Friday, March 9, 2012

Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball arrived on my porch earlier this week and I've finally had the opportunity to listen it multiple times, to ponder and to reflect upon the power of Bruce Springsteen's music and lyrics. Not since Darkness on the Edge of Town has Springsteen delivered such a powerful and angry commentary on the loss of the American Dream. While he doesn't delve into partisan politics, this is a political album that points a finger at the bankers and the powerful whose greed and avarice have left many Americans in an economic and emotional dustbin.

Springsteen pulls out all the stops in Wrecking Ball. There is his trademark rock as well as Biblical, gospel, Irish, and hip hop influences. While most of the songs carry his passion and outrage there are songs of a better tomorrow like the grittier version of "Land of Hope and Dreams." And he explores the mystery of love and friendship in "You've Got It."

Even the titles of many of the songs make Springsteen's disdain for the political and economic elite clear - "Shackeld and Drawn," "Death to My Hometown," "Rocky Ground," and "This Depression" just to name the most obvious. But his deepest passion and anger is found in lyrics that make it clear who Springsteen holds responsible for killing the hopes and dreams of so many. For example in "Shackled and Drawn" Springsteen laments -

Gambling man rolls the dice
Working man pays the bill
It's still fat and easy up on Banker's Hill
Up on Banker's Hill, the Party's going strong
Down here below we're shackled and drawn

In "Death to My Hometown" Springsteen holds the robber barons accountable -

They destroyed our families, factories
And they took our homes
They left our bodies in the plains
The vultures picked our bones

Other songs repeat the themes with different settings and musical styles, but among some there is a glimmer of hope and a call for individuals, communities, the nation to help one another. "Jack of All Trades," one of my personal favorites, especially when Tom Morello's guitar adds a bit of rage, lays the blame for our economic woes squarely on the "banker man," but reminds us of the resiliency of American families -

The hurricane blows, brings the hard rain
When the blue sky breaks
It feels like the world's gonna change
And we'll start caring for each other
Like Jesus said we might
I'm a jack of all trades, we'll be all right

In "We Take Care of Our Own" Springsteen expands on the notion of "caring for each other" to a national scale as he reminds us of all that the politicians in Washington are forgetting -

Where's the promise from sea
to shinning sea
Where's the promise from sea
to shinning sea

Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown

We take care of our own

Check it out for yourself....

Springsteen's detractors (I guess there are a few dumb clucks) probably question his sincerity - after all he's obviously part of the 1%, in the video above playing to others of the 1% about the trials of those of us in the 99%. But Bruce Springsteen's heart and soul are clearly rooted in his working class family and upbringing. Powerful songs throughout his long, prolific career speak to day-to-day life and challenges faced by Americans trying to make it in life - "Racing in the Street," "The Promise," "Factory," "The River," "Youngstown,""The Ghost of Tom Joad,""American Skin," and many others. In Wrecking Ball Bruce Springsteen reminds us that life can be horribly unfair but that we all hope for a better future for ourselves and our children. In 2007's Magic, Bruce Springsteen reminded us that finding our national soul will be a "Long Walk Home." By helping one another, we will get there.

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