Countdown Kid # 98: Two Hearts

I absolutely love this song. This is what Countdown Kid has to say about it:

It rips by at such a hyperspeed pace, goosed by Max Weinberg’s rapid beat and the fast-fingered keyboard work of Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, that it’s easy to miss the depth of this peppy number off The River. Springsteen was taking a page from the Lennon/McCartney playbook by couching some of his deeply personal lyrics in a high-tempo number. In fact, if this song has a drawback, it’s that it takes that strategy too far to the extreme. If your ears pop, you could miss the message.

The second verse ranks with any of Springsteen’s all-time best, as he was beginning at that time to explore what it meant to be a man and what was really important in life. He sings: “Once I spent my time Continue reading

Happy birthday, Bruce!

What a privilege to be 63 and to be able to party till the morning hours with thousands of friends enjoying it with you!

But to earn such a party, you must be a pretty special person.

You must have unlimited passion for what you do.

You must absolutely believe in what you do.

You must really love people with all their strengths and weaknesses.

You must be able to turn great personal loss into Continue reading

Weaving together the political and the personal

“Others have written about the complicated ways that Bruce Springsteen weaves together the personal and the political and how this interweaving has developed over time.  I’ll mention some of these themes but won’t spend a lot of time exploring or illustrating them:

1)  First and foremost, the healing and transcendent power of love and community.  This is, perhaps, one of the most central concerns of his life.  His songs are full of it.  The ecstatic sense of abandon, fusion and joy at his concerts feature it.  Wrecking Ball is a good example of this.

2)  Mutual recognition and embrace of the Other: Springsteen’s songs are full of images of people making the choice to—in the end—see their commonality rather than their difference.  The Ghost of Tom Joad Continue reading

Countdown Kid # 99: Lucky Town

The title track off the more effective album of Bruce’s double-release in 1992,Lucky Townis a solid grinder that benefits from an excellent driving chorus and an overall tight performance. Not a lot of wasted energy here, and it’s also one of Springsteen’s strongest vocals of that time period. He really sounds like a man who has followed the hard road the lyrics depict, even as a grizzled optimism still shines through.

Springsteen also pulls off the neat trick of making what is essentially a one-man performance (with the exception of Gary Mallabar on drums) sound like the work of a cohesive combo. His guitar work is fine, restrained but still clearly expressing powerful emotions.

The lyrics actually travel a similar path as “Better Days” off the same album, but the Continue reading

Countdown Kid’s Top 100 Springsteen songs: #100 – Devil’s Arcade

This song, the closing track off Magic (not counting the “hidden” track “Terry’s Song,”) shows some signs of strain as it attempts to be the all-encompassing anthem to sum up the disparate themes of that standout album. Still, it swings for the fences with such gusto that it’s still quite powerful, a damn impressive track that hits far more than it misses.

Where it does miss is in the fact that the hugeness of it can be a bit overbearing. From the atmospheric opening to the slow build-up to the thunderous climax, it groans with the weight of all of the effort that was clearly put into it to create a memorable album closer.

Compare it to the simple but unsettling “Wreck On The Highway” off The River, or the desperately romantic “Valentine’s Day” off Continue reading