Ok, perhaps presumptuous that all love it, but still I think the album is fairly well regarded by most.
Over a year later, what do people think? Still in awe of an amazing piece of work or have you cooled on it? Alternatively, was it not your cup of tea initially but now you find the good in it?
Moonlight Motel and the title track still amaze and dazzle me. The movie has some amazing sequences, and now that it's hit Netflix here in Oz I can skip forward more easily as needed to that mesmerizing, amazingly filmed, thrilling Moonlight Motel clip.
Occasionally, completely out of nowhere, that beautiful string arrangement on Chasing Wild Horses will come into my head and I need to play the thing immediately.
Reviving myself, because I'm still appreciating it.
Obviously at this stage, I'm not expecting a big nod to this album on the coming tour, but I do see a couple of opportunities to incorporate some of this material... and not just in a tokenistic way.
Sticking to tokenistic... chuck in Tucson Train or Sleepy Joe's Cafe with horns replacing strings as a party throwaway. I think it would work well enough.
More artistically... somewhere in a set, performing Darkness On The Edge Of Town followed by Western Stars. The defiant yell to never give up of the first song, followed by the actions of valiantly battling to not give up in the second. This is classic Bruce juxtaposition in setlist choices, it would be absolutely perfect.
If Patti is touring, we have the Patti slot standards.... Briliant / Tougher. At a stretch, Human Touch. Please add Stones to the rotation. It might not be the most comfortable entry in the Bruce / Patti duet category, but fuck comfort... tell the whole story.
Finally, if he is doing acoustic finales / sign offs this tour... well, back in 2014 it was two acoustic songs to end the night. If he did Thunder Road and then Moonlight Motel acoustically to close a show... wow, that would be one of the most amazing artistic pairings ever. I always heard Moonlight as the possible passing of TR's Mary. If I saw or heard this duo together like this live, I would absolutely emotionally lose it...
The songwriting is exceptional and the arrangements flesh out the stories perfectly. It's a beautiful piece of work and conceptually the most complete since The Rising. I am more than ok with Springsteen expanding his musical horizons. Even if Bruce was capable of writing another Darkness on the Edge of Town, an audience of people in their 50's and older is not going to receive it and be affected by it the way they were in their 20's. It would be viewed as a failed attempt to recreate the past. With Western Stars, the movie, the radio show, the Broadway Show the Book and what's to come next, the man is writing some incredible final chapters to a phenomenal body of work.
Didn't know that the movie was out on Netflix in some countries, I hope it hits our library soon too.
An epic album, a very cathartic experience for me every time I listen. It just reaches some spots in my mind other music rarely does.
The orchestration gives the album a sweeping, western epic feel, helps solidify the stories into the overarching theme and humanizes the sound of the wind blowing up through the Morongo Basin.
But that's just me.
Some of the negative comments I've heard about the album centre on the 'production choice' of string arrangements on the record. That the songs themselves are good, it's the presentation that doesn't work for the listener. One person's drink is another's poison and all that, but IMO on at least some of these tracks the strings are essential... they are part of the fabric of what makes the song great, not just a 'production choice' as such. The string parts on the title track, Chasin Wild Horses and Stones (the three that immediately come to mind) are as elementary to the construction of these songs as the sax solos are to Independence Day, Jungleland and Drive All Night
I think there will always be a connection now to this new place we have built. The album reminds me of JF in so many ways and it was the pulling of his brilliantly written piece which started the momentum which led us here.
Thank you WS and Bruce!
I revisited it today, Songs From The Film. I set up Boston 2007 to listen to, but fancied playing "Sundown" first. Next thing I knew "Somewhere North of Nashville" was playing, and this time I really dug what is probably my least favourite track on the album. And of course you can't stop listening when "Stones" is about to start! Those orchestral arrangements still stun me.
Then there's only got 16 minutes left of the whole thing, so you might as well play that as well, and then there's the first 30 minutes of the album that was skipped in favour of playing *just* "Sundown"...
Western Stars really gets under your skin.
Never left me since its release last June. Don't think it ever will.
Still love it, and especially Hello Sunshine has started to stand out over the summer. That little bit at the end of the live version, with the women coming in with their "ooooh"s for some reason is one of the more beautiful and spine-tingling Bruce moments in recent memory. Musically, the song reminds me a bit of Seasons in the sun, I'm halfway sure that's not coincidental.
I wish I knew what it was that makes it so special. Maybe it's the songs or maybe the way he put it together, perfecting it over a long strtech of time. It just speaks to me at this spot in my life. It's very much like TOL was in October of '87. It just spoke to me where I was at the time and continues to do so.
