One Track Mind: Bruce Springsteen, "Swallowed Up" (2012)

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Bruce takes the biblical story of Jonah and morphs it into a kind of blues lament for the downtrodden and the forgotten. In this version, the whale is not symbolic of god’s love and caring but is instead a place of disappointment. An end. And…an obvious metaphor for a society that can crush the unsuspecting person.

Sung closely by Bruce, and accompanied by some acoustic guitar that brings to mind those (much hated?) acoustic renditions of “Born In The USA,” “Swallowed Up (In The Belly Of The Whale)” is a most unusual Springsteen song. What takes it over the top are those spooky descending refrains, framed by bass violin, bassoon, and contra bassoon. The track ends with Soozie Tyrell’s lone violin restating the melody, a musical stand-in for the lost voices.

Next up: American Land

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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