on November 4, 2017 | Last updated December 24, 2019
Bruce SpringsteenLand of Hope and Dreams
Release Type: User Audio Type: Single-track Reductions: Yes (Authored) Pitched Vocals: Yes Vocals Gender: Male (3)
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For me, this song was the only way to end this pack. Premiered in 1999, "Land of Hope and Dreams" is quite a huge song for Springsteen. In a time where Bruce barely wrote rock songs anymore and thought he "lost it", this song "felt as good as anything he's ever done" and convinced him to get it back. It was the premiered in the 1999 reunion tour of the E-Street band, where it was usually the show closer. Quite an unusual choice - a reunion tour of a huge old act, closing the show with a new, unreleased song - but the reception was great and it was already hailed as a new classic.
"Land of Hope and Dreams" was included in 2001's "Live in New York City" which documented the reunion shows, and in 2003's "Live in Barcelona", which means it was released in two different live versions before the song was out. The NYC version was also included in the "Essential Bruce Springsteen" compilation. That song has continued to feature, usually near the end of shows, for most of the decade.
Just one thing was missing - a studio version. It took 13 years till Bruce finally felt he nailed it in the studio - and it was finally released in the 2012 album "Wrecking Ball". This song has one extra significance - it is the last Springsteen song to feature saxophone by Clarence Clemons. By the time it was recorded, Clemons was already dead, but the producers were able to take a live recording of Clemons playing the solo and insert it to the studio version. Springsteen said that when he first heard the final result, when the sax solo entered, he broke down crying.
Musically, the song is a huge rock anthem, inspired by gospel music. The studio version has a choir, and includes a bit of The Impressions' "People Get Ready". It's deliberate inversion of the traditional American gospel song first recorded in the 1920s, "This Train". In Springsteen's take, all are welcome on the train - not just "the righteous and the holy" of the original, but "saints and sinners", "losers and winners", "whores and gamblers" - you just get on board. It's definitely an epic song, a musical prayer, one of the greatest of Bruce's career and probably the best song he wrote since 1987. So it's great to finally have it in RB.