You can’t judge an album by its sleeve, and that’s good news for Bruce Springsteen.
My admiration for The Boss is a matter of public record, and it was from a place of love that I took the occasion of his last album’s release three years ago to point out that nearly all of his album covers are terrible. Today he announced that his 17th studio album will be called Wrecking Ball and will be released for sale on March 6. Any resemblance to Emmylou Harris‘s great album from 1995, Wrecking Ball, is completely coincidental, probably.
That’s the cover of Bruce’s
Finger-Painting With Bird Shit Wrecking Ball at the top of this post. Hideous, right? He probably paid Danny Clinch a lot of money to take the photo before scrawing his name over it in Wite-Out. What this says to me is Eh, only a fraction of those of you who bother to listen to this at all are actually going to pay for it, so why I should I sweat the packaging? Just sit tight, we’re gonna play “Badlands” later.
The first single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is up on Bruce’s official site now. Here’s the full tracklist:
1. We Take Care of Our Own
2. Easy Money
3. Shackled and Drawn
4. Jack of All Trades
5. Death to My Hometown
6. This Depression
7. Wrecking Ball
8. You’ve Got It
9. Rocky Ground
10. Land of Hope and Dreams
11. We Are Alive
I always feel a mild, nonsensical disappointment when looking over a list of titles of songs I haven’t yet heard from an artist I’ve long admired. You’ve got to call them something, right? At this point, none of us can say with any authority that “This Depression” does not, in fact, rock.
I further assume that “Land of Hope and Dreams” is the same one Bruce has been playing live with the E Street Band since since their 1999-2000 reunion tour, which I saw five times. It was usually the last or the-next-to-last song of the night, a muscular eight-plus-minute epic of steam-powered optimism that sounded like Woody Guthrie being sung by a Gospel choir. Or that’s what it felt like, anyway.
The only previously released version of that song, from the Live in New York City album and DVD recorded at Madison Square Garden in July of 2000, is a motivational classic that I keep in my long-run playlist for when I find myself outta juice two miles from home. I think I love it more than any other song the E Street band has recorded since Bruce reconvened them 13 years ago.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure I even need a studio version of that song. I’ll give it a listen anyway, though. It’s gotta be better than that cover.