Monday, October 1, 2007

HIS GREATEST ALBUM SINCE 'THE RIVER' AND 'NEBRASKA': Or, so the thinkpieces are saying of Bruce Springsteen's Magic. Via the Times of London:
“The pop world is a symbolic world,” [Springsteen] says, “and there’s only one problem with that: I’m not a symbol, I’m real. So you sort of break through and confine yourself simultaneously. The trick for the musician is to be an escape artist. And you have to protect your talent, what is of value to you, because those are your life rafts. Whatever the vicissitudes of the music business, of fans blowing hot, cold, indifferent, it all comes down to that same thing.”

He feels, he says, freer than he ever has before, liberated from labels, from the constraints of packaging and image. “My take on the whole thing is, by the time you’re my age, the race is over; these are the victory laps. I make any kind of music I want to make, you know? There are no rules – they’re not waiting for my record at Top 40 radio next week. I’m not worried about whether I’m going to be competing with 50 Cent. All that pressure is off. So I don’t really feel hemmed in by any previous image people might have of me, or any current one. You have such a list of ‘selves’ behind you, and everybody has their favourite or unfavourite. That’s what they were there for. They were built for a certain moment in time: somebody likes that one, doesn’t like the other one.” He cackles again. “Then you build another one – you paint yourself out of that corner and you move on to the next corner.”

Lurking unspoken is the obvious parallel – with politics and its dark, demotic arts of spin, polish and seduction. Yet Springsteen’s admission that, on Magic, he consciously used the language of classic pop implies an acceptance of this. He isn’t, he argues, communicating if nobody’s listening. But it took a long time for Springsteen, and, again, his fans, to once more feel comfortable with this power.

Or the NYT's Tony Scott: "You can always trust what you hear on a Bruce Springsteen record (irony, he notes, is not something he’s known for), but in this case it pays to listen closely, to make note of the darkness, so to speak, that hovers at the edge of the shiny hooks and harmonies. 'I took these forms and this classic pop language and I threaded it through with uneasiness,' Mr. Springsteen said."

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