Top 10 essential Bruce Springsteen
It’s the triumphant return of one of the world’s greatest performers, so you should be freakin’ excited – but just in case you’re umming and ahhing for some reason about whether or not you can be arsed then let ANDREW P STREET give you ten chronologically-listed reasons why yes, you’re buying tickets, just accept it.
‘Blinded by the Light’ (1973)
The first single, and first song on Bruce’s first album, and first flop. The reason you know it is because Manfred Mann’s Earth Band turned it into a #1 hit three years later. Yes, it’s a Bruce Springsteen song. That’s good to remember next you’re at music trivia.
‘Born to Run’ (1975)
Just listen to it. LISTEN TO IT. It was recorded and re-rerecorded and re-re-recorded multiple times as Springsteen knew it was basically his last chance to break out of his singer-songwriter ghetto and into mainstream rock success, and it’s a work of freaking art. Lyrically it takes the cars-n-girls tropes of pretty much all popular music and turns them into something jubilant and sacred, and has a sax solo that actually enhances the song (note: sax solos are always the wrong decision, except here).
‘Hungry Heart’ (1980)
‘Born To Run’ wasn’t a major hit for some unfathomable reason, but it and his subsequent singles did get Bruce enough radio play to make this his first Top 5 entry. Just try to get that keyboard riff out of your head. You haven’t even hit play on the video yet and it’s ALREADY THERE.
‘State Trooper’ (1982)
The Nebraska album started off life as a bunch of demos for the next E Street band release, knocked up by Bruce at home on a four-track. However, it soon became clear that these songs were better suited by the sparse, haunted production than E Street bombast, none more so than this paranoid classic. The Arcade Fire have taken to playing it live and do an impressively taut version.
‘Dancing in the Dark’ (1984)
Sure, we could have gone with Born in the USA here – the most misunderstood Springsteen song in a career full of them – but this was the breakthrough: 1984’s Born in the USA album changed everything, putting him straight into stadium rock level success and genuinely connecting him with the blue-collar audiences about which he wrote. And also, the video introduced the world to Courteney Cox, then 20, thereby guaranteeing that every 12 year boy who discovered their heterosexuality to this clip would become an avid Friends viewer a decade later.
‘I’m On Fire’ (1984)
Sure, every metal band on the planet has written about being trapped in a state of relentless horniness, but has anyone summed sexual obsession but better than “At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet / And a freight train running through the middle of my head”? No. No they have not.
‘Brilliant Disguise’ (1987)
The entire Tunnel of Love album is basically Bruce’s confession, lament, eulogy and testimonial to his marriage at it crumbled to dust around him. But nothing sums up that moment of doubt as you realise that the person you love isn’t the person you thought they were more than this, a heartbreaking ode to a dying relationship.
‘Streets of Philadelphia’ (1994)
It looks kind of ridiculous now that panic about AIDS has settled somewhat, but there was a time when HIV was seen less as a disease and more as a mystical curse that people could catch by looking at a gay person and the movie Philadelphia reflected all of that as only a Film What’s Got A Message can. Springsteen’s theme song, though, had all the dignity and resilience and heartache that the film less-successfully reached for.
‘The Rising’ (2002)
Bruce’s stirring response to September 11 paints the NYC attack in Biblical language, complete with images of resurrection – and yet doesn’t descend into flag-waving hyperbole so like so many American songs inspired by the event.
‘We Take Care of Our Own’ (2012)
And Bruce is back to looking at class inequality on Wrecking Ball, the album behind which he’s touring, with what became an unofficial anthem for the Obama campaign. It’s not his most subtle song, but then again the man makes a solid case.
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band tour:
Thursday, March 14 – Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Saturday, March 16 – Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Monday, March 18 – Allphones Arena, Sydney
Wednesday, March 20 – Allphones Arena, Sydney
Sunday, March 24 – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Tuesday, March 26 – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Saturday, March 30 – Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges
Sunday, March 31 – Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges
General public tickets on sale from 9am local time, Friday December 14