In the early '70s, singer-songwriter Danny O'Keefe had a "very mature, beautiful friend," as he told The Rolling Stone magazine who had paid too hard to pay consequences. Heart attacks and pain pills burdened the guy's life, and O & # 39; Keefe, who himself had rolled into the '30s, identified himself. O & # 39; s Keefe told his friend's story in the ballad "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" ̵
"Hello Sunshine", the new song from Bruce Springsteen's new album Western Stars (to be released on June 14) remains in the same troubled movement. It starts with a sharp snaredrum filling that interacts with the sleepy depth of a fifth bass interval – the sonic equivalent of a speed ball. Springsteen says, "Had enough of heartbreak and pain, had a small box for the rain." Close to the microphone, his voice conveys the usual depth and range, but also a patch of fatigue. As the arrangement gets more complex, rich in strings and pedal steel guitars, the lyrics stay simple. "You know, I always love the lonely cities, the empty streets where nobody lives," Springsteen continues. Then in a line reminding you of Willie Nelson: "You fall in love with lonely, you end up in this way."
The song cautiously reaches optimism with its orchestral swell and its title line, which the artist intrusively welcomes Sunshine, which dispels the gray mood of the rest of the song. However, this ballad lives in the same melancholy space as O & # 39; Keefes, along with others by Jimmy Webb, John Hartford and Kris Kristofferson. Springsteen has spoken of being inspired by those songwriters who captured the thoughtful mood of the early '70s, especially in and around LA's Sunset Strip, where the counterculture and pop biz worked in fruitful ways to produce songs Both were easy to hear and emotionally complex. There's also a Nashvillian cool for producer Ron Aniello's arrangement, which promises good things to fans who recognize a relationship with great country philosophers like Nelson and Charlie Rich in Springsteen's mature voice.
The song titles shared by Springsteen from [Western Western] suggest that the album carries the heart-felt highway from Music City to Laurel Canyon: "Somewhere north of Nashville," "Tucson Train," "Moonlight Motel". This song makes it clear that Springsteen, in addition to some possible High Desert Cowboy songs – there is, after all, a horse on the cover of the album – the listener in uncertain times many explorations of life behind closed doors. It is interesting, if not unprecedented, for the boss to explore the adult-contemporary sound palette and worldview that own the 70s albums, rough and rough, that rebel against it. He called this a solo album, though he did it with many of his colleagues, including longtime producer Ron Aniello, original e-street band keyboardist David Sancious, and multi-instrumentalist and ingenious song shaper Jon Brion draws links between this new music and earlier inner journeys such as Tunnel of Love and work on a dream . It's hard to know if "Hello Sunshine" reflects the prevailing mood of Western Stars or turns out to be an outlier, but its contemplative tone seems to be a natural extension of Springsteen's memoiristic Broadway show – and a good place for a man who is familiar with the confrontation of the blues.