Monday, November 12, 2007

Another View of "Magic"

Quiet Bubble offers some well-written, insightful thoughts on Magic. I don't agree with all of it, especially the comments about the second half of the album, but these observations on "Radio Nowhere" are a keeper:

The song—well, almost all the songs here—are about trying to find connections with other people, about the desire and need for human touch, for the sound of another person’s voice. Mostly, the search ends in failure; occasionally, Springsteen gives us equivocal success. Here, and throughout the rest of Magic, Springsteen’s voice is fighting to be heard over the music, over the production that sounds murkier and more frayed than he’s ever let the E Street Band sound before. The guitars slur and muddy the water; even Clarence Clemons’s normally clear-ringing saxophone is brash, roughly recorded, as though its sound is unable to match the clarity of its message.

In his 1970s and 1980s concerts, Springsteen’s battle cry to the crowd between songs was “Is there anybody really alive out there?!” Two decades ago, it was a yell of solidarity; the audience responded with a roar. In “Radio Nowhere,” however, Springsteen’s voice is weary, trying hard not to be desolate as he decries that he’s “spinning around a dead dial/ Just another lost number in a file.” As his narrator succinctly describes his isolation and desperate search for anything approaching communion, Springsteen’s voice is buried by sound. “I just want to hear some rhythm,” chanted over and over again, becomes increasingly ferocious, but also pathetic. He knows he’s being drowned out.

Good stuff.

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