The Lil’ Dogg was doggin’ my guy Bruce Springsteen on the Boss’ 70th birthday. As a Bruce fan, and as the CEO of this blog, and as a 40-year old white guy….I just cannot stand for this.
I threatened this morning, half-kidding, to do my top 70 Springsteen songs. I didn’t but I do have my top 40. The top 40 songs that I most want to listen to…that I think are the best. To Dogg’s point, there are a ton of songs about factories opening… and closing. Still more about about staying in a town, or leaving the town, only to end up coming back to the town….but that’s real life. And that’s what The Boss does…he sets real life to music. If you don’t like real life, then I guess you don’t like the Boss. But for the rest of you, here you go:
40. “STOLEN CAR”; The River: There is a theory it’s a continuation of “Hungry Heart”, which does NOT make my list.
39. “NO SURRENDER”; Born in the USA: Lil’ Stevie insisted this one get on the album; whatta consigliere he is
38. “STREETS OF FIRE”; Darkness of the Edge of Town: Get used to this album
37. “I’M ON FIRE”; Born in the USA: Lyrics not meant to be read literally
36. “THIS HARD LAND”; Greatest Hits: I’m pretty sure this is what Bradley Cooper was going for with Jackson Maine. Country-ish rock with a good story
35. “HIGHWAY PATROLMAN”; Nebraska: Springsteen has an inordinate amount of characters named Johnny. This one has a brother Frankie. It doesn’t end well.
34. “JERSEY GIRL”; It’s a Tom Waits Song: But the Bruce live version is fantastic
33. “THE PROMISE”; The Promise: Characters? Factories? Random towns? Muscle Car? Thunder Road callback? Uhhh, yeah. Where to I sign up.
32. “COUNTY FAIR”; Essential Bruce Springsteen: Just like it…should be on Nebraska
31. “I’M GOING DOWN; Born in the USA: A fun song about a broken relationship.
30. “RADIO NOWHERE”; Magic: Is there anybody alive out there? Really, I’m asking? You still with me???
29. “THE RISING”; The Rising: Post- 9/11 America saw a cottage industry of musical “tributes”, and so many got it wrong. This one got it right, and I stand by it now.
28. “STATE TROOPER”; Nebraska: Look, this is a depressing album in many ways, but it’s also strangely hopeful. Either way, it’s some of his best work.
27. “BLINDED BY THE LIGHT”; Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ: Never a hit for Bruce, but a great song, just like…..
26. “BECAUSE THE NIGHT”; The Promise: Patti Smith absolutely killed it..but Bruce wrote it.
25. “ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT)”; Wild, Innocent, & The E St Shuffle: I know I’m too low on this…whatever. Just not my jam.
24: “BACKSTREETS”; Born to Run: Quintessential Jersey despair.
23: “GLORY DAYS”; Born in the USA: I know it’s not a good song…but it’s fun. And I sang it once at karaoke, and it was long enough ago where I swear it was AWESOME.
22. “BORN IN THE USA”; Born in the USA: An Epic song, but just too many better for me
21. “DRIVE ALL NIGHT”; The River: Bruce is crooning, and some great Clarence.
20. “WALK LIKE A MAN”; Tunnel of Love: This one is like, if Ray Kinsella playing catch with his dad was a song.
19. “GROWIN’ UP”; Greetings…: From the debut album, and he basically gave us a playbook for the next 50 years.
18. “NEBRASKA”; Nebraska: The vocals are is kind of eerie and haunting, but some great harmonica work from The Boss.
17. “SECRET GARDEN”; Greatest Hits: Gotta have the Jerry Maguire version, folks.
16. “BRILLIANT DISGUISE”; Tunnel of Love: This album led to him going into therapy over his marraige…think about that when you listen to this song.
15. “MY HOMETOWN”; Born in the USA: This one takes the brunt of Lil Dogg’s criticism, but I ask you, Why does Dogg like to make fun of factories closing so much?????
14. “THE TIES THAT BIND”; The River: Every time I listen to this one, I imagine a band, putting everything aside and just rocking out together. What a banger.
13: “PROVE IT ALL NIGHT”; Darkness: CLASSIC Bruce here. Could have been on any album from 75-85, but as it was…it was on the BEST one.
12: “MY FATHER’S HOUSE”; Nebraska: This one isn’t about a character, it’s about him, as a troubled adult who kept driving past his childhood home. His struggle is our gain… an absolute GUT PUNCH of a song. Unless, like Lil’ Dogg, you have no soul. (song starts at 2:03 if you want to skip intro)
11. “THE PROMISED LAND”; Darkness: Classic vocals, great harmony, some serious solos…this is as much a showcase of the E Street Band as any song in the catalogue.
10. “SOMETHING IN THE NIGHT”; Darkness: Turn the radio up loud, so I don’t have to think…you said it Boss. Sometimes that’s the way to do it.
9. “RACING IN THE STREET”; Darkness: Told you I loved this album. This track is just pure sadness and reminiscing, and cars, and local landmarks….ok, so they all are. Who cares?! It’s fucking great. You already stopped reading if you’re not a fan anyway.
8. “DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN”; Darkness: Bruce brings some real anger in this one, especially in the chorus. I’d also argue that Springsteen has the best collection of Title Tracks of any band/artist ever.
7. “THE RIVER“; The River: Widely acclaimed as the band’s best work instrumentally, this is basically a flawless song. The lyrics are packed with the old Springsteen tropes. So you’re either a fan of the band, and love the song…or you’re not, and you don’t.
6. “ADAM RAISED A CAIN”; Darkness: This one has some edge to it, hammered home by some great axe work by Silvio.
5. “JUNGLELAND”; Born to Run: Wasn’t on the Greatest Hits album but it’s inarguably one of his best songs. I read a description of it as the culmination of his “street songs”, bringing the characters all together into a masterpiece of the genre he created. So…I’ll just steal that thought.
4. “BORN TO RUN”; Born to Run: I know, I don’t have it #1. But putting it at #4 is about as hot a take as I could muster. This song is a monster from the opening note. Pure, unadulterated fun. You know the song, so here’s a great Soprano’s nod to the Boss:
3. “ATLANTIC CITY”; Nebraska: Any song that opens with “They Blew up the Chicken Man” is going to grab you off the bat. This one only gets better from there.
2. “BADLANDS”; Darkness: “Poor man wanna be rich, Rich man wanna be king / And A king ain’t satisfied ’til he rules everything”. Lil’ Dogg, can you give me some Grateful Dead lyrics better than that? I’ll hang up and listen….
Also, Badlands is definitely PEAK “Woah, woah, woah” Springsteen
And, my #1 Springsteen song, is the one that made me a fan in the first place. And in my mind, is on the short list for best songs of all time. I hope you enjoyed the list…I loved putting it together. In your face, Lil’ Dogg!!!!