Sunday, April 20, 2008

Top 5 Bruce Springsteen songs

Tim's Top 5:
I've had this list partly composed for ages, but I figured I needed to put it down before I actually listened to the three new albums I've acquired in the last two days (in my defense, they're albums I regarded as totally inessential, and I'm probably only wrong about Tracks -- In Concert/MTV Plugged; Human Touch; and Tracks).
Just because I think it informs you about where I'm coming from, my interest in Springsteen has taken a circuitous path. I bought Greatest Hits and The River in probably 2000, The Rising in 2002, Devils & Dust in 2005, Greetings from Asbury Park; Wild, Innocent; and Darkness On the Edge Of Town in 2006 before getting everything else (except Lucky Town and Chimes of Freedom) last year, courtesy of a lot of trips to the library, a couple to amazon, and yesterday's trip to Pathmark. Yeah. Pathmark.

1. Thunder Road - I thought Nick Hornby was really odd when I read his Songbook entry on Thunder Road five years ago. I mean...Born to Run, right? That's the song. Thunder Road is just a good song. Sigh. I hate 5-years-ago me. Thunder Road is one of the best novels ever written, it just also happens to be a song. Three or four lines from Thunder Road should have just been songs on their own. After several attempts, I've decided I'm incapable of describing it in sentences. If it weren't for the line "You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright", I think I'd probably actually waste hours of my life attempting to convince Sarah to make this our wedding song. But because of that line, I know better. Thanks, Bruce.

2. No Surrender - This is a great song, made even better because it's about the only song from Born In The USA I hadn't heard before getting the album. It's much more of a frenzied pace than most of Springsteen's work, but it's worth it. The fact that this song was actually used in an attempt to dethrone Bush, well, all the better. It's also a good motivator in attempting to prepare for the Philly Marathon.

3. Atlantic City - This song leads to research, that's how good it is. Ah, the chicken man. The amount of desperation and rationalization crammed into 3:57 is astounding, even for an album that makes several references to the electric chair.

4. The Ties That Bind - It's pure pop-rock joy, but it's a great opening track for an amazing first disc. The stuttering is lifted directly from Buddy Holly, solely for my satisfaction. I'd doubt there's a whole lot of fans who would put it on their top 100 list, but I'll enjoy it.

5. Land of Hope & Dreams - I have no patience. None. Particularly not with songs over seven minutes songs. But Springsteen has several I could easily put in this list without lying to myself. Jungleland, American Skin, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight). But Land of Hope & Dreams has the kind of emotion that I don't think anyone but Bruce can generate, a song telling you that the world's a total disaster of a mess overrun with shattered hopes, crushed dreams, whores and gamblers but still strikes you as life-affirming.

Honorable mention: Born to Run - I've gone through periods in my life where I would have contended it was one of the greatest rock songs ever. It still didn't make this list; The Promised Land - it indulges a little too much in 1970s Bruce mumbling, but it just rings of triumph, and it ought to; From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come) - it's on the Essential Bruce Springsteen, and that's exactly how I'd describe it. He opened a concert in Philly with it in 2003 and I'm still in disbelief that I could have been there; American Land - Much like everything on The Seeger Sessions, it's way too good. Way too good. It's an amazing pro-America song that still rings totally dark; Lonesome Day/The Rising - both amazing songs, though I preferred Worlds Apart when I first got the album; Brilliant Disguise - I'm really coming around on this song, it strikes me as an exceptionally mature song that you can only appreciate once you've experienced adult relationships, but it still has a drum machine. Hence, no top 5; Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) - you can have the other 6:30 if you want, but "Tell him this is last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
Because a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance" is the most euphoric moment in a rock and roll song.

Dan's Top 5:

Let's see, "Born To Run," "Dancing in the Dark," "Born in the USA"... Nope, I can only stand three Bruce Springsteen songs. Granted, that's from the pool of songs I've heard on the radio. Until someone challenges my belief that the man can't sing, I don't see myself liking Bruce Springsteen.

Ryan's Top Five

I like Bruce Springsteen but I've never been able to really get into him. I do have enough favorites for a Top 5, however.

1. "Born to Run" - Cliche I'm sure, but there's a reason many people consider it his best song. I am in that group.

2. "Thunder Road" - Excellent.

3. "Streets of Philadelphia" - I honestly love this song, but I think more than that I like wearing a hoodie when it's cold and we're outside, getting Cortney's attention ("Look, Cortney!) and somberly, Springsteenily singing, "Streets of Philadelphia..." as I saunter along with my hands in my pockets. It's one of my longest-running jokes and I'm fairly sure it's only funny to me, and maybe Tory.

4. "Dancing in the Dark" - One of my favorite songs from the '80s.

5. "Born in the USA" - Good stuff.

In retrospect, I went with what I'll call a "Now This Is What I Call Springsteen!" that would make record compilers and boring People Magazine Top 5-makers happy. Yikes. I defer to Tim.

1 comment:

ChrisMooreMusic said...

I have to admit, as a BIG fan of recent Bruce Springsteen songs, I haven't piked up the Seeger Sessions yet. I really do like cover songs in moderation, but I wasn't sure that I could go a whole album without a Springsteen original. Maybe I'll give it a shot...