Early, Middle, Late Springsteen

Like Ed Driscoll at Instapundit, I too loved Bruce Springsteen's first three albums and really don't have much interest in the rest -- though unlike Driscoll it has little to do with Springsteen's politics.  If I only listened to albums that were 100% aligned with me politically, I would have to walk around all day just looping Rush's 2112.

After several great albums, Springsteen in his mid-era, he went all poppy and dropped a lot of the lyricism of his early work.  The slide from his early work to Born in the USA was a bit like finding out Bob Dylan was the author of Call Me Maybe and All About That Bass.

In Springsteen's late era, he has simply become some grim prophet of New Jersey post-industrial decline.  I can handle his pop stuff, but his more recent stuff is simply unlistenable in my book.  Here is what it reminds me of:  For those of you who saw the movie Network, remember how Howard Beale was taken aside by the Ned Beatty character for a grim lecture?   Before that moment, Beale was a popular, authentic spokesman who hit a nerve with the populace.  Afterwards, he was boring and depressing and unwatchable.  I have always wondered if Bruce Springsteen had a similar meeting.


  1. Bram:

    I like his 4th album "Darkness on the Edge of Town". Was listening to "Racing in the Streets" last night. That is my summer song.

  2. AtlantaDude:

    I think of Springsteen's career like a parabola that goes from broody introspection to the peak pop of "Born in the USA" and then back down again. "Born to Run" and "Darkness" hit about the right mix for me on the way up and "Tunnel of Love" hit it on the way back down. Most of the rest of it, I don't like.

  3. Mercury:

    I'm not much of a Bruce fan either. I guess I like his earlier stuff better and 'Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out' is a solid piece of work but in general I really can't stomach his ersatz earnestness and emotional showboating. Same with Neil Diamond and Bono - talented talented musicians to be sure but the over the top emoting and all that crap just comes across as super-phony to me.

    In the 70s-era, classic rock, blue-collar, heartland category I'll pass up Bruce on the dial for Bob Seger any day.

  4. elambend:

    I liked Ghosts of Tom Joad

  5. elambend:

    fwiw, though Steve Earle does the whole decline schtich better and hit bluegrass album The Mountain has a few songs that have become kinds of standards among Irish and Bluegrass performers..

  6. Bill Peschel:

    "Tunnel of Love" was a pretty good album when I got it back in the '80s. I'll have to dig it out again and see if it holds up.