Letter to you from Bruce Springsteen: new and recycled songs
Letter to you, recorded in 2019 and released last October, is Bruce Springsteen’s 20th studio album. With new and recycled material, the album was recorded with the E Street Band performing live in the studio, sometimes carrying out the band’s signature wall, which alone was worth listening to the album.
In the songs most recently written on Letter to you, Springsteen faces the aging and death of friends with honesty and taste. While not the best songs in the artist’s long career, they are meaningful and often moving for longtime fans. The older songs, some dating from early in her career like “If I Was the Priest” and “Janey Needs a Shooter”, offer striking stylistic contrasts to the new material and give listeners some of the album’s best moments. .
The album’s opening, “One Minute You’re Here,” establishes themes of death and loss. The music on this one is heartwarming, untouched with slightly bloated keyboards and single-note piano fills. “One Minute You’re Here” also features some of the more musical lyrics from the more recent songs.
I thought I knew who I was
And what I would do but I was wrong
One minute you’re here
Next minute you’re gone
In the title song, “Letter to You,” the entire group joins Springsteen for a heartfelt, if less than poetic, account of a letter. Springsteen said the letter was his body of work to his fans, and seen in that light, the idea for the song is moving, his body of work being what it is. But with lyrics filled with abstractions and the band simply playing through a chord progression, this song doesn’t inspire.
In my letter to you
I took all my fears and my doubts
In my letter to you
All the difficult things that I discovered
In my letter to you
All i found true
And I sent it in my letter to you
According to SpringsteenLyrics.com, the next track, “Burnin ‘Train,” was first recorded in 1993, a year after his albums were released twice. Lucky city and Human contact. Musically and lyrically, the song calls out to this period, with its catchy rhythm guitar and images of the body of its lover in a song of abasement and redemption.
“Janey Needs a Shooter”, a song written in 1972, is out of place and very welcome on this album. Showcasing the tidy, imagistic lyrical style that placed Springsteen among those dubbed “the new Dylan” in the early ’70s, the song’s dynamic structure inspires the E Streeters to blend into their powerful manifestation as one. the tightest and most powerful bands in rock history. . Springsteen’s older, deeper voice attacks the lyrics successfully, pairing well with their dark undertones.
Well Janey got a doctor tear her guts out
He investigates her and silently calls her sighs
He probes with his fingers but only knows his heart through his stethoscope His hands are cold and his body is so old
Janey rejects it like drugs
“Janey” is one of the highlights of Letter to you, and his conjuring of an earlier Springsteen proves poignant on an album that looks back in grief and gratitude.
“Last Man Standing” was recorded at the end of 2019, after the death of Springsteen’s teammate George Theiss of his first group, The Castiles. Here the lyrics are alive in their evocation of young men playing gigs in union halls and “black leather clubs along Route 9”, and the song tightrope walk Springsteen works well, looking back without fall into cheap sentimentality.
Lights come on in the Legion Hall
Billiard cues go up the wall
You take your guitar and have one last beer
With just the ringing in your ears
The album remains melancholy in two of the following tracks, “The Power of Prayer”, an affirmation of lasting love, and “Ghosts”, a tribute to the deceased band members, especially those from the Castiles. “Song for Orphans” is another old song revisited, a disjointed six-line ode to the spark of youth that Springsteen has seen die off prematurely, especially by drugs, but also by a world that does not nurture that spark. :
Well how much wasted
Have I seen it signed “Hollywood or bust”
They left to ride the still ghostly gusts of Arizona
And the kids with big amps ringing in the void
High society vamps
Former heavyweight champions mistake soot for dirt
The last of the album’s old songs, “If I Was the Priest,” features a moving musical performance by Springsteen and the band, and Springsteen’s vocals do the song justice, but the outrageous and suggestive lyrics are reminiscent of the cowardly and the funky interprets his youth, qualities he has long since abandoned.
“Rainmaker” might be mistaken for a song about Donald Trump, but in fact it was written no later than 2003, suggesting Springsteen had George W. Bush in mind. The song is musically and lyrically strong, with invigorating violin strokes like those that characterized the songs on Springsteen’s 2002 album. The climb. Springsteen’s writing shows it here at its best politically, with a keen eye for hokum but also for the underlying conditions that can make hokum effective.
Rainmaker, a little faith to praise
Rainmaker, the house is on fire
Rainmaker, take all you’ve got
Sometimes people need to believe in something so bad, so bad, so bad
They’ll hire a rainmaker
Sadly, to say the least, Springsteen isn’t always at his best politically. For decades he has been the spokesperson for the Democratic Party, and during this year’s Super Bowl he was featured in a Jeep commercial in which he preached platitudes on behalf of the political “center”. These things have erosive artistic consequences.
The last track on the album, “I’ll See You in My Dreams”, expresses love for a lost and possibly lonely partner among the new songs on “Letter to You”. be a Springsteen fan.
I have your guitar here by the bed
All your favorite records
And all the books you read
And though my soul feels like
It was split at the seams
I will see you in my dreams
While Springsteen’s Letter to you is for his fans, there are some here for others to enjoy. Uneven artistic endeavor, the album has no bad tracks, and the good tracks sometimes manage to come close to the heights of classic Springsteen.