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Dream Baby Dream

"Dream Baby Dream" is a 1977 song by the more-influential-than-successful punk band, Suicide.  This new version by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band meets what I've come to think of as the First Rule of Cover Songs:  You've got to bring something new to it.

Musically, Springsteen and his band fill out the empty spaces in "Dream Baby Dream" and smooth off its rough edges, beginning with just an old pump organ, slowly building to a climax and then receding back to silence.  It's no longer a young man's nervous, edgy song.  It's an old man's prayer, infused by the hard-earned wisdom of his life's ups and downs.

Visually, editor Thom Zimny captures the quasi-religious nature of Springsteen's live performances with the E Street Band:  the ecstatic peaks of mass communion, the quiet, interior moments of contemplation reflected on individual faces, the call-and-response exchanges---both among the musicians and between them and the audience. 

Towards the end there is---as there was each night throughout the last tour---a brief "communion with the saints" as images of deceased longtime bandmates Danny Federici (organist) and Clarence Clemons (saxophonist) flash on the screen.

As marketing ramps up for the release next week of Bruce Springsteen's new album, High Hopes, it would be a shame if this lovely song and video---released in October at the end of his last tour as a kind of thank-you card to his fans---got overlooked.

About the Author

Luke Hill is a writer and community organizer in Boston. He blogs at dotCommonweal and MassCommons. 



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A natural born priest;if he said the word "God", the  name "Jesus" he could make professed christians out of half the world.He could convince people he is the second coming of Christ [just kidding].Just goes to show -people have a longing for, an experience, a manifestation of God with us.I wonder if Bruce knows this consiously.His music certainly expresses that.I pray one day  he  takes that plunge and articulates it.

p.s. I love his rendition of Chimes of Freedom ,done in concert with other singers.Bob Dylan also gets it;sacred music.Even Dylan's song;The TimesThey are a Changing;I hear it and I don't think political,social upheaval ;I think of Jesus Christ on the cross.

He has been covering this song since the mid-oughts; I heard him do it at a Devils and Dust concert (awful, awful concert experience). Anyone who listens to Nebraska should be able to hear the Suicide influence.

Kind of sucks  that this Springsteen version basically dominates google search results, though maybe some more people will listen to Suicide.

Here's Suicide performing Ghost Rider:

And speaking of Suicide covers, here's the Gories:

And here's Lydia Lunch doing my favorite Suicide Song, Frankie Teardrop:


Attn: Commonweal: Less economics, more electro-protopunk. Please

Abe Rosenzweig, I'll see what I can do. Are you more a Smiths or a Bad Brains kinda guy?

At first I thought the Springsteen was telling Chris Christie to "Dream, Baby, Dream."

Scott, sometimes you want an apple, sometimes you want an orange. Sometimes you don't care which shows up on shuffle.

Thanks all, for the comments.

@rose-ellen caminer:  My own sense is that Springsteen is quite conscious of what he's doing, both with his use of religious imagery as a songwriter, and with his sense of liturgy as a performer. 

After today's revelations, Springsteen should definitely be telling Bro. Christie to "dream, baby, dream!"

Nice hagiography. But what does Bruce want us to dream? Why does he want us to keep dreaming? It seems to me it's time to wake the heck up. 

In any case, we've seen these kind of feel-good chant-songs before ("All You Need Is Love" and "Give Peace a Chance" and the incarnations of "We Are the World"). Everyone comes home feeling they've had a "meaningful experience" and everything just goes back to the way it was.

I preferred the old Bruce telling me I was born to run.


P.S. Here's a better song about dreaming:

Jean, I know that if Bruce does it, the context changes totally, but I don't think that any Suicide song can be just a feel-good chant song. This song (or at least it's original, Keep your Dream) closed off one hell of a harrowing album--tough to say if it's supposed to be a spark of hope or a desperate effort. Springsteen's only been covering this song for a decade, and when he first started doing it, audiences were kind of weirded out. I said that the concert where I saw him perform it was awful--well, all the Massholes in the arena were expecting Racing in the Street, and that's just not what they got.

Abe, I will defer to your (and everyone else's) insights on this. The last rock concert I went to was in Detroit ca 1970, the Bob Seger System. Bruce came on the rock and roll scene about the time I stopped paying attention to it, and I never really understood his appeal. I mean, nice biceps, and all, but the guy can hardly stay on key and has no range. Once the Beatles broke up, it was all downhill for me. Michael Jackson buying up the canon and selling it to Nike, Bob Dylan doing Victoria's Secret Commercials, Carlos Santana on "Dancing With the Stars." My God.

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