Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You Zip
Three consecutive tracks in the middle of the record directly address music as a force for transformation. “Last Man Standing” was written after the death of Mr. Springsteen’s friend, a fellow high school rock and roll band, Castles. With the death of his friend, Mr. Springsteen realizes he is the only surviving member of the group of five, and he uses the song to remember their parties and marvels at the fact that he’s still making music all these years. “The Power of Prayer” and “House of a Thousand Guitars” expand the backward appearance and connect with Mr. Springsteen’s earlier work – for example, “Church and prison bells ring” in the latter echoing images from early classics Backstreets and Jungleland These melodies are so racist that they can bleed together at times, but when the melodies are unforgettable, the conviction in Mr. Springsteen’s performance and the resonance arrangements have weight.
Reworking previously unreleased songs is the most provocative option here. “Janey Needs a Shooter”, “If I Was the Priest” and “Song for Orphans” were written a few years after the Castilian split, and in some cases before Mr. Springsteen struck a recording deal. Each spanned over six minutes, reflecting his impressionist era drinking words, when he seemed desperate to squeeze every thought. But the bottom arrangements in “Letter to You” are consistent enough to accommodate the shaggy origins in the more disciplined aesthetic of the new record. The gesture of including such early work has meaning for those who have been following its story for years, even if the execution dilutes its specific idiosyncrasies.
Hearing songs from Mr. Springsteen’s youth collide with new songs about his youth gives the album an engaging, time-stretching flavor that seems designed to bring the believers closer. During this late stage in his career, the individual listener’s relationship with his past work provides context. So what influences an enthusiastic person may seem vulgar or even self-cynical to someone who treats their music with suspicion.
The opening and closing pieces provide the perfect setting for the album, showing how death and loss are the other side of nostalgia, and demonstrating how much the fans have directed this recording. “One minute you are here,” a haunted voice number given by Mr. Springsteen alone, indicates that life can end in an instant, so every moment must be cherished. The ‘Autumn Carnival on the Edge of Town / We Walk Midway’ lines evoke the heartbreaking Jersey Shore setting that served as the backdrop for Mr. Springsteen’s work from the start.
Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You Full Album Tracklist
- “One Minute You’re Here” – 2:57
- “Letter to You“ – 4:55
- “Burnin’ Train” – 4:03
- “Janey Needs a Shooter” – 6:49
- “Last Man Standing” – 4:05
- “The Power of Prayer” – 3:36
- “House of a Thousand Guitars” – 4:30
- “Rainmaker” – 4:56
- “If I Was the Priest” – 6:50
- “Ghosts“ – 5:54
- “Song for Orphans” – 6:13
- “I’ll See You in My Dreams” – 3:29