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Musical DNA: WhoSampled iPhone App Scours Tracks for Borrowed Riffs

If you’ve heard all of the new Bruce Springsteen album, Wrecking Ball, you’ve probably wondered, listening to its final rousing track, “We Are Alive,” why that song sounds so familiar. Or maybe you got the riff right away on your own — a nod to the signature eight-note motif in Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Because who hasn’t heard Cash’s song a zillion times, right?

But there’s another track on the Boss’s new album dubbed “Death to My Hometown” that I’ll bet you didn’t know contains direct samples from another relatively obscure musical group.

(MORE: Mashable Snags New Bruce Springsteen Single ‘Wrecking Ball’)

Ever heard of the early twentieth-century group Alabama Sacred Harp Singers? Their song “The Last Words of Copernicus”? From Southern Journey Volume 9: Harp of a Thousand Strings – All Day Singing From the Sacred Harp? Held within the Alan Lomax Collection of ethnographic materials?

Me neither. Except they’re just about the first thing you hear five seconds after Springsteen’s song starts — that glorious full-throated choir, over which Springsteen’s laid a rousing foot-stomp and bagpipes.

I got the “We Are Alive” Cash “hook/riff” reference on the first listen, but I never would have figured out the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers in “Death to My Hometown” on my own. I’d never even heard of them (despite, it seems, having heard songs inspired by them in the movie Cold Mountain). I just assumed the singing was by a contemporary choir done in the studio.

My tipster: WhoSampled, a musical search engine that can unearth who sampled or covered a song, building chains of connectivity that, in the company’s own words, allow users to “explore the DNA of music.”

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere. Sampling, on the Other Hand…

In this case, I was using the new $2.99 iPhone version of the technology, which not only offers access to the full gamut of WhoSampled’s online wares, but can scan your local music library and give you a rundown of your music’s history, so-to-speak, sorted by “tracks” or “artists.”

Since I have Wrecking Ball in my library, let’s finish WhoSampled’s insider rundown: There’s the song “Land of Hope and Dreams,” which WhoSampled tells me contains a “replayed sample” (a vocal or lyric line) from The Impressions’ “People Get Ready.”

There’s “Rocky Ground,” which employs a “direct sample” of Peerless Four’s “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord” (from Southern Journey Volume 8: Velvet Voices, another Alan Lomax Collection recording). And there’s “Shacked and Drawn,” which references Lyn Collins’ “Me and My Baby Got Our Own Thing Going” by way of another “replayed” vocal/lyrical sample.

I’m assuming most will get obvious references like Springsteen’s “People Get Ready” quote 5:30 into “Land of Hope and Dreams,” but the the one from Peerless Four? Lyn Collins? Who knew?

The app’s iPhone interface itself is elegant and uncluttered, and if you’re scanning sampled tracks, the application places the original and sampled versions left and right, respectively, with arrows indicating who sampled whom. And WhoSampled delineates between the kind of sampling, be it direct, an instrumental riff, or the interposition of another song’s lyrics.

If you drill on older, popular music, like Seal’s “Crazy,” you’ll find a wealth of secondary information as well. In the case of “Crazy,” for instance, there’s its sampling of Led Zeppelin’s “The Crunge,” but you’ll also note it was sampled (by Seal himself) in his cover of “Fly Like an Eagle.” You’ll see it’s been covered at least five times by artists including Iron Savior and Alanis Morissette. And you’ll discover any remixes, like the William Orbit version released on the “Crazy” maxi-single in 1990.

(LIST: 50 Best iPhone Apps 2012)

Depending on the largesse of YouTube, WhoSampled even offers embedded YouTube versions of a sampled/covered/remixed song. Want to hear Alanis Morisette’s take on “Crazy”? Click the play icon and WhoSampled pops the iPhone’s YouTube player open fullscreen and runs the track. From here you can add the sample/cover/remix to your favorites, discuss it, rate it, look for similar songs and see who contributed the link. In the case of songs that sample other songs, WhoSampled lists where the sample appears, in minutes and seconds, just above the YouTube clip, so you can quickly find it.

If WhoSampled doesn’t have a YouTube link for a song, it offers clips from alternative sources, like iTunes (though in the latter’s case, you lose the “sample timing” and you’re limited to the iTunes preview length). And when you tap “Done,” the playback screen minimizes — there’s no kludgy inter-application switching.

Record Scratch?

For all the upsides, the app has a few serious downers. It doesn’t list the timing of the sample’s appearance in the original track itself, which can be confusing. Sometimes YouTube clips set the actual music playing later or earlier, say someone’s placed a silent text intro before the song starts. So in Bruce Springsteen’s “We Are Alive,” for instance, WhoSampled lists the Cash sample’s appearance in the YouTube video as beginning at 1:33, which is spot-on for the video.

