between the past and the   present, finding contemporary resonances in timeless sources.

It also features the last sax solo from his long-time sparring partner, the   late Clarence Clemons. “I met Clarence when I was 22, my son’s age, still a   child really. Something happened when we got close, it fired my imagination.   So losing Clarence was like losing something elemental, the air or the rain.   There’s just something missing. We were lucky to get him on Land of Hope and   Dreams. When the sax solo comes up, its a lovely moment for me.”

There is, in the essence of Springsteen’s oeuvre, a very American sense of   exulting in the heroic underdog, but here there is a blackness to his mood,   fuelled not just by the sense that the dignity of the working man is being   assaulted and undermined, but that such assaults are, perhaps, a politically   inevitable expression of the very character of the nation.

Time and again, Springsteen sets the image of the honest toiler against   “bankers”, “fat cats” and “robber barons”. “An outrageous theft occurred   that struck to the heart of the American idea,” suggested Springsteen. “And   there has been no accountability.”

He does, however, see cause for optimism. “The Occupy Wall Street movement has   been powerful about changing the national conversation. The Tea Party set   the conversation for a while but now people are talking about economic   equality. That’s a conversation America hasn’t had for 20 years.”

There is also a religious dimension to Springsteen’s latest songs. The album   shifts towards the spiritual uplift of gospel music in its rousing finale,   evoking Jesus and the risen dead. “I got brainwashed as a child with   Catholicism,” joked Springsteen, who says biblical imagery increasingly   creeps into his songs almost unbidden. “Its like Al Pacino in The Godfather:   I try to get out but they pull you back in! Once a Catholic, always a   Catholic.”

Springsteen supported Obama’s presidential campaign, and We Take Care of Our   Own has already been added to the Obama re-election playlist, yet the often   bitter tone of the album suggests Springsteen is not impressed with the   powers-that-be.

He admitted, however, that he still supports Obama, who he felt had achieved   some things in a difficult political environment. Springsteen doubted he   would be actively involved in Obama’s campaign, however.  “As an artist, its   better to maintain a certain distance from the seat of power.”

He said the only thing he was really good at was making music. “I enjoy   artists who like to take on the world as well as entertain their audience. I   write to process my own experiences and if I can do that for me, I hope I   can do that for you.”

He did, however, suggest that Obama could have a shot at Springsteen’s job.   “Obama can sing!” he joked, referring to the Presidential karaoke   performance widely viewed on YouTube. “Let’s stick together,” croaked   Springsteen, then laughed at his own poor effort. “He’s better than me! I   can’t sing that!”

Wrecking Ball is released on Columbia on March 5

Readers Poll: The Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs

Last weekend we gave our readers the challenge of picking their single
favorite Bruce Springsteen song. It’s not an easy decision. Do you go for an
iconic song like “Born To Run,” or a slightly lesser known (but equally
brilliant) track like “Backstreets”? Do you pick a rocker like “Rostalita (Come
Out Tonight)” or a quiet, acoustic track like “Atlantic City”? Our readers went
for all of the above. Click through to see the winners.

By Andy Greene

10. ‘Racing In The Street’

The devastating loss of Clarence Clemons was clearly on the
minds of some voters as some of his greatest sax work is represented in the list
– which kicks off with 1978′s “Racing In The Street.” While the debate still
about whether you can put fuelie heads on a 1969 Chevy 396, the song
is a longtime fan favorite and contains some of the greatest keyboard/organ work
in the Springsteen catalog.

9. ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’

The title track to 1978s Darkness On The Edge Of Town remains one of
Springsteen’s most powerful statements. He’s performed it solo acoustic, with
various incarnations of the E Street Band and even with the “Other Band” in
1992/93 – but for our money the definitive version was cut under two years ago
at Asbury Park’s Paramount Theater. Shortly after the Working On a Dream
ended in late 2009, Springsteen and the members of the E Street Band
who played on the original (with Charlie Giordano subbing for the late Danny
Federici) convened at theater to play Darkness On the Edge of Town
straight through for a DVD shoot. It culminated with this fiery rendition of the
song. By the end, the veins in Bruce’s head seem to be on the verge of

8. ‘Atlantic City’

In March of 1981, mob boss Philip “The Chicken Man” Testa was killed when a
nail bomb exploded under his front porch. He lived about an hour away from
Atlantic City, and owned a bar on the boardwalk where Donald Trump later built a
massive casino. The incident kicked off an incredibly bloody mob war, and
inspired Bruce Springsteen to wrote one of his most evocative songs. In early
drafts of the tune, when it was still called “Fistful of Dollars,” Springsteen
can be heard methodically shaping the tune until he settled on the final form.
It’s the highlight of his stellar 1982 disc Nebraska, though check out
Live In New York City for a amazing live take with the E Street Band.

