As I watched the Super Bowl this past weekend, Bruce Springsteen played a few of his favorite songs during the halftime show. Fans chanted along as “Born to Run” came over the speakers as well as “Glory Days”, and it seemed that the only thing missing was a frothy mug of beer in everyone’s hand.
Springsteen, or The Boss, writes songs about running away to a better life and reliving better days, but disguises them in upbeat, stadium-rocking ballads. The Boss is still rocking, but it seems that he may be passing the torch on to a younger generation via a new band called The Gaslight Anthem.
Hailing from the same working-class state as Springsteen, this New Jersey group came out with their second full-length album, The ’59 Sound in August of last year. Gaslight has a punk rock/folk sound to their songs, not unlike “Flogging Molly,” with whom the band shares a record label.
“We were listening to a lot of soul records like Otis Redding and James Brown, and watching old Bruce Springsteen videos,” said Gaslight’s singer Brian Fallon in an interview with Punkbands.com. “We were like ‘Wait a minute, what if we really made this a soul song, but played it like punk rock?'”
The result of their experiment is The ’59 Sound; not just an album full of yesteryear references to Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, but an album that channels the mood of an era. Whether it’s songs about meeting your girl in the diner, driving an old convertible or sailor tattoos, you’ll find yourself remembering a time you may have never experienced.
The ’59 Sound starts off with four high energy songs pondering on old wives, old lives and friends passed on, while the rest of the album slows down, but weighs heavier. “Even Cowgirls get the Blues” aches of soul and rebellion, and “Here’s Looking at you Kid” tenderly sings of a lifelong love that might have been, while stealing its name from an old Humphrey Bogart quote.
On the title track, Fallon asks his friend beyond the grave: “Did you hear your favorite song one last time?” And later asks: “When the ambulances came and took your pulse, was your heart in four-four time?” Music must be in their blood. After all, these ex-roofers have been playing shows most of their lives.
The Gaslight Anthem remain down-to-earth even after Emusic.com named The ’59 Sound album of the year. “Why blow money on a tour bus when you could get your mom a nice dress?” asked Fallon in a Rolling Stone interview.
One can’t really blame Gaslight for getting nostalgic with the lyrics “Like a dream I remember from an easier time. With the top rolled down on a Saturday night.” Who wouldn’t want to reflect on better times? Especially right now.
The Boss would be proud.