But in the actual track off the album, the sample starts at 1:28, five seconds sooner. No big deal for an easily recognizable song like “Ring of Fire,” but you can see where it might be confusing as the samples get more obscure or they’re less obviously foregrounded in the mix.

It’d be nice to see WhoSampled add an “in the actual track” time listing. I initially misread the “sample appears at…” time as applicable to the track, flipped over to my iTunes library, scrubbed to 1:33 and overshot.

Another issue: Sometimes artists have multiple cover versions of a song, but WhoSampled doesn’t find them all. In the example above — Alanis Morisette’s cover of “Crazy” — WhoSampled only knew about the 5:22 version (with about 577,000 views). But there’s a shorter, much more popular (over 1.8 million views) and notably different (think dance) 3:41 version by her here that WhoSampled — both the app and website — didn’t seem to know about (it’s less a criticism of the app than the WhoSampled backend itself).

And sometimes the WhoSampled app misses tracks entirely. On George Michael’s 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 — currently in my listen-to library — there’s a track titled “Waiting for That Day” with glaringly obvious references to The Rolling Stones’ 1969 song of the same name. In fact, the whole song is basically the Stones’ chords and rhythms with different lyrics (Michael even kicks in with the Stones’ chorus at 4:16 to close out the song, and both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are credited as co-writers). And yet the WhoSampled app ignored that, too, even though the online version found it without trouble.


It’s enlightening to make the musical connections WhoSampled already knows about, but when you discover they’re incomplete, the app starts to feel more like a jumping off point than an encyclopedic reference database. After all, the last thing you want is to be second-guessing the completeness of something that bills itself as a musical DNA roadmap.

Factor in the app’s higher-than-expected $2.99 price tag (the service is available free on the web), and it’s hard to recommend. If the company can clean up its scanning technology so it’s not missing local tracks in your iPhone library during scans, as well as fill in the occasional referential blanks, like when a song has multiple different cover versions by the same artist, $2.99 for a complete cataloguing tool would be a bargain. But until then, your mileage may — and probably will — vary.


Watch Bruce Springsteen’s Tearjerking ‘Wrecking Ball’ Doc

by Devon Maloney of

The Boss / Photo by Peter Wafzig/Redferns via Getty

The Boss / Photo by Peter Wafzig/Redferns via Getty


As if the past 40 years weren’t evidence enough, further proof of Bruce Springsteen’s knack for emotional articulation has surfaced, this time via a new short film directed by the Boss’ official archivist Thom Zimny. The clip weaves together portions of the Paris press conference held a month before his 17th album, Wrecking Ball, dropped in March, with footage from the Wrecking Ball tour (including the E-Street Band’s SXSW-winning performance). The film is, shockingly, called Wrecking Ball (via CNN).

In the 22-minute video, Springsteen discusses how personal became political and vice versa, especially in crafting Wrecking Ball, his Elvis-tying, tenth top 10 album.

“Lack of work creates loss of self,” Springsteen explains when asked by a Irish reporter about his relationship to current American politics. He uses the example of his father’s unemployment (and mother’s breadwinner status) and subsequent “irreparable crisis of masculinity” to explain how anger depicted on his latest record has stemmed from both inner and outer catalysts. “As I got older, I looked toward not just the psychological reasons in our house, but the social forces that played upon our home and made life more difficult. My work has always been about judging the distance between the American reality and the American dream.”

In the conference footage (the audience of which largely comprised, it would seem, non-American journalists, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition throughout), he also discusses his childhood, religion, songwriting process, and the potential for having his work misinterpreted as xenophobic, while a handful of standard American blue-collar tableaus fade in and out. Get your handkerchiefs ready, though — the kicker comes with the Boss’ remembrance of E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who was replaced by his nephew for this tour following his death last summer. “Losing Clarence is like losing something elemental, like losing the rain… you know… or air,” he explains, trailing off for a moment. We won’t spoil any more of it, though, so watch for yourself: D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ id=”ep”>” />src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” bgcolor=”#000000″ allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always” width=”416″ wmode=”transparent” height=”374″></embed></object>

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

Born to Rock: Bruce Springsteen’s 7 best albums

On the eve of ‘Wrecking Ball,’ a look at the Boss’s finest

By Melinda Newman Thursday, Mar  1, 2012  8:27 PM

Born to Rock: Bruce Springsteen's 7 best albums
Credit: AP Photo

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Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio album, “Wrecking Ball,” comes out March 6 and The Beat Goes On is blatantly stealing a page from our colleague Kris Tapley’s “The Lists” concept. In anticipation of the new set, we’re ranking The Boss’s Top 7 albums. Take a look at our gallery and let the debate begin.
Springsteen’s canon of work dates back more nearly 40 years to 1973’s “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” While there was a major shift with his third album, 1975’s “Born To Run,” in terms of transforming from a proud Dylan wanna-be who crammed as many words as possible in to a song to someone who found his own identity and voice, what hasn’t changed has been his commitment to his craft and his live show.

