Both Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle have released new music.
“Magic,” the new CD by Springsteen and his E-Street Band (Columbia Records), is heralded to be an old-time rock ’n’ roll buster, and it is. The CD is a combination of love and rough living, but perhaps most importantly, it packs a strong antiwar message.
The whole E-Street Band is present, with Clarence Clemmons, Nils Lofgren, Danny Frederic, Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, and of course, Patti Scailfa. Scailfa’s own singing career is taking off, but she returns to join her husband Bruce and the full crew.
In Springsteen’s interviews, he announced that the full crew would be together for a world tour for this CD that will last almost a year.
“Last to Die” caught the attention of CNN interviewers who asked Springsteen if he worried about being typecast as an antiwar singer. He answered with the message of the song: stop the war now. “Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake … The last to die for a mistake; Darlin’ will tyrants and kings fall to the same fate … Strung up at your city gate … who’ll be the last to die for a mistake.”
There is no mistaking Springsteen’s rage at the Iraq war and those who started it.
The CD folder contains excellent photos.
An interesting bridge between the Springsteen CD and Steve Earle’s new release is that Springsteen has a song to the wasteland of radio called “Radio Nowhere.” Earle’s song is “Satellite Radio,” telling his listeners that he left public radio for satellite radio.
Earle’s CD, “Washington Square Seranade” (New West CD) is an ode to New York City and its residents. His song “Tennessee Blues” is his farewell to music city, Nashville, Tenn., and his hello to NYC.
In “City of Immigrants” he extols the greatness of New York City through its residents, who are all immigrants. In a CBS “Good Morning America” segment, Earle sang this song and made it clear where he stood on that issue. It is destined to become a classic.
On the inside cover of his beautiful CD folder presentation he ends his personal message to listeners with the “P.S. F–k Lou Dobbs.” Dobbs is the racist immigrant-basher on CNN every night.
“Down Here Below” pays homage to the famous hawk, Pale Male, of Fifth Avenue, and to the different neighborhoods of NYC. It is a very creative song for a new New Yorker. In putting words in the hawk’s mouth, he seems to be speaking for himself, “God, I love this town.”
As Patti Scailfa joins her husband Springsteen, this Earle CD brings together two new lovebirds, Steve Earle and Allison Moorer. Earle doesn’t hide the fact of his years of drug addiction and that he is now in his 13th year of recovery. His marriage to Moorer is his sixth. He also doesn’t hide that fact.
Moorer is an accomplished singer with an Academy Award to her credits. Her two songs on the great CD “No Depression” are good introductions to her singing and creativity.
Earle sings almost half of his songs to extol his love and marriage to Moorer. But, less Earle fans worry about his getting soft … your worries are not real.
His “Oxycotin Blues” is an ode to coal miners struggle for survival. This connects with his previous songs written to honor those who toil underground.
A couple of songs are directly related to his continuing struggle against his drug experience, the most significant one being his cover of the powerful Tom Waits song, “Way Down in the Hole.”
Finally, Earle pays tribute, much as Springsteen did on his previous CD, to Pete Seeger. But his song, “Steve’s Hammer (For Pete),” which includes the line, “One of these days I’m gonna lay this hammer down,” is not meant for Pete Seeger, but for Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. It is a very moving personal and political tribute.
The centerfold of the Earle CD introduces fans to his full band.
One has to wonder: do Springsteen and Earle compare notes before they produce their CDs? Probably not, but these two musical events warrant everyone’s attention.