Like any red-blooded American rock and roll fan, I am looking forward to the next year to be filled with Bruce Springsteen. The man has a new album, Wrecking Ball, coming on March 6, a massive tour in the planning stages, and he's set to be the keynote speaker at this year's South By Southwest in Austin in March. Last night around midnight, the first single "We Take Care Of Our Own" dropped onto his official site and the Internet.
As I type this, my right leg is tapping in time under my desk to the new single, like I'm Max Weinberg's foot wrecking a kick pedal live in concert as the band strikes up the song to open a show.
The single is your typical patriotic Boss anthem, all sweat, wonderful promise, and just the right amount of Americana references. It's almost mathematical at this point. The only thing the song is missing, is a big raunchy Clarence Clemons sax solo somewhere in the middle of the four-minute cut. Rest in peace, Big Man.
But here's the thing: Springsteen's last two albums, 2007's Magic and 2009's Working On A Dream both had great lead-off singles too. Magic's "Radio Nowhere" and Dream's title track hit the web and (some) radio outlets and found admiration and love immediately upon release. The songs sounded great live, at both Bruce and the E Street Band's 2008 and 2009 dates at the Toyota Center. Here's the big "But"...
The albums that these singles came off of were disappointing -- at least by Bruce standards -- which leads me to be skeptical about March's Wrecking Ball. The fact that I am even typing now about an album that comes out in a month and half should prove to you I am a Bruce fan.
By all accounts and media releases, Wrecking Ballis supposed to be one of his angriest and weighty albums to date, dealing with the current economic struggles of America in 2012, so that is reassuring. The title track, which debuted years back, is pretty decent. Springsteen has also been carousing with Brian Fallon and his Gaslight Anthem here and there onstage, which means he has been soaking up Gaslight's Jersey grit, which he helps foster himself early in his own career.
Do you remember Dream's um, interesting, "Queen Of The Supermarket"? The one about the hottie checkout girl? How about "Surprise Surprise"? The grocery store ode confounded new and old fans alike. How do you explain it away?
""The worst song Bruce Springsteen has ever written," said almost every music blog and critic in the land.
Magic wasn't without it's dogs either, with "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" sugaring up the lot, and "Livin' In The Future" was better when it was called "Hungry Heart". Hopefully that albums "Long Walk Home" won't get forgotten as time goes by, because it was our favorite from this period.
Here is hoping that 2010's reissue/reassessment of Darkness On The Edge Of Town and it's accompanying rarities disc The Promise helped inform Wrecking Ball. We expect at least one tearjerker about Clemons too.
Come on Bruce, hit us with your best shot, and don't be stingy when it comes to doing interviews this time around. Wink.
Wrecking Ball Tracklisting
"We Take Care of Our Own" "Easy Money" "Shackled and Down" "Jack of All Trades" "Death to My Hometown "This Depression" "Wrecking Ball" "You've Got It" "Rocky Ground" "Land of Hope and Dreams" "We Are Alive" "Swallowed Up" (Bonus Track) "American Land" (Bonus Track)