Bruce Springsteen: Only The Strong Survive
Inspired by Motown greats, Staxx pioneers, and soul legends, Bruce Springsteen’s 21st studio album ‘Only the Strong Survive’ takes us on a trip back in time to the 1960s and ‘70s when soul and R&B were carving their way into the halls of Americana. Featuring songs written by The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Commodores, and Diana Ross it will undoubtedly spark some feelings of nostalgia in Springsteen’s loyal fans.
Here is the tracklist:
- Only the Strong Survive (Jerry Butler)
- Soul Days feat. Sam Moore (Dobie Gray)
- Nightshift (The Commodores)
- Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) (Frank Wilson)
- The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (The Walker Brothers)
- Turn Back the Hands of Time (Tyrone Davis)
- When She Was My Girl (The Four Tops)
- Hey, Western Union Man (Jerry Butler)
- I Wish It Would Rain (The Temptations)
- Don’t Play That Song (Ben E. King)
- Any Other Way (Jackie Shane)
- I Forgot to Be Your Lover feat. Sam Moore (William Bell)
- 7 Rooms of Gloom (The Four Tops)
- What Becomes of the Brokenhearted (Jimmy Ruffin)
- Someday We’ll Be Together (Diana Ross and the Supremes)
Soon after the release of his 20th album, ‘Letter To You,’ in 2020, The Boss went right back to work at his Thrill Hill Recording studio in New Jersey with his producer, Ron Aniello, and engineer Rob Lebret to record the 15 inspirational songs. The E Street Band’s horn section contributed to the arrangements.
Bruce was motivated by the idea of being able to focus solely on singing, he explains:
“I’d spent my working life with my voice at the service of my songs, confined by my arrangements, by my melodies, by compositions, and by my constructions,” Springsteen said of the epiphany that led to ‘Only The Strong Survive. “My voice always came second, third, or fourth to those elements.
“I wanted to make an album where I just sang…and what better music to work with than the great American songbook of the Sixties and Seventies? I’ve taken my inspiration from Levi Stubbs, David Ruffin, Jimmy Ruffin, the Iceman Jerry Butler, Diana Ross, Dobie Gray, and Scott Walker, among many others. I’ve tried to do justice to them all, and to the fabulous writers of this glorious music. My goal is for the modern audience to experience its beauty and joy, just as I have since I first heard it. I hope you love listening to it as much as I loved making it.”
This isn’t the first time The Boss has taken a break from writing to provide the Bruce Tramps with a cover album. In 2006, he released his 14th studio album ‘We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions’ in tribute to iconic folk singer Pete Seeger. The 13-track album received widespread praise from critics, climbed to #3 on the Billboard charts, and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 49th Grammy Awards.
It’s been 47 years since 25-year-old Springsteen released ‘Born To Run’ and found commercial success with the album hitting #3 on the Billboard chart, but The Boss is still keeping it fresh and has earned so much respect in the worldwide music industry that he can seemingly do no wrong.
He’s taken the stage with countless greats, leaving audiences satisfied and not letting the glory days die. In December 2021, he took the stage with songwriting legend Steve Earle in New York for a charity performance where they performed ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town,’ ‘The Promised Land,’ ‘Glory Days,’ and ‘Pink Cadillac’ from Bruce’s catalog. The all-electric set was without the saxophone work of Clarence Clemons, but the Dukes filled in with precision.
At the 1990 Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York City, The Boss performed with Diana Ross. Just last year, Bruce took his talents to Glastonbury to perform with Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl, who he performed with at the 2003 Grammy awards, paying homage to The Clash co-founder Joe Strummer who had passed away only weeks prior.
In 2004, The Boss performed ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. In December 2008, he took the stage with Eagles’ guitarist Joe Walsh. He’s played with Beatles’ George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan. And, of course, fellow New Jersey golden boy rocker, Jon Bon Jovi. The list of memorable performances goes on and on.
As much as the 73-year-old music icon enjoyed making this soul tribute record, I have to believe the original artists are just as honored to be a part of it.
There is some early backlash from fans regarding his upcoming tour, however. The anticipation for his 2023 concert tour has Bruce Tramps flocking to Ticketmaster to secure a seat only to find that tickets are priced as high as $5000. According to Ticketmaster:
“Ticketmaster's Official Platinum seat program enables market-based pricing (adjusting prices according to supply and demand) for live event tickets, similar to how airline tickets and hotel rooms are sold.”
Erratic pricing - mid-tier seats can cost $4000 - has led to frustration and even rage amongst the fans. Springsteen’s camp and Ticketmaster officials have both declined to comment on the issue.
It's got nothing to do with Bruce, so it’s the proper stance for him to take, though I suspect Ticketmaster will be taken to task for it.
The Boss released 3 official videos for tracks from ‘Only the Strong Survive’ ahead of the November 11th release date.
‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ was released on September 29th. His cover of the Commodores’ 1985 hit ‘Nightshift’ was released on October 14th, and 1962’s ‘Don’t Play That Song,’ written by Ben E. King was released on October 28th.