(Girl) Crushin’ It: The Change From The Change In Country Music

“I got that real good feel good stuff, up under the seat of my big black jacked up truck.”

It’s not often that you know the exact date that a movement started, but there’s an obvious start date to the beginning of bro-country. August 6, 2012 is when it started and it only took a couple months for the new sub-genre to reign supreme on the country charts.

In August of 2012 a new country duo named Florida Georgia Line debuted on country radio. Their debut single was a song by the name of ‘Cruise’. Even if you have never listened to country music, you’ve more than likely heard the song. The song first topped the Billboard Hot Country chart in December of 2012 and held on to the number one spot a couple more weeks in that winter before a downright amazing run in the summer. ‘Cruise’ was the number one song in country music from April 20 all the way through August 24. This new sound reigned supreme for four whole months on the country charts.

How was it successful? It was a new generation’s Beach Boys music.

David Horse of the Los Angeles Times said that, “this music has an appeal not unlike the teen surfing songs of the Beach Boys or the screaming guitar, take-everything-too-far anthems of Bon Jovi and Sammy Hagar… For a young man, the allure of reckless freedom is forever strong. And it’s not just young men. I know I’ve got a 25-year-old bottled up inside my decidedly not young self who still longs for the fantasy.”

It took two whole years, a new duo and another debut single to see what had really happened to country radio. In the two years, the radio was crammed with bro-county songs which objectified women and promoted Fireball Whisky to no end, but it stopped in July of 2014.

July 15, 2014 was when a new duo named Maddie & Tae released their debut single entitled ‘Girl in a Country Song’ which slammed the lyrical content of bro-country songs. Maddie & Tae were not afraid to call out specific artists including Jason Aldean who is a full-fledged superstar in country music with 13 numbers one singles to his name.

Other superstars like Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown have all spoken out too. The battle is a tough one. ‘Cruise’ is the bestselling single of all time in country music history, but the genre has revived itself from the ugly trends that started popping up in 2012.


“You got that sun tan skirt and boots, waiting on you to look my way and scoot your little hot self over here. Girl hand me another beer, yeah!”

Miranda Lambert is one of only two women that get consistent airplay on country radio right now. Between her and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, the genre as a whole has left a lot of women behind with the bro-country craze. That fact doesn’t stop Lambert from defending the bro-country subgenre, though.miranda

In an interview with Billboard, Lambert defended the style and her friends in the business that make bro-music.

“I don’t know where ‘bro country’ came from or what it really means, but a lot of those guys are my buddies and I ­support their music. Within ­country there are lots of styles: stone-cold country, like Brandy Clark, and there’s Florida Georgia Line with what they do, which is completely different and bringing a whole new audience. There’s room for everyone.”

Lambert’s own husband has been subjected to releasing bro-country music himself. Lambert is married to fellow country music start Blake Shelton and one of his biggest hits was one of the biggest bro-country songs of all-time with ‘Boys ‘Round Here’.

“All them other boys wanna wind you up and take you downtown, but you look like the kind that likes to take it way out, out where the corn rows grow, row, row my boat. Floatin’ down the Flint River, catch us up a little catfish dinner, gonna sound like a winner, when I lay you down and love you right. Yeah, that’s my kind of night!”

collinrayeThe 1990’s changed country music, but it was way before bro-country was even thought of. Some of the aspects of the songs were there with trucks and girls, but it was said poetically. 90’s hit machine Collin Raye pointed this out in an editorial he wrote on FOX News’ website.

Raye compared the songs of yesteryear to the songs of the bro-country era and focused on their writing flair.

“I’m not saying all songs should be somber ballads or about heavy, profound emotional subject matter. On the contrary, great fun, rockin’, party songs, describing the lifestyle of blue collar country folk have always been a staple of the genre. But compare for a minute the poetic, “middle American Shakespeare” infused lyrical prose of classics like Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” or Hank Jr’s “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” or Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” or his “Ain’t Going Down (‘Till the Sun Comes Up)” to the likes of contemporary offerings like “That’s My Kinda Night”, or any of the other 300 plus songs from recent years that say the exact same thing in pretty much the exact same way. It’s like comparing a Rolls Royce to a ten speed.”garthbrooks

In the editorial, Raye pleads for Nashville and it’s executives to move past the trend of trucks and girls while pointing out that he doesn’t hold this fad against the artists of today.

