Welcome to my asylum for ideas and thoughts on movies, politics, culture, and all things Bruce Springsteen.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Best of the Boss

I thought that my post on Backstreets a couple of days ago should be justified by a short list of Bruce's best albums. I'm a fan of his entire career, not just the "peak" years of Co-Co-Courtney Cox. Here's a list of Bruce's top five. Comments appreciated.

5. The Rising - only this guy could make a 9/11 album that captured the human emotions of pain, loss, vengeance, and survival that really rocks. Highlights are the title cut, My City of Ruins, and the showstopper Mary's Place.

4. Nebraska - he caught heat for this album and yet there isn't anyone of his caliber that could strip down and still cut to the bone like this one. Often times loud guitars and pounding drums make for cool rock but really, when you get down to it, true emotions and incredible writing ability places records heads and shoulders above their competitors. From the desire to never lose faith (Reason To Believe), to the threat of a rumble (Atlantic City) to the shame and fierce pride of being poor (Used Cars) this is Bruce's rawest record.

3. Born in the U.S.A. - naysayers have at it, but this album kicks major tail. Don't listen to it thinking you're back in elementary school and you'll find that ignored Vietnam vets to worried fathers to best friends keeping tried and true come to life on this misunderstood record. Sorry Reagan, sorry Will, Bruce isn't praising your upper-crust supply-side myopic vision of the country, he's singing about Woody Guthrie's, Thomas Jefferson's, Martin Luther King's, and Walt Whitman's America.

2. Darkness On the Edge of Town - With all apologies to Lefty Brown, this one is the penultimate Bruce album. With this record, all innocence is lost, all dreams have been shattered, and what you're left with are a collection of people who live life how they see it - a struggle to be decent (Adam Raised A Cain), hard working (Factory), loving (Candy's Room) human beings. There's light at the end of the tunnel here (The Promised Land), but don't let someone else tell you where to go. You get there yourself (Streets of Fire) and get the hell out of where you are now (Badlands).

1. Born To Run - THE album, maybe of all time. He's still young, still hopeful, still romantic. The vivid imagery on this album has you watching the characters looking to love, be loved, and it is their resilience that attracts you to them. You can hear the screen door slamming behind Mary as she walks out onto her front porch (Thunder Road), hear the street rats scuffle and play along the sidewalks of the Brownstones along Tenth Avenue, and understand the sense of urgency of making sure tonight's deal goes down in order to return to a decent means of living (Meeting Across the River). The album's last cut, Jungleland, is Bruce's nine minute rock opera of West Side Story that paints the city a stage with its performers all seeking to be the best. In a sense, it's the one song that describes Springsteen's career up to that point more so than any of his other epic songs.