Lucky Day: The Bruce and Woody Rave
In the room where fortune falls
On a day when chance is all
In the dark of this exile
I felt the grace of your smile
Honey you're my lucky day
- Bruce Springsteen, "My Lucky Day"
Lucky day indeed. Yesterday marked not only the release of Bruce Springsteen's new album, Working On A Dream, but also the release of Woody Allen's wonderful Vicky Cristina Barcelona on DVD. And it sure made for one heck of a terrific day for all us fans of great music and film.
As for the Bruce album, after six good listens I can now say with quite some certainty that Working On A Dream is one of his greatest albums of the past two decades, if not his whole career.
Listen to "My Lucky Day" here:
Here's how I see the evolution of this album: After spending 2 to 3 years recording and then touring behind the acoustic folk music of 2005's Devils & Dust and 2006's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (read my full review here: The New Bruce Springsteen Rave: "The Seeger Sessions"), Bruce clearly felt the need to rock and, therefore, returned in 2007 with Magic, his hardest-rocking album in decades. And now, with this new album, he's combined the best of both of those worlds to perfection. You get both acoustic, folk-infused beauties and full-on E Street Band rockin' rave ups. And with the amazing title track from the film The Wrestler wrapping things up, this thing really is one hell of a fantastic album.
Listen to "The Wrestler" here:
I'm not here to give a full-length review, however; I'm just here to say I love this album. To read a more in-depth review check out Rolling Stone's 5-Star rave here.
Gotta Love Your Woody Revisited
As for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, we saw it last night after its long-delayed release on DVD (it was in the theaters last summer) and I'd definitely have to say it's Woody's best film in a long, long while. I know you've heard such things before about other "comeback" films of Woody's and some of those were, in fact, quite great. However, this film, unlike anything else he's released in ages, can actually stand alongside his greatest films, from Annie Hall to Manhattan to Hannah and Her Sisters to Crimes and Misdemeanors. And that, I'm quite sure most would agree, is not something you could have said at any time in the past decade or more. I'm not saying that Vicky Cristina Barcelona is as timeless as any of those four classics, I'm just saying it's of the same caliber of filmmaking. That is, it's an excellent film.
After famously leaving his beloved New York earlier this decade to try filming overseas, Woody has clearly been reinvigorated and newly inspired. However, this comedy/drama, filmed almost entirely in Barcelona - a beautiful backdrop if ever there was one - feels fresher and more original than any of the three films he's made in London since 2005... or anything he's created at all this decade, for that matter. This film is at once clearly a Woody Allen creation (with all his favorite themes about relationships and people seeking deeper meaning in life) and something totally different.
The Spanish scenery and cultural backdrop are indeed visually stunning and enthralling and they seem to have truly inspired Woody because his script - about the entangled relationships, sexual and otherwise, that ensue after two American women arrive in Spain for the summer - feels really original and is quite funny. However, it's the superb cast that takes this to another level: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson, and the always-terrific Javier Bardem are all fantastic.
Read my full Woody Rave from a couple of years back right here: The Gotta Love Your Woody (Allen) Rave
So, the truth is, at ages 59 and 73, respectively, Bruce and Woody have both still got it. And if you want to have it - as in a great day like the one I just had - I strongly recommend you buy yourself a copy of Working On A Dream and either buy or rent a copy of Vicky Cristina Barcelona ASAP.
The Other Woody
And, finally, for all you fans of the other Woody (no not Harrelson; Guthrie, of course) and his buddy Pete Seeger, if you haven't already, you've really got to watch this clip of Bruce and Pete leading half a million people in a rendition of Woody's most famous tune, "This Land Is Your Land", at Obama's inaugural concert last week. It's pretty amazing:
This Land Is Your Land
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Now make sure to vote for your favorite Bruce album in the new poll: Poll #13: Greatest Bruce Springsteen Album Ever
If you're into film make sure to check out: My Picks For The Best 25 Films of 2008
And if you're into music try this: The Best 20 Albums and 50 Songs of 2008: Dylan Tops Both Lists
Or, if you happen to be a Bob Dylan fan, check this out: The 25 Greatest Dylan Songs of The Past 20 Years
And for more music raves and reviews click here: Music Homepage
Or here: Music: Album and Concert Raves
And for all things Bob Dylan click here: The Bob (as in Dylan)
For more on film click here: Film: Homepage
Or here: Film: General
Or here: Film: Raves & Reviews
Or for another recent piece on film try this: The "Eternal Sunshine of Charlie Kaufman's Mind" Rave (Featuring My List of The Top 5 Comedies of All Time)