Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Youngstown” (1995)

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With its theme of angry economic disappointment, the pairing of “Youngstown” with “Murder Incorporated” has become something of a tradition at E. Street Band shows. And as the video plainly illustrates, the slightly unhinged Nils Lofgren guitar solo is a welcome part of that tradition.

“Youngstown” connects the darkness of the dustbowl with a more modern economic phenomenon: the dismantling of the United States’ steel industry. It’s not exactly a subtle message, but maybe the blunt reality doesn’t deserve such a treatment. This is exactly the kind of tune (live performances in particular) that comes to mind when folks bring up the idea that Springsteen has no business singing about the downtrodden with his level of wealth. Right. If you can’t hear the obvious passion projected in the song, then maybe your prejudices are blocking out something very important.

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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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