“I’m not pointing a finger at the artists and especially not the songwriters. They’re simply doing what they have to do to make a living.

It’s the major label execs, the movers and shakers, the folks who control what is shoved down radio’s throat, that I am calling out. They have the power and ability to make a commitment to make records that keep the legacy of country music alive, and reclaim a great genre’s identity.”

Throughout the piece the singer with seven number one singles to his name and countless top ten hits throughout the 90’s and into the 2000’s just wants the poetry and storytelling to comeback into the genre. That’s what some who grew up on folks like Raye seem to want to.

“Might sit down on my diamond plate tailgate, put in my country ride hip-hop mixtape. Little Conway, a little T-Pain, might just make it rain.”

He looks like the kind of guy that would enjoy country music. A six-foot something farm kid, long and lanky, the kind that just simply looks like he knows all the words to more than a handful of George Strait songs. His favorite Strait song is ‘Check Yes or No’ which is pretty fitting.

kinggeorgeLogan Ahlers has been listening to country music all of his life and has had to hide listening to anything else around his family. “My parents use to have an XM-Sirius subscription and all my dad would ever listen to was Willie’s Roadhouse,” Ahlers said.

Willie’s Roadhouse is the classic country station on the satellite radio provider. Real classics like Hank Williams and early Johnny Cash and George Jones. So it’s no wonder that Ahlers can’t really show his love for other music around home.

“My dad would kill me if he heard some of what I was listening to. He didn’t like it when I played classic rock,” the senior at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls said. “Who doesn’t at least tolerate classic rock?”

Ahlers’ worries about what his father would do if he found out that he had been blasting Drake’s latest mixtape non-stop right after its release earlier in 2015.’If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late’, seemed all too literal of a title for what his dad’s reaction might truly be.

Even though he was inundated with the classics, Ahlers is still very fond of older country music. Ahlers’ His wheelhouse is the country sound that flooded the radio in the 1980’s and 1990’s and is looking for that to return to the country music that is now bouncing across America’s airwaves.

“I kind of liked the sound of Florida – Georgia Line at the beginning, but after a while I realized it wasn’t really country music,” the ex-college basketball player stated. “It was fun for a while, but their sound turned into something more than just a fad.”

Ahlers’ like many was swept up in the storm of bro-country before they knew what hit them. The sound at first was quite fresh and cool, but it soon ranked stale to most. The storytelling which made country music what it was had faded away and in came generic placeholders about good looking females and liquor, lots and lots of liquor.fgl

One of the drinks that Florida – Georgia Line sings the most about is Fireball Whisky. The year after the band’s big break, sales of Fireball was up 357%. The sound of the music was popular, the sales showed, but the quality of the tunes were diminishing.

“I like trucks and girls, but songs with emotion are what made me a big country fan,” the Worthington, Minnesota native said. “When every song on the radio is the same it takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the whole process.”

It was clear throughout the interview that meaningful country music is important to Ahlers. While the conversation had more than its share of raking bro-country over the coals, the optimism for the future of country music was refreshing.

Ahlers currently is working on a Spotify playlist for the songs he thinks will be big in the coming summer and he enjoys putting the pieces of an almost impossible puzzle together.

“I love putting playlists together,” the soil science major said. “Being proactive is just a cool aspect to it. I’m sure my five Spotify followers really enjoy it.”

Maybe it’s the fact that Ahlers isn’t just listening to commercial radio solely that gives him more hope for the genre than some. Ahlers is actively searching out for good music and it doesn’t matter to him if the song becomes a hit or is even released as a single to radio. Good music is good music to him.

Another one of Ahler’s Spotify playlists features the songs that haven’t made it into the rotation for a lot of radio stations around the country. This songs that just bubble around getting solidly into the charts can be the source of some real gems of great country songs that might not work as great commercially as others.

“I can see where bro-country songs were popular,” the 21-year-old said. “They are good party songs and those songs are really popular with people my age. Hell, I like them when I’m in that atmosphere.”

Ahlers acknowledges that one of the issues that lies ahead for country music is the fact that some of the really good songs lyrically might have a hard time getting airplay. There’s a current example with Little Big Town’s ‘Girl Crush’.