7. ‘Backstreets’

Like most Bruce Springsteen songs, “Backstreets” is significantly better live
in concert. The tale of lost love wraps up side one of Born to Run, but
onstage it really popped. To many fans, the definitive versions are found on the
1978 tour. Bruce would typically slow the song down in the middle to deliver a
passionate “Sad Eyes” rap, which eventually evolved into 1980′s “Drive All

6. ‘Badlands’

Almost no song in the Springsteen catalog gets a crowd riled up like
“Badlands.” The opening track to Darkness on the Edge of Town has a
drum intro so memorable that Best Coast swiped it for their 2010 song
“Girlfriend,” and it just gets more anthemic from there. Earlier this year,
Springsteen performed it in Boston with the Dropkick Murphys. The place went
absolutely insane.

5. ‘Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)’

“Rostalita (Come Out Tonight)” was the highlight of countless Springsteen
live shows during the E Street Band’s original incarnation between 1973 to 1988.
In the 1990s, Springsteen had enough and only played it on extremely special
occasions in New Jersey. In 1999, the reunited E Street Band played a 15-night
stand at Jersey’s Continental Airlines Arena. Most nights the fans held up signs
for “Rosalita,” but Springsteen didn’t budge until the very last night. “It’s
been a great gift being able to stand up here and make this music come alive and
to look out into your faces,” he told the crowd before the final song. “How
could I say thanks? I know there’s a way. I’m sure there’s a way. I haven’t seen
any of those stupid signs. So maybe just once . . .”  It would be another four
years before it became a regular part of the setlist again.

4. ‘The River’

When Bruce Springsteen’s sister Virginia was just 17 she became pregnant, and
wound up marrying her high school boyfriend. Their struggle inspired Springsteen
to write “The River,” about a couple in a similar situation. He debuted the song
in 1979 at the No Nukes concert at Madison Square Garden, and he dedicated the
song to his sister and brother-in-law. Twenty years later, he played the song on
the E Street Band’s reunion tour in a drastically slowed down, sax-heavy
arrangement – making it somehow even sadder. Check it out here.

3. ‘Jungleland’

In his book Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales, Clarence Clemons
recalled the origins of the Born to Run album. “In the beginning, I
think Bruce was going for a rock opera kind of thing about this character called
Magic Rat,” Clemons wrote. “He had lots of songs and themes that were built
around this narrative he had in his head. Eventually he let that go.” The Magic
Rat did make it into the album’s epic closer “Jungleland,” which contains
Clarence’s most famous sax solo. In the summer of 2009, they played it at
London’s Hyde Park right as the sun was coming down. Check it out here.

2. ‘Born To Run’

In early 1974, Bruce Springsteen was listening to Duane Eddy’s 1960 hit
“Because They’re Young” when a similarly twangy, dramatic guitar riff came into
his head. It soon became the intro for the “exhilarating, orgasmic” new song the
struggling 24-year-old singer-songwriter was trying to create: He called it
“Born to Run.” “I had these enormous ambitions for it,” says Springsteen, now
56. “I wanted to make the greatest rock record that I’d ever heard, I wanted
it to sound enormous, to grab you by your throat and insist that you take that
ride, insist that you pay attention – not just to the music,
but to life, to being alive.” – Brian Hiatt

1. ‘Thunder Road’

When Bruce Springsteen arranged the track order on Born to Run, he
wanted the album to convey the sense of one long, sweaty day in New Jersey.
“There is something about the [piano] melody of Thunder Road’ that
suggests a new day,” Springsteen told Rolling Stone in 2005. “Which is
why that song ended up first on the record, instead of ‘Born To Run.’”
Springsteen spent months slowly tweaking the song before he cut it in the
studio, often playing those in-progress versions on the road. It was originally
called “Wings For Wheels,” but when he saw the poster for Robert Mitchum’s 1958
movie Thunder Road he knew he had a title.

Happy Birthday Bruce-Continued!

