CD Review: Bruce Springsteen’s “Devils and Dust”

Originally posted 2008-06-26 13:34:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  2 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

I had read many reviews of this album long before I ever listened to it, and they were all good. They weren’t simply good reviews. Rather, Rolling Stone among others made this out to be the most incredible Springsteen album in years, if ever. Thus, my expectations were high when I bought Devils and Dust late one night and eagerly cranked it up for my half hour drive home.

The first track—the title track—is a nice start to a dark album, but I found myself disappointed quickly. Perhaps it was because I expected more upbeat songs, a la The Rising. Or perhaps it was because I was driving home with the windows open, cool breeze in my face, and I was having trouble hearing what Springsteen was singing. Whatever the reason, I quickly became disappointed with the release and told my friends why I thought it was overrated.

While I have not decided to declare this a veritable masterpiece that I initially overlooked, I must admit that my opinion of the album has softened with time. What helped to change my mind was viewing the DVD side of this DualDisc release. While the stripped-down nature of the studio recordings initially turned me off—and I usually have nothing against bare bones recordings—his live, solo acoustic performances allowed me to hear the songs for themselves, independent of my initial expectations. Springsteen appeared Dylan-esque, complete with acoustic guitar and harmonica rack. I loved “Devils and Dust” all the more here for its directness, for its simplicity. Suddenly, it was as though he was singing an old folk song—a well-written, dark yet catchy number. “Long Time Comin’” stood out to me again, having been one of my favorite album tracks.

There was something in Springsteen’s commentary in between songs that captured my interest and sparked my respect for the man. He seemed to be legitimately interested in writing minimalist songs as personal narratives both autobiographical and fictional. “Reno” is the perfect example of this captivating and revolting blend between the real and the conjured, the noble and the pitiful that he is able to weave together so well. In the best songs on this album, Springsteen exposes a subtle poetic sensibility that lends credibility and interest to his work. In subsequent listenings, I have found myself most taken in by these occasionally vivid and descriptive turns of phrase.

Still, I don’t quite understand some of the choices he made for the songs on this album. For instance, why did he sing the penultimate track, “All I’m Thinkin’ About,” in the odd, cracked voice manner that he did? Furthermore, why did he choose some of the subject matter that he did? What are the Matamoros Banks and would it make a difference if we knew? After all, I wonder why he would sing such a pretty song about a place that I have difficulty relating to, even after he has described it through his song. These are the moments — hearing him sing in unusual manners for no apparent reason and memorializing specific places that I have difficulty understanding the importance of — that I wonder what is so masterful about this album. It is a decent album, to be sure, and contains some good songs, but it is more of a return to roots than a step forward.

For all that I am impressed with the earthiness of the songs, the fervent attention to immortalizing the devils and the dust, I am still most in awe of a song like “Jesus Was An Only Son.” For its interesting depiction of an oft-discussed historical figure/son of God/son of man, for its flowing tune, and for its haunting organ riffing in the background, I wonder what the album would have been like if as much attention had been paid to the other tracks.

While its slow, gritty ballads pay homage to its namesake, I can’t help but note that if the album had been comprised of “Devils and Dust”’s and “Jesus Was An Only Son”’s, I may have called it masterful.

2005

“Little Willow” (Paul McCartney Cover)

Originally posted 2008-09-06 14:03:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hey folks!  Today, I bring you a favorite song of the Fusco family in “Little Willow” by Paul McCartney.  “Flaming Pie” is one of my favorite all-time albums and that’s because we listened to it CONSTANTLY when it came out, during vacation, and all throughout the summer.  It always brings back fond memories and I always play the album when I take my own vacations now.

It’s fitting that I’m presenting this song today, as we’re in the midst of Tropical Storm Hanna up here in Connecticut.  Hopefully it won’t be too bad because I have a video job (taping an anniversary party) up at the Mohegan Sun casino tonight.  Should be fun, but who wants to drive an hour in a tropical storm?

So, why is it so fitting?  Well, I read in the liner notes of “Flaming Pie” (which is the booklet I modeled the booklet to my first album, “With Or Without You”, after exactly) that this song, “Little Willow”, was written to calm people after a hurricane.  It’s such a great song- so simple, but it has a great calming effect.  I thought it was a perfect one to do while outside with my nylon string guitar.

