Welcome to the series within a series. We're going to be talking Springsteen for the next week. You have been warned. Yesterday, I unveiled the Top 20 songs I've not yet heard that I'm hoping to hear on my trip to Missouri to see two E Street Band shows. Leading up to the shows I thought we'd talk about a couple of those songs and why I like them and want to hear them. I also told you Bruce has announced he's playing Born To Run in St. Louis and Born in the U.S.A. in Kansas City. I bring that up because going in, I know that I will hear hear three songs on my Top 20 list and I thought we'd begin the discussion today with the guarantees.
Because St. Louis is first, let's start with BTR. I've heard five of the eight songs from this, my favorite Springsteen album. Of the three I haven't heard, "Backstreets" and "Night" both rate as Top 20 "must hear" moments.
If you don't understand why "Backstreets" is one that must be heard, you either haven't heard the song or you just don't get Bruce. I hate putting it that way because while I know my taste in music is beyond reproach, I don't like being an elitist about it. I don't horde music and hope that no one discovers it. I think all of you should be listening to what I am.
I know BruceFan and Bruce purists may argue whether or not "Backstreets" is the quintessential Springsteen, but the themes of this song and the musical and vocal presentation of it are at the core of what defines his work. I'm not the gatekeeper of Camp Springsteen and there is no litmus test but it's difficult to fathom being a fan without having a reverence for "Backstreets."
I like "Night," but I confess part of the reason it got on the Top 20 when it did months ago was because I hoped one day I'd hear all eight songs from Born to Run. I never expected Bruce would serve that one up to me not once but twice. It's a fine, fine song and adds to my enjoyment of the album but is nowhere near my favorite song on the disc. I am looking forward to hearing it live, though.
Moving on to Kansas City, we've got "Born in the U.S.A." We'll discuss this more in coming days but this album is not my favorite chapter in Springsteen's career. The title track, though, is an iconic song and might be the first Springsteen song I remember hearing. I put this one on my list when I first conceived it with the hope of hearing it with the full band just once. There's a vitality and energy to this and I have to imagine it gets even more intense in concert. If nothing else, I want to hear Mighty Max Weinberg fire off those drum fills at the end.