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Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton
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Dr. Wesley Britton

Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE

 
By Dr. Wesley Britton
Published on July 3, 2014
 


Author: Jim Beviglia

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (June 4, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1442230657

ISBN-13: 978-1442230651




 Author: Jim Beviglia

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (June 4, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1442230657

ISBN-13: 978-1442230651

First of all, I admit I think Bruce Springsteen is the last major Rock God of our times. Sure, since he ascended into his mythological status in the late '70s, we've had no shortage of A list performers and songwriters invigorating and expanding the rock and roll universe. But who among them comes close to sharing The Boss's longevity in repeatedly creating essential new albums, decade after decade?

Whatever my personal feelings about Springsteen might be, I bow in deference to Jim Beviglia. His new Counting Down Bruce Springsteen is a collection of 100 mini-essays about what he feels are Springsteen's 100 best songs. On a casual level, this automatically invites readers to compare and contrast their own ideas about such a list. What, "Glory Days" only Number 43? "Kitty's Back" relegated to the "100 More" list of the songs that didn't make the cut?

But, after scanning the table of contents and girding up your loins to debate with Beviglia's choices, be prepared to read some very tight and balanced reasoning for the list. Beviglia excels at placing all the songs in the context of the Springsteen canon, especially noting their significance to the albums on which the tracks first appeared. He economically but vividly points out how the songs were inspired and composed, the roles the E Street Band players contributed, but mainly describes how each song compares to others of a similar vein in the Springsteen catalogue. He shows a deep understanding of Springsteen's lyrical gifts as a storyteller as well as The Boss's mastering of shaping creative musical settings in the studio.

In a sense, the order the songs are ranked is of less importance than the discussions of what Beviglia believes are their various merits. After all, if you're a Springsteen fan, you likely enjoy most of the songs listed in Beviglia's 90s and 80s as well as his Top 10. There's no reason to think one needs read this list in the order presented—it would be simple enough to first explore what Beviglia said about your own favorites before investigating the discussions about lesser known songs or, at least, the ones you might have overlooked before. In fact, that's the most promising use of this book, to use it as a reason to go back and play songs with a new understanding of what they might offer you.

If this book turns out to trip your musical trigger, you might also enjoy comparing notes with Beviglia's first book in the Counting Down series, the admittedly more expensive Counting Down Bob Dylan. Before that, he authored e-books doing "best ofs" for Elvis Costello, Radiohead, and Tom Petty. But before I visit these older titles, it looks like there are Springsteen releases I need play again. Sounds like a good summer to me . . .

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