Monday, July 9, 2012

Bruce Springsteen: "Wrecking Ball"

Well, yeah.  It's a classic Bruce Springsteen number.  Famously, the lyrics are a tribute to Giants Stadium, scene of many an E Street Band show over the years, as it was about to be torn down.

Pause to note that the pessimist in me finds it bitterly significant that two of the brightest spots of hope on the second half of this album are old songs.  That is, Bruce had to reach into his bag of unreleased tricks in order to present us with the requisite silver lining.  As if to say, he couldn't muster the optimism in the present moment.  Things are too dire.

So:  here's Bruce serenading a piece of Jersey culture, and a product of American heavy industry, as it's on the way out.  I mean, the metaphorical fruit is pretty low-hanging here, but there wouldn't have been anything to gain by not picking it.  Just because a pitch hangs perfectly doesn't mean you shouldn't swing at it when you need a run.  That's how I feel about this song:  it's an obvious statement, but sometimes you need to come out and state the obvious.  Sometimes giving an audience what they want can be a great act of charity.

Which isn't to say the record doesn't have its subtle and distinct charms.  I like how the strummed electric guitar that underlies the whole thing sounds like a folk guitar, making this otherwise very E Streetwise number into a very natural piece of folk rock.  As befits a guy who's been desperately trying to channel the spirit of Woody Guthrie for almost two decades now.  I like how the horn part sounds like a synth patch worked out in about ten minutes, giving the record a kind of amateurish immediacy.  I like how the sprightly melody, and the singer's light-hearted drawl, underscore the jaunty defiance of the lyrics.

It's almost enough to make a believer out of you.  Almost enough to make you believe there might be a future left after the present dollar-sign-emblazoned wrecking ball gets finished with us.

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