When he was putting the box set together, he asked around for some suggestions, and a friend gave him a tape with the song on it. Sultry and heated, this underrated song should have been used for something, even if it never fit on Darkness. Take note of the maracas and those beautiful little flourishes from Bittan on the piano.
Springsteen has only played it live once, in Madrid. The horn line alone is life-affirming. This is that, but set to a properly countrified tale of actual evil villains. An affectionate, piano-drenched love letter to a distant love. He opens the record with this problem statement: Despite everything that might follow, love still eludes him. The last verse is deliberately left open to interpretation, which amplifies the impact of the rest of the song.
A wistful, spirited remembrance of the Jersey Shore club scene. How else would you describe this exaggerated, knee-slapping, electronic folk number? Springsteen invokes Wild Billy and two kids running away to join the circus, over a quiet acoustic background, with an ethereal chorus against a fairground calliope until fadeout. His voice and guitar share a gentle melody through the first verse and chorus, but a minute in, as we reach the second verse, the strings coast in from behind and the acceleration expands in the verses and choruses to follow.
The guitar duel between Springsteen and Tom Morello is the most interesting part, to be honest. Springsteen approaches the first Gulf War and Los Angeles gang wars with a dark, haunting melody, using low chords, slide, and a deep blues harmonica to tell a tale of harsh reality and grim choices. The melody sounds like the rhythm of a freight train.
Like that book, the song shows rather than tells. A sexy, fun little number with a backbeat you can dance to. Bonus points for not sounding overproduced or mechanical, like so many of the other songs on this record. The strings are expressive and expansive, but Springsteen has a surprise for us on the bridge, when the horns swoop in and the entire loping, triumphant melody could easily fit in a John Ford Western. This country-and-western-flavored track is the artful conclusion to a record full of longing and unanswered questions.
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Yet another song written from the perspective of the veteran, this time from the second Iraq war. So much lost potential. How did this get left behind? For a kid from New Jersey, Springsteen understood the city as well as any native son, but he also had the blessing of not taking the place for granted. He saw the details that locals overlook after a while. The story goes a little something like this: One night during the Born in the U. He was trying to capture the ability to make his audience laugh, an element he admired in his favorite performers, like Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis.
Springsteen revisits the song he gave to Southside Johnny in With this version included, Darkness becomes a completely different album. An evocative, solid rave-up. Not all homecoming songs are about triumph. His vocals are laid bare, nothing buried in the tune, his voice on the edge of anguish. It sounds ancient, as if it has always existed.
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It sounds like it was written decades ago. It is a more immediately recognizable Springsteen song while still being sonically fresh, even if what Bruce is doing here is his best Jimmy Webb interpretation which is not a bad thing! The song has an infectious backbeat, and Bruce relishes the challenge of singing with another strong vocalist. A delightful classic rockabilly romp from end to end. Springsteen shouts and screams and testifies with great driving percussion behind him, as guitars play in keys matching the organ.
What was Number 1 on my 14th birthday? Find out what song supposedly 'defines your life'
Underrated and overlooked. The keyboards and fingerpicking are so deep and buried, you feel them more than you hear them. Bruce realizing his Brian Wilson fantasies and cribbing from Jagger and Richards in tribute. Rose of Lima. The house is gone, but the tree still stands.
Bruce Springsteen absolutely, genuinely loves Halloween. Plus, how many rock songs mention Viagra so brazenly? The track features gently loping acoustic guitar, layered with accordion and the most soothing vocals, like a mountain stream. Springsteen learned so much from Elvis Presley, including what not to do.
With a strong assist from Chuck Berry, the Boss pays tribute to the King with this simple, pointed, almost-rockabilly track. He initially recorded the demo with a drum machine and could have re-recorded it with real drums at any point, yet chose not to. If you ever go to Memphis, play it right as you turn onto Elvis Presley Boulevard on your way to Graceland.
It is timeless in the best way, glorious and soul affirming. The idea of using music as a form of prayer is a beautiful sentiment.
An awful lot of gambling metaphors set against a standard rock melody. A strong, straightforward anthem. Springsteen minces no words with this one, though it loses a few points for extraneous electronic effects and textures that add nothing to the composition. An optimistic track, both lyrically and musically.
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First, an early rockabilly version was cut early in the —81 recording sessions that led up to The River. The River version is just a straight-ahead rocker, so it fits better with the record overall, but the rockabilly version absolutely has more depth. The quietest song on the record, but easily the angriest.
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He asks a lot of questions here without actually asking any actual questions. The power of this song lies in its specificity, the little details and the big ones. He sets the tone with tuba, accordion, acoustic guitar, and mandolin, telling the story of a circus from setting up and settling in to packing up and moving on. What distinguished this particular cut in his mind?
This is the kind of song Springsteen thinks about when he describes why The River needed tracks that evoked an E Street Band show.
The disbelief manifests itself in his voice. The good-time sax solo and get-down party music juxtapose with the lyrics in such a strong way. Bruce wants us to understand the hypocrisy of violating basic American civil liberties in the name of keeping America safe. With all those clever turns of phrase, this song gets better every time you listen to it. This tale of the inveterate rambler rolling to a stop is a keeper.
Think about that again: He wrote it for Elvis Presley. Star time! He lost a lot of weight. For a long time, you only knew about this song if you were there back in the day, or you bought the Live — box set. Its inclusion was one of the things they got right with that release. It was probably thrown on just because Bruce misses Clarence.
The track has its basis in the Starkweather killings ; he saw Badlands , which led him to a book written by a local journalist named Ninette Beaver , whom he would also interview. Sit down real close and listen good. Van Zandt perfectly colors the chorus on backing vocals, and the entire band is feeling it, slow and steady, with perfect, soulful precision. If you could bottle the sound of that one night, this is what it would be. Definitely one for the ladies.
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A perfect single, a heartfelt paean to the days of catching AM signals across the country, an anthem to the power of the radio airwaves. The song owes a lot to punk rock. A highly underrated number in the catalogue. Disc two strikes again! The song is a sympathetic celebration of music fandom, delivered with earnest, ebullient vocals, and half a dozen little sonic touches: hand claps, oooh-ooohs, aaah-aaahs, heys, and compact sax solo.