Ok, here is the finished happy birthday wish for Bruce as he looks up at the empty sky, over Galveston Bay, and he will drive all night to find the dry lightning, he has never worked in a Factory like his dad, and he will see that Frankie, won’t fade away, but that janey won’t lose your heart, bought a new car and, gave it a name, he took a leap of faith, and wants to be the last to die, leaving on a Train and heading to the Land Of Hope And Dreams, Once there, Let’s Be Friends (Skin To Skin) because Life Itself, can Lift Me Up during the Light Of Day. though he was hoping at one time that Linda, Let Me Be The One at the Lion’s Den, cause he was Livin’ In The Future, while Living On The Edge Of The World. He was Living Proof, a Local Hero even though it was one Lonesome Day. His birthday was Long Time Comin and he didnt have to worry about the Long Walk Home, with Loose Change in his pocket, while he made sure that all of his Loose Ends, weren’t Lost In The Flood. He sure is one Lucky Man from one Lucky Town. He did a little Magic, while he is the Man At The Top, doing a Man’s Job as he builds his Mansion On The Hill, which will include Maria’s Bed, along with one for Mary Lou, Mary Queen Of Arkansas and it will be called Mary’s Place, which is also located off of the Matamoros Banks. He is hoping to have Meeting Across The River, to discuss his Missing friend, who may have been dealt with by Murder Incorporated. Bruce said He woke up to My Beautiful Reward, and mentioned that My Best Was Never Good Enough when he walked through My City Of Ruins, which included My Father’s House, which is also My Hometown. He promised Patty that My Love Will Not Let You Down because she said he is My Lover Man and every day when he wakes up to My Lucky Day. Bruce decided to go Nebraska after he sang his New York City Serenade last Night, but he knew that None But The Brave, will always make sure that there would be No Surrender, because he is never a Nothing Man. he took One Step Up and the store was Open All Night. He was also Out In The Street, while he was Outlaw Pete, riding his horse Over The Rise into Paradise, which included Paradise By The “C”, He was never Part Man, Part Monkey, as he drove his Pink Cadillac, driving it Point Blank, past Pony Boy, as he had to Prove It All Night, to the Queen of the Supermarket. He went Racing In The Street listening for Radio Nowhere, he asked if he could Raise Your Hand and try his hand at being a Ramrod, a Real Man in the Real World, looking for a Reason To Believe, with his Red Headed Woman, looking to Rendezvous in Reno, where there will be a lot of Restless Nights, hoping that Ricky Wants A Man Of Her Own, for those Rockaway The Days, after a big Roll Of The Dice that will get Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) to then play some Roulette. His Sad Eyes, will be looking over towards Santa Ana while singing a Seaside Bar Song, about his Secret Garden, sowing some Seeds, as the Seven Angels let him know that She’s The One, Sherry Darling, who Shut Out The Light once he got home on his Silver Palomino, after hanging with the Sinaloa Cowboys, who are all So Young And In Love,. It sure was Something in the Night, that propelled him past the Soul Driver who is one of the Souls Of The Departed, and not one of the Spare Parts, but more like a Spirit In The Night, where he can Stand On It, if he would be stopped by his friend the State Trooper, while driving a Stolen Car, because he won’t be able to do any Straight Time, through the summers Streets Of Fire, which are in the Streets Of Philadelphia, to know one’s Surprise, Surprise, we all have to Take ‘Em As They Come, so there won’t be a Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, singing Terry’s Song, who is now The Angel, of The Big Muddy, hoping for The Big Payback, dancing The E Street Shuffle, that has given him The Fever. Maybe that will be The Fuse, in finding The Ghost Of Tom Joad, who was The Hitter and one of The Honeymooners, heading for The Last Carnival along The Line, hoping not to be The Long Goodbye, but The New Timer. There is always The Price You Pay for The Promise, of The Promised Land, all along The Rising of The River that he hopes won’t be caught up by The Ties That Bind, but more The Wish that The Wrestler, would be able to overcome This Hard Land, which is not to be confused with This Land is Your Land, which is all part of This Life all along Thunder Road, where he has always been a Thundercrack, where Tomorrow Never Knows, of he will be Tougher Than The Rest, but not Trapped by the Trouble In Paradise, going to the other side of The Trouble River, in one of his Used Cars, through the Tunnel Of Love, which could have been a TV Movie, where Two Faces, become Two For The Road and Two Hearts on Valentine’s Day as he hopes to get to Viva Las Vegas, where the Wages Of Sin are never Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, the place where you can Walk Like A Man, not be concerned with War, because it is all about What Love Can Do, When The Lights Go Out, When You Need Me, When You’re Alone, after spending the night Where The Bands Are, where Wild Billy’s Circus Story, is there With Every Wish, Working on a Dream, while Working On The Highway, though he was Worlds Apart from that Wreck On The Highway, he had to remember that You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch), but hopefully it won’t be long before You’ll Be Comin’ Down, because in my heart You’re Missing, when your away from Youngstown, where Ai was always Your Own Worst Enemy, when it came to Zero And Blind Terry. Happy Birthday Bruce!

