At some point during the early 2000s, the world of indie started to re-embrace the Boss — a welcome development for those, like us, who’ve always appreciated Bruce Springsteen’s songwriting talents. Springsteen’s always been more interesting than his popular image dictated — anyone who just knows him as the “Born in the USA” guy might be surprised to know that he frequently covers Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” and sang on Lou Reed’s magnum opus “Street Hassle” — and over the last decade or so, a steady stream of contemporary musicians have started to make decidedly Bruce-influenced tunes. