Four times a year, maybe more, my friend and I have an impossibly civil discussion about a song from Bruce Springsteen's "Human Touch" record. The song is "Man's Job." I love the song. He hates the song. Somehow, even during discussions about the weather, Chinese food or David Bowie, the conversation manages to segue into the merits of the song, of which I think there are many and he thinks there are none.
The reason I love the song is simple. It works as a pop tune. It's basic, yet I find the simple chorus with simple harmony, ridiculously catchy. Not everything needs to be "Racing In The Street."
Uncut Magazine recently released one of their "Ultimate Music Guides," where the writers reassess the entire catalogue of an artist. Bruce Springsteen gets the treatment this time around. This is from the review of "Human Touch"--
"Another highlight is "Man's Job," a sweet and sexy ode to Patti with Springsteen presenting himself as the mature dependable suitor seeing off all the flashy Lothario types. Musically, it is a captivating mix of soul and jangle rock with counterpoint vocals from Sam Moore and Bobby King and featuring a luscious retro twang guitar solo. It hinted at the soul Gospel and surf music Springsteen had grown up with, while also serving as a reminder of his gifts as a writer of pop songs often overshadowed by the somber soul-searching elements of his work."
Uncut has been wrong before, but of course, I could not help but feel somewhat vindicated. I sent it to my friend. He replied--
"I cringed the first time I heard it and every time since. I always think it sounds like what people who don't like Bruce think he is all about-pedestrian lyrics, lunkhead central idea, MOR dad-rock music.
But I really do get what you like about it, the pop craftsmanship, the upbeat soul. I get it. It just backfires on me. Like, I believe it's you that hates Bobby Jean? That song makes me choke up, because to me I hear a warm hearted goodbye to a lifelong friendship, sadness mixed deeply into a happy sounding song. You hear a riff you hate. I get it. But this one just sounds lkke a song Joe Grushecky would write."
(For the record, I don't hate "Bobby Jean." I just find it relentless when played live. It's already relentless, never changing at all for its entire length. Live, it's twice as long. But I digress.)
All of my conversations with my friend end positively. I can't think of anyone else is my life I can say that about. We like a lot of the same music, but we also disagree often. We are both passionate about what we love and hate, yet we manage to remain respectful, more times than not making each other laugh hysterically when we verbally destroy the artists the other loves. Oddly enough, I don't necessarily disagree with my friend's take on "Man's Job." It is some of the things he says it is, yet I can listen to it and genuinely enjoy it every time, often singing along. I just don't see it as the affront he does.