Going For A Song: ‘Hungry Heart’

In Bruce Springsteen’s recent interview for Desert Island Discs he tells interviewer Kirsty Young how the E-Street band’s snare drum sound was based on the snare sound on Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog’. If you compare the snare drums on ‘Hungry Heart’ and ‘Hound Dog’ you discover he isn’t being disingenuous.

Springsteen goes on to describe hearing Elvis as the point he “realised suddenly there was more to life than what I’d been living”. While searching the web for a good recorded version of ‘Hound Dog’, I stumbled upon this
tv recording of Elvis performing the song live on air in 1956. It’s a nice visual parallel to Springsteen’s statement. When the camera switches to the audience there’s a sense of palpable excitement, an awakening if you like, which manifests itself in their bemusement, the nervous laughter you can hear; watching it then you’d suspect they’d seen nothing like this before; what we now know is they hadn’t.

If you’ve time you might compare the snare drum of ‘Hound Dog’ to the one that cracks open Bob Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ (itself another desert island disc choice for Springsteen). Taken together these songs produce a snare sound which starts to become something you might be able to associate with a musical and cultural clearing away. It’s maybe too much to claim this for ‘Hungry Heart’. However, if we are talking of awakenings – and this is entirely related to the snare sound I’ve been discussing – it’s perfectly fine to claim ‘Hungry Heart’ as another one of those particular songs a wedding DJ can play to fill a dance floor that’s been emptied.

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