Max Weinberg Steals the Spotlight From Springsteen, But The Birthers are Stumped by The Boss: Songs 120-111


By Jim Beviglia
May 22nd, 2010 at 10:11 AM

The Ultimate Springsteen Countdown is almost half over and there hasn’t been a Born in the U.S.A song yet. That changes in this edition (but how far down?) And does Max Weinberg or Teenage Tramps in Skintight Pants steal more of the spotlight from Bruce Springsteen.

And while Springsteen will never cut off your beer sales at a concert like Van Morrison, he was definitely influenced by the man. Learn more in songs 120-111.

Song 120: “Fade Away”

Album: The River

“Fade Away” gets a bit of a bad rap in the Springsteen mythology. It was chosen as the follow-up to Bruce’s first Top 10 hit, “Hungry Heart,” but it failed to reach those same lofty heights, petering out at No. 20 on the U.S. charts. Thus it is also blamed for the fact that The River wasn’t the breakthrough megahit that Springsteen’s supporters wanted it to be.

That’s a lot of weight to hang on one song, let alone a modest one like “Fade Away.” Granted, a tender ballad with Springsteen basically on his hands and knees trying to get back together with his girl might not have been a commercial sure thing. But that doesn’t mean the song wasn’t executed well.

Indeed, the straightforward lyrics show Bruce at his most direct, one of the first signs of a more common style that would serve him well in the years to come. And the music is lovely throughout, spearheaded by Danny Federici’s lonely organ, which expresses yearning and desperation maybe even better than the songwriter himself. When you add the soulful harmonies of Bruce and Little Steven, you’ve got a pretty solid package, top-to-bottom.

All of the negative stuff is just a case of the right song at the wrong time.

Song 119: “The E Street Shuffle”
Album: The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle

First of all, this song wins points for yielding one of Bruce’s all-time great character names: Power 13. It sounds like some obscure Math theorem, doesn’t it? What do you call the guy for short? Pow? Teenie? Do you think his Dad was Power Sr., had 12 other sons, and just did a George Foreman thing when naming them? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can get down to the business of praising “The E Street Shuffle,” the opening salvo off The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, the Boss’ first true masterpiece. From the opening blast of horns, which betrayed a heavy Van Morrison influence, to the wild and woolly outro, it’s one of the band’s funkiest offerings, even 35 years down the road.

Springsteen’s fast-talking lyrics are marvels of interior rhyme and alliteration. Listen to this killer first line: “Sparks fly on E Street when the boy prophets walk it handsome and hot.” These hoodlums get into the same hijinks as some of the doomed souls of other Springsteen opuses, but the good-time music here makes it seem like there are little consequences for them to face.

Indeed, even as Bruce tells it like it is (“teenage tramps in skintight pants”), he finds the romance in the scene: “As the sweet summer nights turn into summer dreams.”

If there’s a negative for me, it’s that the wocka-wocka clavinet that stands out of the mix makes the song seem a tad dated, something you can’t say about much of the E Street Band catalog. We’d like to believe that “The E Street Shuffle” is a timeless dance that kids still do today. All you need is a little soul, a lot of time on your hands, and the indefatigable foolishness of youth.

Song 118: “Candy’s Room”
Album: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Springsteen plays the romantic underdog as well as anyone out there. Here he tells a tale as old as time, and certainly as old as rock and roll. Crooners have been trying to rise above penury to grab their girl away from a rich guy since the dawn of pop music. But Bruce has the E Street Band behind him, and that gives him an edge on the competition.

The band never wavers in the face of Springsteen’s high-tempo construction, as they milk every bit of drama from the situation. Max Weinberg obviously takes the spotlight here, starting things off with the tension-building high-hats before bursting into full sprint joined by his cohorts. Bruce himself tears off a searing guitar solo that rips through the edginess in thrilling catharsis.

The passionate descriptions of the lovers’ encounters are perfectly in sync with the powerful thrust of the music. The narrator knows that Candy is probably a dead end and that her rich suitors will only cause him trouble, but Springsteen’s genius is that he makes his argument so persuasive that you can understand the guy’s reckless pursuit. In that way, he takes one of the oldest song topics in the book and makes it new again.

Song 117: “I’m Goin’ Down”
Album: Born in the U.S.A.

