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Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball


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#21 morgan1098

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 09:52 AM

Perhaps this would be better suited in an Elvis Costello thread, but here's EC and The Roots performing Bruce's "Brilliant Disguise" on Jimmy Fallon.

Brilliant Disguise

#22 Gavin Breeden

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:33 PM

I don't know about the album (haven't heard it yet), but I've enjoyed Bruce Springsteen week on Fallon this week. All the stuff from the new album sounded good, even capturing the interest of my dear wife. I'll definitely being giving this one a spin next week.

And last night's "E Street Shuffle" jam with Bruce, E Street, and The Roots (and Jimmy Fallon on cow bell) was pretty amazing.

#23 Andy Whitman

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:36 AM

I offer a double-barreled dose of Broooce today,. with my review of Wrecking Ball, and a new monthly column in which I ponder Springsteen and the gospel. Both at Christianity Today Magazine.

#24 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:08 AM

I offer a double-barreled dose of Broooce today,. with my review of Wrecking Ball, and a new monthly column in which I ponder Springsteen and the gospel. Both at Christianity Today Magazine.


That's great news, Andy! Congrats.

#25 Christian

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:40 PM

I don't consider myself an Arcade Fire fan, but I've heard a couple of their CDs (several times) and find myself wondering if Chris Richards' comparison is accurate:

The first track on Bruce Springsteen’s new album gets stuck on rock-and-roll’s Mobius strip — that artistically perilous career lull when you sound like you’re ripping off the band that’s been ripping you off.

The song is called “We Take Care of Our Own,” and it finds the 62-year-old rock hero pantomiming the airy thump of Arcade Fire, a Canadian troupe than has aped Springsteen’s rousing song craft to great acclaim.


With the usual caveat that I haven't been paying close attention to the music scene for several years, would you Bruce (or Arcade Fire) fans buy that the two acts are similar ... in any way?

#26 Andy Whitman

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 01:04 PM

I don't consider myself an Arcade Fire fan, but I've heard a couple of their CDs (several times) and find myself wondering if Chris Richards' comparison is accurate:

The first track on Bruce Springsteen’s new album gets stuck on rock-and-roll’s Mobius strip — that artistically perilous career lull when you sound like you’re ripping off the band that’s been ripping you off.

The song is called “We Take Care of Our Own,” and it finds the 62-year-old rock hero pantomiming the airy thump of Arcade Fire, a Canadian troupe than has aped Springsteen’s rousing song craft to great acclaim.


With the usual caveat that I haven't been paying close attention to the music scene for several years, would you Bruce (or Arcade Fire) fans buy that the two acts are similar ... in any way?

Sure. They both use drums. And the idea that Bruce Springsteen is ripping off Arcade Fire is laughable, akin to noting that that Shakespeare dude stole his ideas from "West Side Story."

#27 Overstreet

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:01 PM

What a great title, Andy: "The Stations of the Boss."

#28 Christian

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:18 PM


would you Bruce (or Arcade Fire) fans buy that the two acts are similar ... in any way?

Sure. They both use drums. And the idea that Bruce Springsteen is ripping off Arcade Fire is laughable, akin to noting that that Shakespeare dude stole his ideas from "West Side Story."

Rimshot!

Thank you for confirming what I suspected.

What's up with Chris Richards, anyway? I link to the guy's work because I read it in my local paper (and on the paper's website). When he started writing reviews, I expected to be challenged in a good way because Richards is, from what I can tell, a big fan of contemporary pop music. I figured it was a plus that a critic was willing to admit this, and that he took the latest Britney Spears release quite seriously.

I don't know that anything he's written has challenged me. I've been made to wonder over the past couple of years if he's worth reading any longer.

#29 Overstreet

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:02 PM

Stephen Thomas Erlewine:

Heavy lies the crown on Bruce Springsteen's head. Alone among his generation -- or any subsequent generation, actually -- he has shouldered the burden of telling the stories of the downtrodden in the new millennium, a class whose numbers increase by the year, a fact that weighs on Springsteen throughout 2012's Wrecking Ball. Such heavy-hearted rumination is not unusual for the Boss. Ever since The Rising, his 2002 return to action, a record deliberately tailored to address the lingering anger and sorrow from 9/11, Springsteen has eschewed the frivolous in favor of the weighty, escalating his dry, dusty folk and operatic rock in tandem, all in hopes of pushing the plight of the forgotten into public consciousness. Each of his five albums since The Rising have been tailored for the specific political moment ...

