Bruce Springsteen's modern music video work has largely been small stakes: Simple performance videos. A smart move in some ways — he is, after all, the greatest living rock performer, and let's face it: Do we really want to see The Boss do a one-take treadmill routine? But, there's also Springsteen's storytelling side, which has remained unexplored for a long time now...
"Hunter Of Invisible Game" is a huge step in that visual narrative direction, with Springsteen comfortably collaborating with longtime video cohort Thom Zimny on an enigmatic 10 minute short film. And seeing as how Zimny came to the Springsteen camp on the heels of his work as editor on The Wire — aka the best TV drama ever? — it's nice to see him get a chance to deliver something other than a performance or a documentary.
But if you like to play "what if"... What if these two widen the circle to include some past Springsteen video directors — John Sayles, Brian DePalma, Jonathan Demme, Meiert Avis, and Mark Pellington — or a new generation of film/video directors to interpret and bring other songs/stories to visual life?
Despite having a music video with a moment so famous and impactful that you could essentially use it as a definition for what an '80s video looked like — see: Courtney Cox + Dancing In The Dark — Bruce Springsteen has never been a comfortable participant in our world. In fact, he's essentially shifted to purely performance or otherwise modest videos since his 1999 E-Street Band Reunion. "Just Like Fire Would" continues that trend, featuring nothing but a staged performance with his band and special guest Tom Morello of this 1986 single by Australian alternative band The Saints.
Bruce has always worked with great filmmakers — Brian DePalma directed "Dancing In The Dark," Jonathan Demme, Meiert Avis and Mark Pellington have all been recurrent video collaborators, and his post-reunion video guru is Thom Zimny, who edited the classic HBO show The Wire and directed some amazing longform pieces about Bruce and the band — but hopefully the time will come soon when he'll let one of these directors, or someone of their caliber, deliver the kind of narrative or imagistic videos that could add another level of interpretation to the music and reach beyond the base.
It's not an odds and sods collection — and certainly not 12 More Tracks — but a new album inspired by the past, including several previously recorded songs, some covers and other tracks that have been kicking around The Boss' vault and/or head for a while.
With Bruce Springsteen being honored as the MusicCares Artist Of The Year this weekend — headlining a charity event that boasted a who's who of rock from Neil Young to Mumford And Sons to John Legend — it seemed a good idea to throw the spotlight on The Boss.