The Boss On Tour: Bruce’s Springsteen’s Top Five Greatest Albums
Bruce Springsteen is currently on a hugely successful American tour in support of his new album called Wrecking Ball. Bruce and his E-Street Band just recently played two sold out shows at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
Bruce Springsteen, often referred to as “The Boss” by his fans, is one of the most gifted songwriters in music history and I thought I would look back on some of his best work by ranking his top five greatest albums, in my opinion, and talking a little bit about each one.
1. Born in the USA (1984)
Spending two years on the Billboard album chart, featuring several top 10 singles and selling over 15 million copies in the United States alone, Born in the USA remains Bruce’s most successful album, even though The Boss himself has always had mixed reactions to the songs contained on it. Personally, I think it’s his finest work. The album has a very polished and pop sound that makes listening to it an upbeat experience even though lyrically the album is very dark. The title track is about an unemployed Vietnam vet who feels cheated out of the American dream, “Dancing in the Dark” is about a guy who is an emotional rut and can’t seem to find happiness, and “My Hometown” is about a man who sees changes coming to his hometown and decides to move his family to a better place. The Brain De Palma directed video to “Dancing In the Dark”, featuring a young Courtney Cox as a fan who Bruce brings on stage to dance with him near the song’s end, was a major hit on MTV and turned the 35 year Springsteen into a teen heartthrob.
2 Tunnel of Love (1987)
This is a much more mellow effort than the radio friendly but hard rocking Born in the USA, which preceded it and remains Springsteen’s most underrated album. Tunnel of Love is a terrific album which finds Bruce exploring adult relationships between men and woman. “Brilliant Disguise” is about a man who has been cheating on his wife, “Spare Parts” is about a girl named Janie in her late teens who finds herself pregnant and having to raise her baby alone when the father walks out and skips town and “Tunnel of Love” is about a man jealous over other men looking at his wife. Many of the songs were inspired by Bruce’s failed first manage and the result is a very honest and truthful collection of songs
3. Nebraska (1982)
A very dark and brooding album. Regarded by critics and fans alike as one of Bruce’s greatest achievements as a songwriter, this is certainly an album aimed at die hard fans. Many will find the album very downbeat, which is why it took seven years to sell over one million copies. Recorded in Bruce’s bedroom on a simple 4-track cassette recorder, the album is basically just Bruce and an acoustic guitar with some harmonic thrown in for good measure. “Atlantic City”, is about the mob taking over sin city and how a man down on his luck has to do work for them just to pay his debts, “Nebraska’ is about a man who commits murder just for the thrill of it while “My Father’s House” is about a man who returns to the house he grew up in to patch things up with his estranged father just to find out that he dad doesn’t live there anymore. A brilliant and moving collection of music
4. Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
This album is a favorite of many musicians and is the album where Bruce really finds his voice. With Darkness he found the type of songs he wanted to write and the sort of people who he would like to write about…the blue collar working class. The songs deal with working class men and women who are just trying to make ends meet while trying to live honest and respectable lives, not always easy when you are “two checks away from living on the street”, to quite a Springsteen influenced Bon Jovi. The album’s most successful track never made the final cut and was a year later recorded by the Pointer Sisters…”Fire”.
5. The River (1980)
A two disc set, this was Bruce’s first number one and featured “Hungry Heart”, his first top 10 single. Despite the huge popularity of Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, neither featured a top 10 single. “The River” is about a young couple who get married out of high school because the girl is pregnant but the man is unable to find work which cases friction in the marriage, “I’m a Rocker” is filled with pop culture references like “when Columbo’s split and you can’t find Kojack”, and “Ramrod” is about a man in love with his sports car. Legend has it that John Lennon was so impressed with this album that he wished he had recorded it himself.
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