Chief Meets Boss

A couple weeks ago, Bruce Springsteen released Wrecking Ball, his (by my count) 17th studio album in a 40 year recording career. It’s a record that sounds a lot more like the Springsteen I grew up with than any of his other recent albums: anthemic and big and totally ‘merican (that’s a capital ‘postrophe there). It occurs to me that Born in the U.S.A. is now older than all those songs I saw on those “Freedom Rock” TV commercials were back when the “Freedom Rock” TV commercials were on TV.

So it’s sort of fitting and serendipitous that the same week Wrecking Ball showed up in stores also marked the crossover Hot 100 debut of country singer-songwriter Eric Church‘s latest single “Springsteen”, a song about how it feels to be a middle-aged schlub and to listen back to those old Springsteen records, with lyrics sprinkled all over with references to those (gulp) golden oldies (you know, like “Glory Days”).

“Spingsteen” is the third single from Church’s third album, the extraordinarily well-received Chief, which debuted at the top of the album charts last year. And despite the fact (or because of it) that the song, Church’s twangy delivery notwithstanding, is about as country as Matchbox Twenty, it looks on pace to become the singer’s biggest hit so far.

There’s certainly a lot to love about it, like how the lyrics, about a certain girl, a certain Jeep, and a long-ago Saturday night (now that’s country), occasionally give way to a sing-along “whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh”. Or just the song’s mellow, reflective vibe: its extended intro and outro, its piano key moonbeams, which sound more like something off a 10-year-old Josh Rouse CD than a 30-year-old Springsteen 45. And then, right at the fadeout, there a woman’s voice faintly, wordlessly echoing the chorus, as if to prove Church’s line about how a melody sounds like a memory.