In Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs, rock writer Jim Beviglia reflects not only on why each song has earned its place on list but lays out the story behind each of the 100, supplying fresh insights on the musical and lyrical content of Springsteen's remarkable body of work. Counting Down Bruce Springsteen brings together critical historical and biographical information to explain the making and importance of each song to its listeners, painting a fascinating portrait of Springsteen as a major American songwriter and consummate recording artist.
Beviglia (Counting Down Bob Dylan) delves deep into the Springsteen oeuvre to retrieve the superstar's 100 greatest songs, relying primarily on lyrical content to decide the ranking. He reflects on Springsteen's politics, from the indictment of Wall Street's "conscience-free ruthlessness" in "Easy Money," to the measured take on the shooting of Amadou Diallo by NYPD in "American Skin." The E Street Band is celebrated for their integral part in Springsteen's success, particularly Clarence Clemons, whose performance on "Jungleland" is declared "the most iconic saxophone solo in rock history." Beviglia notes the cohesion of many Springsteen albums, the grim circumstances couched in catchy melodies of Born in the USA the call to arms message of Wrecking Ball, and the mournful post-9/11 The Rising. Then, there are the Springsteen characters, "big-hearted gang members, teenage femme fatales, and other spectacularly romantic rogues" like the fight-throwing boxer of "The Hitter," the broken-down veteran in "Shut Out the Light," and "Zero and Blind Terry." Beviglia's top 10 is peppered with early gems like "Lost in the Flood," "Rosalita," and "Incident on 57th Street." While some might find the ranking system puzzling, Beviglia's knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject will be appreciated.