Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Bruce Springsteen – Hello Sunshine

And the highest score for today, in retrospect, isn’t that surprising…


Taylor Alatorre: To anyone who’s ever tried to accuse Bruce of play-acting as a scion of the working class despite having lived most of his career as a multimillionaire celebrity: This is exactly the kind of art you would expect someone of his age and station in life to be making. Musically and lyrically, it’s miles away from the turbulent grandeur and lustful urgency that most would define as “Springsteenian,” unless that word is merely used as a synonym for “Americana” these days. Given the ease at which he can credibly reinvent himself as a stately ’70s country rocker despite having emerged from a completely different musical tradition in that decade, it might just as well be.

Scott Mildenhall: Like looking out of the window as the barren road speeds by, “Everybody’s Talkin”” filling the car and escaping via the sunroof. Then, the jolt to the reverie: this isn’t Harry Nilsson, and it’s not even Glen Campbell. This guy on the radio has clear ability and probable budget, but he’s never going to get very far with homage.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Congratulations to Bruce Springsteen for ending yeehaw culture forever with this utterly boring piece of western kitsch.

Iris Xie: A weary song. It’s contemplative and a little pretty, with the strings being added in as Springsteen hums. But overall, it evokes images of worn down wooden patios and long sighs, and resignation to admitting that while you love the path of independence and where to go, you also have to admit that the other has every right to leave. However, melancholy and longing sharpens the sweetness of the other’s presence, and the guitar work helps bring that into a focused verve that gives plenty of room to air those quiet, not-quite grievances.

Ian Mathers: The test for any new song by a long-running artist that shares a name with a song I already love is, just, how many listens does it take me to get over the fact they’re not covering the song? Do I never get over it? It took me a few listens to start humming Springsteen’s sturdy, weary “Hello Sunshine” instead, but we got there. (As much as I’d still love to hear him sing “I’m a minger, you’re a minger too.”)

Joshua Copperman: “Everybody’s Talkin'” by way of Trouble Will Find Me (itself inspired by Nebraska) will always get a high score from me. Despite a slightly obvious arrangement, “Hello Sunshine” is sonically gorgeous, down to the reverb on Springsteen’s voice. His performance makes the song less like Nilsson’s “Talkin'” and more like the original, genuinely melancholic, even superior Fred Neil original. The lyrics are also beautiful, particularly “miles to go is miles away” — Jerry Spinelli could never.

Alex Clifton: I’m someone who’s prone to “getting a little too fond of the blues”–someone who doesn’t really know how to function when things are going well and preferring to wallow instead because my brain can deal with the wallowing. I’m still learning the practice of optimism. The thing I love about “Hello Sunshine” is that it’s gentle like a sunbeam but never feels full of false platitudes. It’s not “you’re the best person in the world” or “stop being miserable,” but something more caring and, in my opinion, truer. “Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?” delivered in Springsteen’s reassuring baritone is something I can believe in when the world is crashing down: small, simple, worthwhile.

Will Adams: In 2015 my mother and I road-tripped from Chicago to Los Angeles. To this day, my lasting impression of the experience was realizing just how big this country is. We could spend hours racing across a two-lane freeway at 85 mph, and the landscape would remain the same: looming plateaus in Missouri, oil wells just off the road in Oklahoma, rolling hills in New Mexico, distant mountains in Arizona, stark desert of California, billboards for rest stops the whole way. On “Hello Sunshine,” Bruce Springsteen evokes that same comfort amidst the expansiveness. The string and steel pedal flourishes create that space, but it’s always grounded in an understated piano and Bruce’s gravelly tone. More than ever, I find myself wishing I could return to that sense of calm; this gets me there, even if for a moment.

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