Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I wrote about Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball when it was released.  I wondered if it would be seen as the classic that The Rising is;  I still wonder about that. I think it will be.

The album seems inspired by the financial crisis, and what so many Americans are going through. That's part of the album's story. Of course, there's also context: Bruce did a lot of campaigning for President Obama the first time around. Like many Americans, he probably felt that there were going to be huge changes in the country after the election.  "Hope And Change" was a powerful slogan, and may have given people super high expectations. And while The President accomplished a lot, it still felt like a lot of things didn't change: no one was prosecuted in the financial crisis.  More time and money was spent on trying to figure out if Lance Armstrong did steroids or not. Stuff like that made it feel like Bush was still president. That thought seems to haunt this album.

I think those are the kinds of things that inspired the album, but it's not what the album is about, per se.  I believe Springsteeen was trying to write a modern folk album.  Not the way he did on Devils And Dust or The Ghost Of Tom Joad, by playing quietly, but by writing songs that are easy to get into and sing along to.  This is more like a modern version of his Seeger Sessions album. This isn't chin-stroking folk, but fist pumping folk.   He not only used rock instruments to record these songs, but also had some even more modern touches, like loops and samples, and on "Rocky Ground," a guest MC rapping a verse.

I've listened to this album a lot since it's release, and I've seen Bruce in concert twice on this tour (in April and in September). I've decided that I think Wrecking Ball is a classic: "We Take Care Of Our Own" is amazing.  But I also love "Death To My Hometown," "Shackled And Drawn," "Easy Money," "This Depression" and "We Are Alive; they are all amazing songs.  There's also the previously released songs:  I actually don't love the title track, but it's grown on me, as has "Land Of Hope And Dreams," a song that I never felt really "worked" but is also starting to grow on me.  But one of the bonus tracks, "American Land," is one of his top 25 songs in my mind.

I was surprised and pleased to see that Rolling Stone agreed with me, and named it their number 1 album of the year as well. I'm just sorry that the Grammy Awards only gave him three nominations, and none in the major categories.  But this album is bigger than awards and polls.  I don't know how Darkness On The Edge Of Town did with the critics or at the Grammys and it doesn't really matter anymore.

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