On March 6th, Bruce Springsteen's released his 17th studio album, Wrecking Ball. The collection, which was the followup to 2009's chart-topper, Working On A Dream, features 11 new recordings and was produced by Ron Aniello and Springsteen, with longtime manager Jon Landau serving as executive producer. The late Clarence Clemons contributed to two songs on Wrecking Ball, the title track and the studio version of the E Street Band live staple, "Land Of Hope And Dreams" -- which has been re-worked with hip hop-type rhythms and a full gospel choir. The album's sound broke new ground for Springsteen with touches of Celtic music combined with R&B-tinged loops, rap, gospel -- and even mariachi. The deluxe version included additional artwork and photography along with two more tracks -- a newly recorded studio version of the Sessions Band and E Street Band live staple "American Land" and another new Springsteen original, "Swallowed Up (In The Belly Of The Whale)."
Wrecking Ball is Springsteen's sixth studio album in a decade -- fast work when you consider that this is only the 17th studio album in his 39-year recording career: "At this point in my life, it's not a tortuous process anymore, y'know? The songs have come pretty easy for quite a few years now -- so do making the records. We make the records in a month. (In) my little demo studio first and that takes a couple of hours, y'know, a song. When I was young I thought I had to give my life completely over to it or I wasn't gonna be able to get anything good out. Now (I realize) it was sort of an excuse (laughs) 'cause I didn't know what else to do with myself. But now I realize it takes the right amount of time. In other words, you have to work at it until it's right -- but you don't have to work at it any longer than that."
On March 15th, Springsteen gave the keynote speech at the 2012 South By Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW). During the speech, Springsteen stressed the importance of knowing his craft by the time he was signed to Columbia Records in 1972: "I had nights and nights of bar playing behind me to bring my songs home. Young musicians -- learn how to bring it live and then bring it night after night after night after night, your audience will remember you."
For the Wrecking Ball tour, "The Boss" has tapped both "The Big Man," Clarence Clemons' nephew Jake Clemons as well as a full horn section -- including a second sax player to -- replace the late Clemons, who died in June 2011. In addition to Clemons, the full horn section includes Barry Danielian on trumpet, Clark Gayton on trombone, Eddie Manion on saxophone and Curt Ramm on trumpet.
On June 17th in Madrid, Spain, the E Street Band performed the longest show of their career -- topping their legendary December 31st, 1980 concert at New York's Nassau Coliseum by playing an astounding three hours and 48 minutes. The 1980 New Year's Eve concert ran just five minutes shorter, clocking in at three hours and forty-three minutes. Guesting at the show -- which fell on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the death of Clarence Clemons -- was "The Boss'" old friend Southside Johnny Lyons, who shared the lead on "Talk To Me" -- which was gifted to him and the Asbury Jukes back in 1978 and was recently featured on Springsteen's recent vault collection, 2010's The Promise. Southside also stuck around to close the show with a cover of "Twist And Shout."
In June, Springsteen was announced as the 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year. The 23rd annual MusiCares gala will be held on February 8th, 2013, two days before The 55th Annual Grammy Awards. MusiCares provides essential support for the music community to turn to in times of financial, medical, and personal need.
Once again 2012 saw Springsteen appear at several stops at re-election rallies in support of President Obama.