‘Girl Crush’ is the band’s latest single to country radio. The band consists of two men and two females and in the song the females have the lead. The females sing about wishing they could ‘taste her lips’ which have made some country music listeners squirm, those listeners not realizing that the song has nothing to do with lesbianism. The singer wants to ‘taste her lips, because they taste like you’, that you being the man she loves. She’s just jealous of the woman and has on a ‘crush’ on her because she has the man.

tim-mcgraw-diamond-rings-and-old-barstoolsThe other side of the coin is also there. Tim McGraw’s ‘Diamond Rings and Old Barstools’ is shooting up the charts and the song has the sound of a classic country track, something that isn’t heard too often on the radio anymore.

“There are some saving graces to country music,” the well-stretched man said. “I love what Miranda Lambert is doing. Eric Church has done some very cool things. Plus, Garth Brooks is back in the saddle again, who knows where that may lead the country music scene.”

Ahlers is still kicking himself for not going to any of Brooks’ shows when he was in Minneapolis this past November.

“I’ve been listening to Garth my whole life and I still can’t believe I didn’t go,” Ahlers said. “I had plans to go and I know he’ll be back again, but it still amazes me I didn’t go.”

There’s three main backbones to Ahlers’ country music listening: Alan Jackson, Strait and Brooks. If only we country could be so lucky to get back to the prime of those three.

“I think bro-country has run its course,” the music aficionado said. “It might sprout up now and again, but I think we’ve weeded it out. We see it clearer now and It won’t be allowed to blossom… at least to the extent of tainting the genre like it did.”

“You can hang your t-shirt on a limb. Hit that bank and we can ease on in. Soak us up a little moonlight, you know I know what you like, yeah!”

Ahlers isn’t alone in that belief. Well-known names in the show business word side with Ahlers on the fact that bro-country is dead. The latest big name to let their voice be heard is Britney Spears’ 24-year-old little sister Jamie Lynn Spears.

This Spears isn’t just riding on her sister’s coattails. Spears came into the public eye with her Nickelodeon teenage-driven TV show Zoey 101 in the mid-2000’s. After leaving the show and having a child at the age of 16, Spears is back but this time in Nashville as part of the country music scene.I GOT THE BOY

Spears released her first country album in 2013 and is writing songs for other artists too, including a song currently climbing the charts for Jana Kramer called ‘I Got the Boy’. Spears has come out strongly against bro-country saying to Taste of Country that the fad is over.

“I’ve definitely heard some music this year that is away from that pattern. I think there’s always gonna be a place for that, because there’s a huge fanbase. It does bring a lot of attention to country music, but it’s really nice to see these great songs that are coming through that are different from that, like Little Big Town‘s ‘Girl Crush.’ You see everybody going crazy about that right now.”

Spears is counting on her fellow artists and the fans to celebrate a move towards diversity again in country music.

“It’s so nice to see people supporting that,” Spears says. “I think that if all of us as artists stick together and really support each other, then we can make it possible for all of us. We can just be one big team, supporting good music and what we believe in. I think we need to be one big support system and say, ‘This is the kind of music we want to put out there for our genre,’ coming together for music we really believe in.”


“My kind or your kind is this kind of night. We dance in the dark and your lips land on mine. Oh oh oh oh oh, gonna get our love on. Oh oh oh oh oh, time to get our buzz on.”

The real metric of bro-country is chart success. Bro-country is not having the easiest time on the charts as of late. The current Hot Country Songs chart from Billboard boasts only four songs out of 25 that can be remotely considered bro-country.

Big names like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Billy Currington and Florida Georgia Line are responsible for the four songs, but all four artists have also proven that they are capable of releasing non-bro-country songs.

To highlight it even more, the song that has been mentioned multiple times throughout by multiple people as one that is saving the genre is currently at number one. The week of May 9, 2015 boasts Little Big Town’s ‘Girl Crush’ as the number one country song with only two other bro-country song in the top 20.

‘Girl Crush’ is crushing it on multiple platforms, too. The Hot Country Chart is calculated using three mediums equally: radio airplay, sales data and streaming data. ‘Girl Crush’ is currently the number two streaming song which is paving the way. The streaming chart still has ‘Cruise’, yes that same one, at number eight on the chart. Other bro-country classics from Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan still remain, but the armor has been cracked.

