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A Word to the Wise: Springsteen’s new release touches a chord

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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I never buy any new music these days without first giving it a test listen. However, there is one exception to my rule — Bruce Springsteen. The Boss seems to speak in a language that I understand and agree with so when he releases a new album, I automatically buy it. He is one of the artists my generation has gone through youth and adulthood with, and now we approach old age together as he gives a voice to these times. Now, I am not such a diehard fan that I think he can do no wrong, and I do not always share his political views. Nor am I enthused that he has gotten rich singing about how it is to be poor, singing about the working man while he has not worked what many would call a normal job for most of his life. Still, Springsteen has a way of touching the nerve of social issues and speaking to the heart of relevant matters. Plus, he writes his own music and plays his own instruments, and that says a lot in this day of famous musicians, “idols” and “voices” who cannot creatively write anything new and who often do nothing more than attempt to sing with no musical ability. Well, this week he released “Wrecking Ball.” I opened it and sat there listening to it straight through in one sitting, reading the lyrics. Sometimes he suffers from Bob Dylan syndrome to the point where I cannot understand the words. Many of the songs have the “wall of sound” feel to them, as well as traces of the “Seeger sessions” released a few years ago. Any follower of Springsteen knows that he makes use of a certain set of recurring metaphorical themes — river, train, factory, etc. This album continues the trend. Various lyrics bemoan the stark difference between the rich and the poor (“Death to My Hometown” “Shackled and Drawn”). He also, in typical aging baby boomer fashion, seems to be thinking more about impending death (“We Are Alive” “Swallowed Up”). Songs like “Land of Hopes and Dreams” give a gospel feel to much of the album, as do such references to “a cross up yonder on Calvary’s hill” and “rise up shepherd, rise up.” The title song surely speaks the truth when it states, “Hard times come and hard times go, so hold tight to your anger and don’t fall to your fears.” Thanks for the encouragement Bruce. You can reach Tom at truppfolsom@yahoo.com.