... it’s no mistake that Wrecking Ball fuses elements of all four into an election year state of the union: Bruce is taking stock of where we are and how we’ve gotten here, urging to push forward. If that sounds a bit haughty, it also plays that way. Springsteen has systematically removed any element of fun...

...

As admirable as the intent is, the splices between old-fashioned folk protests and dour modernity become too apparent, possibly because there’s so little room to breathe on the album -- the last recorded appearance of Clarence Clemons helps lift “Land of Hope and Dreams” above the rest -- possibly because the message has been placed before the music. Springsteen is so focused on preaching against creeping inequality in the U.S. that he’s wound up honing his words and not his music, letting the big-footed stomps and melancholy strumming play second fiddle to the stories. Consequently, Wrecking Ball feels cumbersome and top heavy, Springsteen sacrificing impassioned rage in favor of explaining his intentions too clearly.


Edited by Overstreet, 07 March 2012 - 01:02 PM.


#30 Josh Hurst

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:36 PM

I'm on the same page as STE on this one, more or less, though I do think this album is WAAAY better than Working on a Dream or Magic. I would also quibble with his comment that there are no fun/loose/"party" songs here, as the wonderful, soulful love song "You've Got It" is one of the album highlights (precisely because it's fun and loose).

#31 Christian

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 03:41 PM

I chuckled as I read Armond White's review of Wrecking Ball and thought to myself, "Don't post it at A&F. It'll send people right over the edge."

But then, toward the end, there's this, which brings in another CD commented on here at A&F, and which I thought was worth quoting:

Only a limousine liberal—or an idiot–could play so casually with the language and gestures of agitation and insurgency. (“Jack of All Trades” contains an incitement to murder, i.e. bloody revolution.) Even “This Depression,” the best, most to-the-point song, suggests Springsteen’s dejection comes from reading too many New York Times editorials. Pleading “I need your heart” neglects the other side of American prosperity, missing the deeper, existential meaning of depression as also experienced by the rich. Instead, Bruce settles for partisan rhetoric, not artistry. “All my prayers gone to nothing” fits the fashionable atheism that defines the current Liberal view–those who feel only their sorrow is justified.

Leonard Cohen’s “Old Ideas” refutes OWS diatribes, calling for a return to more complex contemplation. Cohen keeps his dignity as an artist not a propagandist. What does Springsteen think his fake folk salvation lyrics mean? Does Freedom riders manifest of “losers and winners/ saints and sinners/ whores and gamblers/ lost souls/ broken hearted/ thieves and sweet souls departed” only include OWS? From “We Take Care of Our Own” to “We Are Alive” there’s no universal outreach, just pandering to those who hoist him as a political leader. He cannot continue to divide and exclude and antagonize. There’s no forgiveness or sympathy in Wrecking Ball’s overall OWS propaganda. No righteousness, just self-righteousness.


#32 Andy Whitman

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:08 PM

I chuckled as I read Armond White's review of Wrecking Ball and thought to myself, "Don't post it at A&F. It'll send people right over the edge."

But then, toward the end, there's this, which brings in another CD commented on here at A&F, and which I thought was worth quoting:

Only a limousine liberal—or an idiot–could play so casually with the language and gestures of agitation and insurgency. (“Jack of All Trades” contains an incitement to murder, i.e. bloody revolution.) Even “This Depression,” the best, most to-the-point song, suggests Springsteen’s dejection comes from reading too many New York Times editorials. Pleading “I need your heart” neglects the other side of American prosperity, missing the deeper, existential meaning of depression as also experienced by the rich. Instead, Bruce settles for partisan rhetoric, not artistry. “All my prayers gone to nothing” fits the fashionable atheism that defines the current Liberal view–those who feel only their sorrow is justified.

Leonard Cohen’s “Old Ideas” refutes OWS diatribes, calling for a return to more complex contemplation. Cohen keeps his dignity as an artist not a propagandist. What does Springsteen think his fake folk salvation lyrics mean? Does Freedom riders manifest of “losers and winners/ saints and sinners/ whores and gamblers/ lost souls/ broken hearted/ thieves and sweet souls departed” only include OWS? From “We Take Care of Our Own” to “We Are Alive” there’s no universal outreach, just pandering to those who hoist him as a political leader. He cannot continue to divide and exclude and antagonize. There’s no forgiveness or sympathy in Wrecking Ball’s overall OWS propaganda. No righteousness, just self-righteousness.

