Song of the Day #1,541: ‘Working On a Dream’ – Bruce Springsteen

Well, going from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen isn’t exactly the sort of wild surprise I was calling for in yesterday’s post, but it will do.

‘Working On a Dream’ is the title track from Springsteen’s 2009 album, one of three great records The Boss has released over the past six years (the others being Magic and this year’s Wrecking Ball). If you go back two more years, you can throw Devils & Dust and We Shall Overcome: The Pete Seeger Sessions into the mix.

Five excellent albums in eight years, all recorded during his mid-50s to mid-60s.

That’s a late-career run topped only by (yes) Bob Dylan, who at 71 has released six albums over the past 15 years, at least a few of which number among the finest releases of his career.

I’m having a hard time ranking the five Springsteen albums. Wrecking Ball is freshest in my mind and perhaps for that reason it stands out to me as the best. But Devils & Dust is a gorgeous, somber, literary work that hearkens back to Nebraska, and both Magic and Working On a Dream have a wall of sound romanticism that really soars.

The Pete Seeger cover album is more of a novelty, but it features fantastic live=to-tape musical performances and some of Springsteen’s most passionate delivery.

If you’re a latecomer to Springsteen fandom, like me, the last decade is a wonderful place to start.

Out here the nights are long the days are lonely
I think of you and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

The cards I’ve drawn’s a rough hand darlin’
I straighten my back and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

I’m working on a dream
Though sometimes it feels so far away
I’m working on a dream
And how it will be mine someday

Rain pourin’ down I swing my hammer
My hands are rough from working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

I’m working on a dream
Though trouble can feel like it’s here to stay
I’m working on a dream
Our love will chase the trouble away

I’m working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I’m working on a dream
And our love will make it real someday

Sunrise come I climb the ladder
The new day breaks and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

I’m working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I’m working on a dream
And our love will make it real someday
I’m working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I’m working on a dream
And our love will make it real someday

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,541: ‘Working On a Dream’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana says:

    I’ve been listening to wrecking ball recently, and it is quite good. However, if I have a gripe with Bruce’s more recent work as compared to his early classics, it is that the lyrics don’t have that same storytelling that marked classics like Rosalita and Born to Run. Today’s song is an example of that. Not a bad song, but just not as chalk full of imagery as the older stuff.

  2. Clay says:

    True, on those first few albums every song read like a novella.

  3. Rob says:

    Agreed. Springsteen definitely wrote “bigger” on his first three albums. He was more verbose, and the musical arrangements were far more daring. I think he started writing leaner on “Darkness On The Edge of Town” and by the time he hit “Born In The USA”, his writing was as lean as it would get (with the E Street Band). I’ve been a long time fan and like all of his periods, save the period he recorded without the E Street Band – “Human Touch” and “Lucky Town”. The music on those CD’s, to my ears, is thin and lacklustre (some tracks, like “Human Touch” and “Better Days” are great, but the others, not so much). I think, to a degree, he returned to writing “big” with “The Rising” and “Magic”. The musical arrangements for these albums are far more muscular than the albums preceding it. “Working On A Dream” was more “pop” sounding (here we go) than any of his other work. “Wrecking Ball? I’m still not sure what to think of that CD … at first I liked it, but grew tired of it quickly.

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