Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy 65th Birthday Bruce Springsteen -- My Top 51 Bruce Springsteen Songs

Rolling Stone has decided to rank Bruce's top 100 songs.  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-bruce-springsteen-songs-of-all-time-20140116

I have loved Springsteen since 1979 when I was allowed to buy a copy of the Born to Run album.  I have only attended two Springsteen concerts - one in Buffalo, NY in 1985 and one in Durham, NC circa 1988 (I could look it up, but I won't).  The 1985 show was magic.  The 1988 show was very good.

Look, has Springsteen had some good songs post-Tunnel of Love?  Sure.  Can you honestly rank any of them ahead of songs he did 1972-1990?  I could only find a couple.  I am not going to sit down and listen to songs I have never heard before that were ranked by Rolling Stone.  So I need to concede that, but for 2-3 songs, my list is pretty much limited to the time I was 26 and younger.

I tried desperately to pare my list to 50.  Some of the last 10 cuts were like choosing between a crushed finger and a severe scar, so I just stopped at 51.  I am sorry.  I just couldn't make myself cut that last one.

Here are my 51 favorites in alphabetical order (most have hyperlinks):

  10th Avenue Freeze-Out 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) Atlantic City Backstreets
Badlands Because The Night Blinded by The Light Born in The U.S.A.
Born to Run Brilliant Disguise Candy’s Room Dancing in The Dark
Darkness on The Edge of Town Drive All Night Factory Fire
For You Growin' up Highway Patrolman Human Touch Hungry Heart
I'm on Fire If I Should Fall Behind It's Hard to Be a Saint in The City
Jersey Girl Jungleland Lost in The Flood Mansion on The Hill
Mary Queen of Arkansas Murder Incorporated My Hometown
Point Blank Prove It All Night Racing in The Street Reason to Believe
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town Sherry Darling
She's The One Something in The Night Spirit in The Night
Stolen Car Streets Of Philadelphia Tenth Avenue Freeze-out The Price You Pay
The Promised Land The Rising The River Thunder Road
Tunnel of Love Wrecking Ball

Top 20 alphabetically:
4th of July, Atlantic City, Because the Night, Blinded by the Light, Born in the USA, Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, For You, If I Should Fall Behind, Jungleland, Point Blank, Prove It All Night, Racing In the Street, Rosalita, Sherry Darling, Stolen Car, Streets of Philadelphia, The Promised Land, The River, Thunder Road.

Top 10 alphabetically

4th of July, Atlantic City, Born in the USA, Born to Run, If I Should Fall Behind, Jungleland,  Racing in the Street, Rosalita, The River, Thunder Road

Top 5
Atlantic City
The River
Thunder Road

Ranked Top 10 Springsteen Songs

10.  Born to Run - always somewhat overrated in my opinion, but if you are in the right mood, a great anthem...  I use the term "overrated" in the manner that one might say that Larry Bird is somewhat overrated.  Is he a top 20 player?  Certainly.  Top 10 - probably.  Best ever?  No.

9.  Born in the USA - as Bruce said in 1985, this is a song about how "what is supposed to be tricklin' down to the folks at the bottom ain't tricklin' very much."

8.  If I Should Fall Behind - beautiful love song especially performed live

7.  4th of July, Asbury Park -- "Sandy, the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight"....and it just gets more descriptive from there.  You feel like you are at the Jersey Shore, many years pre-Snooki.

6.  Racing in the Street -- "Now some guys they just give up livin' and start dyin' little by little piece by piece..."  The remedy?  Racing in the street.  I used to sing this song to my now-20 year old daughter to put her to sleep.

5.  Rosalita -- if you cannot be happy while listening to "Rosalita", you really should seek immediate help.  "Hold on tight, stay up all night, 'cause Rosie I'm coming on strong.  By the time we reach the morning light, I will hold you in my arms."  A rare up tempo and upbeat Springsteen song without an underlying hint of pain.

4.  The River -- "No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle, no flowers no wedding dress...." Like many Springsteen songs it digs deep into the desperation of those not so well off, asking "is a dream a lie if it don't come true?  Or is it something worse...."

3.  Atlantic City  -- while the lyrics purport to go through some sort of pseudo-expose of Atlantic City life, the general message of vague (and perhaps unjustified) hope that the song conveys is very powerful.  "Maybe everything that dies, some day comes back....."

2.  Thunder Road --  Having grown up in an area I badly wanted to get out of, the thought of driving by a girl's house and getting her to come away with me from the "town full of losers" was an awfully powerful message.  As a song, I don't think it is any coincidence that no one other than Bruce does the song.  I mean, you NEVER hear a cover of Thunder Road.   Who in the world is going to make an effort at trying out the wonderfully harmonized, "There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away.  They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets." 
No one.  A quintessential Springsteen song, in my opinion far superior to its album mate "Born to Run."

1.  Jungleland -- The funny thing is that it is a song about the city and the edginess of city life, guns and knives and all.  But as a kid growing up in the sticks I always connected it to my own life as being a song about the desperation of youth and the general shittiness of life and how no one really cares what the hell happens to you.  From a song writing standpoint, you start with the violin and piano, move on to the very interesting story-telling lyrics, then listen to the absolutely wonderful  saxophone solo, finishing with Springsteen's plaintive wailing over the top of the piano.  It is probably my favorite song, period.

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