Bruce Springsteen has a new track out today, “We Take Care of Our Own”, off his upcoming release “Wrecking Ball”. The song is available for download at I-Tunes, while the record is slated for a March 6th release in the U.S and can be pre-ordered here. This rocking, uptempo song isn’t my favorite style of music from ‘The Boss’, but it is catchy. There are those of us fans who prefer the lonely soul of “Nebraska” (1982), old solemn tunes like “Mary Queen of Arkansas” and “War Nurse”, or the sincere expression of heartbreak in “You’re Missing”, to the rollicking, circus-tent styled band organizer who can write top 10 hits with the best singer-songwriters out there.
Let’s face it, Springsteen sets the bar in modern songwriting, along with the likes of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Patty Griffin, Elvis Costello, and Joe Henry. His iconic status is so big that every song and its lyrics are measured and dissected by fans and critics like scientists at work on a formula. “We Take Care of Our Own” finds Springsteen in familiar territory, questioning what it means to be an American. He asks, “Where’s the promise, from sea to shining sea?” One can’t help but feel more than patriotic disillusionment in Springsteen’s new cut, which might inspire speculation about the politics of the song and its reference to Chicago.
Despite some of the overly romantic notions and easy end rhymes, there is real feeling and quality to some of the lyrics: “I’ve been lookin’ for the map that leads me home / I’ve been stumblin’ on good hearts turned to stone / Those good intentions have gone dry as bone … / From Chicago to New Orleans / From the muscle to the bone / From the shotgun shack to the Superdome / We needed help but the cavalry stayed home, / There ain’t no-one hearing the bugle blown / We take care of our own.” I particularly like the clever notion of associating the interconnection of American cities as a type of musculature over bone, the missing sinews of a nation more prone to division, greed and self-interest than adhering to the basic tenant of taking care of one’s neighbor.
Just take note of some of Springsteen’s song titles (including the title track) to get a feel for the direction of the new record. Darkness at the edge of town has turned into the pallor of the grave in the title “Death to My Hometown”, perhaps a nod to the evolution of “My Hometown”, a song from 1984’s record, “Born In the U.S.A.” Note: The track list is as follows: 1. We Take Care of Our Own, 2. Easy Money, 3. Shackled and Down, 4. Jack of All Trades, 5. Death to My Hometown, 6. This Depression, 7. Wrecking Ball, 8. You’ve Got It, 9. Rocky Ground, 10. Land of Hope and Dreams, 11. We Are Alive, 12. Swallowed Up (Bonus Track), 13. American Land (Bonus Track). — David D. Robbins Jr.