It's like eatin' caviar and dirt

Song: Better Days
Album: Lucky Town
Year: 1992

I was really ready to give this song a hard time, given that the last track I heard off this album was so revolting. I was rolling up my sleeves! I was lickin' my chops! Then I was lickin' my sleeves because I got confused for a second! (Also what are chops?!)

But "Better Days" is an excellent example of Melancholic Bruce, and you KNOW how I feel about Melancholic Bruce (very good). Though it's vaguely of a love song ("These are better days, baby/Better days with a girl like you."), it's actually mostly about him being rich but not feeling rich, which is starting to replace roads/trains as a major theme through his work. It's important to take note of these patterns, because one day I hope science can create a Bruce Springsteen song generator so we can all finally relax, secure in the knowledge that the world will never be at a loss for songs about feeling like a fraud and/or going for a nice drive.

Watching this video, I thought I caught a glimpse of a giant cross around Bruce's neck, but upon closer inspection it turned out he's actually wearing TWO giant crosses—a bit of an odd choice considering that a thorough investigation (googling "bruce springsteen religious???") revealed that Bruce was raised Catholic but identifies as agnostic. My theory? They're not crosses at all, but actually lower-case "T"s, a reference to new wife Patti Scialfa and the better days he's enjoying with her.

This makes me feel: Hopeful and sad—the Springsteen sweet spot.

Rating: 7 better days out of 10.

Fun Bruce Fact: American Idol judge Randy Jackson plays bass in this song.

Fun Randy Jackson Fact: The guy is 60 YEARS OLD AND I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE. Starting a new blog about RJ's beauty tips RIGHT NOW.

I Got the Fortunes of Heaven in Diamonds and Gold

Song: Ain't Got You
Album: Tunnel of Love
Year: 1987

I never thought I would see a day where Bruce Springsteen would debut a song that clocks in at just over two minutes, but I guess today is that day. Or I guess October 9, 1987 was that day and I missed it because I was a three-month-old baby who didn't yet understand the concept of music. Incredibly rude of me.

The Boss spends this song sadly bragging about all the fancy things and he's got stowed all over his many mansions—just another classic everyman tune. It's like a bizarro-world version of "If I Had a Million Dollars" or the interesting-person version of "Lucky." calls the song it "starkly autobiographical" but I sincerely doubt Bruce is slamming caviar on the reg. Yes, he's a multi-millionaire and has been for most of his life, but I still believe the only way he would eat caviar at home is as a dip for chips while he's watching baseball. We all know what B is really spending his money on: model train sets. (The man loves trains!)

Rating: 8 fancy foreign cars out of 10.

This song makes me feel: proud of Bruce. Even though this is his shortest song ever, he still manages to slip a shoutout to King Farouk in there because he's a goddamn professional who knows that that mentioning a rich Egyptian man is a key ingredient in any hit single.

Fun Bruce fact: lists one of Bruce Springsteen's nicknames as "Bad Scooter." Maybe it means that there's a whole concept album I haven't listened to yet where he performs under that name as an alter ego, à la Chris Gaines! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!


Well, Our Love Will Chase Trouble Away

Song: Working on a Dream
Album: Working on a Dream
Year: 2009

Great art asks questions. And music is no exception.

The questions this song asks, for example, are "How many times is appropriate to use the phrase 'working on a dream' in a three-and-a-half minute song?" and "Is it 17?" and "Do you guys like whistling?"

But artistic work of genius or not—and I am leaning towards not, based on the lack of highway metaphors and saxaphone solos here—I am very bored by this song. It's inoffensive (like a warm custard), but also disgusting in its blandness (like a warm custard you're forced to eat when you've got a head cold and can't actually taste anything, and so you're all like, ugh, is this mucus?!).

What do we need to do to spark Bruce's fire again? Send a bunch of young men to war? Shut down a factory in a blue collar town? The U.S.'s current stable-ish global position is making the Boss soft. Let's make America terrible again.

Rating: 4 dreams out of 10 dreams, dreams dreams dreams.

This song makes me feel: like building a house. Probably because if you replace the word "dream" with "house," it makes just as much sense. I might actually like it more. The sun rise up, I climb the ladder/The new day breaks and I'm working on a house.

Fun Bruce fact: "Working on a Dream" was nominated for a 2010 Porin Award for Best International Song. If you don't know what that is, I guess you're not Croatian, which is weird because that's really the target demographic for this blog.


The Times are Tough Now, Just Getting Tougher

Song: Cover MeAlbum: Born in the U.S.A. Year: 1984

Even though I have now studied almost two dozen of Bruce Springsteen's finest songs and also a one off of Lucky Town, I still find B slightly mysterious at times. In this jaunty tune, for example, I am not sure if Bruce wants a lover to watch his back during dangerous times, or if he just wants to be physically sprawled upon. Is it an anthem for street toughs, or a sex thing? I want to look it up but I'm on my work computer and I don't want to get fired for being an internet pervert. Although what would I even google? "Crush-play?" "Spread eagle + power bottom?"

