Song of the Day #1,479: ‘Death to My Hometown’ – Bruce Springsteen

Picking up where I left off last week, I’m counting down the best new albums I’ve purchased this year. This week I’ll feature the top five, and it’s an impressive bunch.

This group includes albums by two of my very favorite artists, the best work yet by a great indie band, a wonderful comeback album by a struggling pop star and — today — a rousing work by a rock-and-roll legend.

Bruce Springsteen has been on a roll the last seven years. Starting with 2005’s Devils & Dust, he’s run off five straight albums as strong as just about anything he’s ever done.

He has also taken his sound in new directions, from the rootsy folk of We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions to the beach pop of ‘Girls in Their Summer Clothes’ on 2007’s Magic. Far from resting on his laurels, he’s still looking to grow.

Wrecking Ball is Springsteen’s most overtly political album in years. He has always written about the poor and downtrodden, but here he sets his sights on the men pulling the strings. The ironic first single, ‘We Take Care of Our Own,’ takes those who “hold the throne” to task for failing to do what the title suggests. In ‘Jack of All Trades,’ the titular character bemoans that the “banker man grows fat, working man grows thin” and promises if he had a gun he “find the bastards and shoot ’em on site.”

Today’s SOTD, ‘Death to My Hometown,’ describes how the 1% destroys lives without firing a shot. It marches along with a fierce Celtic sound that creeps up elsewhere on Wrecking Ball and is one of the record’s neatest surprises.

No cannonballs did fly
No rifles cut us down
No bombs fell from the sky
No blood soaked the ground
No powder flash blinded the eye
No deafening thunder sounded
But just as sure as the hand of god
They brought death to my hometown
They brought death to my hometown, boys

No shells ripped the evening sky
No cities burning down
No armies stormed the shores for which we’d die
No dictators were crowned
High off on a quiet night
I never heard a sound
The marauders raided in the dark
And brought death to my hometown, boys
Death to my hometown

They destroyed our families’ factories and they took our homes
They left our bodies on the plains
The vultures picked our bones

So listen up, my Sonny boy
Be ready for when they come
For they’ll be returning sure as the rising sun

Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it ’til you’re done
Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well
Send the robber barons straight to hell
The greedy thieves who came around
And ate the flesh of everything they’ve found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Walk the streets as free men now

And they brought death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,479: ‘Death to My Hometown’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana says:

    I keep meaning to listen to that album all the way through, and hearing today’s song prompts me to make this a priority. Indeed, I really need to listen to the other recent albums you mentioned. So much good music….so little time.

  2. pegclifton says:

    Very interesting (and long) article on Bruce Springsteen in the New Yorker this week; hard to believe he’s 62 and still going strong!

  3. Wrecking Ball made a big first impression for me. It seemed to have more meat than Magic or WOAD. I probably overplayed it. But coming back it still sounds strong, lyrics and music.
    I have been listening to Bruce since 1973 and caught a few concerts over the years. I particularly like that he will record such diverse styles and with different musicians. Mind you it seemed like the end when he left the E-Street band around 1990, But there are still great songs on Human Touch and Lucky Town. Thanks for keeping at the blog…

  4. denise says:

    I really like Wrecking Ball, it’s become one of my favorite Bruce albums. What’s really interesting is how different sounding it is from anything else he’s done.

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