Bruce Springsteen is an American hero on stage, a true music legend. No doubt about it. He was born in 1949 and at 65 years he is one of the longest performing artists in the world today. He has collaborated with many artists, but he is best known for long-term partnership with the E Street Band. It consists of 6 musicians – Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Max WEeinberg, Steven von Zandt, Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa.
As of 2014, E Street Band is a member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have been working with all the biggest names in the business Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Sting, even Lady Gaga and many others. They started working with Bruce Springsteen in 1972.
For the whole 2014 he has been touring the world with the High Hopes Tour with the E Street Band and a guitarist – Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. 2015 will mark Springsteen’s 50th anniversary on stage.
Springsteen’s career began in 1965 and throughout this time he has recorded 16 studio albums. Numerous times he has been nominated for Grammy Awards, winning several best Rock Song awards but only one of his albums has received a Grammy. That’s “The Rising” that won Best Rock Album in 2004.
However, maybe even sweeter than Grammy’s were his wins with Streets of Philadelphia. The song earned Springsteen a Golden Globe award as well as an Academy Award in 1994 for the Best Original Song.
Obviously, a true Springsteen fan could argue for hours about what songs does he or she like best. The classics like Born to Run or Born in the U.S.A.? Or something yet undiscovered by the masses? Every Springsteen fan can say that throughout a half of a century on stage, Springsteen has written and recorded so many amazing songs, that anyone could enjoy.
There is really something for everyone – Dancing in the Dark, Tunnel of Love, Dead Man Walking Working on a Dream, The Rising. You name it. Some, swear by songs like Radio Nowhere from the Magic Album. They say that’s what true Springsteen is all about. That’s what I will be talking about today.
The Magic Album and Radio Nowhere
“Radio Nowhere” is the first track on the “Magic” album released in 2007. The album should have featured 11 songs but later Springsteen decided to add a tribute to his long-time assistant Terry Magovern. However, the decision was made a fortnight after the “Magic” album announcement so some Springsteen fans, that have pre-ordered the album have not found the tribute song “Terry’s Song” in the album.
Initial Success and 2008 Grammy’s
Overall, the album itself and “Radio Nowhere” have done great. At the time it has become his bestselling album in 21st century, reaching 400,000 copies sold in the first week in UK and US, in both reaching top of the charts. By 2009 “Magic” has reached 1 million sold copies.
The fast-paced rock song has gotten two Grammy’s in 2008 for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance as well as Best Rock Song. However, on national charts Radio Nowhere had a varying success. In UK, Switzerland or Germany for example the song has barely made it to Top 100 of the 2007.
It did much better in Canada and Sweden reaching 60th and 55th places accordingly among best songs of the year. But best of all it did in Ireland and Italy making to mid-20’s as well as Norway and U.S. where they both reached 2nd in Top 100 of 2007.
I wish I wouldn’t have to, but I do. Every time I mention the “Magic” album or ”Radio Nowhere” I get the same line. “Did you know it’s copied from Tommy Tutone’s 1981 song 867-5309/Jenny.
Is it copied? I don’t think so. I just don’t. I like both songs, but I think that the songs are 30 years apart, there is bound to be occasions like that. And to be completely honest, I don’t think the intro chord progression is that rare. I agree that it’s not the best of the arguments, so I would also say that if it would have been copied, Tutone would have proceeded with legal action against Springsteen. The fact that he didn’t says something, right?
But yes, the “Radio Nowhere” intro is quite similar to the Tutone’s song.
Radio Nowhere is an electric guitar-led, fast-paced rock song with a bit of a saxophone solo in it. Springsteen is known to be coming back to his roots often, to refer to his old songs, to talk about the same themes. In this aspect Radio Nowhere is no different.
For example, the song contains lyrics:
I was driving through the misty rain
Yeah searchin' for a mystery train
Boppin' through the wild blue
Tryin' to make a connection with you
At least Springsteen fans believe that “I was driving through the misty rain” is a reference to one of his old songs, “Downbound Train”. The same applies to a line “dancing down a dark hole” in this verse:
I was spinnin' 'round a dead dial
Just another lost number in a file
Dancin' down a dark hole
Just searchin' for a world with some soul
Fans believe it could refer to “Dancing in the Dark” (1984).
“Radio Nowhere” music video was directed by Thom Zimny. Zimny is an award winning director who has collaborated with Springsteen for years as well as directed 12 episodes of “The Wire” series. There is a story that this song was created while playing poker online.
As Springsteen himself has said in the interview for the Rolling Stone magazine in 2007: "It's an end-of-the-world scenario - he's seeing the apocalypse. All communications are down. That's my business, that's what it's all about - trying to connect to you. It comes down to trying to make people happy, feel less lonely, but also being a conduit for a dialogue about the events of the day, the issues that impact people's lives, personal and social and political and religious. That's how I always saw the job of our band."
"Radio Nowhere" was included in Springsteen's subsequent compilation album, the 2009 Wal-Mart-only Greatest Hits.