Can’t wait for Wrecking Ball, the long-awaited Bruce Springsteen album, to hit shelves on March 6? Neither can we. So, we dug around and collected four songs from the just-announced track listing.
There are 13 tunes slated for the deluxe edition of album, including the lead single, “We Take Care of Our Own.” But Springsteen’s previously introduced fans to the title song, an album cut called “Land of Hopes and Dreams” and a bonus track from the deluxe edition of the album, as well.
Here’s a quick listen to those earlier takes, plus the new single, to enjoy in the run up to Springsteen’s 17th official studio recording. Already, you can hear a strong political bent to the album — just from this quartet of samples. (Not to mention other song titles like “This Depression,” “Rocky Ground,” and “Death to My Hometown.”)
Wrecking Ball was produced by Ron Aniello (Candlebox, Jars of Clay, Barenaked Ladies and Springsteen’s wife Patti Scialfa), Springsteen and executive producer Jon Landau. Guests include guitarist Tom Morello, former Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain and members of the E Street Band …
WRECKING BALL: An opening track Springsteen specially wrote for a five-night concert series in the summer of 2009 at Giants Stadium, just before it was torn down. “Wrecking Ball” was also included on the rest of the Working on a Dream tour. The speculation is that lines that were too specific back then — “my home is here in the Meadowlands” — might be updated. That would be a shame, since the imagery of a proud place now falling into ruin remains so devastatingly visceral. The Meadowlands Sports Complex was demolished in 2010; a new facility called MetLife Stadium now sits adjacent to the former sports arena.
LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS: This is, of course, the first new Springsteen album since the passing of saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died last June of a stroke at 69. His presence is particularly felt here, on a song first debuted during the 1999/2000 reunion tour by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and revived occasionally over the years — including this 2002 performance at Barcelona, Spain. Some fans wonder if this track, which originally featured a memorable turn by Clemons, will mark his final appearance on a Springsteen recording — of if the tune has been re-recorded. Either way, this tune (with its heartbreaking imagery of a train leaving some of us behind) looks to be an emotional high point of the new Springsteen project.
AMERICAN LAND: This original, set for inclusion on the deluxe edition of Wrecking Ball, was part of the Springsteen tour in support of 2006’s We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, where fit in perfectly as a rousing tribute to the influence of immigrants on this nation. The song was included on a Seeger concert souvenir album, and later appeared on E Street Band setlists beginning with the tour behind Magic in 2007. The fiddle-driven, emerald-hued version above is from Hyde Park in 2009.
WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN: Released overnight, the lead single for Wrecking Ball is another of those sweepingly patriotic head fakes from Springsteen. Listen closely, and the track (so boisterous and proud, at first) ends up asking deeper, darker questions, just as songs like “Born in the USA” did before it: “We yelled ‘help’ but the cavalry stayed home … Where’s the promise, from sea to shining sea?” Perhaps to assuage fears created by early leaks that pointed to the use of more modern touches like loops and electronic beats, this track is pure E Street Band — right down to a ear-worm riff that must have shamed descendent bands like Arcade Fire.