Friday, May 23, 2014

"Working High On A Magic Ball": THE WEEKEND MIX

Long time fans of The Boss have been very critical of his output since 2002's "The Rising." Yes, the man has been prolific but many have publicly voiced their disdain about quantity over quality. I am not one of those people. I not only like the records the man has released, including the universally and unfairly trashed "Working On A Dream," "Outlaw Pete" notwithstanding, I think "The Seeger Sessions" and "Magic" are as inspired as anything in Bruce's career.

We don't need to go down this path again, although it makes for great blogging and you're all welcome to take the trip one more time.

What I've tried to do was create a mix of songs from 2002 to the present that would seem more coherent to the cynical listener. This is dangerous, I know, because it would then appear not only contradictory to what I just wrote, but it would also imply that I know what I'm talking about and the naysayers do not.

That is not my intention, I assure you.

I could just make a separate argument for each record, including "Working On A Dream," "Outlaw Pete" notwithstanding. But I thought this would be easier to swallow and quite frankly, more fun and less work. I think this mix plays well and maybe it will lead to further exploration of the records from which the songs came.

I purposely did not represent "Devils & Dust" or "The Seeger Sessions." I believe the latter works brilliantly on its own and really deserves to remain untouched. "D&D" was mostly a solo project and it felt just as out of place. Plus, I just didn't have the room.

For those paying attention, here is what would be on the "bonus cd":

Devils & Dust
Kingdom Of Days
You'll Be Coming Down
This Life
Long Walk Home
My City Of Ruins


The Rising
Frankie Fell In Love
Shackled & Drawn
Hey Blue Eyes
Just Like Fire Would
Gypsy Biker
Good Eye
Hurry Up Sundown
Jack Of All Trades
Hunter Of Invisible Game
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
The Wrestler
Your Own Worst Enemy
Further On (Up The Road)
Wrecking Ball
Land Of Hope & Dreams

Your ZIP

The Spotify playlist up top, for those who prefer that option, does not include "Wrecking Ball," as it was not available for some reason.


A walk in the woods said...

Fascinating... you didn't even include his cover of "Dream Baby Dream" which I think is brilliant, and for me "My City Of Ruins" has to be on a best-of from this period, it's so good.

I think this is a great idea for a mix, b/c like with so many longtime artists, people get fixated on his old music.

I like it that you call out Magic in particular - I listen to it a good bit and would just about put it next to some of his classic albums for sheery listenability. (On that note, "Radio Nowhere" is a slam-dunk for my best post-1999 Bruce tunes)

I'm looking forward to hearing some songs in this mix I don't know yet. Thanks for the mix and have a rockin' weekend.

steve simels said...

Couldn't agree more, especially about Magic.


Just recently I saw the MusiCares DVD tribute to Bruce and thought I needed to listen to his music in new ways. Et voila!

It is so interesting how recent work impacts you in very different ways than the stuff we listened to forty years ago (Geez ... what would The Who say about that line?). These are some fine songs and a fine mix.

I recall your comments when Jack Of All Trades came out -- exceptional!

Thanks so much Sal.

davidwolfsonnc said...

brilliant idea to preach to the "unconverted" (alas, the rising came out AFTER 9/11 in '02, but a minor quibble)

Sal Nunziato said...


You are so right. I always have 1999 in my head as the new beginning because of the reunion tour. But you are correct.

J. Loslo said...

Thanks, Sal. I guess I'm one of the people this is directed to. I bought Magic when it came out, & must confess I listened to it a couple of times, and while "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" and "Radio Nowhere" got my attention & a place on my iPod, the rest of it got put away & ignored. Haven't got any of his stuff since. I'll listen to these with an open mind & maybe I'll learn something.

davidwolfsonnc said...

and i just want to add that the '06 seeger sessions had its own kind of genius to it . . . he was more than nodding to early 60s folk music as an inspiration; bruce was reinvesting a kind of revivalism in it (see his '06 shows to know what i mean) to make the music dynamic and not a static museum thing. it was no accident that the album came out when it did, attempting to connect its enthusiasm, its universality/topicality with a kind of call to arms when we sink beneath apathy and tolerate increasing outrage done in our name . . . but as long as we have our endless entertainment, never mind. to my mind, an underrated album of the bruce canon on so many levels.

steves said...

I largely agree with you, Sal. I refuse to write Bruce off, and I firmly believe "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" can hold its own against any of his earlier masterpieces. That said, "Frankie Fell in Love" has the distinction of being the first, and only, Bruce song to cause me to switch stations when it comes on my car radio.

Sal Nunziato said...


"The first, and only, Bruce song to cause me to switch stations when it comes on my car radio."

I love when this happens. I once had a discussion that turned into an argument that has been going for 15 years over something similar. My cousin hated the first Fountains Of Wayne album but loved the second one, two records that are basically the same. Still baffles me. (Of course he and I argue over everything.)

You and I, Steve, will never argue, but isn't Frankie Fell In Love a basic blueprint of an ESB pop-rocker? Why not turn the station when "Two Hearts" comes on or any of the other ten similar songs on "The River?" Care to share the specifics on what you despise about "Frankie Fell In Love?"

Chris Collins said...

Like I said on Facebook, I find myself listening to The Seeger Sessions, Magic and Wrecking Ball more than I do Darkness or The River. Don't ask me why. I just do. The shows in the last 10 years have been some of his best ever. Even with "Outlaw Pete". I think this is an artist that is still very much putting out quality work. Sometimes matching the quality of his "Classic" work.

Troy said...

Good list, Sal, and I agree that Bruce's output in the last decade has been unfairly maligned by the faithful. That said, I really didn't think much of Workin on a Dream except for the last few songs. To me, it just didn't sound like a Bruce Springsteen record and I suspect that's why he barely played any of it on that tour, relying instead on 'gimmicks' like Stump the Band and playing full albums (although the full River show was magnificent to hear).

I love The Rising and Magic, and really like Wrecking Ball and High Hopes. WOAD just didn't do it for me. And finally, the American Beauty EP just kills. I was lad to see you include 2 songs from it (espec Hurry Up Sundown) and I would be fine with him releasing a bunch of 4 song, all killer no filler EPs instead of full albums of odds & ends (shouldnt HH songs be included on Tracks 2 instead?). Anyway, great mix and thanks for the thought provoking topics. Your blog continues to be a fun spot to talk about music.

Sal Nunziato said...


"And finally, the American Beauty EP just kills."

Funny though, isn't the song "American Beauty" really "My Lucky Day," and "Mary, Mary" "We Take Care Of Our Own," and "Hurry Up Sundown" "You'll Be Comin' Down?"

I love it, but these are just alternates of what he decided to release first.

Troy said...

@ Sal -

I see what you mean. But if Bruce released an EP with My Lucky Day,", "We Take Care Of Our Own," and "You'll Be Comin' Down?, plus one other tune, it would kill too.

I understand your feelings about RSD, but I have to admit I got a little rush out of buying a new Bruce Springsteen record in an honest-to-goodness record store. It has been a long time since I did that. I got his earlier RSD releases but they did not have new music on them so I'm not really counting them. So it has probably been since the Tunnel of Love release date since I got that thrill.

Les said...

I'm REALLY enjoying the mix this morning, Sal. Thank you!