Butler County Times Gazette
Bruce Springsteen fans from Asbury Park and beyond blog about The Boss
BEST SPRINGSTEEN COVERS EVER, Volume 5
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The writers of this blog are not music critics, and they don't consider a second (or third, fourth or fifth) mortgage to be a perfectly reasonable course of action to pay for front-row tickets, but despite being a whole lot more middle aged than ...
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Bruce Springsteen
The writers of this blog are not music critics, and they don't consider a second (or third, fourth or fifth) mortgage to be a perfectly reasonable course of action to pay for front-row tickets, but despite being a whole lot more middle aged than they were when they first put Born in the U.S.A. or The River down on the turntable, still feels like Bruce has something -- OK, a lot of things -- to say about our country and the way we live our lives, things that not a lot of other artists are saying. And whether he's talking about the knife that can cut this pain from your heart, the house that's waiting for you to walk in or what that flag flying over the courthouse means, he's nailing down feelings that are so universal that they can raise your spirits and break your heart at the same time. Plus, lets face it, the man rocks.
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By Pete Chianca
April 26, 2013 11:16 a.m.

coverme

Picking my five favorite Springsteen covers didnt sound like it would be that hard a task — until I started thinking about it. (Thats typically when I get into trouble, with the thinking.) Its not that theyre all so terrific, but its amazing how hard it is to find a true clunker. Id say thats a testament to how these songs are built — its hard to ruin them. Although some people have come darn close, and thats a subject for another post.

That said, there are a few that, for whatever reason, continue to stand out in my mind — covers that took a chance or helped illuminate the heart of the song. Like all the best covers, they reflect the personality of the singer as much as they pay tribute to the original. And Im sure tomorrow Ill think of five others I forgot.

1) Dion, Book of Dreams. I love how Springsteens music can feel at home in so many different styles and genres. From Dions 2000 album Deja Nu, this doo-wop take feels current and right out of 1959 at the same time.

2) Melissa Etheridge, Born to Run. From The Concert for New York City, this is maybe the only version of the song that comes close to capturing the full-throated energy of the original — not bad for a solo performance. (Runner up goes to Frank Turner for his version of Thunder Road, another heartfelt acoustic take.)

3) The Format, For You. Ive been taking credit lately for discovering fun., a claim I share with every blogger who was writing about indie music in 2008. Thats when The Format, Nate Ruess first group, was chugging away in relative anonymity, and they contributed this track for the Light of Day tribute album. When I first posted about this song back then, I recall that some visitors were turned off by the way Ruess goes all hoedown on us halfway through, but I think thats part of the charm.

4) Camera Obscura, Tougher Than The Rest. Theres something about Tracyanne Campbells voice that fits this song, from 2009s The Sweetest Thing, just perfectly — the sweet Scottish lilt that sounds just damaged enough to make you want to hug her. You dont quite believe that shes tougher than the rest, but you dont really care. (In a similar vein is Hems stunningly beautiful version of Valentines Day — I cant find audio, but you can buy it on Amazon for 89 cents.)

5) Steve Earle, State Trooper. Haunting is a word that gets overused when talking about Nebraska covers — lets face it, the music is spooky — but Earle earns the adjective here. On the closing track from his seminal 1986 album Guitar Town, you get the sense that he knows a thing or two about being stopped by flashing lights on the side of a dark highway. Nice live version here, but seek out the original too.

Bonus track: Josh Ritter, Tomorrow Never Knows. Because to cover Bruce Springsteen in Asbury Park when Bruce Springsteen is sitting at the bar takes some guts, man. And hearing just how great this song sounds makes me want to paraphrase what Bruce said at Bob Dylans Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction: If some young guy released Working on a Dream today, theyd be calling him the new Bruce Springsteen. (Do yourself a favor and check out Ritters live The River also.)

Up next: Favorite covers as chosen by Blogness readers — make sure to check back!

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