Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “All Or Nothin’ At All” (1992)

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It feels weird for me to be commenting on lyrics (since I’m apparently one of the rare NotALyricsGuy™’s who also happens to be a Springsteen fan) but I’ve always wished that he’d executed this song as one of those “dirty blues” kind of things. All those old country blues records were steeped in innuendo, which is part of why they’re all so great. Did Bruce have to dig all the way down into “squeeze my lemon” territory? Maybe not, but this idea of a woman who can’t commit is kind of suburban bland as presented on “All Or Nothin’ At All.”

Musically, I like the tension generated by the way the vocals “swerve” on the chorus. The almost-unison vocals on the mini guitar solo are kind of cool too.

But the heck with all of that. The best thing about this song is that we get to see one of the true wonders of the rock concert world: the truly screwed up guitar style of Shane Fontayne. The video seen below isn’t so great, but when the song really kicks in, Fontayne unleashes his inner psycho chicken. I saw a pair of shows from this tour and Fontayne was a decent foil for Bruce, but I don’t remember laughing like I am right now.

Next up: Man’s Job

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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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