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Caroline Vella Headshot

Prince of the Paupers: Bruce Springsteen

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Things are good for The Boss. After all these years, Bruce Springsteen still seems to be riding high even as the music business wanes. It's nice to see he hasn't been rendered obsolete like so many others whose careers span three plus decades. He's managed to earn his keep with his unwavering commitment to his craft and his fans along with his rock solid work ethic... not to mention all that talent.

But some haven't been as lucky and that seems to be the tone he's taking with his latest, Wrecking Ball. He's a long way from his own working class roots but he still seems to feel the pain of the man whose been left out in the cold. His heart has always been in the right place and this time he's standing up for the many who have gotten the short end of the stick at the hand of a privileged few.

Much of his success also comes from a knack for striking the right chord at the right time so the message really resonates. But he remains relevant not only with the material but with the method as well.

As his own industry has changed, he's reaching out to connect with his fans instead of sitting back and waiting for them to come to him. He's been allowing fans to preview each of the new tracks by doling out one stream a day for the past week and he kicked off a week long celebration of his music on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with a spirited performance of the title track and the anthemic "We Take Care of Our Own." (He's scheduled to return on Friday to close things out and I would expect some surprises. Though I don't know how they could ever top last year's spoof of Bruce brilliantly disguised as his younger bearded self, joining 'Neil Young' (Jimmy Fallon) for the unlikely but irresistible "Whip My Hair." )

Next week he's booked as the keynote speaker at SXSW Music Festival which will also be broadcast live through NPR. Will any of it result in earth shattering record sales? It's hard to say and we won't know until next week's release. But based on the recent mad rush for tickets, his tour which has always been the mainstay of his operation will still be going strong. (Though I am one of the many whose attempt for tickets inexplicably failed... thanks, Ticketmaster!). If Monday night's Late Night performance is any indication, Bruce and his E Street compatriots still got it and continue to bring it every time they hit the stage. It promises to be a great show.

And while everyone is talking about the work he's doing these days.. and it is some great work... there's something to be said about looking back to see just how long a road it's been. A lot has changed for all of us since The Boss first greeted us from Asbury Park and it's been quite some time since he's been hanging down at the beggars bash. But this is the Bruce Springsteen we first fell in love with... down and dirty, raw, unaffected and perhaps never with a hungrier heart. But it's always reassuring to know that he hasn't forgotten where he came from to bring it all full circle.

From 1975, here's "It's Hard To Be a Saint in the City":