Springsteen never mentions OWS in this album, and, in fact, he's gone on record as stating that all of these songs were written before OWS. I have no idea what White is babbling about here.

#33 Andy Whitman

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 09:17 AM

It's interesting to me that most of the negative reviews of this album have centered on the "hypocrisy" of a multimillionaire who identifies with the plight of the unemployed and underemployed. I'm not sure where these critics have been, since Springsteen has been very rich for a very long time, and since he's been writing and singing about working-class, blue-collar folks for an equally long time, but there's nothing inherently hypocritical about the sentiments that Springsteen expresses. And he puts his money where his mouth is, and always has. For anyone interested, here is a list of the charities where he donates his time and money.

#34 Overstreet

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:21 PM

Jeff Keuss at Rock and Theology responds to Andy's review:

Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio album - Wrecking Ball - was released in the US on March 6th and the critics have been hard at work to make sense of the Boss’ latest outing (I recently posted a review of the lead single “We Take Of Our Own” here on Rock and Theology ). One reviewer made a rather interesting comment that has had me perplexed and dismayed. In his review of the album (wonderfully entitled “Stations of the Boss“) Andy Whitman at Christianity Today noted the personal and profound impact Springsteen’s music has made on him throughout his life saying that he became ”a Christian who is convinced that Bruce Springsteen has more to say to me than any other songwriter.” Many people feel the same way. At 62, Springsteen is still producing great music of deeply spiritual and political conviction and while he hasn’t recaptured the “glory days” of the Born in the USA years or the critical excellence of Nebraska, Darkness at the Edge of Town or The River, he is an undisputed American rock icon who has unique crossover appeal in an increasingly segmented music market. I for one agree wholeheartedly with Whitman’s statement to this effect and resonate with much of his review of the album (Wrecking Ball, by the way, is a true return to form and a fantastic album worth repeated listens – IMHO).

But that isn’t what caught my attention.

What was interesting is the line that follows his praise of Springsteen “having more to say than any other songwriter.” He follows with this interesting aside that echos statements usually made at this juncture by Christian critics once they have praised an artist: “This is curious ["Springsteen having more to say than any other songwriter"] because, as far as I know, Springsteen does not claim to be a Christian.” True, Whitman has loves Springsteen’s work and lauds praise on this particular album. In reference to the remake of “Land of Hope and Dreams” Whitman states that “it’s a glorious song, a perfect encapsulation of the greatness of its songwriter and singer. It’s also the gospel; good news—the best news, in fact—for those who are weary and heavy-laden, uncommon men and women sorely in need of grace.” Yet he can’t leave that praise isolated and for some reason needed to alert the Christianity Today readership that while Springsteen speaks the Gospel we have still been notified if he is truly and completely in the tribe of Christianity yet.


Andy, I'm curious: Was emphasizing that Springsteen doesn't claim to be a Christian your idea? Or an editor's? I'm only asking because it sounds like the kind of statement that I, and other CT writers, have been told to include in the past because CT readers will want to have such things clarified.

Edited by Overstreet, 09 March 2012 - 12:23 PM.


#35 Andy Whitman

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:52 PM

Jeff Keuss at Rock and Theology responds to Andy's review:

Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio album - Wrecking Ball - was released in the US on March 6th and the critics have been hard at work to make sense of the Boss’ latest outing (I recently posted a review of the lead single “We Take Of Our Own” here on Rock and Theology ). One reviewer made a rather interesting comment that has had me perplexed and dismayed. In his review of the album (wonderfully entitled “Stations of the Boss“) Andy Whitman at Christianity Today noted the personal and profound impact Springsteen’s music has made on him throughout his life saying that he became ”a Christian who is convinced that Bruce Springsteen has more to say to me than any other songwriter.” Many people feel the same way. At 62, Springsteen is still producing great music of deeply spiritual and political conviction and while he hasn’t recaptured the “glory days” of the Born in the USA years or the critical excellence of Nebraska, Darkness at the Edge of Town or The River, he is an undisputed American rock icon who has unique crossover appeal in an increasingly segmented music market. I for one agree wholeheartedly with Whitman’s statement to this effect and resonate with much of his review of the album (Wrecking Ball, by the way, is a true return to form and a fantastic album worth repeated listens – IMHO).

