The first time I heard Bruce Springsteen he wasn’t even singing one of his own songs. My father was playing one of his favorite records from a collection of vinyl that’s stacked on a shelf above our television – “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live/1975 – 85.” The song that had caught my ear, “Jersey Girl,” is a hidden gem originally by Tom Waits that Springsteen had covered in concert. Some years later, it’s still a complete pleasure to listen to while walking on campus or driving home on Route 322.
The Boss and company will be at the Bryce Jordan Center tomorrow night at 7:30, and I’ve come to the realization that I may not see Springsteen perform “Jersey Girl.” — it’s not a concert regular these days. But there are plenty of other standards that will echo through the BJC. Count on “Born to Run.” Definitely”Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.” If you only like “Born in the U.S.A.,” don’t get too excited because the Boss might not bust this one out (but I guess you never know).
I compiled a few of my favorite Springsteen songs that will hopefully make the setlist tomorrow. I doubt all of these tunes will make the cut, but they’re still classics nonetheless:
The title-track to one of my favorite albums, “Darkness” is a culmination of everything that makes Springsteen the Boss. I’ve never been able to get over how simple yet striking the lyrics are. This one, like a lot of others, will make you yearn for something more.
Off of the striped down “Nebraska” album, “Atlantic City” has been covered by acts such as The Hold Steady, The Band, and Mumford & Sons. “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact/But maybe everything that dies some day comes back,” Springsteen sings over a jangling acoustic.
First of all, what a drum intro. Simple, but it kicks off “Hungry Heart” just right. Springsteen’s storytelling abilities through song are unreal. He’s probably one of the only artists who can make you feel bad for some guy who left his wife and kids in Baltimore just to get his heart broken in Jamaica.
Rosie’s a crowd favorite. And what better song to sum up some of the best years everyone experiences — sneaking out, pissing parents off. “I ain’t here on business/I’m only here for fun.” I think we’ve all been there.
Don’t let the semi-spoken intro scare you off. This song has just as much power as any other Springsteen tune. The energy comes mostly from Max Weinberg’s fantastic drum work. But the rest of the band does just fine too.
“The River” examines the more serious side of a youthful romance. The opening harmonica riff will cut you deep and you won’t have much time to recover before the story unfolds. “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true/Or is it something worse.” Heavy stuff.
A classic song about the everlasting comfort of childhood memories. I’m more partial to the softer, guitar-and-harmonica version, but the variations on this one are all superb (see the Boss and Gaslight Anthem vocalist Brian Fallon sing it).
Another favorite from “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” It has a sing-along chorus and upbeat charge. And, although he kills it on every song, this is one of my favorite solos by the infamous and recently deceased E Street saxophonist Clarence Clemons. RIP Big Man.
Ask any one of my friends and they will tell you that this is my favorite Springsteen song. I love “Thunder Road.” In my opinion, it’s just as good as the title track of the album it’s included in – “Born to Run.” I’m pretty sure that a performance of this song was the only reason I got my current internship (not really, but I did rile up the crowd).
Although “Thunder Road” is my favorite Springsteen song, I love seeing “Backstreets” performed live. It’s such an epic song about friendship. “Remember all the movies, Terry, that we’d go see/Trying to learn how to walk like the heroes we thought we had to be/And after all this time to find we’re just like all the rest.” Please play this, Bruce. Can I call you Bruce?
I would love to some of the new stuff from “Wrecking Ball” too. But these classic songs are just too damn good. And here’s a few long shots that I will really have my fingers crossed for:
What is your favorite Springsteen tune? What do you want to hear at the concert tomorrow?