Judith Light, Move Over
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I conducted a survey -- margin of error: 100 percent minus three over roughly seven billion -- and everyone agrees: The first song on the second side of Bruce Springsteen's first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., is one of only two missteps on an otherwise revelatory debut. A saccharine, meandering ballad, "The Angel" might have caused a few first-time Bruce listeners to question whether the profundity of the album's first side was merely a fluke -- a few good songs honed over a lifetime of otherwise mediocre music-making.

This kind of thinking, even if transient, is apostasy and leads over the short term to humiliation. The faithful, on the other hand, are rewarded; just seconds after the end of "The Angel", "For You" begins and the Boss's essential bossness is established once and for all.

1. Piano-led baroque pop is one thing. Virtuoso cymbal work and twangy acoustic guitar are two others. Interestingly, they can be combined for a powerful effect (cf. "For You").
2. Bruce sings that the titular "you" "did not need my urgency." Regardless, it's precisely that urgency that makes "For You" worth having. Each repetition of the chorus seems more rushed, each follows the last ever more quickly.
3. The literally breathtaking vocal crescendo arguably beginning at 3:35.

Job was rewarded modestly for his faith in the face of God's abandonment, but The Boss, more generous than even the almighty, pays for listeners' patience with riches beyond their imagining. Immediately following "For You": another work of genius.

Is "Spirit in the Night" my favourite Bruce Springsteen song?

1. Dry drums during the chest-wrenching soul of the "Spirit in the night"/"All night" back-and-forth.
2. "Me and Crazy Janey singing our birthday song ... felt so right ... together we moved like spirits in the night"
3. Listen to the saxophone here, a slyly syncopated interlocutor for Bruce's Van-like vocal, and receive an answer to a question that has haunted you since birth: Why was Clarence Clemons the only E-Streeter to appear on the cover of Born to Run alongside his boss, The Boss?

Anyway, it's nearly winter. Many of us will soon be without sunshine and without warmth; there's no reason for any of us to be without Bruce Springsteen.


Posted by Jordan at October 15, 2008 6:49 PM

Posting old Bruce Springsteen songs on my birthday? Only my wife gave me a better present!

Posted by Stephen at October 15, 2008 9:15 PM

...I only got Ashbury Park a couple of months ago...That was definitely too late. For You is a great tune.

(My current favourite song would be Racing in the street)

Posted by Jana TheJunction at October 16, 2008 12:59 PM

I had never thought about why Clemens appeared on the cover of Born To Run and you reason sounds as good as any other. Few saxophonists make sense in a modern rock n'roll setting, and Clemons is one of the very few.

Posted by C.W. Thompson at October 16, 2008 3:42 PM

but does the van-ness of bruce's early work not sully it? me, I could care less, bruce is bruce and van is van, and can you blame the boss for emulating the man? but I do find it amusing that van himself was upset a little by the similarity; at least, I seem to recall reading that somewhere.

"spirit in the night" is truly great. if you haven't seen the '75 hammersmith odeon concert film, jordan, YOU MUST. the effect it had on me: I never even liked springsteen until, around two in the morning on public broadcasting, I chanced upon that particular version of "rosalita" and the joy forced me to my feet. you've written about the summer of the band, the autumn of rumours; that was my springtime of the wild, the innocent & the e street shuffle (which is, alongside the Bible, one of the few holy documents in my house presently).

I could go on forever so I'll shut up.

Posted by tyler at October 17, 2008 2:31 AM

What is the other misstep?

Posted by Drew at October 17, 2008 9:23 AM

"Mary Queen of Arkansas"

Posted by Sal Paradise at October 17, 2008 11:05 PM

Nail on the head, I think, Sal. Bravo Jordan for talkin' Boss!

Posted by Joel Taylor at October 18, 2008 6:58 PM

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