But that isn’t what caught my attention.

What was interesting is the line that follows his praise of Springsteen “having more to say than any other songwriter.” He follows with this interesting aside that echos statements usually made at this juncture by Christian critics once they have praised an artist: “This is curious ["Springsteen having more to say than any other songwriter"] because, as far as I know, Springsteen does not claim to be a Christian.” True, Whitman has loves Springsteen’s work and lauds praise on this particular album. In reference to the remake of “Land of Hope and Dreams” Whitman states that “it’s a glorious song, a perfect encapsulation of the greatness of its songwriter and singer. It’s also the gospel; good news—the best news, in fact—for those who are weary and heavy-laden, uncommon men and women sorely in need of grace.” Yet he can’t leave that praise isolated and for some reason needed to alert the Christianity Today readership that while Springsteen speaks the Gospel we have still been notified if he is truly and completely in the tribe of Christianity yet.


Andy, I'm curious: Was emphasizing that Springsteen doesn't claim to be a Christian your idea? Or an editor's? I'm only asking because it sounds like the kind of statement that I, and other CT writers, have been told to include in the past because CT readers will want to have such things clarified.

First, I appreciate Jeff's comments. Second, no, those words were mine, and no one coerced me into writing them. But I wrote them with my audience in mind. Would I have written them for another publication? I doubt it.

The reaction to that article has been predictable. Half the people have responded with the typical "Why is CT covering a pagan artist?" and "I thought the name of this magazine had Christianity in the title" comments, and the other half have been bent out of shape about the legalists. Sadly, very few people seem to want to discuss Bruce Springsteen or his music. My comment was meant to, in theory, cut the legalists off at the pass. I really don't want to debate Springsteen's spiritual convictions, and indeed I don't know them. I do know that Springsteen has never claimed to be a Christian, and I thought it might be advantageous to acknowledge that at the outset. That said, there are many, many references on Wrecking Ball that are unambigously consonant with a Christian worldview.

None of that, of course, has stopped the beloved brothers and sisters from sniping. I should probably abstain from reading the comments to any CT article I write. It might be a good activity to give up for Lent, or perhaps all year round.

#36 Andrew

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:54 PM

I've listened through it twice so far, and my initial reaction is that Wrecking Ball is Springsteen's most consistently solid album in a long time (and I say this as one who's found much to love in more recent recordings such as The Rising, Devils and Dust, and Magic). But in those albums, there were some weak links. Here, so far, I'm not finding that: from the opening salvo of prophetic irony in 'We Take Care of our Own' to the concluding gusto of 'We Are Alive,' this album stays strong.

Even better, I like it's consistently sharp focus on its theme (with the exception of 'You've Got It') of decent hardworking people betrayed by the heartless wielders of American power. The Boss is speaking brutal truths in an hour when they desperately need to be heard. And as Andy has pointed out, Springsteen's lyrics are thick with biblical references to Jesus' and the prophets' concern with social justice and compassion. I appreciate, too, how the expressions of rage are leavened with guarded hope.

I also like that despite the 'heavy' message, there's a refreshing mix of tempos, so we don't get a bunch of dirgelike tunes. I very much dig the musical style on display: Springsteen has effectively melded gospel (even a bit of Sacred Harp), Irish reels, rap, and driving rock.

#37 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:14 AM

The Art House blog just posted an essay I wrote about this, my attempt to treat Walter Brueggemann and Wendell Berry as conversation partners with Springsteen.

The first time I heard Wrecking Ball, the new record from Bruce Springsteen, I was driving through the middle of Kentucky on winding country roads, windows down, stereo cranked all the way up, wind whistling through my hair. I was on my way to the Abbey of Gethsemani — where Thomas Merton lived for most of his life — two days after my 30th birthday, looking forward to the time away to read, write, and reflect. With books by Merton (a first-edition copy of his memoir, Seven Storey Mountain, loaned to me by my friend Ian), Walter Brueggemann, and Wendell Berry in my bag as companions for the weekend, I found myself listening to Springsteen’s lyrics through the lens of Brueggemann’s and Berry’s words.


http://www.arthousea...pringsteen.html