Monday, 28 January 2019

10 years later - In defence of Working On A Dream

The last 4 Bruce Springsteen albums have followed a similar pattern: One great (Magic, Wrecking Ball), followed by one not so great (Working On A Dream, High Hopes). That was the case with Working On A Dream. And this was proved from the beginning of the subsequent tour of the same name when most songs from the album were dropped from the setlist leaving only two: Outlaw Pete and the title track. I was lucky enough to experience a live performance of a third though, when "Surprise Surprise" was requested in Rome and Bruce dutifully obliged.
OK, so, it's not a great album. Why did it seem so important back then? Well, for one thing, it was a happy album, much happier than Magic. Barack Obama had just been sworn in as president of the USA and hope was everywhere.

And what about the songs themselves? It had leaked on the internet a few days before its release and I remember when other fans from various countries were looking for it and the response was "The Greeks have it". I don't know how the Greek fans got it first, the thing is that all of us went out and bought a legal copy once it was officially released. But it was this situation that enabled me to listen to it before it was released, on my MP3 player one morning on my way to work. I had not, by the way received it all at once. I got it mostly track by track, as some songs were gradually becoming available on Amazon, such as the title track, "My Lucky Day" and the extended version of "The Wrestler". I managed to listen to all of it except for "The Last Carnival" which came on when I arrived at work so I listened to it on my trip home. From my work computer, I logged in to the Greek Springsteen Community forum and wrote my review. And I liked most of the songs, many more than just "Outlaw Pete" and "Working On A Dream". My favourite was "Tomorrow Never Knows" (it still is, and, in fact, I know somebody who became a fan when she heard that particular song). Another favourite at the time was, embarassingly enough "Queen Of The Supermarket" only because I fancied a checkout girl when I was a student in London, but I soon grew out of it.
OK, so I still haven't answered my original question: Why did it feel so special back then? The answer is simple: We knew there was a tour coming, so soon after the Magic tour. And as far as I was concerned, although I had seen Bruce Springsteen live the year before, this was the first time I was going to see him from up close, from "the pit" as they say. And I would not be alone this time either. After the Magic Tour I had met other Greek fans on No Surrender, the forum of the Greek Springsteen community {which by the way doesn't exist anymore as, along with everything else, has now moved to Facebook). This time I would be in the company of other people. There would, in fact, be several of us at each concert. Most of us can be seen on the Hyde Park DVD and there were also more than 50 of us at the Rome concert on the 19th of July. And let's not forget that we did not experience any of the usual "ticket stress" for that one, since we deposited the money to an account of a good friend and she brought us the tickets in person all the way from Italy.
I Listened to the alnum again, this time on vinyl on the 10th anniversary of its release, And I dug out the original tour programme. The tour programmes of both the Magic and the Working On A Dream tours were basically the CD booklets (wih song lyrics and other information) enlarged. So the Working On A Dream tour program would qualify as a vinyl booklet. (The lyrics are printed on the vinyl inner sleeves anyway). The verdict: I still believe that it is a good album. You don't believe? Well, at least for the title track watch the Hyde Park DVD once again. Look at all those people waving their arms. Now tell me again that Working On A Dream is not a good song. I dare you.
10 years... "Where the time goes, tomorrow never knows..." 

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