Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wrecking Ball

I keep starting and stopping writing this post in honor of Bruce Springsteen's new album Wrecking Ball. I'm not going to write a review because, you know, any review I would write that would consist of anything but "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce" would just be a lie and we all know it. Not that I thought the album was that good, but because, you know, there's pretty much a constant chorus of  "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce" going on in my head at any given time.

So, I thought, why not write about other people's reviews of Bruce? You see, I've noticed that all reviews of all Bruce albums seem written either by people so enamored of the man that they can't bear to say a bad thing about him or people who are just kind of clueless. People who don't get that songs like We Take Care of Our Own, Glory Days, and Born in the USA are meant to be ironic, or that Springsteen is not the "speaker" in all of his songs.
And I think the reason the reviews always seem to be senseless to me is that it's all a bunch of people attempting to voice the ineffable. Either listening to Bruce is a religious experience for you OR it's a chore. Either you can understand and are moved by every word he says OR you find the few words you can distinguish trite and predictable. 
And for Wrecking Ball, either Bruce has built, as the NPR reviewer put it, "a marvelously diverse creation" OR he ripped off the sounds of a bunch of younger bands in a desperate attempt to remain relevant, as the LA Times critic implies. Either he's tapped directly into the zeitgeist of the "real America" OR he's exploiting the zeitgeist to sell records. Either he's been recycling the same half dozen melodies for forty years OR he remains gloriously true to his own aesthetic. Either he's an old man thrashing against his own obsolescence OR he is the mature manifestation of his earlier ideals.
And whether you believe the former or the latter depends on whether you are and remain one of the rabid faithful. I'm one of the rabid faithful. Listening to Bruce makes me want to be a better person. He's brilliant and timeless and his art taps into truths as old as existence. His music speaks to me, inspires me, and thrills me. He still has things to say and he's saying them as only he can. 
I feel really fortunate to be one of the rabid faithful, and I hope I remain so, even if he makes a dozen more albums that sound just like The Ghost of Tom Joad (which I actually thought was a really good album - are you shocked?)

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