Certain Songs # 147: Bruce Springsteen – “Radio Nowhere”

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Album: Magic

Year: 2007

One of the most guitar-centric songs in Bruce’s entire catalog, “Radio Nowhere” was the type of high-energy song that you would figure to come from Springsteen disciples like The Hold Steady, as opposed to the man himself, who was now pushing 60. (And, actually, its circular main riff isn’t so far off from what The Hold Steady did on several Teeth Dreams tracks).

On one hand, while I guess it could be slotted into the genre of “old man yells at cloud” anti-radio songs like “The Last DJ,” “Around The Dial” and even “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?”  it somehow transcends the genre. Maybe because we know that Bruce knows that all he needs to do is tune into Little Steven’s Underground Garage for some great radio.

And unlike any of Bruce’s songs since the party tunes of The River, “Radio Nowhere” seemed designed to fit right in the the Underground Garage aesthetic, a fact that certainly pleased his consigliere, since – in a bit of no-doubt winking nepotism – Little Steven named Magic one of the coolest albums of the 2000s.  

Me personally, I wouldn’t go that far, as “Radio Nowhere” is far and away the best song on Magic, which is actually a pretty good record, but also a complete casualty of the Loudness War. It sounds terrible. Excited by the “Radio Nowhere” single, I was really looking forward to digging into it, but I found the album hard to listen to in a single setting.

Of course live, that wasn’t really a problem. And when Tim & Tyson and I went to see Bruce on the Magic tour, “Radio Nowhere” was the opener.  And if he or I’d had aged any in the nearly two decades since I last saw him in 1988, it was instantly wiped out by the first chorus, which led directly into another terrific show.

“Radio Nowhere” performed live in London in 2009

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