#765: 1973, Bruce Springsteen, New York Serenade

by Charlie_East_West on September 24, 2013

Bruce Springsteen turned 64 yesterday, and judging by the photos published of the great man looking buff on the beach – he is looking good with age.

His music has remained consistently good. Over the past 40 years, Springsteen has maintained his high standards and most of his integrity. Recently, the All That’s Left Committee had a discussion about who (if any) within the music industry has always remained good over a long career. The leading contender has to be Bruce Springsteen. As I own every single Springsteen album I cannot think of any album that is bad. Yes, some will always be better than others – but staggeringly, for an artist who has been around for 40 years, every single album is good, and sometimes brilliant. Personally, I prefer early Springsteen – and I particularly love his first four albums.

My choice of song for today is the magnificent epic that is New York Serenade from Springsteen’s sophomore album – The Wild, the Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. It’s a glorious album that transports the listener to New York in 1973. It is a storybook about street thugs, hustlers, inner city romance, circus workers, pimps and runaways. It is story about American hope and deliverance (as only Springsteen can articulate). Musically, it touches on soul, folk, americana, jazz and cinematic rock.

New York Serenade is the masterpiece within the album. It is the album closer. It begins with a free-form classical piano solo and ends as a mind bogglingly brilliant piece of orchestral folk music with Springsteen’s trademark of heroically trying to fit 50 word phrases into 4 bars. It also contains one of the greatest lyrics of all time – ‘Walk tall, or don’t walk at all.’

Springsteen remains consistently good – even after 40 years – his 2012 album Wrecking Ball is another great album. Even after all this time, Springsteen remains The Boss.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East September 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

The only other artists who I can think of who have been recording since (at least) the 1970s who you can say the same thing about are Leonard Cohen (not a single bad album since his first in 1967 and still recording brilliant stuff) and the so far shockingly absent from STLAS, incomparable Tom Waits.
Kate Bush teeters on the edge but she did go and spoil it with The Red Shoes.

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Mike Killingworth September 25, 2013 at 6:09 am

George, surely the reason that Tom Waits hasn’t shown up here is because it’s STLAS and only Tom can sing his stuff?

Please remind me again which album(s) Richard Thompson messed up on – at least he has appeared here…

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George_East September 25, 2013 at 6:40 am

Richard Thompson is an interesting call. He’s very prolific and I don’t pretend to have heard all of his output.
I recall some of his 90s output getting poor reviews but I’m not going to argue against his inclusion if I haven’t personally heard all the albums. His 70s solo stuff and stuff with Linda, and his recent albums are obviously absolutely top drawer.

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Geoff Elliott September 25, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’d add Roy Harper but I’m biased. First album in 1966, the most recent released Monday. Most are flawed in some respect but he’s a remarkable artist.

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George_East September 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

Ah Roy, he had a free show at Rough Trade East the other day to promote the new album. Did you go Geoff?

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Geoff Elliott September 25, 2013 at 9:43 am

I didn’t I’m afraid. Work does have a habit of getting in the way of things sometimes. October 22nd at the Royal Festival Hall for me. After a couple of listens to Man & Myth my first thoughts are that he has no right to be making such a good record at the age of 72.

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