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Occupy E Street
Bruce and the gang have just unleashed what is their angriest and most politicised record yet, a scathing attack on the railroading of the American Dream by political and corporate fat cats. Stuart Clark journeys to Paris to meet The Boss who also waxes lyrical about Obama, Catholicism, Joe Strummer, Dylan, being a hopeless music fan and why it’ll take four people to replace Clarence Clemons
Stuart Clark, 20 Mar 2012
“A big promise has been broken. You can’t have a United States if you’re telling some folks that they can’t get on the train. There’s a cracking point where a society collapses.”
As with the aforementioned Nebraska and The Ghost Of Tom Joad, Wrecking Ball is almost a series of one-act plays.
“Every song introduces you to a slightly different character, and then at the end I’ve got to find a way to mesh their stories together, and not necessarily to answer the question that I asked, but to move the question forward. It’s a very delicate dance and you don’t want to alienate the people you’re speaking to.”
It’s not all gloom, doom and “let’s line every banker up against the wall and shoot the fuckers” though.
“The record has to expand emotionally, spiritually,” Bruce reflects, “and it’s got to throw you a good time.”
Another reason this isn’t your typical E Street Band album is that there’s a new guy, Ron Aniello, in the producer’s chair.
“Ron had worked on a few of Patti (Scialfa)’s records previously, and I was actually working on another record before this record. I spent on-and-off about a year on that one before I threw it out, which is something I do every once in a while. He came in to help me finish that one, and as we went along, a few of the songs started to come up for this record. He had a lot of fresh ideas about the music, and he had a large library of sounds — alternative and hip-hop elements — and we used quite a bit of different looping techniques. It was just a very different experience, really, with the two of us in the studio. Each one of the songs started off as kind of a folk song, with just me and the acoustic guitar, and then everything else got slipped on.”
Asked whether he clocks in and clocks off like the ‘60s Brill Building songwriters he’s so in awe of, Bruce observes: “I don’t set aside any time in the day. I write when the fire gets lit, and then I do it in spare time. I work at home, so there’s always something going on — somebody needs to be picked up from school, somebody needs to be dropped off at school. But it doesn’t take me long, like it used to. ‘We Take Care of Our Own’, ‘Shackled And Drawn’ and ‘Rocky Ground’ came along for almost a gospel album package I was thinking about. And then the other things came very quickly, one after another, as soon as I found the voice that I was going to use. The inspiration thing, if that’s what you’d call it, it’s like a visitation. Something happens where suddenly it’s like the planets aligning. The times, what’s in the air, what’s inside of you, there’s your craft, your skills... and suddenly they go ‘click!’ and ‘zoom!’ and then ‘bang!’”