The new country system will not crush the careers of Luke Bryan and FGL. Bryan is frankly too attractive to lose much popularity and FGL has a dedicated fan base, but what is being seen and what we will keep seeing is a push back to songs with actual substance; a substance even stronger than alcohol.

“Yeah, that’s my kind of night!”


Sara Evans Apparently Doesn’t Own A Remote

Sara Evans must only get one channel on her television. Everything must be static or a black screen or just simulcasts of the one other channel. That has to be it. It’s not all bad; it’s apparently stuck on FOX.

She gets the NFL on FOX, MLB on FOX, NASCAR on FOX, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, the revived X Files thing, American Idol, The Last Man on Earth… oh, never mind.

Evans doesn’t approve of that show. That’s okay, everyone is allowed their own opinion. The songstress and I don’t have to have the same comedic tastes. It only makes sense that we don’t, really.

What should be a non-story has been made a story due to the stupidity of Sara Evans. Evans took to Facebook to complain about The Last Man on Earth, but she did a tad bit more than complain. She asked FOX to parent for her.

Let’s take a look at my favorite line from her Facebook post:

“In the first few scenes it shows him watching porn and saying a prayer to God and making a gross statement about doing something that should NOT be talked about on a major network. FOX. How are we supposed to teach our young boys and girls how to be respectable men and women when shows like that are right there readily available for them to watch?”

Change the channel, Sara, that’s how you can teach the young boys and girls. Don’t let your children watch the shows that you feel are ‘DISGUSTING’. It’s as simple as that.

You can control what your kids watch at home. You could do homework on the new show before you sit down and watch it with your children. Pre-screen it or something.

In this world we don’t need media corporations to teach our children anything, that’s what parents, grandparents and legal guardians are for. If you don’t like something simply change the channel. Maybe you could watch Dancing with the Stars, which is good family fun and sometimes shows Sara Evans in skimpy outfits.

Speaking of skimpy outfits, the ‘gross statement about something should NOT be talked about on a major network’ was about masturbation. The ironic thing being that I’m sure on Evans’ minimal TV appearances alone she’s been the focus of some men’s… umm… ‘admiration’.

And if you don’t like that, you can change the channel.

Take Me To Church: Eric Church

SKULLI fell in love in the backseat of my friend’s truck. That sounds like the line to a horribly cheesy country song, but it’s true. They say you know when that moment of love hits and that moment for me was Sunday, December 4, 2011.

The Denver Broncos were in Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings. 2011, more specifically late 2011, was what will go down in history as ‘Tebow Time’. Tim Tebow was doing the miraculous while being a horribly flawed quarterback. I saw ‘Tebow Time’ in person, but that’s not what I fell in love with.

Young people don’t know what the radio is, so we listened to an iPod through the truck speakers for the whole 90-minute trip to and fro the stadium. Only one artist was played: Eric Church.

I’d known of Eric Church. Hell, I’d seen him in concert as the opening act for Sara Evans, but he never really captivated me. I loved ‘Smoke A Little Smoke’ and I had downloaded ‘Homeboy’ from the iTunes store, but it wasn’t until December 4, 2011, that I realized Eric Church was, well, a badass.

This guy captivated me the way only a couple other artists have. Eric Church captivated me so much that the next time I was at Best Buy, full disclosure I forced myself into a trip, I bought all three albums that Church had released to date.

I was sold.

‘Chief’, the most commercially successful album for Church thus far, was unlike any ‘country’ album I had ever heard. I say ‘country’ because Church has been quoted as saying that genres are an outdated concept. The earlier two albums weren’t as groundbreaking, but it was beyond solid typical country music.

The aviators that I wore turned from being in honor of my family’s obsession with Tom Cruise and ‘Top Gun’ to being because I wanted to be Eric Church. I wanted to be that guy that was on the album cover of ‘Chief’ and wore his glasses onstage.

I finally got to see the guy I wanted to be onstage again.

It was a ‘freakin’ Tuesday in Minneapolis’ and the Target Center was packed to the rafters. Internet connectivity was sketchy with 19,000 people and, I’d assume, 19,000 or so internet cable devices trying to SnapChat their friends. A problem I assume the Timberwolves never face.

Church ran through a blistering 23 songs with only two breaks, one of those breaks was hidden behind a video montage of the prelude to ‘Devil, Devil’ which is featured on his latest album ‘The Outsiders’.

