Music: Bruce Spingsteen proves he’s still in the game with ‘Wrecking Ball’

By Dillon Stewart |
Bruce Springsteen, ‘Wrecking Ball’

Since the dawn of the new millennium, many classic bands and artists from the ’70s and ’80s have slowly drifted into obscurity. Bob Dylan, for example, has released four albums since 2001, none of which have included anything even remotely notable. Yet after 17 studio albums, Bruce Springsteen has shown that he has still got it by releasing his best album since The Rising.

Wrecking Ball is a home run for Springsteen. Instead of drifting into obscurity, he has updated his sound with the most experimental album he has ever recorded. The lyrics are full of angst and despair. Where The Rising tells stories of hope for political change, Wrecking Ball is full of anger towards the broken American political system.

In “We Take Care of Our Own,” Springsteen claims, “The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone.” He is saying that, in America, we have abandoned the ideals that we once had. He uses the example of Hurricane Katrina in the lyric, “From the shotgun shack to the Superdome/We yelled ‘help’ but the cavalry stayed home.” The people asked for help, but nobody answered their call.

“Death to my Hometown,” which was inspired by the destruction of the old New York Giants Stadium, might as well be an anthem for the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is full of nostalgia for his hometown and what it has become. In essence, it serves as a response to “My Hometown” on his 1984 album Born to Run.

No cannonballs did fly
No rifles cut us down
No bombs fell from the sky
No blood soaked the ground
No powder flash blinded the eye
No deafening thunder sounded
But just as sure as the hand of god
They brought death to my hometown

Over the years, he has seen his hometown destroyed, not by the hand of God, but by the hand of Corporate America. This song is an anthem for the 99 percent. It is an anthem for all the mom and pop stores that have been replaced by major corporations. It is not a hopeful song, but a song of disgust and despair.

Musically, Wrecking Ball is extremely different from any album Bruce Springsteen has released to date. Numerous artists appear on this album, but most notable is Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine. Morello’s wailing guitar solos can be heard on such songs as “Jack of All Trades” and “This Depression.”

The album has a very strong folk and Irish influence, especially “Death to my Hometown” and “Shackled and Drawn.” This is not surprising, considering his Irish heritage and his friendship, and recent appearances, with Celtic rock band Dropkick Murphys. That being said, it is certainly different than any of his previous work.

The most surprising aspect of Wrecking Ball is that many songs have more a hip-hop sound, using loops and hip-hop drum beats. “Rocky Ground” even includes a rap by gospel-singer Michelle Moore, who also sings the refrain throughout the song.

Springsteen has not ignored the changing times with Wrecking Ball, but rather embraced them, most likely opening the door to a new generation of Springsteen fans. This album is just the spark he needed after sub-par releases like “Magic” and “Working on a Dream.”

Even at 62, The Boss does not show signs of slowing down.

  1. NIck said:

    Actually, “Wrecking Ball” is about Giants Stadium, not “Death To My Hometown”

    • NIck said:

      And “My Hometown” is from 1984’s Born In The USA, not Born To Run. And the lines about Bob Dylan not doing any notable work in the 2000’s and Magic, Bruce’s critical come back album, being a subpar effort are completely preposterous.

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