Working On A Dream Springsteen Playlist

and Co. just completed two hometown rehearsal shows, and some superfans are grumbling about setlist selection. It’s not that the shows are bad; it’s that the setlists are rather stale. The Boss has a huge catalog with tons of deep cuts, and he’s been sticking to the same jams for a while now. As Bruce aficionado Ben Lazar tells Bruce via blog post: “You’ve just added some new songs to a pre-existing framework.” Lazar has come up with his dream setlist, including notes about what key in which Springsteen should sing certain songs. I thought I was a pretty serious fan, but it turns out I have a lot to learn. Lazar’s dream playlist and detailed set notes after the jump.

1. Cover Me (It rocks, it’s about hard times, and it’ll be a cooking opener – just no prolonged intros, ok? Count it off in the pitch black, and then when Max’s drums kick in, have the stage lights explode. They’ll love it – even your core fans that say they hate it will be like, “Yeah, that’s a pretty great opener.”)
2. Roulette (Uh, can we say financial crisis, anyone?)
3. Outlaw Pete (I’m not a big fan of this one, but I know it’s important to you to play it.)
4. My Lucky Day
5. Spirit In The Night
6. Working On A Dream (Bruce, I heard the rehearsal version – you brought the song a whole step higher. Bad move. Bring it back down to the original key.)
7. Seeds/Spare Parts
8. This Life (Sounded gorgeous in the rehearsal, but please drop the crowd participation part – too cheesy. Having the background vocalists is a great move though.)
9. What Love Can Do/Good Eye/Queen Of The Supermarket
10. Candy’s Room
11. Cadillac Ranch/I’m Goin’ Down
12. Leap Of Faith
13. Girls In Their Summer Clothes (Do it in the same key as the recorded version, ok Bruce? It’s one of your greatest songs ever, and you bringing the key up on the Magic tour just didn’t work – it killed the melancholy at the heart of the song which makes it so wonderful.)
14. Kingdom Of Days
15. The Last Carnival
16. Backstreets/The Price You Pay/Long Walk Home
17. Born To Run (It needs a new context to freshen it up, but you can’t not play it.)
18. Born In The U.S.A.


19. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live? (Says it all, right?)
20. Open All Night (Rock it, baby)
21. Pink Cadillac (A little humor is nice.)
22. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
23. Land Of Hope And Dreams/Raise Your Hand (Totally different songs, I know, but in a way, they’re very similar. Use em depending on your mood.)
24. Eyes On The Prize (You’ll have em weeping and raising their fist – perfect way to close it out.)

I agree about “Cover Me”, and I like the topicality of the choices here. Plus, any setlist with “Candy’s Room” on it is okay in my book. But if you’ve gotta play “Born To Run” then I think you have to play “Thunder Road,” right? Maybe take it back to the just-Bruce version of the ’70s. If it were up to me, they’d be playing “Adam Raised A Cain” and “Jungleland”. Lazar offers up further suggestions, including nixing “Mary’s Place” for good, which I wholly support. That might be my least favorite Springsteen song ever, and that includes “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).”

What about you, Idolator fans of the Boss? I know I asked this around the Super Bowl, but instead of 15 minutes you’ve got more than two hours. Are you with me on “Adam Raised A Cain”? What about “Dancing In The Dark”? Am I only the only one who thinks that song is the Eternal Jam?

Some Advice To Mr. Springsteen [Deeper Shade of Soul; HT: Don’t Forget The Coffee]

Setlists: 2009 [Backstreets]

  • SteveLepore

    I didn’t realize the hate for “Mary’s Place”. I think it’s a pretty decent number, better than at least 6 or 7 songs on WoaD.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @SteveLepore: It just…it’s just so cheesy, on a record of pretty good songs. I haven’t heard WoaD much, so I can’t comment, but something about that song just rubs me the wrong way.

  • MameDennis

    OK, got to defend “Mary’s Place” a bit… there’s no other song that captures the crazed grief of a good ol’ wake.

    The arrangement (which, yes, sounds like it’s forcing itself to party) serves the narrative–it’s about a guy who’s trying desperately to exorcise his grief by celebrating the good times, and it just doesn’t work. No matter how much you “turn it up”, the music isn’t going to drown out the loss.

    That said, it always dragged live, and I would just as soon see it left off the setlist. (I’d take it any day over “Outlaw Pete”. though. Yikes, is that sucker embarrassing…)

  • dog door

    No The River? No Streets of Fire? how is that a dream setlist? I’m on board with Cover Me though.

    Mine would have Dancing, Adam, and Brilliant Disguise.

  • SomeSound-MostlyFury

    Atlantic City please!

  • Al Shipley

    I wholly endorse any setlist that includes “Candy’s Room.”

  • The Notorious T

    Any alleged Springsteen playlist that omits “Badlands” is going to cause a riot. It’s just not done.

  • Chris N.

    Make a playlist LIKE A BOSS! Change key LIKE A BOSS!

  • Anonymous

    10th ave freeze out, cover me, atlantic city, fire, thunder road, born to run, born in the USA.

  • mishaps

    “Girls in their Summer Clothes” one of Bruce’s best? Really? I swear to you, I heard it playing in a big box store and thought “Stephin Merritt?” before I realized that no, it was just that everyone who said it sounded like Merritt was right.

