Posted on February 21, 2012
If ever I questioned the existence of God, I look at Bruce Springsteen and realise that the notion of the Lord working in “mysterious ways” is nothing short of truth. In a world ravaged by global warming, famine, and war, where western society is characterised by greed, a lust for money, and a fervent desire for power, more often than not it is easy to become disillusioned with the dreams which so fuelled our transition from childhood into adulthood. The idea of the great “American Dream” – a dream which at one point symbolised all that was good about the western world and its ability to offer equal opportunities to all men – is becoming something which is nearly as unattainable as the wealth which now represents it. Whilst the fundamental key to our survival as a people is compassion, unity, and an impassioned desire to better ourselves and those with whom we exist, the fact is that in today’s world those basic human needs have been decimated by a global elite dedicated to nothing but furthering themselves at the expense of every other person. The Global Economic and Financial Crisis of recent years destroyed our planet, but even more profoundly annihilated the humanity of generations. Not just one generation – every generation. From the elderly who cannot afford to house themselves, to the parents who cannot afford to feed their children, to their children who will have no job opportunities upon leaving school… A select few have managed to completely devastate the lives of many. The hopelessness which this has instilled in the many has caused further prosper for the few, as we feel less empowered to provoke the change which we know is key to our survival. The status quo which exists is being maintained, as the systematic destruction of our world and all that humanity should have as a basic right becomes more a notion, and less a reality. We as a people are broken; our dreams are deserting us, and any hope of change seems to be as non existent as the money which brought about this problem in the first place. In a world defined by woe and depression, where society is as desolated as the people who built it, the light in our darkness has seemed to be dwindling.
The calm tranquility of the past, where we sought refuge in the waters of denial, has been replaced by a storm which ravages this world. No longer can we postpone addressing the problems which we know exist, as that precious little resource which allowed us to avoid confronting these issues, time, is now running out. Money has disappeared from the pockets of the working man, and exists merely as an entity with which the global elite cast their aspersions in one another’s ways. The fracturing of the very things which make us human is becoming as acute as our need to change, and the fact is that if we do not rise up now, we may never be able to again.
When one looks at the world in the cruel light of day, it is easy to question whether there is even a God anymore, let alone whether or not he is worthy of our faith. However, in the first line of this article I mentioned Bruce Springsteen, as he is one of the few men in the history of humanity to fully and perfectly utilise the beauty of language and music to reflect the pain in our hearts, and the desolation of a broken world. Throughout his long career he has saved more lives than even the good about which he sings, and has instilled in people the world over a sense of worth, a love for others, and a desire to fight for the common things which unite us in decency, justice, and love. Often speaking to us at our darkest moments, whether as a people within a societal context, or as individuals braving the often cruel waters of life, Springsteen has not only managed to address that which causes us pain, but also maintain that degree of dignified but fervent optimism which so defines his message and music. Whilst Springsteen’s message is always fought with dignity, with equal truth and power he can fight with vigour and anger. From the day’s of “Born In The U.S.A.” to “The Rising”, today he gives us “Wrecking Ball” – an album which I am sure will go down in history as one of the most scathing attacks of politicians and bankers ever to be delivered by a musician of Springsteen’s caliber.
Despite its release date still a good couple of weeks away, “Wrecking Ball” has already begun its journey to the heart of the social elite who have caused us such suffering. Having now been “leaked” we fans have had the honour of baring witness to, and experiencing something very special indeed. “Wrecking Ball” is history in the making, and will break your heart in the process. Its brutal truth is unparalleled in music today, and it is safe to say that this album is already one of the finest which Springsteen has ever made. When I heard it nearly 24 hours ago I was struck by its overwhelming presence of honesty. Springsteen tackles the cruel injustices of our world without any inhibition… He goes for the jugular, takes no prisoners, and blood is certainly spilled.
The release of “Wrecking Ball” has come at a time when such power in music is needed now more than ever. Springsteen is our spiritual leader, and representative. He sings about us, with us, and for us, and in today’s world where the people he cares about most – us – have become so intrinsically hurt by the “fat cats” of banking and politics, we are confronted with a man who is on a mission to get some damn justice for the crimes which have been committed. As The Boss himself sings in “Jack Of All Trades”, one of the most painfully beautiful songs which I have ever heard, “If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight” .
Coming at a time of great darkness, “Wrecking Ball” is already providing a dark but raging light to guide us through the turbulent times ahead. I believe that this new record will inspire the people in the way we need to provoke change, or at least see in ourselves the worth to do so. Where we are broken, Springsteen seeks to heal us, where we are disillusioned, Springsteen seeks to inspire us, and where we are angry, Springsteen seeks to harness that energy and provoke us to rise up.
“Wrecking Ball” offers an array of depth to be explored. The degree of anger of which I have spoken is evident throughout the majority of the album, however there are profound new musical angles to be enjoyed too. Whilst the message in Springsteen’s words is as powerful as it is possible to be, the actual sonic beauty of the album is nothing short of perfection. The music itself is as strong as the word’s which define its initial success in reception by fans. “Rocky Ground” may well be the first song by Bruce Springsteen to feature a degree of rap, and the hauntingly beautiful sax solo of “Land Of Hope And Dreams” is something which will provoke more tears than even the cruel realities of which Springsteen speaks. To hear the last ever real sax solo of Clarence Clemons (with The Boss at least) was more overwhelming than any other aspect of the album, and where some might hear Clarence’s “goodbye”, I hear his cool and loving message of “see you on the other side”.
I will be posting considerably in the near future about “Wrecking Ball”, but wanted to finish this day with my impressions of what “Wrecking Ball” is all about. We have in our midst a musical and philosophical marvel; an album which punches harder than anything I have ever seen produced in my lifetime, which attacks the global elite in the brutal way in which they deserve to be treated, and which most importantly serves as a symbolic gesture and inspiration to the rest of us that the fight is still on.
I finish with one of the versus of “Jack Of All Trades”, which I will be writing about properly soon. It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful, yet painful songs I have ever heard. It ripped my heart in two. The moment I heard it I cried, as the truth in its message was overwhelming. I also fell deeply in love… A feeling which I think is going to be shared by many friends within the Springsteen fan community. “Wrecking Ball” is breathtaking.
“Now sometimes tomorrow
Comes soaked in treasure and blood
Hey, we stood the drought
Now we’ll stand the flood
There’s a new world coming
I can see the light
I’m a jack of all trades
We’ll be all right”