Call him The Lyricist
Bruce Springsteen in five words? Singer. Songwriter. American. Working-class. Hero.
I discovered his work in 2003, thanks to Luc - the father of a girl from my high school. I'd like to refer to that man as my "Luc[y] musical charm".
My all-time favourite Bruce song (recommended by noted Belgian music journalist and rock star Stijn Meuris) is Jungleland from 1975's Born To Run. A 9-minute song with touching lyrics and an epic sax solo by Clarence Clemons.
His real (commercial) breakthrough album is Born In The U.S.A.. It may be my favourite album, just because most of the songs are extremely excellent. The only 'lesser tracks', in my opinion, are Darlington County and Bobbie Jean. And even these two are a 150 times better than any of my poems.
I'm On Fire, the sixth song on Born In The U.S.A., contains my favourite Springsteen-lyric :
Sometimes it's like someone took a knife/Baby edgy and dull/And cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my skull/At night I wake up with the sheets soakin' wet/And a freight train runnin' through the middle of my head.
Wow. Heavy. Genius.
I'm On Fire is one of the few sexually charged Springsteen tunes, up there with Red Headed Woman ("When it comes to get/A dirty job done/It takes a red headed woman") and Reno ("200 dollars straight in/250 up the ass/She smiled and said").
For some odd reason, a lot of Springsteen's fans dislike his 1992 albums Human Touch and Lucky Town. I don't have an opinion about
Human Touch yet, for I only know the title track.
But Lucky Town is far from mediocre. The title track has become my second favourite
Springsteen tune. I discovered it in the summer of 2008 and I'm still listening to it on a weekly basis.
I don't know why, but I can really relate to the lyrics. When it comes to luck you make your own/Tonight I got dirt on my hands but I'm building me a new home.
I am a very happy guy that has had a very fine childhood, so I never needed to "make my own luck", but still : it feels like Bruce Springsteen is singing about/to me.
And I was painting a cellar (as a student's job) during that summer, so that may explain why "I got dirt
on my hands" speaks to me.
Or Out where the sky's been cleared by good hard rain/There's somebody callin' my secret name. I just love the concept of good hard rain : no regular rain, but good hard rain!
Next time you see your friends, you can ask them : did you see some good hard rain today? No? Well, better luck next time.
And it makes you wonder : does everyone have a secret name? And if so, what's yours?
Lucky Town, the album, also includes Living Proof - yet another breathtaking song : My prison was just an open cage/There were no keys no guards/Just one frightened man and some old shadows for bars.
Wow. Heavy. Genius. Shadows for bars? I wish I had written that one.
His oeuvre contains masterpiece after masterpiece. And he shows no sign of slowing down or losing his touch. Take 2002's The Rising, filled with 12 wonderful ditties, 2 mediocre tracks and 1 dud. You're Missing, about the loss of a family member
on that ill-fated 11 September, combines classy music with seemingly simple lyrics : Everything is everything/But you're missing.
Why didn't I write that!? Because there's only one Bruce Springsteen, that's why.
Springsteen may be nicknamed "The Boss", but I'll refer to him as "The Lyricist". He truly is one of the b(igg)est singer-songwriters ever to grace the earth. Thank you, thank you for the music. We are not worthy.
Julian De Backer, 2 December 2009