Now a Soul Man: Springsteen: Born in a Night Shift

in Music3 months ago

springsteen ddr.jpg The Boss 1988 in Estaern Berlin with his wife Patti Scialfa.

Bruce Springsteen is 73 years old and has been making music for half a century. But it has never sounded like it does on his new record, a soul album that shows: the son of a bus driver and a secretary from Freehold, New Jersey, is not only the folk singer of "Nebraska" and not only the man who sings about the failure of the American dream on albums like "Born to Run" and "Born in the U.S.A." to powerful electric guitar riffs. But an artist who sucked in the soul of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown, who developed the music of the same name from swing, blues and gospel in the mid-1950s.


Already "Spirit in the Night" from Springsteen's debut album left no doubt about it. "Soul Man", originally written by Sam Moore and Dave Prater in 1967 and sung in the charts, he has played live again and again. It is only half a century after his first attempts to start a solo career that the 73-year-old has now committed himself to this part of his musical school with a whole album: For his new work entitled "Only the Strong Survive", the man , whom his fans call the "Boss", recorded 15 soul classics - with respect, but unmistakably in Springsteen style.

Springsteen's third album in the last four years is a sort of counterpart to We Shall Overcome, the collection of covers with which Springsteen paid homage to the great folk bard Pete Seeger. With “Western Stars”, a record on which Springsteen staged new songs in the sound of old western films, he has now landed where he came from. "I wanted to make an album on which I only sing," he himself explains the choice, "and what better music to work with than the Great American Songbook of the sixties and seventies?"

Bruce Springsteen sees himself as an ambassador of a time when music wanted to be more than just entertainment noise. Soul was also the soundtrack to the US civil rights movement's fight against racial segregation in the 1960s. No political pop, but politicized music with which black artists like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles countered the white mainstream with something of their own.

Bruce Springsteen appropriates the classics here in his own way. His interpretation of songs by the Walker Brothers, Ben E. King and the Supremes is not intended to be reinterpreted or made entirely his own. That's exactly what he didn't want, says Springsteen. In the Corona lockdown, old records fell into his hands, after which he set about recording "Nightshift" by the Commodores. This then gave rise to the idea of ​​recording a handful of soul pieces that would remind the younger generation of this great music.

Although he finds his voice far too "badass" for this smooth music. thanks to the choir singers and the lovingly reproduced instrumentation provided by producer Ron Aniello, he succeeds in perfectly modernizing the old hits. The "Boss" rasps his way through the songs with soul, without rocking them in Springsteen style.