The concert was heavy on ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Chief’, but touched on all four of Church’s studio albums. Including his second single, ‘Two Pink Lines’ which was selected by a list Church gave a fan before the show and Church and his band didn’t know what they would be playing until ten seconds they were playing it.

Church laughed through the song, especially after forgetting the words to the second verse of the song that reached number 19 on the charts just eight short years ago.

The concert was insanely rocking, especially for what Church pointed out was a Tuesday. The energy, the all-encompassing stage, the attention of the crowd was always on Church and he gave a hell of a show off of that energy.

There’s a million things a guy that is a little biased towards Eric Church could say about the concert. He did the essential hits, he did the true fans’ favorite album cuts, he tied in ‘Born to Run’ in his breakout smash spectacular ‘Springsteen’.

A million memorable moments, but there is something insanely fun about one of your favorite artists having the same admiration you do for another one your favorite artists.

No one was singing ‘Born to Run’ louder than me and Eric Church in that moment.

I couldn’t put my finger on why I loved Eric Church so much until after the concert. I love reading the reviews of the concerts that I have just been to just so I can see how incredibly biased I am compared to the fellows that get paid to review concerts.

Both the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune gave the show a thumbs-up. Both noted that the show was not the typical country concert because Eric Church is not the typical country act. Both papers compared Eric Church to other artists and that’s when it hit me.

Both Ross Raihala of the Pioneer Press, a must-follow on Twitter, and Jon Bream of the Star Tribune compared Church to Bruce Springsteen. Church will always be tied to the Boss since Church’s biggest single, he’ll probably never top it, shares the Boss’ last name. Bream also threw in Garth Brooks.

It clicked.

Eric Church is a beautiful combination of Bruce Springsteen and Garth Brooks.

Musically, Church is the country equivalent of Springsteen. Springsteen had remarkable commercial success with ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ and has had mild chart success around that, but nothing ever meeting that level again. Church had ‘Chief’ and that will be his penultimate commercial success. It brought out a lot of great radio hits while being a great piece of music, but he’s going to, and intentionally, stay directly out of the spotlight.

Church has said that’s why ‘The Outsiders’ is such an out of left field concept to some country music consumers. It’s real music, but it doesn’t need to be radio popular to be popular. Springsteen has built a career out of that and so will Church.

One of the best songs on ‘The Outsiders’, ‘Cold One’ only got to number 20 on the charts. ‘Cold One’ is remarkable well written and performed, but is not yet accepted, and might never be, by the bro-country loving radio listeners.

Church will continually sell out Target Centers and Xcel Energy Centers for a string of years and get modest airplay. Church is set music wise.

Garth Brooks comes in on the performance aspect. Church had his audience captivated the whole time he was on stage on Tuesday night. No one ever sat down. I’ve only seen Springsteen once, so take this with a grain of salt, but there was a time when everyone sat down.

Springsteen is a great performer and shows emotion onstage, but both Brooks and Church shove their emotions in your face, but in a very nice way. Garth and Church both continually are laughing onstage, not because something is funny, but they are both so happy they can’t help put laughing through the ear-to-ear smiles.

They scream. There’s so much emotion in their shows that both Church and Brooks at times will lean back and just scream. If you saw someone do this on the street, you’d be freaked out, but onstage it seems normal. Beyond normal.

Church’s music is deeper than anything on the radio, much like Springsteen. Brooks’ most commercial singles have never been insanely deep, but his show, just on DVD, is incredible.

I don’t know if I saw a rock show, a country concert or if I saw a disciple of that ‘Country Music Jesus’ Church sings about, but I finally know why he’s so captivating.

Church has taken the two best qualities of two of the best artists of all-time and is pulling himself up onto that pedestal with them.

December 4, 2011, was a big day for me. I saw my two favorite NFL teams face off with my friends, I had my first taste of the God-send that is Chipotle and I caught the lifelong earworm that is Eric Church.

I don’t know how to describe September 16, 2014. Eric Church said he’d expected we’d all have a ‘religious experience’ on Tuesday night. If that was ‘religious’, I’m going to be in the front pew of Church until the world burns down.

Welcome Back, My Favorite, Garth Brooks


Growing up I had two songs that I vividly remember loving and blasting out of our stereo. Naturally, one came from my dad’s favorite musical act and the other came from my mom’s. One was ‘If You’re Gonna Play In Texas (You Gotta Have A Fiddle In The Band)’ by Alabama, the other one was ‘Friends In Low Places’ by a man named Garth Brooks. I chose one of these two to be my favorite musical act and that artist fully came out of a halftime retirement today.

