Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2011
I gave Born to Run a hard time when I reviewed it for this blog like, years ago. I still haven’t been won over, but I have found the Bruce albums that I really, really love. Tunnel of Love especially. That and a better appreciation for the sax solo (I know I like JUST faulted the Psychedelic Furs in the last post for their persistent use of cheesy sax, but again, THEY ARE NOT THE BOSS AND THEY IN NO WAY WROTE ANTHEMS DESERVING OF A FUCKIN’ BITCHIN’ SAX SOLO OK?!). “Badlands” rules, and the sax solo is brief and perfect and functions like a sort of modern harmonica interlude. “Adam Raised a Cain” sounds like the inspiration for Kurt Vile’s 80,000 renditions of his excellent jam “Hunchback” and that just has to be the case because both songs have that same sort of like, punch-in-the-gut badassery to them that just makes you wanna put on some sunglasses and cruise. Not doin’ anything illegal, just cruisin’ and lookin’ like a badass. I listened to “Hunchback” on the way to getting fired from a shitty property management company in Lawrence a few years ago, and it made me totally justified and totally ready to throw my keys on the table and walk out of that office like a badass. The Boss would have more than sufficed, too. I think I dig Darkness so much because it sounds like the panting after the marathon that was Born to Run. A step back and a shift, if that makes sense. The sort of record that needs to be made after a major hit for an artist to keep himself from going insane. A “minor work” that will only be revered as a classic years down the line. Like the Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible. Can’t help but keep bringing in the modern music! Don’t know what’s up with that, other than using modern music to illustrate the fact that these types of albums and songs keep existing to this day and that the Boss is the Boss for a reason and while I don’t like all of his albums or hits or all that, I hold the opinion that he is a badass dude who does what he wants and my opinion is meaningless in that argument.
I read that Springsteen bookended each side with an anthem and an emotional slow-burner, which I think is awesome without having any real reason to cite (note: Wikipedia reminds me that he did this with all his early albums, called it the “four corners” approach which is, like, kind of awesome. I think I think it’s awesome because I’m looking at Bruce in this white tee on the back of the sleeve and he’s just.so.ruggedly…cool I can’t help but not want to be like, his friend). It makes the record feel really balanced, I suppose, but not in a like, cookie-cutter way. There’s an organic flow at work, and the songs in-between the bookends all feel like a mix of that anthem/slowburn sandwiching. “Prove it All Night” is upbeat, and there’s a totally awesome sick guitar solo in the break, but the Boss’s vocals on the chorus have this like, longing to them that keeps the song from being a triumphant fist-pumper. The whole album is like that. Somber, really. But still like, full of ass kicking. It’s a weird marriage and I dig it way more than the straight-up balls to the wall of Born to Run (with the exception of “Thunder Road,” which is a forever jam). Just scanning the Wikipedia entry for this album the words “legal troubles” and “contractual obligations” and “three years of forced hiatus” stick out. And I think that explains it. The sort of brooding fuck you of it all. Great record.