There’s also “Heaven on a Sunday” off of this album that makes me feel so calm.  I guess that’s the point of the song, but it always reminded me of a particular summer when I went to Boy Scout camp in Camp Sequassen.  That must’ve been a busy summer.  No wonder I remember this album so well!  Anyway, I used to get to fish off of a row boat there.  Having “Heaven on a Sunday” (“cooling my fingers in the bay…”) stuck in my head while peacefully fishing was a zen-like experience.  I think of that moment and it takes me right back there.

On another topic, how about Jeff with his Beatles cover yesterday?  And Chris doing Hendrix?  Amazing, folks- you never know what you’re going to get next on this music video blog- the BEST music video blog in the universe!  Starting in a couple weeks, we’ll be bringing you yet another “New Bands Week” here on the Sessions because we love to challenge ourselves and entertain you.

I’ll be making a couple of BIG announcements in the next few minutes here on the music blog, so stay tuned and for now, enjoy today’s music video!



“All Along the Watchtower” (A Bob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2008-07-12 11:54:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Now, this is truly a day of firsts for me. Three firsts, if I count them accurately. In order of occurrence: (1) I woke up on my own, on a Saturday, at a decent hour, and got right out of bed. Anyone who knows me on any personal level to any degree knows how amazing that truly is. (2) Then, I recorded my Saturday cover video in one take, including rehearsals. When it comes to these cover song sessions, I am probably more of a perfectionist than I should be. Thus, I repeatedly practice and record the music videos until I’m satisfied I could not do any better. Suffice it to say that usually takes anywhere between five and twenty-five takes. Today, one!! And, finally (3) I came upstairs from FMP Studios to find Jim, having just woken up, in an excellent mood. This is nothing against Jim — and I’m admittedly a bear (not one of those friendly, cuddly ones you might see at a show with a trainer, but one of those angry, blood thirsty ones that attack campers and hikers without provocation ala the John Candy movie The Great Outdoors) if you try to wake me from nodding off during a movie, etc. — but Jim’s just not a morning person. We sat and talked about the music blog, brainstormed some new ways to improve our views and content, and then laughed quite heartily about bathroom humor, the details of which I’ll spare you.

All told, really not a bad way to start a beautiful, sunny summer day!

But let’s get down to business. My acoustic cover song for today is Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Ironically, you are probably more familiar with the Jimi Henrix’s cover version than you are of Dylan’s original music. And, even as a HUGE Dylan fan, I have to admit that Hendrix’s cover song is the definitive version. Even Dylan admitted as much — his live performances of the song still reflect Hendrix’s arrangement. That being said, Dylan’s original is heavily acoustic, so I felt that would be a better version for this acoustic guitar music video. So, I grabbed my acoustic guitar, dusted off my harmonica rack, and gave it my all. One take. Could it have been better, more polished? Yes, I suppose. But this is what the Laptop Sessions are all about — this is a snapshot in time, as though you sat down with me in my living room and I just played it for you, on a whim. I hope you enjoy it!

And, of course, don’t miss the unveiling of an all-new acoustic cover song from Jeff Copperthite — his next quality cover video will be posted here tomorrow…

See you next session!

**EDITOR’S NOTE: This video is no longer on YouTube, but please check out our other Bob Dylan cover songs here on the music video blog!

“Good Enough” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2010-02-26 12:30:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Good Enough”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

INTRO:   Em     Am     C     B     Em     C#m    Bbm   Gm  – F#m  –  Em

Em
She was hell on her mama, impossible to please;
Am
She wore out her daddy, got the best of me.
C                                                  B
And there’s something about her that only I can see,
B               Em                 C  –  B
And that’s good enough.

You’re barefoot in the grass, and you’re chewin’ sugarcane.
You got a little buzz on; you’re kissin’ in the rain.
And if a day like this don’t ever come again,
That’s good enough.

C                                B                                                    A  –  G –  F#
Good enough for me; good enough for right now, yeah.
Good enough for me; good enough for right now, yeah.

SOLO:   Em     Am     C     B     Em     C#m    Bbm   Gm  – F#m  –  Em

God bless this land, God bless this whiskey.
I can’t trust love: it’s far too risky.
If she marries into money, she’s still gonna miss me,
And that’s good enough.  Gonna have to be good enough…

SOLO:   Em     Am     C     B     Em     C#m    Bbm   Gm  – F#m  –  Em  (x2)

OUTRO:                                    Em     C#m    Bbm   Gm  – F#m  –  Em  (x6)

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **