News / Arts & Entertainment

    Book Counts Down Springsteen's Greatest Songs

    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)
    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."Counting Down Bruce Springsteen" ranks the musician's finest 100 songs.
    x
    "Counting Down Bruce Springsteen" ranks the musician's finest 100 songs.
    "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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    New in Music Alley

    Soul Lounge: Sweet Honey in the Rocki
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 10, 2016 1:48 PM
    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B. The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.

    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B.   The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.