"Land of Hope and Dreams," from Bruce Springsteen's forthcoming album Springsteen on Broadway (due out Dec. 14), may not be a song you'd expect to hear at his Tony Award-winning Broadway show. It's one of his most anthemic songs, usually played at scale, with a full band in front of a big crowd.
But this version, performed in the intimate Walter Kerr Theater, reduces the song down to Springsteen's voice. The guitar keeps the rhythm going, but it's all about the words.
"Land of Hope and Dreams" is the penultimate song of the Broadway show, an uplifting end to a night that features a lot of heartbreaking stories of characters — including Springsteen himself — who fall into isolation. Rooted in the gospel song "This Train" and The Impressions' 1965 gospel-soul hit "People Get Ready," "Land of Hope and Dreams" imagines a communal train where all are welcome — saints, sinners, whores, gamblers, thieves, lost souls, fools, kings, the brokenhearted — as it heads off to unknown future. It's classic Springsteen: grand, optimistic, spiritual and open-ended enough to be embraced by a big audience. The recorded version, on 2012's Wrecking Ball, incorporates a section of "People Get Ready" in the coda, underscoring the song's call to action.
Springsteen has performed "Land of Hope and Dreams" often for benefit concerts and political rallies, including campaign stops for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. It seems no coincidence, then, that he's released it on the eve of the midterm elections, and into the teeth of a violent and divisive time in American life. It's an assertion that we're all in this together.
Springsteen On Broadway comes out Dec. 14 on Columbia Records.
1. Growin' Up (Introduction)
2. Growin' Up
3. My Hometown (Introduction)
4. My Hometown
5. My Father's House (Introduction)
6. My Father's House
7. The Wish (Introduction)
8. The Wish
9. Thunder Road (Introduction)
10. Thunder Road
11. The Promised Land (Introduction)
12. The Promised Land
1. Born In the U.S.A. (Introduction)
2. Born In the U.S.A.
3. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (Introduction)
4. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
5. Tougher Than the Rest (Introduction)
6. Tougher Than the Rest
7. Brilliant Disguise (Introduction)
8. Brilliant Disguise
9. Long Time Comin' (Introduction)
10. Long Time Comin'
11. The Ghost of Tom Joad (Introduction)
12. The Ghost of Tom Joad
13. The Rising
14. Dancing In the Dark (Introduction)
15. Dancing In the Dark
16. Land of Hope and Dreams
17. Born To Run (Introduction)
18. Born To Run