8 tracks out of 11. Not bad. Or, considering the two iTunes bonus tracks, 10 of 13. (.76923)
Wrecking Ball, the newest album by the Boss, is a political, patriotic, and often spiritual cry of defiance as can be expected of Springsteen and the Band. It is left leaning, populist, occasionally sneering and ironic, but heartfelt and, in the end, hopeful. But you can read those reviews elsewhere. From people paid to review music the way people want to read music reviews. &c.
I began the morning by listening to the album streaming off Paste off Twitter. Made it hard to RT anything, but it was early and I hadn’t gotten to the business of reading about Hitler and McLuhan yet. Still watching animal videos with the kid and the coffee. I then, the wife being a die-hard fan for life (a rare bit of pop culture she inherited from her mother who has been attending shows up in the Tri-State area since the early 70s), purchased the album off of iTunes and was quite pleased to find the two additional tracks (among my favorites). Knowing that we have tickets for the Tampa show coming up in a couple weeks, I then put together my set list (primarily featuring the new tracks I liked – all 10 – coming to a total of 27 tracks, roughly 2 hours).
And then, while listening, and considering the music, I got to thinking. As a media theorist is wont to do when culture hits you over the head in such an overt manner.
Briefly: this is one of the political albums. Like Nebraska, like Joad, like The Rising. And, given the climate, its time has come. It is noted throughout the reviews that this was written and recorded before Occupy made its stand. But it speaks to the same impulse. And, unfortunately, it speaks in a language that the majority can understand (whether or not they are willing to listen) and it comes from a man that will not be accused of being a unwashed, rapist, hippie camping out on the public dole. The veracity of such claims is irrelevant.
Of course, as is also oft noted, this is a populist, leftist call from a man who has an estimated net worth of ~$200 mil. That puts him into the 1%. Which, then, for all those folk who might like a clear and concise class war creates either confusion or cognitive dissonance. Because if he is of the hated minority, then what could he do for the rest of us but give back the money and destabilize the system? Of course that is a facile reading of the divide. The issue is not, in fact, over money. The issue is about the system. He has benefited from one side of the system (the side that lets the exploitation be carried out by iTunes (Apple) and Columbia (Sony) and the rest of the apparatus of the music industry) while critiquing it from the other. This is the essential Benjamin v. Adorno grudge match.
Can Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and their music give rise to a legitimate leftist, populist political uprising? or are we just jitterbugging to really awesome music?
It’s not really a question that I can answer. It doesn’t have one answer. Will the music be used for political ends? Almost certainly. Will it make people engage with the system in a positive fashion? With hope. Will it overthrow the system? Highly unlikely. Is it appreciated unironically by conservatives who have such a limited grasp of the English language that they can love music that calls them out as heathens and hypocrites? Yes. You can’t win ’em all.
Ideal list for the Tampa show of the Wrecking Ball Tour:
Shackled and Drawn
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Death to My Hometown
O Mary Don’t You Weep
Adam Raised A Cain
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
We Take Care of Our Own
Lost In The Flood
Swallowed Up (In the Belly of the Whale)
Mary Queen Of Arkansas
Jack of All Trades
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
We Are Alive
We Shall Overcome
Born In The U.S.A.