Assistant Features Editor
Music is possibly the most important thing to me. Next to my family, food and breathing, music ranks pretty high up. I could listen to any song and it can take me back to a certain point in my life, a certain memory and everything that happened will start to flood back.
Bruce Springsteen is the soundtrack to my childhood. “Hungry Heart” off of his fifth studio album, “The River,” takes me back to my younger years when my family would have friends over on Friday nights and Springsteen was always playing in the background.
Springsteen reminds me of my preteens. “My City of Ruins” off of Springsteen’s 12th studio album, “The Rising,” makes me reflect upon a time in my fifth grade classroom taking in the latest of the unfortunate event that was Sept. 11.
Springsteen is the soundtrack to my teens. I can distinctly remember sitting on the screened in porch of my house with my father one summer night listening to Springsteen’s newest release at that time, his 13th studio album, “Devils & Dust.”
Springsteen reminds me of my 20s. Leaving home for the first time to live on my own, I often reflect back on one of his older songs “Bobby Jean” off his seventh studio album “Born in the U.S.A.,” a song about remembrance.
Without a doubt, when I look back upon my early 20s the song, “We Take Care of Our Own,” off of “Wrecking Ball,” Springsteen’s 17th studio album, will remind me of this part of my life.
The first single off of his new album is said to be more about political ideals more than anything else, however, I?can find a way to relate to it that I feel a lot of college students may relate to finding your way and the obstacles you must overcome. “I been knocking on the door/That holds the throne/I been looking for the map/That leads me home/I been stumbling on good hearts/Turned to stone/The road of good intentions/Has gone dry as a bone/We take care of our own.”
While “Easy Money” and “Shackled and Drawn” are both exceptional tracks on the album, the next that stood out to me was “Jack of All Trades.”
The song, which features Tom Morello, who is best known for his band “Rage Against the Machine,” on guitar, is a beautiful piano ballad about a man promising to give everything he has through thick and thin to the one he loves. “It’s all happened before and it’ll happen again/It’ll happen again/I’m the jack of all trades/Darling we’ll be all right.”
The following track, “Death to My Hometown,” has a “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” feel to it. The accordion in the song played by Charlie Giordano, gives the song a Celtic-like feel.
After sitting here for several hours listening to the album on repeat, I’ve found the only track that doesn’t really speak to me is “This Depression.” It’s not that it’s a bad song, it just has yet to click with me. There really isn’t much variation in the lyrics except for one verse and if you couldn’t already tell by the title, it’s rather depressing.
“Wrecking Ball,” the title track of the album, and “Land of Hope and Dreams” means a lot to me and probably any devoted Springsteen fan out there. They are the only two tracks on the album that feature the late Clarence Clemons on saxophone.
Clemons passed away in June of last year at the age of 69 from complications from stroke he had at his home in Florida.
A big question looming in the media prior to the release of this album is how Springsteen and the E Street Band would continue on without their beloved saxophone player. The liner notes in the album’s booklet prove how they would do just that.
“Clarence doesn’t leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die,” the booklet states.
“Wrecking Ball” was originally penned for the demolition of Giants Stadium but now takes on a completely new meaning.
A beautiful number that starts off acoustically takes on the subject of love in “You’ve Got It.”
One can only imagine he penned it about his wife of nearly 21 years, Patti Scialfa. “You got it in your bones/Yeah, you’re realer than/real ever was.”
The next track on the album, “Rocky Ground” covers ground that Springsteen has never trekked before.
The song features singer Michelle Moore rapping a verse a little more than halfway into the song. While it’s personally not my favorite track, I appreciate the new risks Springsteen is taking with his music.
“Land of Hope and Dreams,” which has been featured on two other album’s of Springsteen’s, “The Essential Bruce Springsteen” and “Live in New York City” as live tracks prior to appearing on “Wrecking Ball,” is the only other song to feature Clemons on the album.
It is a track I have always loved and I believe
it fits in well on this album as a studio recorded version. It is another song I feel that when I listen to it some years down the road it will take me back to this particular point in my life. Much like the title explains, it’s about following your hopes and dreams.
“Grab your ticket and your suitcase/Thunder’s rollin’ down this track/Well, you don’t know where you’re going now/But you know you won’t be back/Well darlin’ if you’re weary/Lay your head upon my chest/We’ll take what we can carry/Yeah, and we’ll leave the rest.”
“We are Alive” and “Swallowed Up” (the latter is featured on the bonus edition of “Wrecking Ball”) are exceptional compositions but nothing compared to the final track.
One of my other favorite tracks on the album just so happens to be the last track on the bonus edition of “Wrecking Ball.”
“American Land” is another track that has been featured on previous work of Springsteen’s, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.” Much like “Death to My Hometown” this also has a Celtic feel to it and is a great way to end the album.
Being an avid Springsteen fan myself, with nearly 500 songs in my iTunes music library by him alone, many people close to me know how fond of him and his music I?am and how excited I was for this album to come out.
Needless to say, the album did not dissapoint. It ranks high up with some of my other Springsteen favories, “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Born to Run,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “Nebraska” and “The River.”
With the new album’s Celtic rock feel, the collaboration of rock and rap, the powerful messages behind the new ballads added to Springsteen’s music library, there is no way anyone could go wrong purchasing a copy of “Wrecking Ball.” It is sure to go down in the books as another Springsteen classic.