Having just appeared on the most-watched television event called The Super Bowl (where a 30 second commercial costs US $3 million!), it's really no secret that The Boss is back. The Boss is, of course, Bruce Springsteen, the singer/songwriter who is known for his "everyman" songs about the struggles of everyday life in America (check out his most famous album Born in the U.S.A., for sure). His latest album is called Working on a Dream, which was just released two weeks ago.
Since I last saw Springsteen's music, it was on his very excellent cover song We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (I'm a cover-lover, so I never bothered to pick up the last true album called Magic in 2007). This album was recorded over a period of time from 1997 to 2005 and are basically Pete Seeger songs, a combination of early mountain-folk songs and fiddling Irish songs. Not all the songs were written by Seeger, but you'll know most of these songs as either traditional songs (like "John Henry"). My favorite song on this collection is the the Irish folk song called "Mrs. McGrath" - an anti-war song about a woman in the army who lost both her legs to a cannon.
You see some of these story-telling elements on Working on a Dream, especially on the "Outlaw Pete" song that opens up the album. The epic eight-minute song tells the story of Pete, from his birth in Appalachian Mountains in the Wild West, to his disappearance, and possibly the best song on the album, in my opinion. It's really a shame that the song is also the most stylistically and structurally different than the rest of the songs on the album and wouldn't make a good representation of the album.
Night with the Jersey Devil", which will undoubtedly make it on as a B-Side or on a future release.
The latest single from this album is "My Lucky Day", which is what I think of a typical modern Springsteen, an optimistic song and generally a happy tone to it. It's not really one of my favorite song on the album (too upbeat for my taste), but you will find yourself singing along to its repeating lyrics of "Honey, you're my lucky day/Baby, you're my lucky day" over and over again. I'm sure this will be a real concert pleaser.
I think most casual fans will probably pick up the album for the Golden Globe awarded song for "The Wrestler". This song closes the album, and was written for the critically-acclaimed movie of the same name. I haven't seen the movie, but most of the reviews I've seen on this movie is that it's a real tear-jerker and everyone agreed that Mickey Rourke did a fantastic job acting on the film.
The origin of this song was that Springsteen and Rourke are real life friends and basically Springsteen wrote the song for the movie for free. The song was played before director Darren Aronofsky before a concert, and he loved it so much, it became the theme song.
"The Wrestler" song also has a sad, but lifting, feel, about the struggle of someone with a mental or physical handicap. You can instantly relate to the simple lyrics of "If you've ever seen a one trick pony then you've seen me", the theme is recycled throughout the song, ending with "If you've ever seen a one legged man then you've seen me".
It should be no surprise that with Working on a Dream's release on Columbia Records, it is the 9th Springsteen album to hit number one - and as I currently write this, it's still #1 on the Billboard Charts. You can find Bruce Springsteen's album at all record stores, but if you're a couch shopper, head over to amazon or itunes. I recommend picking up the deluxe edition as it comes with some bonus material, like a DVD of the making of the album.