Here we are, 83 songs into the countdown, and we’re making our first foray into the 1984 supersmash, Born in the U.S.A. You think Bruce was at the top of his game for that one or what?

“I’m Goin’ Down” was an unlikely Top 10 hit when it was released as a single in 1985, almost a year after the album’s release. Considering that the song can be considered a relative lark compared to some of the heavier material on the album, the chart success is a testament to both the momentum Springsteen had at that time and to the group’s recording experience of bringing out big things from little songs.

The bar-band swagger brought to Springsteen’s tale of sexual frustration is remarkable. It also helps to leaven what could have been an off-putting character; the guy comes off more like a sad-sack than a whiner, which is saying something if you just judged him based on the lyrics. Check out the little touches here and there which pull the song from the mundane, like the Latin lilt on the acoustic guitars at the start of the song to the vocals and hand-clap breakdown toward the end. This is a band, and an artist, that suddenly understood how to court the radio.

I’m sure a lot of people read some sexual innuendo into the oft-repeated chorus, and I don’t think Bruce would dissuade that reading, even though it’s probably reaching. After so many years of so many great songs going unheard by the public at large, you couldn’t begrudge Bruce pulling in listeners by any means necessary.

Song 116: “Long Walk Home”
Album: Magic

In “My Hometown” in 1984, the song ends with a father putting his son on his lap and letting him steer around the streets of their town. It was right of passage his father had done with him, trying to imbue pride in the boy for his home even as the Dad was considering leaving the place. In a “Long Walk Home,” recorded by the same artist 23 years later, it’s easy to imagine that kid, now grown, as the narrator, estranged from all that he loves and unable to recognize the place that he once toured with his father.

The artist, of course, is Bruce Springsteen; This isn’t a Foghat countdown, after all.

“Long Walk Home” is a fascinating example of how Bruce begins with a personal tale of alienation and disillusionment and spins it outward to reveal a bigger picture that is just as bleak.

What begins with a man losing his love widens into a look at America in decline. The man doesn’t recognize the values he grew up with in the residents, now all “rank strangers.” And what’s even more disheartening is that he doesn’t recognize his country anymore, the country that once knew “who we are, what we’ll do, and what we won’t.” By including the opening with the man and woman coming apart, Springsteen effectively shows how the breaking of bonds at a one-to-one level contributes, on some small level, to the deterioration writ large.

The music is a bit generic; it’s like the heartland rock of contemporaries like Bob Seger or John Mellencamp, but there isn’t any bite. Only Clarence Clemons’ sax solo gets through, beautifully conveying both nostalgia for times gone past and sadness that the promise of that past has been broken time and again.

Song 115: “Local Hero”
Album: Lucky Town

Inspired by an actual occurrence in which he spotted a wall-hanging of himself in a local gift shop between those of “a Doberman and Bruce Lee,” Springsteen tackled his mid-life identity crisis head-on in this enjoyably lighthearted track off Lucky Town. It’s somewhat reminiscent of “Glory Days” in both its sing-along chorus and its preoccupation with former triumphs.

It must be a truly odd moment to see your younger self on display. It also must have been especially weird for Bruce considering that he saw the picture in Jersey at a time while he was living in L.A. (hence the shopkeeper’s reply, “He used to live here for a while.”) The rumored price of the picture by the way: $19.99. That’s how much heroes are valued if they’re a tad past their prime.

There’s nothing very memorable about the music save the uplifting melody. The pretty female backing vocals really help to buoy the choruses though, and Bruce’s lack of any vanity about the situation keeps the song a lot of fun all the way through. Only a guy as modest as Springsteen could be as successful as he is and still be surprised to be a collector’s item.

Song 114: “Darlington County”
Album: Born In The U.S.A.

When the first sound you hear is a cowbell, you know you’re in for one hell of a road trip. Written back in 1978, “Darlington County” wasn’t revived until the 1982 sessions that produced a large chunk of 1984’s Born In The U.S.A. (There will be a quiz on this later, and with Bruce’s crazy recording process, if you pass you immediately earn a Masters.)

Give credit to Jon Landau for exerting his influence and helping convince Springsteen that these kinds of good-timey songs deserved a place on the album right alongside the tougher stuff. The album might have still been great without them, but it wouldn’t have had the populist edge that made it such a smash and elevated The Boss to new heights.

“Darlington County” is in South Carolina, which means that the narrator and Wayne had a lot of time to get into trouble on their journey from New York City to find work and females more amenable to their advances. Of course, things don’t work out the way they planned. The narrator ends up deciding to leave Darlington for greener pastures, while Wayne ends up incarcerated as his former road-trip buddy leaves him behind.

