Deep Album Cuts Vol. 82: Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is in the midst of a publicity blitz for his autobiography Born To Run, out tomorrow, and its companion album Chapter And Verse, which came out on Friday. I'm probably not going to read the book anytime soon, since I read another 500-page Springsteen bio, Peter Ames Carlin's excellent Bruce, only two years ago, but I definitely would like to get to it eventually. And I'm enjoying Chapter And Verse, which spans 46 years in one disc and has 5 previously unreleased early tracks, including a chance to finally hear Springsteen's storied early bands The Castiles and Steel Mill. But I always wanted to do a deep cuts playlist focusing on just his prime, those first 8 albums from the '70s and '80s, picking the gems from one of the richest catalogs in rock music.

Bruce Springsteen Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Growin' Up
2. The E Street Shuffle
3. Kitty's Back
4. Backstreets
5. Meeting Across The River
6. Jungleland
7. Candy's Room
8. Adam Raised A Cain
9. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
10. Out In The Street
11. Stolen Car
12. Two Hearts
13. State Trooper
14. Johnny 99
15. Bobby Jean
16. Downbound Train
17. No Surrender
18. All That Heaven Will Allow

Track 1 from Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973)
Tracks 2 and 3 from The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973)
Tracks, 4, 5 and 6 from Born To Run (1975)
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 from Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)
Tracks 10, 11 and 12 from The River (1980)
Tracks 13 and 14 from Nebraska (1982)
Tracks 15, 16 and 17 from Born In The U.S.A. (1984)
Track 18 from Tunnel Of Love (1987)

I went through much of the same process with Springsteen and his music that I went through with Prince; they were such ubiquitous icons during my '80s childhood that by the time I was a music lover in the '90s, they were kind of taken for granted as these tacky familiar figures that faded into the background. But by the end of the decade and into the next one, as I started to delve more into pop music's past, I developed a renewed appreciation along with a lot of other people of my generation.

The Live In New York City HBO special was what really got me more into Bruce and the E Street Band, hearing unfamiliar songs like "Out In The Street" and "Two Hearts" for the first time in those exhilarating live performances. And then I started checking out the albums and falling in love with deep cuts like "Bobby Jean" and "Backstreets." Springsteen is an artist whose signature sound is immediately identifiable, and easily simplified or parodied, but there are songs I adore like "Candy's Room" and "Meeting Across The Water" that feel totally unique within his catalog, successful one off experiments he had no need to repeat. Some of the songs that weren't singles, like "Thunder Road" and "Rosalita," are such radio staples that it felt wrong to include them. "Jungleland" was a little borderline but I decided it belonged.

Darkness is really my shit, but I also love Born To Run. I'm still kinda working my way into The River, which is one of those albums I feel like I never enjoy as much as I should. I mentally class it with Exile On Main Street and Physical Graffiti: double albums that have a wealth of good and great songs but never work for me as well as the more concise single albums that directly preceded them.

Caryn Rose recently ranked all 300+ Sprinsteen songs for Vulture, and I really recommend it as a very opinionated and informative overview of his catalog. I have my own favorites that fall out of step with some of her rankings, but it definitely gave me some food for thought as I put together this playlist. His entire career is fascinating, but the arc of these first 8 studio albums has a certain poetry to it that his best later songs can never recapture.The shaggy and verbose early albums giving way to the polish and theatricality of his peak, and then the same set of demos getting birthing both the dark, minimal Nebraska and the bittersweet blockbuster Born In The U.S.A., and then meeting somewhere in the glossy, moody of Tunnel Of Love.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 71: Fantasia
Vol. 72: Heart
Vol. 73: Pitbull
Vol. 74: Nas
Vol. 75: Monica
Vol. 76: The Cars
Vol. 77: 112
Vol. 78: 2Pac
Vol. 79: Nelly
Vol. 80: Meat Loaf
Vol. 81: AC/DC
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