Pros:Good atmosphere. Good outside-the-box Bruce single.
Cons:It's very adult contempo, so beware. It's not exactly rockin'.
The Bottom Line: "Everything you need will always stay a million miles away."
Last April, I had the privledge of seeing Mr. Bruce Springsteen and the "Viagra-takin'" E Street Band live at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, my hometown (shoutout to my fellow Boston reviewers!). Before the show, I wasn't super excited for the show: I only saw maybe two fans on the train to the venue; I hadn't been in the mood for listening to him; I wasn't at home that day and didn't really want to leave where I was. When I got to the venue, I was obviously excited to add a new Bruce keychain to the one I got during his Magic Tour, but it still hadn't hit me until the lights went off. Bruce Springsteen rocks, regardless of your mood, he's going to rock your socks off and make you scream so loudly until your vocal chords are brittle and weak. But then again, it's easy for a man like him to rock out and get sloppy and messy, spitting water out above him as he thumps his foot to the beat of 1975's Tenth-Avenue Freezeout. But that's not all he can do.
Recommend this product?
In the mid-90s, Bruce was no longer the hot-name he was in the mid-80s. Ten years had gone by and The Ghost of Tom Joad was a highly experimental acoustic release that focused on quite folksy tunes similar to that of Bob Dylan mixed with a dark dosage of Johnny Cash. But just before that release, we got a strong glimpse into a new contemporary side to Bruce Springsteen, a man known for his apple pie anthems and workin' man swagger. Secret Garden was released as a single from his so-called Greatest Hits release. And as little as I do listen to that release, I have to admit that this one of the few songs from a compilation that I actually like. Every time an artist comes out with a two-bit, dime-store, half-baked best of release, the fans get "something new" : aka, a completely generic song that will never be used in anything ever. With Madonna, it was Rescue Me; with Blondie, it was a horrendous remix of In the Flesh. These songs are never as good as the hits they represent; Secret Garden, however, comes very, very close.
The song is a soft, repetitive piano song that only has a little more instrumentation than 2005's Devils and Dust album. The melody is a typical adult contemporary tune, but it's a very soothing one. Bruce's vocals are a little on the slurrrrrry side, but I really like his voice when it's soft and slow. He has the ability to still be his Mr. Everyman persona, but still be a sexy hunk on I'm on Fire, or a sweet, romantic guy on Secret Garden. After it's use in the film Jerry Maguire, the song became a hit for the now rock dinosaur (who can still do kneeslides and grind against his microphone like he's 20 years old), but I feel it's one of the few Bruce songs not associated with him. When it's played on the radio, it's one of those soft songs that you've always liked-- you just never knew who it was by. And when you learn it's the same man who sang Born in the U.S.A., it can raise a few eyebrows and open a few minds. The b-side here is an acoustic version of Thunder Road, one of the man's signature tunes. It's very, very slow and it's very interesting to hear such a powerful song with the volume turned down (and all of the intensity turned up.)
She'll let you in her house
If you come knockin' late at night
She'll let you in her mouth
If the words you say are right
If you pay the price
She'll let you deep inside
But there's a secret garden
For anybody interested in hearing an entirely different side to such a rock God, Secret Garden is an amazing representative of his more emotional side.
Secret Garden (4 Stars)
Thunder Road (Acoustic) (4 Stars)
OVERALL SCORE: 4 STARS (Even.)
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Great Music to Play While: Romancing