December 27, 2007

Rock & Roll Alchemy: Magic is the Album of the Year

A good storyteller knows how to craft a convincing narrative, one in which specific circumstances and characters express a universal sentiment or ideal. Rock and roll allows a story to be told to the beat of a drum, the chords of an electric guitar, the rhythm and melody of music. In 2007, Bruce Springsteen blended his literary songwriting skill with the energy and resourcefulness of the E Street Band to create Magic, the best album of the year.

Springsteen’s distinguished ability to lyrically personalize abstract issues is apparent throughout this album. As well, his deftness in delivering a dark message with often-incongruous music is remarkable. “Gypsy Biker,” for instance, is ostensibly a eulogy to a war-fallen friend, with eloquent lyrics imparting condolence. Yet an onslaught of raw guitar symbolizes anger toward the powers that allow such senseless death to happen in the first place. Such dichotomy of words and music, the conflation of two divergent elements to tell one story, manifests throughout Magic.

Indeed, this effort illustrates much of what makes Bruce Springsteen such a significant artist. He’s Steinbeck with a Stratocaster and this is his Winter Of Discontent.