Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

This Train Carries Saints and Sinners

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Rolling Stone reviews Wrecking Ball.

Album opener “We Take Care of Our Own” poses a question: Do Americans take care of their own? The songs that follow make the answer clear: The narrator of the slow waltz “Jack of All Trades” struggles to find work, while the anti-hero of the country-folk stomper “Easy Money” decides to imitate “all them fat cats” on Wall Street by turning to crime. The similarly uptempo “Shackled and Drawn,” meanwhile, offers a political analysis worthy of Woody Guthrie: “Gambling man rolls the dice, workingman pays the bill/ It’s still fat and easy up on banker’s hill/ Up on banker’s hill, the party’s going strong/ Down here below we’re shackled and drawn.”

The album’s themes shift midway through, as economic despair gives way to a quest for spiritual redemption. It ends on a hopeful note with the ambitious “We Are Alive.” The song takes on an Irish-wake feel, as Springsteen celebrates Americans (and aspiring ones) who died fighting for progress: “I was killed in Maryland in 1877/ When the railroad workers made their stand/ I was killed in 1963 one Sunday morning in Birmingham/ I died last year crossing the Southern desert my children left behind in San Pablo… We are alive/ And though we lie alone here in the dark/ Our souls will rise/ To carry the fire and light the spark/ To fight shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart.”

Written by gerrycanavan

February 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

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