    I’m all about “How Can A Poor Man…” though I’m guessing since his lyrics were all anti-Bush he might be just as happy to retire the sucker.

  • goldsounds

    @Al Shipley: Yes. His best song (right now).

  • Anonymous

    Part of the problem with “Mary’s Place” is that he uses it as his band intro song (or at least he did during Vote for Change, which was the last time I saw an E Street Tour), where he used to use “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” “Mary’s Place” isn’t a terrible song on its own terms, but I’d much rather hear “Freeze-Out” stretched to fifteen minutes.

    Personally, I’d love to see more stuff from Tunnel of Love. He brought it out during the Devils and Dust Tour, but I’d kill to see E Street versions of the title track, “One Step Up,” or “Tougher Than the Rest.”

    Oh, and “Kitty’s Back.”

  • Lucas Jensen

    @Al Shipley: @goldsounds: I’m glad to see it gaining a following. It’s so structurally complex. I’m also one of those revisionist hipsters who think that’s his best record.

  • KurticusMaximus

    This seems like one of those complaints only people who have seen a lot of Springsteen shows can make. Those of us who’ve only been to one or two (ok, just one) don’t really mind that he’s sticking to the good ole stand-bys.

    That said, my perfect Springsteen setlist would contain (in no particular order): Thunder Road, Born To Run, Badlands, Backstreets, Jungleland, The River, Atlantic City, I’m Goin’ Down, Hungry Heart, 10th Avenue Freeze-Out, Rosalita, and Dancing In The Dark. I’m sure plenty of Springsteen-show-veterans would find that list boring, but oh well.

    Hopefully he keeps the audience requests, too. Those were awesome.

  • Brad Nelson

    Just fucking play all of The Wild, the Innocent. ’70s bootlegs attest to the power of “New York City Serenade” live.

  • Brad Nelson

    Were that to happen, in fact, it would be the only time I’d actually hop on board this “play yr classic album live” nonsense. History has proven that all of those songs are improved in a live setting.

    Well, okay, “Kitty’s Back” had the tendency to stretch itself thin, but you’d do the same if you had written it.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @Brad Nelson: Those songs really are great live. I think that album’s overlooked, in general.

  • Adairdevil

    Ties That Bind!

  • Anonymous

    Remember those glory days ? I’d love to open with Max’s drums belting out the timing for my misunderstood anthem BORN IN THE USA. People don’t get it, but they do feel good when they hear it. Open it in darkness, then hot white spots on Max and me. We are in pain people. The economy is in the shitter. E Street grew up in the 70′s through desperate times, high interest rates. HELD UP WITHOUT A GUN refers to the gas prices at the pump. Recession rock ! We come through the hardness of THIS HARD LAND. JOHNNY 99 has “debts no honest man can pay” so he shoots a night clerk. Never mix Tanqueray and wine. Mixing in some fun “10th Ave Freeze Out” I don’t even know what the some means but it has aged like fine wine. Spotlight on Clarence “Jungleland” solo. Brings me to tears every time. Need Suzie to play that crying violin. AMERICAN LAND, BORN TO RUN, THUNDER ROAD, DARLINGTON COUNTY (i love to see Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a State Trooper’s Ford). OUT ON THE STREET. HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY. DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82nd STREET ? LONG TIME COMING, SURPRISE, THIS LIFE, WHEN THE SAINTS COME MARCING IN, OPEN ALL NIGHT, MY LUCKY DAY, OUTLAW PETE and my personal favourite “THE QUEEN OF THE SUPERMARKET”….I turn back for a moment and catch smile, that blows this whole f**king place apart”…REASON TO BELIEVE (preacher style)…THE RISING solo and accoustic…BADLANDS fists a thumping… LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS, WORKING ON A DREAM…………….RFS

  • CaligulaHamSandwich

    The ones I’d want that haven’t been mentioned are I’m On Fire (a really long drawn-out, creepy version), Hard to be a Saint in the City and She’s the One (with a crazy long intro on keyboards).

  • D.R. Mosby

    I’d like to hear the two songs that converted me from a casual Springsteen listener into a fan: “Something In The Night” and “Meeting Across The River”.

  • WHAD1

    Once these tours get going there tends to be more than enough variety. In Portland last March they did “Night,” “For You,” “Lost in the Flood,” “Reason to Believe” and “Jungleland,” several of those by request. Didn’t go to Seattle the next night because I didn’t feel the need to see 75% of the same show twice, but then the other 25% included “Trapped,” “Because the Night,” “Darkness,” “Rosalita” and “Point Blank.”

    Amused at the thought of him digging up the Del Lords cover though.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, Max is not playing with the band – his kid is on drums.
    And while the Del Lords did indeed do a devastatingly great version of “How Can a Poor Man” on the criminally overlooked “Frontier Days,” the song was written by Blind Alfred Reed in the late 1920s (1927, I believe). The song was a reference to the first Depression. For a version closer to the original, check out Ry Cooder’s first solo album.
    As for the Boss’ set list, one really has to wonder why The River and Tunnel of Love material do not make it into the rotation more often. The new album is a dud so limit the night to four new songs; remove all but two of “Magic’s” tunes; and dig deeper into the first two albums and “The River” more than ever before. Right?