It still sounds like they had a good time, though, thanks to the E Street Band’s amazing chemistry. From Bruce’s Southern-fried licks on guitar to Clarence doubling up the “sha-la-la” chorus with his booming sax, it’s a killer effort. “Darlington County” may not have been the right destination, but it’s the getting here that counts.

Song 113: “Mansion on the Hill”
Album: Nebraska

Although they never made it to an album that way, you can imagine many of the songs on Nebraska being turned into full band performances. (Over the years, the band and Bruce have done just that to some of them in performance.) But it’s hard, for me anyway, to imagine “Mansion On The Hill” in anything but the stark, chill-inducing form of the original “Nebraska” recording.

Springsteen based the song on true-life trips he actually took with his dad. Of course, by the time he wrote the song, he was rich enough to be the one on the inside looking out, and to see the “steel gates that completely surround” being as confining to those inside as it was foreboding to those outside.

What makes the song is that Springsteen sings it reverently. Had he allowed irony or the hint of a sneer into his vocals it would have shattered the balance and distorted the reality of the situation. In the final verse, years have passed and the boy, now a man, still looks out at the mansion, still in awe. The boundaries remain unchanged.

“Mansion On The Hill” boasts one of the prettiest melodies on the album, and although it’s a bit of the same thing verse-to-verse lyrically, it almost has to be to convey the level of obsession this character has with the life he’ll never enjoy. Bruce may be playing it close to the vest vocally here, but his sad harmonica conveys all of the longing of those who remain forever in the valley in thrall of a life they can only admire from afar.

Song 112: “Nothing Man”
Album: The Rising

It might be the most harrowing song Bruce has ever released, and that state of despair doesn’t really reveal itself until the final lines. At first glance, it’s a tale about survivor’s guilt, but it doesn’t take much power of deduction to realize that the narrator is a 9/11 responder who was lucky enough to make it out alive. Although, considering the mood of the song, lucky doesn’t seem to be the right word.

After all, this is the tale of a man going through something to which no one could possibly relate, save the few who share his experience. (Hence, his repeated calls for his mate to “understand.”) As if she could.

What makes his predicament worse is the way he is hailed as a hero while carrying around this extreme burden of memory. The world outside stubbornly remains the same while his inner turmoil continues. Even the sky refuses to cooperate, hanging above him in “unbelievable blue.” What a perfect choice of words.

The last verse lays bare the pain so cleverly hidden by Bruce’s straight-faced vocal. When cornered at his local bar by a well-wisher offering thanks for his courage, he snaps back: “You want courage, I’ll show you courage you can understand/The pearl and silver restin’ on my night table/It’s just me lord, pray I’m able.”

The hope so prevalent in Springsteen’s work is absent here, momentarily shut out by the reality of the situation. It’s a chillingly honest portrayal.

The music is just for atmospheric background, and it was wise of Bruce not to pile on a sentimental melody. It’s very to-the-point, Max Weinberg’s rim shots breaking through the fog like a countdown to some unthinkable outcome. When Bruce allows his character some falsetto “sha-la-lys” at song’s end, it’s a well-deserved reverie. The other alternative, expressed by that last verse, is the ending few could possibly understand, nor would they want to.

Song 111: “She’s the One”
Album: Born to Run

OK, so they stole the groove from Bo Diddley. You could make a pretty great countdown of rock songs that have done the same.

The point is that the E Street Band play that groove with gusto and force that they just hadn’t shown at all on their first two albums. If there was any doubt that Bruce had locked into a great band lineup on Born to Run, “She’s the One” answers it decisively.

The thunder that they create is so powerful that it sounds like they’ve got about 20 members instead of the five that actually contribute to the track. Weinberg is fabulous again here, all touch and feel in the open and then crunch and boom for the rest. Roy Bittan is all over the place as well, both in the introspective opening verse and then finding open spaces to add flavor once the heavy guns kick in.

And Springsteen’s guitar-playing, always overlooked, is nothing short of incendiary.

All of that power helps to overcome one of the most trite standbys in the rock songwriter canon, the femme fatale who’s too hot to resist but too wild to keep.

Bruce pays her a bunch of back-handed compliments that may be eloquent but not too sympathetic. She doesn’t ever feel like a three-dimensional character; as rendered, she’s just a finely detailed cliché. But, then again, who cares about the lyrics when you’ve got such compelling rock and roll right in your face?