Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Roll Of The Dice” (1992)

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For a few seconds here, you might be fooled into thinking this was the E Street Band. An aggressive snap-roll of the drums, a single guitar chord, and a joyous piano figure sure did sound about right. It turns that Roy Bittan wrote the music with Bruce supplying the lyrics, so that initial reaction made sense. It’s not surprising then that this song ended up being my favorite on the album.

There are a couple of things that struck me about the extended rave-up presented below. First is Bruce’s delivery of the redemption story, which starts off with the question “Have you ever been so lost?” and ends up, a few iterations later, asking about facing emptiness: “Have you ever felt so empty…that you weren’t sure who you were anymore?” That emptiness rode along with Bruce as he dismissed the E Street Band and faced an uncertain future. Second: preachin’ the gospel. There are definite echoes of this performance (in which Bobby King just kills) in Springsteen’s modern-day delivery. Some fans have grown tired of this, slapping on the label “preacher schtick.” I just see it as an extension of some of Bruce’s own influences: James Brown, Sam & Dave.

Up next: Real World

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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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