Garth Brooks is the reason that I love country music and more than likely the reason I love music as a whole. Everyone has, or at least I hope they do, an artist that they can connect to on some weird high level. I feel I’ve had that with multiple artists, but never for so long and as profound as Garth Brooks.

Music always connects itself with a memory. When you hear a certain song you are instantly zapped right back to the date and time when something major went down while that song was in the background. I have those same feelings with Garth Brooks albums. Not just singles, but when I think about a whole damn collection I am brought back in time.

Double Live? Dear Lord, I remember my mom picking me up from daycare and presenting to me a two-CD set of Garth Brooks music. I remember being fascinated by the multiple covers Garth had and that the one that mom picked up had the flags of all the nations Garth had visited on his world tour. I thought that was so cool.

Scarecrow?  New albums usually drop on a Tuesday and back then Mom still bowled on Tuesday nights, I was in bed already by the time she got home so I woke up early the next morning to listen to Garth’s latest endeavor while eating breakfast. The first line in the album is ‘I can hear the highway calling…’ which sure sounds a lot like ‘I can hear the highway, Collin…’ which was pretty awesome to a 13-year-old.

Skipping ahead to his latest release of Blame It All On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences, I went to work early that day so I could swing through Wal-Mart so I could play songs from it on the radio that afternoon. I kept the receipt in my wallet for months because I was still shocked how cheap the thing was.

I could go on and on about Garth, because I’m really just happy to have him back. I loved Garth ever since I can remember, but I’ll admit that I didn’t always claim him as my favorite artist. It was weird too. It’s hard to explain to people that your favorite artist is going to come back, but not for ten years or so. I had love affairs with The Beatles and Eric Church and Bruce Springsteen and I love them all still very much, but the man, my man, is back.

It’s expected In November that Garth will release his first new material that ships to every store since 2001’s Scarecrow and I’ll be there to get it. I counted down the days until Eric Church’s The Outsiders, I got Springsteen’s High Hopes the day it came out, but I hope I can get some sleep between now and November. Garth can’t come fast enough.

Welcome back, Garth Brooks AKA my favorite artist.

30th Anniversary Retrospective of Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA



In preparation for this writing I want it to be known that I did a lot of research. I listened to Born In The USA three times today, twice by CD in my car and once by vinyl at home, which probably is more commonplace than special, but I still call it research.

Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA album turned 30 years old on Wednesday (June 4). Born In The USA is the most successful album of Springsteen’s career going off of sales. It’s a diamond record going over the platinum threshold fifteen times. The album spurred every song he’d release off of it to the top of the charts. Plain and simple, the album made Bruce Springsteen a household name and a real commercial success.

Most hardcore Springsteen fans will tell you that Born In The USA is nowhere near close to being his best album musically or artistically, but after doing my research today I must admit that Born In The USA is more than just an in to the Bruce Springsteen world. Everyone knows the album cover and therefore Bruce’s ass, but everyone also knows about the classic songs.

Born In The USA

If you are ever feeling patriotic this is an easy go to. Being a Springsteen snob, this song sometimes annoys me. The title track wasn’t the biggest single off the album, but it seems that whenever you bring up Springsteen to someone who isn’t big into Springsteen they start belting the chorus.

The interesting thing about the song is that it might not be that patriotic if you actually listen to it. It’s quite a sad song sang to an upbeat musical score. It’s a hidden message of sadness, something that Bruce Springsteen does better than anyone else.

On The Charts: #9

Favorite Line: You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much, till you spend half your life just covering up.


Cover Me

When the Minnesota Twins were playing against the Yankees in New York last week, the game went into a rain delay. The grounds crew rain out to cover the field with the tarp and this song started playing over the stadium speakers. For a moment I loved the Yankees or at least the Yankees’ game ops. It was a weird moment.

Covering a baseball diamond is a weirdly perfect presentation of this song. In the song Bruce sings about being desperate for someone to cover him up and just get lost in their love. A baseball diamond needs that too. This desperation is so vivid and strong and is only emphasized by the sound of emergency in the music.