At 62, Springsteen has become the chronicler of our times. Or as he says, it has always been his job to write about the distance between the American dream and American reality. Unlike many other artists whose songs aren’t rooted in any specific geography,  Springsteen’s narrative spans from sea-to-shining-sea. He is a product of New Jersey and the U.S.A. and the lyrical territory he roams in song seldom extends beyond our shores (despite the fact that he is now a bigger concert draw in Europe than he is here).
But to concentrate on Springsteen’s role as social commentator only shows one part of the story. Over the last several decades, Springsteen has delivered some of the goofiest, most joyous songs ever committed to record, whether it be the rollicking “Ramrod,” the double entendre-filled “Pink Cadillac,” the giddy “So Young And In Love” or the purely jubilant “Rosalita.”
It felt like a cheat to include live albums on here, so I didn’t. (I also chose not to include any bootlegs). However, any Springsteen fan’s collection is incomplete without two sets: “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Hammersmith Odeon London 75” and “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live 1975-1985.” The Hammersmith set, which wasn’t officially released until  2005, captures a moment in time: Springsteen’s first U.K. show that has now become the stuff of legend. Springsteen was freaking out beforehand as Columbia’s hype machine was in full effect and he wanted the music to speak for itself. The loose-limbed, sped-up “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” is a frenetic frenzy, and the 13-minute “E Street Shuffle” feels like it traverses space and time. It’s nothing less than revelatory to hear a 25-year old Springsteen, still so early in his career, at such command of his stage craft.
“Live 1975-1985,” if nothing else, shows the tremendous range of the E Street Band and serves as a de-facto greatest hits. It was also the first album to capture the wide-ranging magic of Springsteen’s show including such chestnuts as his covers of “Raise Your Hand” and “War” and songs that lay flat on vinyl, like “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” but came alive in concert.
There are high notes on every album released, even the ones I would rank toward the bottom of a list should I have included the full catalog, such as 2009′s “Working On A Dream” (though I’m hard pressed to find anything good to say about “Queen of the Supermarket”). As with all such lists, this one is totally subjective. For example, though I find them among his most cinematic works, I find myself seldom returning to  largely acoustic, solo albums like “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Devils & Dust”
Before you flip to the gallery, if you aren’t a Springsteen fanatic (yet), watch this video, and  see what joy he brings millions of us (plus, there are wonderful shots of dearly departed members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons):

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:

‘I Still Back Obama-But From The Sidelines’ Springsteen

Rock star Bruce Springsteen said on Thursday he still supported US President Barack Obama but indicated he would not be taking part in the campaign to get him re-elected.

At a press conference in Paris to promote a new album and tour, Springsteen was asked whether this year he would join the campaign trail to back Obama, as he did in 2008 and also in 2004 for Democratic challenger John Kerry.

“I got into that sort of by accident. The Bush years were so horrific that you couldn’t just sit around,” Springsteen declared.

“I never campaigned for politicians previous to John Kerry and at that moment it was such a blatant disaster occurring at the top of government, you felt that if you had any cachet whatsoever, you had to cash it in because you couldn’t sit around and watch it.”

But, he added, “I’m not a professional campaigner and every four years I don’t think that I’m going to go and pick a guy and go after him.

“I prefer to stay on the sidelines. I genuinely believe an artist (is) supposed to be the canary in the coalmine, and you’re better off with a certain distance from the seat of power.”

Springsteen said he thought Obama had a mixed record.

“There’s a lot of things” that were positive, he said.

“He kept GM alive, which was incredibly important to Detroit and Michigan, and he got the healthcare law passed, although I wish there had been a public option and didn’t leave the citizens victims of the insurance companies, he killed Osama bin Laden, which was extremely important. He brought some sanity to the top level of government.”

However, Obama was “more friendly to corporations than I thought he would be, (and) there’s not as many middle-class or working-class voices heard in the administration as I thought there would be,” said Springsteen.

“I would like to have seen more activism in job creation sooner than it came, I would like to have seen people helped out, seen some of these (home) foreclosures stopped somehow.”

Springsteen said: “I still support the president, but there are plenty of things that I thought took a long time and would have been closed by now. But on the other hand, we’re out of Iraq and hopefully we’ll be out of Afghanistan soon.”

The new album “Wrecking Ball” goes on sale on March 6, followed by a US and European tour beginning on March 18 in Atlanta, Georgia. It is Springsteen’s 17th studio album.

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