Rating: 6 lovers who will come on in out of 10.

This makes me feel: like taking care of business! (In my imagination that means some sort of '70s montage where I'm busting into nightclubs and stealing money back from sleazy venue owners. You know: the sort of business I enjoy doing.)

Fun Bruce fact: He originally wrote this song for Donna Summers. WHAT?! Another fun fact: here is the DANCE REMIX. I don't even know who you ARE anymore, Bruce!


This Pier Lights Our Carnival Life Forever

Song: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Album: The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle
Year: 1973

Mom,  do we have to invite Uncle Bruce to Thanksgiving? He just gets drunk and spends all night telling rambling stories about one summer where he got all slutty down on the boardwalk.

Oh god, he brought an accordion.

Yes, Uncle Bruce, you have told me about the time you almost died on a tilt-a-whirl. That sounds very scar—what? I don't really understand what men wearing high heels really has to do with this story. And the detailed descriptions of the public sex you were having back then is a little inappropriate for the dinner tab—what? No, that's a Super Nintendo, not a "pleasure machine," please stop calling it that.

Rating: 4 auroras rising behind us out of 10.

This makes me feel: boooored. And... itchy?

Bruce fun fact: Springsteen wanted a children's choir to sing on this song, but they never showed up for the session. WHERE ARE THOSE KIDS?

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Top Youtube comment on this song, as voted by me: ....EVERY GUY.

In Your Love, I'm Born Again

Song: Leap of Faith
Album: Lucky Town
Year: 1992

This would be a good song to put on if you are in a '90s rom-com and have to do a montage about cleaning up your act. So if you have any plans in the near future to time travel and swap bodies with Billy Crystal, and then paint a dilapidated house as a metaphor for rebuilding your life before you reconnect with The One That Got Away, then keep this one at the ready. Otherwise, I can't think of any other situation where you could play "Leap of Faith" and feel good about yourself. Though it's kind of a religious and kind of about love-making, it is ironically neither a good song to play at church (because it's too sexy) nor a good song to play while sexing (because it's terrible).

It's sort of like Madonna's "Like a Prayer," but not like it at all because it's not even a little bit fun. If you pick "Like a Prayer" at karaoke, you are a hero. If you pick "Leap of Faith," there will be riots. I know this because I would definitely start one.


Rating: 2 leaps off of a building to my death out of 10.

This makes me feel: like I was invited to "hang with some cool people" who "have some really interesting thoughts about life" and realized much too late that it's actually a youth group.

Bruce fun fact: He released two albums, Lucky Town and Human Touch on the same day. I don't really understand why he would be so eager to foist this one on the world, but you do you, Bruce.


If You're Rough Enough For Love

Song: Tougher Than the Rest
Album: Tunnel of Love
Year: 1987

You guys, I think Bruce Springsteen is in love!

When a man is feeling some feelings, he pulls out all the stops. For the Boss, that means incorporating synthesizers and tambourines and harmonicas into the same song. Now, that sounds like a terrible combination in principle—like mixing salsa and waffles and movie-theatre popcorn, three great tastes that do not necessarily taste great together, believe you me—but it works just fine because, as I mentioned previously, this is Bruce Springsteen. His trick (you sneak-faced musical genius, you) is to use a faux-down-home twang to distract from the unusual mix of elements, just like you should when you're serving your dinner party guests a casserole of salsa and waffles and movie-theatre popcorn. ("Want me to microwave that for ya, hon?", "You've barely touched your food, y'all!", etc.)

I would categorize this song as a bit of a fantasy, because we all know in real life Bruce would not have to spend three whole minutes to convince some broken woman that she should take a shot with him. If this were more true to reality, the song would be just him going "Well, it's Saturday night..." and her going "I've been practicing my Dancing in the Dark finger-guns in anticipation of this moment ARE WE MARRIED NOW OH GOD I LOVE YOU" and then the rest of the song would just be some sweet harmonica soloing.

But then we'd miss the romance of his pitch to her. And when you have a chance listen to B talk about a dark road and a white line (Bruce. Loves. Roads.), you've gotta take it, even if you're a fictional, unnamed character in a song. That's the oath I personally took when I started this review project, and I don't expect anything less of imaginary love interests.

Rating: 8 sweet-talkin' Romeos out of 10.

This makes me feel: like slow-dancing at a wedding. Any wedding. Are you getting married? Can I come to your wedding? I'll see you at the wedding.

Bruce fun fact: This song has been covered by a bunch of different people, most notably Emmylou Harris. I guess that makes this more of an Emmylou Fun Fact. Life is full of surprises: it's best you learned that now.