Getting away from the best (and cheesiest) show of my spring season - I thought I'd return a little bit to what I do best which is making long lists of my favorite songs.
What I love about Springsteen is that his songs tell a story. First and foremost, that has to be my favorite thing about his music. In a world of "oh baby baby" choruses and inane rap songs about money, cars and hoes, Springsteen's music draws you in and doesn't let you go.
My favorite Springsteen album is "The River", his double album from 1980, which I have always thought speaks volumes about my personality. The album juxtaposes very upbeat songs with very sad songs, for a really fleshed-out total experience.
From Wikipedia: Originally, the album was going to be a single set entitled The Ties That Bind and released in late 1979, but Springsteen decided it was "too pop" and added darker material after he'd written "The River". Indeed, The River became noted for its mix of the frivolous next to the solemn. This was intentional, and in contrast to Darkness, for as Springsteen said during an interview, "Rock and roll has always been this joy, this certain happiness that is in its way the most beautiful thing in life. But rock is also about hardness and coldness and being alone ... I finally got to the place where I realized life had paradoxes, a lot of them, and you've got to live with them."
But anyway - this post is not about "The River", it's about my Top 10 Springsteen songs.
1. "The River" (1980)
One of the very rare songs that makes me cry each and every time I hear it. The song is a beautiful and desperately sad story of two young people who fall in love. They are just teenagers when she gets pregnant accidentally and out of a sense of duty, he marries her. But they never feel the same passion again they did on those nights by the river.
2. "The Price You Pay" (1980)
Now they'd come so far and they'd waited so long
Just to end up caught in a dream where everything goes wrong
Where the dark of night holds back the light of day
And you've gotta stand and fight for the price you pay
The last line of the entire song is delivered with such force and emotion that on its merit alone I would include this song in my Top 10. Springsteen's voice is incredible here.
This song is about taking responsibility for your actions - as Steven Tyler once sang "Everybody's got their dues in life to pay" - where each day is a fight and you fight because you don't know how not to.
I can't embed this one unfortunately - this is an alternate take of the song with additional verse and alternate intro.
3. "I'm On Fire" (1984)
This song may be less than 3 minutes, but it manages to convey the utter desperation in the lyric and manages to give me chills. This song brings to mind rainy nights and smoky, empty bars, while a jukebox plays forlornly in the background. It captures the sadness of sitting up all night with a bottle. The backbeat is hurried and rushed, while the guitar is slow and soft. It's an interesting juxtaposition.
My favorite lyric in the song: "It's like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul."
4. "Born To Run" (1975)
The obvious choice but this song is a rock 'n roll classic for a reason. One of Springsteen's most prevalent themes is escaping this godforsaken town and getting out on the open road, and this song captures that perfectly. If you've never heard this song, you need help and I am not going to embed it here. Go turn off Z100 and put on your local classic rock station. Immediately.
5. "Cover Me" (1984)
The live version of this song on the Live 1975-1985 box set is INCREDIBLE. Another reason why I love Springsteen is because he injects such passion into his live performances and rarely disappoints. While the upbeat music behind this song belies the actual frustration of the lyric, the live version gets much closer to matching the lyric to the performance.
6. "Pink Cadillac" (1983)
A fun and upbeat song that is a great sing-along. Any song with the lyric "But my love is bigger than a Honda / It's bigger than a Subaru" deserves to be on a top 10 list any day of the week.
7. "The Fuse" (2002)
A slow-burning sexy song from Springsteen off The Rising album. It calls to mind hot sultry summer days and for some reason, ice melting. Maybe because it's just that hot.
8. "Atlantic City" (1982)
One of Springsteen's most haunting and sparse songs, this song is also a historical lesson about the struggles in Atlantic City. This was one of the first Springsteen songs that ever caught my attention, back when I was 14 and bought Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits (1995 version) at Circuit City - probably because the song title referenced New Jersey.
This song cuts you at your core. The acoustic nature of the song is in stark contrast to so many of Springsteen's other songs - it stands out and stays with you long after the record is over.
9. "Further On (Up The Road)" (2002)
Maybe it's a bit of an unorthodox choice to pick a recent album track from The Rising, but this song stays in my head.
10. "Fade Away" (1980)
I was going to include "All That Heaven Will Allow" from the Tunnel of Love album but I went with this song instead - mainly because it is more powerful and I've loved it far longer.
"Fade Away" is the story of a man whose love is slowly slipping away from him - their relationship hasn't been the way it used to be for a while and they can only reminisce on the great memories of the past rather than continuing to make new ones. Again - another passionate and aching song that I have always loved.