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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Working on a Dream

    How do you measure a year? Outside of quoting Jonathan Larson’s “Seasons of Love,” listening to Bruce Springsteen’s latest effort will let you know that it can be measured in song. What a year it has been.

    October 2007 marked the release of the Boss’ “Magic,” an angry, angsty album that finds the singer disillusioned with his America. You can see on the cover a face hardened by the times, a look that cuts like a knife. This year, with Bush behind him and change on the American horizon, Jersey’s favorite son releases “Working on a Dream,” hope lining his softened face as the clouds race away into the clear morning of a new day.

    Hope and the redemptive power of love are the overarching messages of “Dream,” as especially exemplified in the title track. Throughout the album, Springsteen’s lyricism ranges from dreamy metaphor in “This Life” to rich, spaghetti western-esque storytelling in “Outlaw Pete,” and back to down-home river delta blues in “Good Eye.” Darkness does creep in, as Springsteen writes in “What Love Can Do:” Darling I can’t stop the rain/ Or turn your black sky blue/ Well let me show you what love can do/ Let me show you what love can do

    Accompanying him is the constantly lauded E Street Band, who lends Springsteen’s already lush and vivid imagery an even better color, shape, and character. As Outlaw Pete makes his final ride up that icy mountain, the sun of your mind’s eye sets on that tragic figure. Even when the work stumbles – once, with the syrupy “Queen of the Supermarket” that simply takes itself too seriously for its subject matter – it never fails. The music, with every violin, guitar, and crying sax, is in lockstep with the singer’s poetry.

    I hope you watched the Super Bowl, because the spirit of the album came alive in Tampa, Florida during the halftime show. Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a 12-minute set of four songs from throughout their career that electrified the audience and shook the stadium to its heart. Opening with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” he led the fans through “Born to Run,” “Working on a Dream,” and closed, with great fanfare, with “Glory Days.” It was 12 minutes of great showmanship and probably one of the better halftime shows in recent memory.

    If you must measure the year that passed from the release of “Magic” to “Working on a Dream,” then it must be measured in the character of the words – in the distance between despair and hope. Clearly, from the work to the performance, for Springsteen that dream is on it’s way to coming true.

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