Bruce Springsteen will celebrate his acclaimed series of acoustic performances on Broadway with a soundtrack album out December 14th. He previewed the LP on Friday with the lead single “Land of Hopes and Dreams.”
“Land of Hopes and Dreams” appeared on the Live in New York City album before making its eventual studio-LP-debut on 2012’s Wrecking Ball. The studio version was typical maximalist Springsteen: Nearly seven minutes long, with solemn, ringing guitars, energetic organ, and the type of hummable, symmetrical riffs that the singer has used on many of his hits.
In contrast, the Springsteen on Broadway version is skeletal; in some places, the singer’s guitar is so quiet it’s barely audible beneath his rugged vocals. Early on, the crowd cheers and roars at the end of each verse. But as Springsteen reaches the affecting, hopeful mid-section of “Land of Hopes and Dreams” — “This train, dreams will not be thwarted/ This train, faith will be rewarded” — fans maintain a reverent silence. As the song comes to a close, they get loud again, showering the singer with chants of “Bruuuuuuuuce!”
Springsteen’s Broadway residency takes place in a small theater: Less than 1,000 people can fit in the venue each night. That means lots of fans missed out, even as many additional performances were added to the initial run. But the singer is now focused on bringing the small-theater experience to those who couldn’t attend in person. First comes the Springsteen on Broadway soundtrack on December 14th. Then on December 15th, Springsteen’s one-man show will have its last performance at the Walter Kerr Theatre, and Netflix will start streaming Springsteen’s performance that same night.