Set to release next month via Columbia Records is the newest album from Bruce Springsteen. A collection of ‘60s and ‘70s soul and R&B covers, Only the Strong Survive sees The Boss trying his hand at tunes born from classic catalogs like those of Stax and Motown.
In a video posted to his social media channels on September 29, Springsteen provided insight into the making of the record, saying, “I’ve spent my working life with my voice at the service of my songs, confined by my arrangements, by my melodies, by my compositions, and by my constructions. My voice always came second, third, or fourth to the expression of those elements. But this time, I decided to do something I had never done before: make some music that is centered around singing, around challenging my voice.” Singing soul music, he said, led to an epiphany about his voice, which he’s been critical of in the past. The epiphany? It’s that he actually has a good voice!
So far, fans have been gifted a taste of two songs from the run of fifteen. “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” a 1965 Frank Wilson number, was released as the first single. The music video, which dropped at the same time, features Springsteen in a setting à la the 68 Comeback Special with a full band and backup dancers.
His take on the Commodores’ “Nightshift,” the second single, was released on October 14, also with a supplemental music video. Other songs to look forward to include Booker T. Jones and William Bell’s “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” and The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain.”
The album, recorded at Thrill Hill studio in New Jersey and produced by Ron Aniello, is the follow up to 2020’s critically acclaimed Letter To You and Springsteen’s first album of non-original material since We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions in 2006. The twenty-first installment in his discography, it features accompaniment from the E Street Horns and Soozie Tyrell as well as two duets with Sam Moore of the legendary Stax pair Sam & Dave.
The full Only the Strong Survive tracklist:
- Only the Strong Survive
- Soul Days (featuring Sam Moore)
- Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)
- The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore
- Turn Back the Hands of Time
- When She Was My Girl
- Hey, Western Union Man
- I Wish It Would Rain
- Don’t Play That Song
- Any Other Way
- I Forgot to Be Your Lover (featuring Sam Moore)
- 7 Rooms of Gloom
- What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
- Someday We’ll Be Together
Only the Strong Survive is available to purchase or stream on November 11 and Springsteen and The E Street Band are embarking on a 2023 world tour beginning in February, their first outing together since 2017. The tour kicks off in North America before heading to Europe in the spring and fall.