Thursday, June 14, 2007
No. 18: Born To Run
Band: Bruce Springsteen
Album: Born to Run
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Springsteen's breakthrough album has some of his most evocative songs, as well as the best production.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm not a Springsteen fan. His blue collar rock anthems like "Jungleland" fail to move me.
Best song: "Thunder Road" is a well-written song and I enjoy the covers of it by Mary Lou Lord and Tortoise/Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Really, though, the piano-driven way it's recorded makes it sound like a jock jam.
Worst song: Everything else stinks.
Is it awesome?: To someone, yes. To me? No way.
You know my biases. This is the key one. I don't like Springsteen. I find his gravely, almost-Tom Waits vocals to be irritating. I find his blue collar rock songs about New Jersey or (even worse) the dust bowl to be complete nonsense. I don't care about the streets of Philadelphia.
But, I'm trying to go about this project with a somewhat open mind and I'm trying to find positives in the music. A lot of people I know love Springsteen and there is a certain poetry to songs like "Thunder Road" and "Born To Run." As I mentioned, I really enjoy the Tortoise and Bonnie "Prince" Billy cover of "Thunder Road," specifically when Oldham sings "Mary's dress sways/like a vision she dances across the porch."
But, after listening to this album three times (in a row. The sacrifices I make for this stupid project) all I can think is "wow, this sounds like the kind of album you can only enjoy in a car." It sounds like driving on an open highway at night. This is not a compliment. I've driven many times through central Illinois in the middle of the night. It's boring.
Maybe it's fun in New Jersey. It isn't fun in the Midwest.