Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
In decades to come, the discography of Bruce Springsteen could very well serve as a chronological time capsule into the history of America’s landscape, politically and socially, from the prospective of the blue-collar population and the artist’s of the country. Chapter 17 is titled Wrecking Ball and it represents the turn of the second decade of the 21st century. While things are looking brighter, there’s still that level of uncertainty.
While the opening track We Take Care Of Our Own questions the whereabouts of the good intentions and “the promise from sea to shining sea”, the music that underlines it offers a glimmer of hope. Jack Of All Trades addresses the economic problems of late: “the banker man grows fat/working man grows thin/it’s all happened before and it’ll happen again” before proclaiming “there’s a new world coming/I can see the light/I’m a jack of all trades/we’ll be all right”. The same song also delivers the most striking line on the album “If I had me a gun/I’d find the bastards and shoot ’em on sight,” representing what is likely the mind-frame of many in this situation. A strong desire to act.
Representing the working class, Bruce doesn’t let them down with anthemic melodies like on Shackle And Drawn and hard thumping beats on the Irish-folk-rock influenced Death To My Hometown. While Bruce is known for not relying on the bells and whistles, instead always delivering the bare truth, this album does seem to contain some glossy aspects to it. Rocky Ground as a whole seems to deliver a slightly sensitive side of Bruce with lyrics sung by backing vocalist Michelle Moore as she chants “we’ve been traveling over rocky ground,” with an overall cleaner sound compared to most of the rest of the album. Also worthy of note is the input of live performances of the late Clarence Clemons’ saxophone in Land Of Hope And Dreams, which is one of the shining moments on the record. Due to the stroke that later resulted in his passing, Clemons was unable to record this portion in the studio.
Before the end of the album, Bruce aptly throws out the reminder: We Are Alive, adding further to the overall tone of this entire record that despite the financial crisis, the ongoing wars, and the continuous divide of the nation, there’s always hope. This is done while borrowing from the songbook of another American musical hero Johnny Cash using an extrapolation of his Ring of Fire.
Wrecking Ball represents a turning point in the songbook of Bruce Springsteen both as a representation of the political landscape of America and as an artist. It’s heavier in sound than Bruce has been in nearly two decades, inspired by what some critics attribute to his recent collaborations with some newer rock bands, but lyrically the record is what some have called “his angriest” yet, no longer asking the questions but instead calling for action. Making Wrecking Ball an apt title for such a record.
1. We Take Care Of Our Own
2. Easy Money
3. Shackled And Drawn
4. Jack Of All Trades
5. Death To My Hometown
6. This Depression
7. Wrecking Ball
8. You’ve Got It
9. Rocky Ground
10. Land Of Hope And Dreams
11. We Are Alive