Monday, July 26, 2010

Bossing around the Boss

Over at his blog and in the context of a larger topic, M.G. was debating the proper order for the tracks on Born to Run.  Not surprisingly, I have an opinion on this matter.  Just so you don't have to go to the trouble of using your mouse to click on a link, Matt proposes the order of:
1) Night
2) Backstreets
3) Born to Run
4) Jungleland
5) Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
6) She's the One
7) Meeting Across the River
8) Thunder Road

This is in contrast to the original order of:
1) Thunder Road
2) Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
3) Night
4) Backstreets
5) Born to Run
6) She's the One
7) Meeting Across the River
8) Jungleland

Okay, where to start... first, I think that Thunder Road ends on a relatively too positive note than what the overall album appears to be about: It's a town full of losers, we're pulling outta here to win.  That suggests some hope, when this isn't an album about hope.  Indeed, the title track suggests it is an album of leaving (indeed, there's a story that the New Jersey legislature wanted to make Born to Run the official song of the state, until someone pointed out the lyrics: at night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines... it's a death trap, it's a suicide rap... I want to die with you Wendy on the streets tonight... ).  Anyway, my point is that this album isn't really meant to suggest a whole lot of hope out there, and Jungleland certainly captures that, as the song ends in date rape and murder.  So I think Jungleland still closes the album (although I agree with Matt that I could do without Springsteen howling at the end).

In trying to come up with my own order, I realized that the only song I couldn't consider moving was Backstreets leading into Born to Run (although I was open to moving them elsewhere, as long as one leads into the others).   Musically, they lead into each other perfectly, with the great piano outro leading into the sax and drum blast intro.  Plus, the themes progress too... hiding on the Backstreets to a runaway American dream -- you're hiding, and then you're running.  If you want to push the building theme of desperation, then Meeting Across the River does feed well into Jungleland (also providing a needed breather between the high energy Born to Run and the epic Jungleland).  So I've moved She's the One off side two, and otherwise kept the structure intact.

But what gets me is how to structure the other songs.  Part of it is that 2 songs don't fit with the other 6: Tenth Avenue Freeze Out and She's the One.  Don't get me wrong, they are good and great songs, respectively, but I just don't think they fit the theme all that well, or if they do, they are very subtle about it.  Indeed, while all the other songs pretty explicitly take place at night, these two could be "day" songs, especially Tenth Avenue Freeze Out (yes, I know the word "night" appears in the lyrics, but it is lined with the light of the living).  So after further mulling, I'd like to open the album with Night, per Matt's suggestion.  Then Tenth Avenue Freeze Out (because I don't know where else to put it).  Given the two that are left, I think She's the One take the #3 slot, and then close out side one with Thunder Road. 

I'll put it on my iPod and give it a shot...