I like every track on WS (title track still being overall best) and for any album, never mind Bruce's, for me that's unusual. The songs conjure up great little movies in my head and the strings add so much to the overall atmosphere. I still hope Bruce can give us another E Street rock album but WS is a late career masterpiece.
I know I'm probably in a very small minority with this opinion, but WS really isn't an album for me. I think the songs are mostly good or decent, and when the right production I think it could have been a fairly solid album...
I just can't get past the strings. I'm not stringist or stringphobic... If used right. On WS they come swelling in like they do in a Disney movie and they drown out the actual songs.
I'm happy that so many people love it so much though. That's all that matters really. I can go and listen to something else no bother, and leave you all to love WS to bits.
Some folks on here might be interested to know my 25-year-old is not only a Springsteen fan, but loves Western Stars passionately.
No other insight, I just find it interesting that someone so young could find so much to relate to in a work which is so clearly that of an older person.
We have a great core group starting out. I'm surprised and impressed that this has happened. I hope people know they can visit here without having to abandon Greasy Lake. There are many avatars I'd like to see again, even if they change their name and then pick an avatar that doesn't have anything to do with the movie they got their name from.
Not that anyone we know would do that.
Thank you Rick. Love you brother. Can't even say how good it is to have you back.
As for how I feel about Western Stars currently...exactly the way I felt when I wrote this last year.
No Country For Old Men
Ride me down easy, ride me down easy, friend
Tonight, the western stars are shining bright again…
Bruce Springsteen is old. Some might call it an impolite remark to make, but I think referring to someone as old is only an insult if you mean for it to be. Springsteen is old and I’m thankful for it, proud of him for lasting so long in a business that eats the flesh off the bones of its best, inspired that he’s still got something to tell me, even after all these long years and all those long, long talks. No one stays young forever, but far too many die before they get old and I am grateful that the only true hero I’ve ever had is alive and well and...fucking old. The characters in his latest songs are old, too; most of them. All our lives we’re taught to listen to our elders. I’m listening, Bruce. I’m still listening.
I’ve been playing catch up, or follow-the-leader, with Springsteen’s music all my life. He’s seventeen years older than I am so, naturally, his characters have always outpaced my own life experiences and emotional maturity. I’ve loved his music since I was a kid and most of his albums have, at one time or another, been the album I needed when I reached a certain age or had a specific life experience, but never in their own time. Born To Run belonged to me, but not in 1975 when it was new and I was nine. The River was my Bible, but not until I hit the road in 1982. I grew into his records, all of them. I still remember the day, heartbroken and suddenly more a man than I had been the night before, when I finally heard Tunnel of Love as if it were written for me, as if there was a secret message there for only the lonely. It felt like slipping into an old, much-loved pair of boots that you’ve finally broken into the perfect fit. Springsteen’s a hell of a shouter, but he also has a way of whispering in your ear, sometimes for a very long time, until one day you realize he’s whispered his secret right into your blood.
I gave up waiting for Bruce Springsteen to give me the record I needed to hear at exactly the right time of my life so, of course, he’s gone and done just that. He sat on Western Stars for a long time before finally releasing it and, as frustrated as I may have been about that a time or two, I’m glad of it. I don’t think I would have been ready for this record seven years ago. I’d have been growing into it instead of being absorbed into it.
Western Stars is my Bruce Springsteen album. Oh, it’s yours, too, if you want it to be and, really, it’s Bruce’s more than it is anyone else’s, but this is my fucking record. I’ve claimed it with my tears, night after night since its release; with my memories and my pain and it’s claimed me right back for its own, with its truth and its fearlessness. This record is more a mirror than a mural, and in its darkened glass, I am forced to face myself and all my flaws. I’d look away, but I can’t stop listening.
Thumb stuck out as I go…
He had me at Hitch Hikin’. This song is so close to a time in my life when I was young and free to the point of exhaustion, that some of the phrases could have been lifted from one of my own books. The line about maps and following the weather and the wind is so eerily like something I wrote that it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I was that kid, out on the road, riding along with strangers, going everywhere and nowhere and because I was that kid when I was young, I’m The Wayfarer now that I’m old. That song may be sung to a breezy seventies am radio arrangement, but what a sad, sad thing it can be to finally realize that you want everything you ever ran from, but you don’t know how to have it; you don’t know how to stay still.
