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January 2012
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Springsteen fans were greeted this week with something akin to Gabriel speaking to Zechariah announcing the birth of John the Baptist:  a new album will be released on March 6th entitled “Wrecking Ball”, a new tour is set with dates in Europe and the US coming out soon, and to add icing to the cake, a new single available for streaming to wet our appetite entitled “We Take Care Of Our Own” (more on that in a bit).

Like Zechariah, there are many fans who are probably having doubts about this next outing from the Boss given that the last two offerings of new material – 2009’s Working on a Dream and 2007’s Magic – were lackluster at best.  Perhaps in an attempt at penance, Springsteen released 2010’s The Promise which offered B-sides, rarities and outtakes from his masterful 1978 Darkness at the Edge of Town to remind people (and perhaps himself) of his genius and (to riff on one of his Born in the USA barn-burners) “glory days.”

Now that Springsteen has throw out this new single, fanboys will be drumming their fingers and wringing their collective hands in anticipation of the full CD to drop in March in order to assess where the patron saint of the true Jersey Shore will take us.  Like other baby boomer rockers in their 60’s the question remains: what does Springsteen have to offer the 21st century? Is there anything left in the old war horse of the prophetic imagination or is only trading in on the past and becoming a travelling parody act?

Part of what animates my anticipation is the simple fact that this is Bruce Springsteen we are talking about. What makes Springsteen such an interesting figure in American popular music is his ability to draw on the Everyman experience and make it an anthem for the masses—a rock and roll version of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common ManWhen he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bono gave the induction speech and put it this way regarding Springsteen’s appeal: