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From the release of his new album “Working on a Dream,” the biggest performance of his career at this year’s Superbowl, performing at Barack Obama’s inauguartion weekend and winning a Golden Globe for his contribution to the soundtrack of “The Wrestler,” Bruce Springsteen’s career has returned to an all-time high. And as a long-time Bruce Springsteen fan, I couldn’t be happier… it’s a far cry from the days of “Ghost of Tom Joad.” So in honour of the new “Golden Age” of Springsteen’s career, I’ve taken a look at some of the new generation of Springsteen-inspired artists, who I think that a deep vein of Boss-inspired musicality and lyricism. In the second half of the podcast, I’ll share some more obscure Springsteen covers
This is by no means a definitive sampling of bands and artists influenced by the Boss… off the top of my head I would also include the “Sam’s Town” era of the Killers, Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade…
1. “July 4, 2004″ by Jason Anderson from “The Hopeful and the Unafraid”
Oh Jason are you still waiting? If they need to replace Springsteen someday, Anderson could fill his role easily. Anderson bounds with energy and fosters group scream-a-longs and oozes anthems. I confess that I need to listen to more of his material, but I have worn out the grooves on this vinyl-only release.
2. “Meet Me By the River’s Edge” by Gaslight Anthem from “The ’59 Sound”
I first heard the Gaslight Anthem while on a road trip with Jared across New York State (actually traveling home from Karim’s house), and I was pretty underwhelmed. However, there was something about the band that made me want to give them a listen, and eventually “The ’59 Sound” won me over. As a New Jersey band, the Springsteen influence is obvious, and the singer Brian Fallon even tosses in a Springsteen-esque croon at the end of this song. I chose this song in particular because Fallon references Springsteen directly, building a new song out of the Boss anthem, “No Surrender.”
3. “(Antichrist Television Blues)” by Arcade Fire from “Neon Bible”
I first noticed the Springsteen influence in Win Butler’s writing emerge on “Neon Bible,” particularly in this song and “Intervention.” While guys like Jason Anderson and Brian Fallon nail Springsteen’s storytelling strengths, Butler picks up on his “power-to-the-people” message… no wonder these guys were invited to perform at a private party at the White House.
Now for this band from Guelph, Ontario, they nail Springsteen’s “everyman” vibe… and being a very grassroots Canadian bunch, it comes naturally. Back when the Cons were doing small clubs, the sax was also a bigger part of their live show and also drew some heavy Springsteen comparisons.
The first cover up is from the collaboration album between Will Oldham and Tortoise, which was released a few years back. I think the keyboards that pop up right at the start of this track will probably divide listeners: if you hate them, you won’t like the song, but if you love them, then I know you’ll love this song.
I’ll let Toronto’s Steve Kado (who was doing bass-guitar only performances of this material around the time of its recording) explain his four-song EP that this track was taken from (taken from his website). “Audio recording of four songs originally performed and written by Bruce Springsteen. Uncanny new arrangements: more critical emphasis on the role of capital on human relationships, both to each other and to ourselves. Can we dream? Are we anything without a system of exchange mediating every action and encounter? ”
I just came across this cover as I was putting the podcast together, and I think the most surprising thing about this one, is how similar it is to the original song by Bruce. Lots of keyboards, drum machines, eerie vocals…. very familiar, at least in concept.
Finally, I know that most people are going to absolutely hate this last cover, but as I mention in the podcast, it’s a whimsical, free-flowing take on a song that at it’s core, is whimsical and free-flowing itself. And on a sad note, it’s the only Springsteen song that ever went to number one.
Thanks again for tuning in, and I hope you have a great week!