Let’s start the year with something positive.
I’ve been distracted this past year. Work. Family. House move. Virus avoidance. Consequently, it’s not been a great year for discovering new music, compounded by not being able to go to gigs.
So forgive me if I don’t have a bulging list of new releases to recommend. I’ve just the one, in fact.
I nearly missed it, to be honest. Came out in October. Maybe I was otherwise engaged at the time. Work. Family. House move. Virus avoidance. You know the sort of thing.
So when a dear friend gave me a copy of Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You I was slow to drop it into the CD player. Didn’t actually get round to it until we went for a drive a couple of days ago. We were only going to Tesco for groceries but we ended up getting lost in the North Herts countryside to give the album time to finish.
It’s his best for years. Decades, maybe. Interestingly, some of the finest songs on here were written back in the 70s before he was signed, but forgotten about till he ran them past today’s E Street Band. Recorded as live, to devastating effect.
This is the band I fell in love with way back in the 1970s, when I walked my first daughter round the room to get her to sleep to the sound of Jungleland. This is the band I fell in love with in that apartment in Brookline, Mass, when I first heard Greetings from Asbury Park and couldn’t stop playing it, my head dizzy with lyrics tumbling over each other, packed with characters that were simultaneously familiar and mysterious. This is the band that gave me the glorious interweaving piano and organ and the slow, heartbroken release of Point Blank.
It’s all here. The finest band it’s been my privilege to have seen, fronted by music’s most intelligent writer and spellbinding performer. He’s described it as a sad album (and I defy anyone to listen to the opening track without un peu de tristesse) but it’s also everything rock and roll should be: unifying, life-affirming, cathartic, defiant.
Tears of joy. And the drums: oh god, the DRUMS.