Friday, 23 December 2011

Son, Don't You Understand?

I heard Born In The USA on the radio today, and it struck me how dead simple the song is.

Not for the first time, but it struck me hard.

A 6 note melody (3 really, the other 3 notes are just fills) repeatedy endlessly, relentlessly over 2 alternating chords.  2 chords, 3 (or 6) notes.  That's it.

Yes, Springsteen has a big voice and he puts everything into the vocals.  And he has a big sounding band. 

But, lyrics aside, the real power of the music is the brutish, pounding repetition of a naked leitmotif, an idee fixe stripped down to its bare essence.  The implacable motif drives the disappointment of broken dreams, and the despair of having no future,  straight through your skull.  It screams of anguish and injustice.  It hints at revenge.

And, buried in all that repetition, there is a stubborn hope, an energetic optimism that says never give up.

Powerful lyrics, a great band, 2 chords, 3 notes.  What a formula for a timeless, emotional trip.  No wonder he's called The Boss.

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