Trying To Get To You

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some Advice To Mr. Springsteen

Dear Bruce,

I haven’t gotten that email from you yet requesting my advice on the setlist for the new tour. Maybe it went into my spam folder. Strange. It probably just slipped your mind amidst all the preparations for the tour.

Anyway, I read the accounts of this week’s two rehearsal shows on Backstreets. Sounds like you made some progress on night #2, but I think Chris Phillips’s criticism is dead on – you don’t really have a new show yet. You’ve just added some new songs to a pre-existing framework. And I assert that you need a new show.

So I’ve constructed a working set list for you of 24 songs (you can expand on it later), based on the themes you’ve been talking about in interviews (“Our band was built on hard times”), the new album and of course, the need to get the crowd out of their seats, shaking their asses and rocking. I’ve put some alternate ideas for a few slots as well.

I’ve also compiled a list of songs that in my opinion, you should avoid, as well as a list of songs that you might want to either dust off, or try out with the band for the first time.

Here we go:

The Set

1. Cover Me (It rocks, it’s about hard times, and it’ll be a cooking opener – just no prolonged intros, ok? Count it off in the pitch black, and then when Max’s drums kick in, have the stage lights explode. They’ll love it – even your core fans that say they hate it will be like, “Yeah, that’s a pretty great opener.”)
2. Roulette (Uh, can we say financial crisis, anyone?)
3. Outlaw Pete (I’m not a big fan of this one, but I know it’s important to you to play it.)
4. My Lucky Day
5. Spirit In The Night
6. Working On A Dream (Bruce, I heard the rehearsal version – you brought the song a whole step higher. Bad move. Bring it back down to the original key.)
7. Seeds/Spare Parts
8. This Life (Sounded gorgeous in the rehearsal, but please drop the crowd participation part – too cheesy. Having the background vocalists is a great move though.)
9. What Love Can Do/Good Eye/Queen Of The Supermarket
10. Candy's Room
11. Cadillac Ranch/I'm Goin' Down
12. Leap Of Faith
13. Girls In Their Summer Clothes (Do it in the same key as the recorded version, ok Bruce? It's one of your greatest songs ever, and you bringing the key up on the Magic tour just didn't work - it killed the melancholy at the heart of the song which makes it so wonderful.)
14. Kingdom Of Days
15. The Last Carnival
16. Backstreets/The Price You Pay/Long Walk Home
17. Born To Run (It needs a new context to freshen it up, but you can’t not play it.)
18. Born In The U.S.A.


19. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live? (Says it all, right?)
20. Open All Night (Rock it, baby)
21. Pink Cadillac (A little humor is nice.)
22. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
23. Land Of Hope And Dreams/Raise Your Hand (Totally different songs, I know, but in a way, they're very similar. Use em depending on your mood.)
24. Eyes On The Prize (You’ll have em weeping and raising their fist – perfect way to close it out.)

Warhorses That Need A Break For This Tour – Use Sparingly, If At All

Out In The Street
Thunder Road
Dancing In The Dark
No Surrender (unless you do it acoustic – then it would be lovely)
The Rising
The Promised Land
Lonesome Day
The Ties That Bind
She’s The One
Darlington County

No. Just no.

Mary’s Place
Bobby Jean
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
American Land
Last To Die
Livin’ In The Future
Working On The Highway

Time To Take It Out Of The Closet

Better Days
Open All Night (see encores)
Highway Patrolman
Walk Like A Man
Spare Parts (see main set – put Nils on pedal steel for this bad boy.)
New York City Serenade
Lucky Town
When You’re Alone (acoustic version would be lovely)
One Step Up
The Price You Pay (see main set)
Another Thin Line

Time For An E Street Version

Maria’s Bed
Cross Your Heart
Real World
Long Time Comin’
All I’m Thinkin’ Bout
O Mary Don’t You Weep

I think with this as a general framework, you’ve got the makings of a kick ass tour. If I come up with any other ideas, I’ll definitely let you know. Let me know your thoughts - but don't have Little Steven call me about it, ok? He'll just tell me that you need to do all the songs from Disc 2 of Tracks. And when are we going to discuss the archivist/re-issue job? Call me before the tour starts, ok El Jefe?

Download: "This Life" 3/23/09, Asbury Park, NJ


Perfect Sound Forever said...

Nice list! When I saw him in 2001, he did a gut-bucket blues version of "Born in the U.S.A." and a Nashville version of "Dancing in the Dark." Hope he keeps trying to redo his songs like that.

Anonymous said...

i absolutely love bruce and his different genres, but please, please, please ditch "dancing in the dark". me and my post-40 gang hate that song, especially when it ends a gig. yuck.

Anonymous said...

Downbound Train. Absolutely -- and not with that cheesy synth filling in for what should be an accordion.

Anonymous said...

I want I'm Goin' Down or Downbound Train. :(

Anonymous said...

You're hired. New position: Setlist coordinator.

Now make sure that "Surprise, Surprise" never, never, never, NEVER sees the light of day again.

Anonymous said...

I want:
"Stolen Car".

Frankie811 said...

Very good suggestions, we have similar tastes. I've been going to about 20 shows each tour but I may skip this one. I def. agree with you on "Girls," although it seems most hardcore fans don't agree, Badlands does need a serious rest but he'll never stop doing it. Unfortunately the casual fans mostly want to hear that, Born To Run, Born in USA, Glory Days, Out in Street.

Anonymous said...

in case you missed it, you got linked to Idolater.

Anonymous said...

I'm with yah on everything - well thought out BTW - gotta disagree with Ties That Bind. This is one of his greatest gems and doesn't get played that often, can't get enough of it. It would be nice if he played the fast tempo, hard rockin' '78 version.

Anonymous said...

I'm with yah on everything - well thought out BTW - gotta disagree with Ties That Bind. This is one of his greatest gems and doesn't get played that often, can't get enough of it. It would be nice if he played the fast tempo, hard rockin' '78 version.

Michael Whalen said...

I agree! Great list. LOVE the Eyes on the Prize closer. That would be brilliant. However, you forgot...


County Fair (classic Springsteen tune, NEVER played)
From Small Things Big Things One Day Come
Out of Work
Club Soul City
Love's on the Line

Those last 3 he wrote for Gary US Bond's 1983 comback album. Bruce plays Rendevous, also written for that record, so I don't see why he can't play these top notch River-era tunes.


Devils & Dust
All The Way Home
Brothers Under the Bridge ('98)

Ben Lazar said...


I liked your additions - especially "All The Way Home" (the band would kill that one) but just to let you know...

"County Fair" has been played live before. It opened a show at Darien Lake in September of 2003.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, and excellent selections (as well as great suggestions from the peanut gallery in the comments, too). Even though I know what you mean about retiring some of the war horses, Ben, I'd leave Badlands in there, for no other reason than the ever-timely "poor man want to be rich/rich man want to be king/king ain't satisfied til he rules everything" line that so perfectly sums up the last 8 years in America like few other lines in the Springsteen songbook.

I'd also love to hear "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman," since folks are pawning all sorts of stuff these days to make ends meet!

Micky said...

This is an old post but I have always loved Springsteen, especially his song Philadelphia and will go and see his concerts even if he's just playing the old stuff with no new songs. Go Bruce!