On The Charts: #7

Favorite Line: Turn out the light, bolt the door. I ain’t going out there no more.


Darlington County

References to prostitution, women and working. If that’s not enough to suck you in, the fun in the sound should be more than enough. Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s a fact that every song that has a ‘sha la la’ in it has to be loved by the masses. I still don’t know why Wayne disappears for a week, but I’m thinking that it has to do with one of those things that Bruce references. I’d say it’s probably the first one I list, knowing Wayne’s fate.

My favorite line in the song was kind of ruined by the national tragedy that inspired virtually all of Bruce’s 2002 release, The Rising.

On The Charts: Song was not released to radio

Favorite Line: Our pa’s each own one of the World Trade Centers, for a kiss and a smile I’ll give mine all to you.

Favorite Line 2.0: Driving out of Darlington County, seen Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper’s Ford.


Working On The Highway

A couple years ago some publication, probably Rolling Stone, had a slideshow feature kind of thing on ‘the songs that even Springsteen die hards don’t know’. One of those songs was entitled ‘Child Bride’ which was written for Nebraska or at least during that time period. It probably isn’t as perverted in nature as it could be, but the gist of it is that the girl is underage as is easily guessable. ‘Working On The Highway’ is basically the same exact song just Born In The USA-fied.

Y’know how her daddy says she’s just a little girl and she knows nothing about this cruel, cruel world. Also the narrator was taken in the black and white and the judge put him straight away. It’s because the girl was too young. Bruce points out in ‘Child Bride’ the following, ‘well they said she was too young, she was no younger than I’ve been’, but that doesn’t stand up well in a court of law.

Bruce again hides the story rather well in the happy-go-lucky sound of the song. When listening to ‘Working On The Highway’ perversion doesn’t exactly cross your mind, but it’s there waiting behind the hammering guitar at the end of every line.

On The Charts: Song was not released to radio

Favorite Line: I went to see her daddy but we didn’t have much to say. “Son can’t you see that she’s just a little girl, she don’t know nothing about this cruel, cruel world”


Downbound Train

God, I love this song. It’s another one of those really depressing love went wrong and it sucks songs and I absolutely love it. I don’t know what that says about me. I add my love of the song up to my love of The Boss, trains and one line in this song.

The bridge of the song is so vivid that it’s almost scary. Bruce never made a music video for ‘Downbound Train’, but I can see in my mind Bruce running through the forest to this old house that he used to live in. I think that’s what really good songs do for the listener. They provide a vivid movie in your mind that doesn’t need to be supplemented by a music video.

On The Charts: Song was not released to radio

Favorite Line: Now I work down at the carwash where all it ever does is rain.


I’m On Fire

The closing song to side one of the album, if you go the vinyl route, and an insanely popular song. Bruce again pens a song desperate for a girl and it kills him not to be with her or at least there is a burning sensation of some sort without her.

It’s such a simplistic song. It’s straight forward which isn’t a thing that Bruce does a whole lot of. The directness of the song almost cuts like the edgy and dull knife he talks about in the song. Plus, the music video to this song is masterful. Bruce Springsteen as a mechanic is basically a picture of the ideal America.

On The Charts: #6

Favorite Line: Tell me now baby is he good to you. Can he do to you the things that I do? I can take you higher.


No Surrender

If you want a good song to start side two of a record, I’d say that ‘No Surrender’ is a pretty good choice. The drums in the beginning are awesome and instantly grab your attention for the rest of the ride.

It’s a combination of rebellion and perseverance. The start of busting out of class is a feeling that anyone that has ever had any kind of schooling can relate to. As the song progresses so does the time line, but they aren’t going to give up. They’re not going to surrender.

I hope a high school graduating class used this as their class song somewhere. It’d be perfect for that occasion. Let’s pray some group of Bruceheads got to their class out it New Jersey.

On The Charts: Not released to radio

Favorite Line: We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school.


Bobby Jean

It’s widely believed that Springsteen wrote ‘Bobby Jean’ about Steve Van Zandt, who needs no introduction but is Bruce’s right hand man guitarist and co-producer on many albums. Little Stevie was leaving the band at the time and allegedly this was Springsteen’s way of saying goodbye. It was a strong goodbye.

‘Bobby Jean’ is one of those songs that you don’t really understand, or as some would say ‘get’, until you’re a little older. Once a little life happens, you start drifting away from people or people are gone. I think Bruce puts that feeling of someone being gone perfectly in this song.

