Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I listened through several Bruce Springsteen albums and by proxy revisited a significant swath of the greatest music ever recorded. But just as I was planning on publishing an entire list of Springsteen’s best, we received another life-altering sermon from none other than Father Kendrick Lamar. This list is still dominated almost entirely by Springsteen, but when an artist as revolutionary as Kendrick Lamar gets on the pulpit, even the greatest of all time has to take a backseat.
- “LUST.” – Kendrick Lamar
There are countless Rap songs centered around sex, but none have matched the sense of regret, the sonic imprint, or the poetic wordplay (i.e. “blood rush my favorite vein”) that Kendrick almost effortlessly achieves with this standout from his excellent new LP DAMN. It’s a true showstopper.
- “American Skin (41 Shots)” – Live in New York (2001) – Bruce Springsteen
I find it rather appropriate that Lamar’s most recent masterwork was released just as I was wrapping up Springsteen’s catalog as both are consciously minded artists that take their roles as leaders of their respective communities seriously. N.W.A.’s “Fuck tha Police” gets top marks for cultural relevance, but I would argue Springsteen takes the message further not only through musicality (not to mention a modicum of civility) but also accessibility. Rather than work his audience into an uproar, Springsteen delivered his sermon to a hushed, attentive audience. It’s an awe-inspiring moment.
- “Outlaw Pete” – Bruce Springsteen
It’s not out of the realm of normalcy for an LP or two to get lost in the shuffle in the ocean of content many of the greatest and persistent artists have provided. That seems to have unfortunately been the case for Springsteen’s ’09 release, Working on a Dream. Perhaps his most underrated album ever, the LP is lead by this stirring piece of screen-worthy bliss that stands comfortably alongside his best work.
- “Jungleland” – Bruce Springsteen
Speaking of grandiosity, nobody did it bigger or better than Bruce Springsteen, particularly in 1975 when Born to Run was released. The title track will always be the LP’s most famous moment, but its epic closer was undoubtedly its best. The late Clarence Clemons’ sax solo that bookends the piece sends it soaring into the stratosphere.
- “The Promise” – Bruce Springsteen
This piano-focused ode to the struggles of the working man (far from uncharted territory from the Jersey native) was written decades before its eventual 2010 release. Any other artist would be a fool to keep such a classic backlogged for that amount of time. But for the greatest of all time, it was just another day at the office.
For more playlists, including my master Burnes’ Turns playlist that contains over 2,000 songs, search for Andrew Burnes or Burnes’ Turns on Spotify.