Bruce Springsteen has one of the most classic sounds of any solo rock singer, although the work he performed with the E Street Band is also generally popular. His music combines a number of styles, from rockabilly and Appalachian music to what is known as “Jersey Shore sound,” a combination of pre-Motown R&B and pre-Beatles rock, although he hit the scene in the mid-1960s when both the Beatles and Motown were already in full swing.
Known by many music fans as the Boss, Springsteen often deals with lyrical themes that concern the struggle, dismay, dissatisfaction and desires of the working class as well as lovers and people in general. He has stated in the past that his work as a musician measures “the distance between the American dream and American reality.” This can be seen in songs such as “Atlantic City,” “Born in the USA” (about the plight of Vietnam veterans), “Tunnel of Love” (about marital disillusionment), and “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”
He also writes quite a bit about cars, as seen in songs such as “Blinded by the Light,” “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” and “Pink Cadillac.” With the exception of “Blinded by the Light,” each of his car-related songs is generally about a relationship between a man and a woman. One of his most popular songs about love, however, is “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” the story of a young man in a rock band and his forbidden love. For some time after “Rosalita” was released, it was the standard closing song for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at concerts.
Many of Springsteen’s love songs revolve around troubled relationships. In “Atlantic City,” the man in the relationship looks for a job with organized crime, and there is naturally a gambling theme in the song as well. In “Thunder Road,” there is a couple searching for happiness. In “Rosalita,” the woman’s parents do not like the young man, although he is still determined to make their love work. His song “The River” is largely about economic difficulties and one young man’s struggles to keep his dreams intact, but it also deals with the girl he gets pregnant.
Springsteen weaves a large number of musical influences into his work. “The River” was inspired by Hank Williams, and “Thunder Road” mentions his love for Roy Orbison. He was also inspired by Elvis Presley, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, Chuck Berry, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and more. Some of his influences include actors as well, such as Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and James Dean. He is all about personality, quality sound, and meaningful lyrics.
Bruce Springsteen’s sound is timeless, his voice generally one of the smoother around. He has become one of the greatest recording artists to emerge from the 1960s, considered to still be a contemporary music icon today. His lyrics have managed to speak to multiple generations, and his musical styles works as well today as it did when he was first developing his career. Springsteen has found a musical formula that truly works.
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