What happens when Bruce Springsteen is no longer around to scrape us from the pavement after life rips out our guts and smashes the rest into the ground?
Excuse me if I just don’t see BTS or Cardi B coming to sooth our troubled souls anytime soon. But you never know.
Springsteen turns 71 later this month and since 71 must be the new 53 (pure coincidence in my case, obviously making 53 the new 33) I feel pretty optimistic about The Boss being around another two or three decades.
He’d better be.
Springsteen and his E Streeters just released new single “Letter to You,” the video of which didn’t became amazing until the second listen, after I got done skating the edge of blithering idiocy just seeing the band back together in 2020. They last made it to the Bay Area in 2016. They looked like … well, the E Street Band, hanging around Springsteen’s home studio. There was the swagger, the happiness, the love … and perhaps a new trace of old man strength.
Just in the nick of time, The Boss sends another letter to us.
Of course, it’s easy to catch oneself wondering where Clarence is about halfway through the video. And maybe that’s sad … for about a second. Because we’re so starved for hope and dreams, one’s spirit smiles at just seeing the rest of them together. Because it has to.
Because we need that.
Springsteen and his gang have a new album, also titled Letter to You, due to arrive Oct. 23. There’s little doubt the timing is coincidental–landing just before the most important election of our lifetimes. Hysteria is best avoided for everyone in 2020, but I strongly believe that’s not hyperbole.
The timing was also great for a single taste of the album: the same week some of us remembered 9/11 by dusting off The Rising, arguably the most important record of the century so far. Springsteen’s last big letter to the nation still heartens 18 years later, acknowledging pain and telling us to dust off and get on with it. The ensuing tour was nothing short of a religious experience for those of us who were there; even for those not believing such feelings were possible.
We really need to get our acts together and beat this rotten COVID crap … The Boss got the band back together, and the road is calling …
The Rising is easily my favorite Springsteen record. Not just for its spirit, but also because it’s really, really a great record.
I was just a kid when Springsteen first emerged around the time of Watergate, but I can imagine how his music was absolutely grounding for so many in a time when the pop culture pendulum swung wildly away from politics and reality in general. Springsteen did it again during the ’80s, when “Born in the U.S.A.” made the working person’s point in the face of peppy, false nationalism rooted in lies leaving so many without voices, poor and angry.
No American musical icon in history speaks better for the disenchanted and hopeless better than Bruce Springsteen, and the West Coast certainly needs a shot in the arm right now. Last week was one of our worst, with a science fiction sky hanging over raging wildfires turning our beautiful forests into ash … and a realization the worst is likely still on the way. Something none of us had ever seen; just when we almost believed it was safe to come out after months of hiding from a pandemic, something else we’d never seen before.
We could use something comfortably familiar right now, saying the pain is real and things will get better. I can’t wait for Oct. 26.
Follow music critic Tony Hicks at Twitter.com/TonyBaloney1967.