Staying still can be hard if you’re born to run. For the restless kind, there’s always something or other to run away from or run away to. On Western Stars, Springsteen paints a series of resigned and mournful portraits of men who ran away; from their homes, their lovers, themselves. I’ve been a runaway all my life. From the time I was small, I would sneak out of the apartment at night and when I was old enough to run and not look back, I hit the road in my sixteenth summer and stayed out long and very late. I’m a Jersey boy, like Bruce, but I went west and got lost and I’ve spent more of my life out here beneath western stars than I spent in my hometown. I wandered the country for six years, as most of you have heard until you’re bored with it, and the only place I ever felt like both a trespasser and a native was in the Mojave desert.
It thrills me to no end that much of this record is set in the desert. I love knowing that if there’s one thing I share with Bruce Springsteen, it’s that trespasser’s kind of love and familiarity that only an eastern dreamer can have with the wild west. Right down to the geography, this record is like a love-letter to me from someone who doesn’t even know I’m alive, but doesn’t want me to give up.
I’ve never told another living soul until this very moment, but I have been near to giving up more than once. More than twice. More than that. Sometimes it was my own fear of the unknown that kept me alive and sometimes it was a deep, hidden hope that life would get better, that I would get better. Sometimes it was something as simple as the wind in my face or a kiss on my lips or a song by Bruce Springsteen. It doesn’t matter why I never took my own life; what matters, at least to me, is that I didn’t do it and I’m still here sucking down air at twice the age everyone thought I’d be dead by.
I’m not quite as old as the men on Western Stars, but I’m getting there quicker than a young person would ever believe possible. Getting old isn’t remarkable to me. It’s wanting to get old that feels remarkable and new. I don’t think about killing myself anymore, not ever, but I do often wonder why I’m here.
I never feel like a loser, but I know I’m not a winner. I’m a talented chef who never holds a job for more than a few years before moving on to the next joint. I’m a good lover who’s lousy at love. I can plot my course by the stars, but I can’t see my way clear to retirement. I live alone, in a small RV, beneath a little tree that hardly shades me from the sun. Other than my motor home and my bike, I don’t own much more than I could strap on my back. I don’t want any more than that. I have a great sense of humor and I laugh a lot, but I cry more nights than I don’t because I can’t stop mourning my dead and I can’t stop mourning the living, either. I hear voices in my head, but I’ve had enough therapy that I recognize them all as my own and they don’t tell me anything anymore that I don’t want to hear. I’ve written four good books hardly anyone has read and I worry, worry, worry that I’ve started chasing my dreams too late, given them too long a head start…like wild horses, just like wild horses.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m every man on this record. I’m the failed writer left with only his song, the failed lover so sure he can change, the tired cowboy still riding on Sunset, the liar spitting up stones, the old soul drinking to his ghosts. I’m wasted youth at middle age and it’s a scary fucking thing, but I’m resigned to getting as old as heaven will allow and wishing on my western stars until every last one of them has fallen from the sky. In a starfall like that, there’s bound to be at least one good wish that doesn’t go wasted, don’t you think? I do. I really, really do.
I don’t care if Bruce Springsteen ever writes another song about muscle cars and dynamos, boardwalks and backstreets, promised lands and hard lands. Hell, I hope he never does. I’m tired of revvin’ my engine and racing in the street. I need this music now. I need these strings, these confessions, these soaring melodies, these stories set in places as wide and dusty as my soul, told about men as lost and lonesome as me.
On Western Stars, Bruce Springsteen says something so true and hard that it scares the living hell out of me. It’s the truth at the heart of the record and it’s the truth of my own heart.
You fall in love with lonely, you end up that way.
I’m lonely, but I’m free. I’m broken, but I’m strong. Western Stars is full of tough guys who dance and big boys who cry. I think that if I just keep on dancing and, yes, if I keep on crying, too…I’ll find one day when I’m even older than I am right now that time is gonna ride me down easy. Sunshine's gonna stay.
This is my Bruce Springsteen record. As ugly as I think the album cover is, you could stand it at the head of my grave and it would do me just fine.
Sorry to hear about your dog. Glad she's home.
I’ve had a difficult past few months with our little dog, and this past week she ended up in intensive care. She’s ok now, and back home on Friday night, but I was still so upset on Saturday, and was having family over later that day. So as I was preparing stuff, I put on Western Stars for the first time in months. It really, really helped. Took me right back to when it was released (when I listened to it a LOT), and the movie premiere, and that film in his barn. Listening to it again, I still love it so much.
It came out of left field. It held me up for months. I remember waking in the dark and putting it on and letting wash over me. I still have trouble with "Smoky Joe", I don't know why, it jarring after "WS". I can't remember a Springsteen song that help such sway over me. Obviously, there are the classics. But WS arrived at a moment when it was needed the most. Amazing record.