One Track Mind: Bruce Springsteen, "Land Of Hope And Dreams" (2012)

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First, I have to admit that I was never the biggest fan of this song. Or more accurately, I didn’t like it placed later in the live set. It seemed like the tempo dragged things down. There, I said it.

So then I find out that Bruce has made a new studio version for Wrecking Ball. Hmmmm…what does that mean? Well, it means that Clarence gets to have one last say, though obviously that wasn’t the angle at recording time.

Whatever the reason, “Land Of Hope And Dreams” has undergone the WreckingBallTreatment™ and is one of my favorite songs on the album. The song now begins with preacherly invocations of “This train…” floating above a bed of church organ pedal tones, to which banjo arpeggios, a choir, and a few choice beats are added. And then: boom! in comes some rumbling rhythm guitar leading to the mandolin that plays out the hook. The new arrangement provides an exhilarating jolt of energy that makes me think it would actually work as a show opener!

But it’s not the new beginning…and it’s not the nice quotes of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” toward the end. No, none of the new touches can compete with the last saxophone solo of Clarence Clemons. I knew it was coming, but the first time I heard that horn roar to life, it brought a tear to my eye. Thanks again, Big Man.

Next up: We Are Alive

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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