Queen of the Supermarket
Springsteen didn’t come anywhere close to making the definitive 9/11 album — as far as I could tell there wasn’t one. But five years later he did make what will likely stand as the definitive Bush album, at least the only one that sold shit (if Jon Langford was going to break through he would have done it with The Mekons Rock N Roll (1989) , not All the Fame of Lofty Deeds (2004), and it seems all too clear that Todd Snider will never find (regain?) his audience. ) Accusatory, hopeful when he can get to it, mournful when it seems appropriate, cold eyed and not immune to sang-froid, grounded in the everyday, Magic was the first time he’d found the penetrating words he was looking for with the music they demand in 20 years.
16 months later, we remember why Bruce takes his time putting records together. Lotsa hooks, not enough point. The music’s sleek enough to make something listenable an 8-minute western saga, and if “What Love Can Do” tells us nothing about him and Patti, “Life Itself” may. But the one stroke is “Queen of the Supermarket” . The same guy who was gazing at the young females in their seasonal attire last time we tuned in has moved on to a woman who’s perhaps more age-appropriate and certainly a bit more accessible — she notices him back, for one thing, and you can imagine him sheepishly asking if she’d like to share that nice chop she just bagged.
I dimly recall a small r& b (new wave) hit from the early ’80s called “Checkin’ out the Checkout Girl,” but the great supermarket songs have either been metaphor (The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket”) or customers’ meeting place (The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping”). But Springsteen noticed that even though the person at the register is your captive audience, even that fleeting, repeating meeting can be the basis for the community he’s always looking for.
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