More on Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball: Mistakes Were Made, by Me

Bruce Springsteen announced U.S. tour dates this morning. He’ll be here in DC on April Fool’s Day. So I’ll just get this over with: Bruuuuuuuce!

Thank you. And now, let us proceed.

When The Boss announced the title and release date of his forthcoming album Wrecking Ball last week, I just couldn’t see past its abysmal cover, an area in which he has been a career offender. I noted that Wrecking Ball is also the title of a very fine Emmylou Harris album from 1995. Dana Stevens, Slate’s superb film critic, noticed that too.

(When I was on the Filmspotting podcast the week after Stevens, I tried to say how much I admire her writing and how honored I was to follow her on the show, but it came out wrong. I apologize for that, Ma’am.)

Anyway, we exchanged a few Tweets about that title. “Title re-use doesn’t infringe copyright, but it’s crass,” Stevens wrote. I pointed out that Emmylou got the title from Neil Young, whose song “Wrecking Ball” (from his 1989 album Freedom) Emmylou covered on her album Wrecking Ball. Got all that?

“If Bruce covers the Neil Young song on this record, then the nab is vindicated,” Stevens concluded.

Well. Having spent the latter part of my album-cover-lamentation post gushing about how much I like the 13-year-old Springsteen song “Land of Hope and Dreams,” which has been issued only on a live album so far but appears on the new album’s track list, I completely forgot that “Wrecking Ball” is also the title of a song Bruce wrote for a series of 2009 concerts at Giants Stadium, the last rock shows scheduled there before the facility was to be demolished. They tore it down in 2010.

Obviously, the song isn’t just about an old building “where blood is spilled and Giants play the game.” It’s an unsubtle metaphor for mortality, and for confronting late-life challenges head on. I’ve listened to it a lot. As with the equally bombastic, equally (to me, anyway) inspiring “Land of Hope and Dreams,” it’s a song I like to listen to when I’m running. The last time I saw Bruce play — in Baltimore, in November of 2009, on the penultimate date of his most recent tour — he opened with it. The show continued for another three hours and 15 minutes after that. A few days later, I realized that of the 300-plus rock concerts I’ve attended in the last 15 years, this was the single best, by a longshot.

And for all that, I forgot about “Wrecking Ball,” the Springsteen jam. I’m sorry, Dana Stevens. I could have spared us all this confusion! If you can make it down to DC for Bruce’s April 1 show at the Verizon Center, I will buy you a pretzel there. I promise I’ll have seen A Separation by then.

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