News / Arts & Entertainment

Book Counts Down Springsteen's Greatest Songs

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band perform in concert during their
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band perform in concert during their "High Hopes Tour" at Hershey Stadium on May 14, 2014, in Hershey, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Faiza Elmasry
Musician, singer, songwriter Bruce Springsteen is one of the world's best-selling artists, with a career that spans 40 years. 

In his book, Counting Down Bruce Springsteen, writer and music critic Jim Beviglia ranks Springsteen’s finest 100 songs. The list is based on the impact of each song and how powerfully the lyrics express people’s fears, hopes and dreams.

Springsteen, nicknamed "The Boss," is known for his poetic lyrics that tackle social and political issues, and his energetic stage performances.

Beviglia says the artist's upbringing in a New Jersey working class family profoundly affected his music.
 
LISTEN: Bruce Springsteen's Finest 100
Bruce Springsteen's Finest 100i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

“The social and the political issues, Springsteen has never been shy about writing about those," he said. "They started to come into play with an album called, ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town,’ (1978) where he started to look at small towns lives
"Counting Down Bruce Springsteen" ranks the musician's finest 100 songs.
x
"Counting Down Bruce Springsteen" ranks the musician's finest 100 songs.
and how people are just sort of doing the same things their parents did, and couldn't get out of that. Then as he goes on, those issues started to expand to some really darker stuff on an album called ‘Nebraska,’ (1982) where a lot of it is people pushed to the edge by poverty, committing crimes and things like that. There is an album called ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad,’ (1995) where he really takes social issues to the forefront, looking at things like immigration and poverty and hunger, right to the present time, just a few years ago, an album called ‘Wrecking Ball,' (2012) which really pointed at that sort of financial leaders and the powers that allowed that dichotomy between the rich and the poor.”

One of Springsteen's best-known songs is "Born in the USA," number nine on Beviglia's list.

“It’s an amazingly complex song, it's got this really rousing music, very patriotic, big drums, it's used with fireworks displays. But when you get to the lyrics, it’s a very sharp criticism of the way America treated its Vietnam vets upon returning home. It came out in 1984, at the time Ronald Reagan was running for reelection and a couple of conservative politicians picked up on the song," he said. "They didn’t hear the criticism part. They talked about how Springsteen reflected the American values. I believe Reagan even mentioned him in one of his campaign speeches. And Springsteen, when he found out about that, he quickly pulled back and said, ‘Wait a second, they’re mistaking the song here. This is more of a criticism. Maybe their values don’t coincide with my values.’”

Springsteen also wrote about personal relationships. Beviglia puts “Brilliant Disguise,” from the 1987 "Tunnel of Love" album, in fifth place on his Springsteen’s 100 finest songs list.

“It’s basically a couple who are putting on disguises for each other because they don’t reveal their true selves," he said. "There is mistrust and the relationship is kind of crumbling."

Beviglia says that was the state of Springsteen's marriage at the time. He and his first wife divorced shortly after.

"Born to Run" tops Beviglia's list. He says, after disappointing sales of Springsteen's first two albums, his label was thinking about dropping him. But "Born to Run" hit the charts in 1975 and saved Springsteen’s career.

“The lyrics, they leave you breathless, this idea that maybe we can never get free from our pasts, our home towns, but you have to give it a shot, take your chance. It cost a lot of money to produce," he said. "He used all these instruments. Had it failed, we might not be talking about Bruce Springsteen today."  

But we are talking about him and listening to him. "Born to Run" has become Springsteen's signature song. He plays it at the end of every concert.

Beviglia says The Boss' ability to stay true to himself and express ordinary peoples’ concerns and hopes is what has made him a living legend.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chrissy from: Philly
May 28, 2014 11:54 AM
The band wears a lot of the same clothes all the time. Makes for a seamless live video when pulling all the clips together. Bruce is very particular about things!
In Response

by: liz lorman from: Saratoga. springs. NY
May 28, 2014 8:08 PM
That is so true and I wonder why

by: Vel from: Australia
May 28, 2014 11:30 AM
He played Thunder Road last at our concerts...:)

by: Stan from: Oregon
May 28, 2014 10:52 AM
Plays "Born to Run" at the end of every concert?

by: Gary Abrams from: New York
May 28, 2014 9:24 AM
@Tom Monaco,
Band wears the exact same clothes for just about every show. Bruce changed style of shirt for last two shows in CT. That's about it. "There uniform."

by: Tom Monaco from: Bohemia, Long Island
May 28, 2014 8:45 AM
I'm pretty sure that pucture was taken in Albany unless all the band wore the same clothes the following night. Just sayin'

by: Irishdude from: Canada
May 27, 2014 6:24 PM
It's going to be a very long book because The Boss has written more great songs than almost any rocker in history. I've been a huge fan since I was 16 years old and I said then that this guy would go down in history as one of the best ever and there's absolutely no doubt he will. Only Dylan surpasses him as a songwriter and no one beats him as a performer. Plus he's a decent human being and good guy to boot. Long live The Boss..
In Response

by: rod from: ohio
May 28, 2014 11:26 PM
let'sagree to disagree-Springsteen surpasses Dylan as a songwriter

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures