Springsteen: new album, tour, possible Chicago date

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Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band play the United Center in 2009. (Scott Strazzante/ Chicago Tribune)

As with all things related to new Bruce Springsteen product, the release of the singer’s latest studio album, “Wrecking Ball,” on March 6 is just the start of what is shaping up as a major year for the singer.

A new single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” was rolled out Thursday via his web site (brucespringsteen.net), and Springsteen is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech March 15 at the annual South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, the year’s major gathering of the U.S. music industry.

In addition, a lengthy stadium-level tour by Springsteen and the E Street Band is being scheduled, the first without longtime saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died last year. Dates are set for Europe in June and July, and the rumor mill is already churning about future announcements.

There’s talk that Springsteen will kick off the tour at South by Southwest in mid-March and that he is looking at suitable venues for the concert, including the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, which has a seating capacity of more than 100,000. In addition, there are unconfirmed reports circulating that Springsteen is looking at a possible date at Wrigley Field in early September. At least one ticket broker on-line is advertising a Sept. 8 date, but says tickets are not yet for sale. The Chicago Cubs are on the road during that time, but Cubs spokesmen had no comment. Wrigley is already playing host to at least one major concert this summer, Roger Waters’ “The Wall” on June 8.

“Wrecking Ball” is coproduced by Ron Aniello, who worked previously with Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa, on her 2007 album, “Play it as it Lays,” as well as a long string of mainstream pop-rock bands, including Lifehouse, Jars of Clay and Barenaked Ladies. Aniello tucks “We Take Care of our Own” inside layers of keyboards and a guitar riff that echoes the Searchers’ “Needles and Pins” and New Order’s “Love Vigilantes.” He piles on the rhythm tracks: a big kick drum augmented by electronic hand-claps, wordless vocal loops, and glockenspiel.

The song is shaped as something of a flag-waving anthem, but it’s tinged with ambivalence and doubt: “Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea?” Springsteen sings.

Springsteen's 17th studio album will consist of 11 songs, and reportedly includes a cameo from Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.

greg@gregkot.com

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