You know, it's not all about Bruce Springsteen. (yes it is) I mean, there are other great new releases out this week. (not really)
The similarities between Magic, Bruce's last release and Bruce's new record Working On A Dream, were unnerving at first. Musically, many of the new tracks are mirror images of tracks from Magic, at least to my ears.
"Surprise Surprise" is "I'll Work For Your Love." Listen to the intro of "Surprise, Surprise," and right before the snare smack, start singing "Pour me a drink Theresa...," the opening lyric from "I'll Work For Your Love." Same song.
Speed up "You'll Be Coming Down" from Magic just a little, and you have "My Lucky Day." As a matter of fact, right after the Big Man's solo in "Lucky Day," start singing the last verse of "Coming Down." You can do it. Really.
What about "This Life" and "Your Own Worst Enemy?" Here are two separate songs that evoke the baroque pop and grandiose production of The Left Banke and The Walker Brothers, with Beach Boys-inspired harmonies and string arrangements. It wouldn't be a problem if Bruce had written, say... a dozen or so songs in the last 30 years that sounded like this. But the beauty and wonder of hearing "Your Own Worst Enemy" for the first time is almost tainted (almost) now that another mini powerhouse in the shape of "This Life" comes so quickly. It's as if Bruce wrote these pastiches and put one in column A and one in column B.
Don't even get me started on "Queen Of The Supermarket," the song that one friend referred to as "a song that could be as classic as 'Racing In The Street,' if he only didn't say 'supermarket' so much" Well, I get it. I mean, no matter how good "Yonkers Joe" is, the movie is still called "Yonkers Joe." Still, "Supermarket" is another brilliant work of art.
But, what if I heard Working On A Dream first and Magic didn't exist?
That said, I can't stop listening to WOAD. It truly is the masterpiece that some, but not all, have been calling it. If you're like some who think Bruce's best work is behind him, nothing will ever sound satisfying to you again. Very few songs are "Thunder Road" & "Meeting Across The River" and few will ever be. But like Magic, Working On A Dream is filled with Bruce's love of melody, and the music that made him. If you're looking for a dozen sparse arrangements with lyrics about guys doing hard time, look elsewhere. Those days are over... for now.
One last thing about "Outlaw Pete." It is NOT "Jungleland." STOP saying "Jungleland" when talking about "Outlaw Pete."