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What Becomes A Legend Most? – New Springsteen Album

Bruce Springsteen’s new album ‘Working On A Dream’, released today, is an odd beast. Ostensibly inspired by Obama’s election victory, it is in fact a ragtag collection of odds’n’sods mainly dating from the ‘Magic’ sessions and a few new tracks (including his Golden Globe winning track from Mickey Rourke’s new flick ‘The Wrestler’).  Our resident Brooooooooce expert E-Streeter heard it for the first time over the weekend and was distinctly underwhelmed by the experience. Desperately searching for something positive to say about it, he eventually succumbed to admitting that while it isn’t terribly bad, it just isn’t very good.  A bit of a pointless release, was his disappointed conclusion.

So why did the Boss do this? Surely tracks which weren’t considered worthy enough to go on ‘Magic’ – a decent album, certainly, but definitely no ‘Nebraska’ – haven’t suddenly become classics in 12 months? It led us to speculating on what motivates a genuine, bona fide legend to release well after what most people would consider to be their creative peak.

Now, Springsteen – like McCartney, Dylan and Bowie – have nothing to prove. Their place in the music pantheon is secure and nothing is going to change that. And that’s the rub; a good album will not add to their legacy significantly, much in the same way a bad one will not massively erode it. Jesus, look at some of the crap McCartney has tortured us with over the years. Their status as icons is utterly secure. Also, fans have accepted that the stone cold classics, the all-time meisterworks, are long behind them. There’s no expectation of that – the best you hope for is a couple of great tracks that can spice up the live experience and no absolute clunkers.

Springsteen has toured like a man possessed recently, and indeed is on the verge of announcing new dates in support of this release. So maybe that’s it. Old-school slavish devotee of rock’n’roll that he is, perhaps he doesn’t feel comfortable going out without a new release to base it round. Whatever happens, it won’t change the dynamic. He’ll play the new stuff whilst the crowd politely watch, perceptibly waiting for him to move on ‘Badlands’. It’s laudable, if not necessary. Springsteen doesn’t need the money. No-one would accuse him of touring due to avarice, and certainly no-one will leave his shows short-changed.

There is one other possible explanation in this instance. Springsteen has long been the spiritual leader of America’s liberal wing, music division. The election of a Democrat would be a positive step for him at the best of times, but the extraordinary ascent of Obama is undoubtedly a moment for the ages. Perhaps he felt a responsibility to mark this? Perhaps he felt as though he couldn’t let it pass but just didn’t have the songs? The dusting down of old songs would seem to lend this theory some credence. Again, it’s admirable, but not necessary. All that has happened here is a massive boost for Sony, who’ll sell millions of copies of an album they probably weren’t expecting at a time when they could really do with the money.

So probably a nothing release, and certainly one which will be, at best, a footnote in the definitive Boss story. Best to ignore and look forward to the live dates.

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13 Responses

  1. That post reaffirms my own suspicions of it. Will probably buy the album in due course, but only once it becomes much better value. €13 was the cheapest that I saw over the weekend.

    Live show announced for Dublin in July. €100 (give or take) wanted for it!! Could see 5-6 good acts for that much cash!

  2. Jesus mate, that is a lot – c’mon Bruce, you are the champion of the working man, knock the prices down!

  3. A bit like U2 and their constant fight against ‘big business’ and the ‘evil of money’…..£125 tickets says otherwise.

  4. I see they are coming back. As if we didn’t have enough to moan about this weather.

  5. c’mon Bono, bring yer huge heid on, the ELM gang are ready to do battle!!

  6. Fucking right HW!!!!

  7. Just remembered that I have bought a 3-day Primevera ticket for €90 and it is right in the centre of Barcelona! The muppets that still buy €100+ for one act in the current downturn deserve pouring rain and a badly hungover performer!

    I jest!

    Just pouring rain will do!

    🙂

  8. Who’s playing at that Longman?

  9. Still announcing, but MBV and Spiritualised will get headline attention, but also (for me!) – Bowerbirds, Tallest Man on Earth, Alela Diane, Throwing Muses, Plants & Animals, The Mae Shi, Deerhunter…

    The Vaselines are also announced!!

  10. Looks a pretty good bill in a pretty magic venue!

  11. The lady from the Vaselines is our guitar player’s yogo mistress……it’s a small world.

  12. Yogo? Is that yoga on a pogo stick? Cool if so!

    Aye, Barca… The missus has exams then and ain’t best pleased to be missing out!

  13. Bring her back a programme 🙂

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