On The Charts: Not released to radio

Favorite Line: I’m just calling one last time not to change your mind, but just to say I miss you baby, good luck goodbye, Bobby Jean.


I’m Goin’ Down

Girls are out there, man. This is probably a well-known fact, but one that men don’t go saying to everyone because, frankly, we don’t want to be slapped. Springsteen illustrates the whole ‘what the hell am I supposed to do, honey’ side of the argument. Maybe what he is supposed to do is the sexual innuendo that is in the title…  Are we supposed to ignore that?

Apparently, people we’re giving Bruce grief that he kept releasing singles off the album with this being his sixth release off of it. There’s an argument to be had there, but if the people want more stuff off of Born In The USA, give them more. Bruce responded by releasing another song off of the album to radio after ‘I’m Goin’ Down’.

On The Charts: #9

Favorite Line: I’m sick and tired of you setting me up. Setting me up just to knock-a knock-a knock-a me down.


Glory Days

‘Glory Days’ is the more fun, laid back cousin to ‘No Surrender’. It has that same kind of vibe of ‘we’ll always be together’ type of thing, but yet brutally honest about nostalgia. Bruce points out that nostalgia is fun, but maybe there’s more to life than reliving it. He later admits he does the same, because that is how life works. Life was fun when you drove too fast, drank too much beer and could do things athletically that you can’t do now.

The song is fun for me two years out of high school when you can see this happening a little bit already. I can’t wait until the 40th and 50th anniversary of this album, so I can look back and tell you all how much I love the ‘Glory Days’ and how badass I was. I wasn’t that badass.

PS. Bruce calling a fastball a speedball is one of the most adorable things ever because no one ever called a fastball a speedball until now and that’s because of him.

On The Charts: #5

Favorite Line:  I had a friend was a big baseball player back in high school. He could throw that speedball by you. Make you look like a fool, boy.


Dancing In The Dark

I don’t know if ‘dancing in the dark’ is a sexual innuendo because it’s just that obvious. Apparently people love sex, because ‘Dancing In The Dark’ is the highest charting song in Springsteen’s career. There’s more to this song than just sex though. Bruce hides this need for sex a little bit behind his discontent, need for change and depression. It’s virtually a pouring out of his soul that life sucks, but, hey, I can go have some sex and that’s kinda cool.

Also, I’m pretty sure that Springsteen refers to his penis as a ‘gun’ which is awesome and about the ballsiest thing you can do.

On The Charts: #2 (that’s right, Bruce Springsteen has never had a #1 hit)

Favorite Line: You sit around getting older, there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me.


My Hometown

Neil Young recently did an album that he recorded in an old-timey recording booth owned by Jack White called A Letter Home. The album features a bunch of covers including one of Springsteen’s ‘My Hometown’. Rolling Stone called ‘My Hometown’ a third-tier single from Springsteen and that Young should have done anything off of Nebraska instead of this song for his acoustic album. Pretty strong words for one of Springsteen’s best charting songs.

‘My Hometown’ has the small town feel to it. I can relate to it coming from a corn field. Well, everything but the racial violence thing which is a weird lyric to include in the song, but that’s beside the point. Stores closing and people getting out are still very prominent to a lot of small towns across this country. That might be the magic behind a lot of Bruce’s music, it’s still relevant 30 years later.

On The Charts: #6

Favorite Line: He’d tousle my hair and say son take a good look around this is your hometown.

Born In The USA was insanely popular. It’s one of only three albums ever to have seven singles make the top ten on the Hot 100. Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 are the other two.

It’s no Born To Run musically, but I probably have Born In The USA to thank for my getting into Bruce Springsteen. I think all current day Springsteen fans have a lot to thank Born In The USA for. The popularity of this one album fuels a lot of fans to go to Springsteen concerts and let real Tramps enjoy him for a long, long time.

Depression and love are intertwined throughout this album, subtly some ways and other ways not so. Nebraska shows the obvious depression, Born In The USA hides it and laughs it off and Tunnel Of Love shows that love can be found. Bruce Springsteen had a very interesting 1980’s.

I’m going back to my research now. I have only a year and change until the 40th anniversary of Born To Run. More importantly, a year and five months until the 20th anniversary of The Ghost Of Tom Joad.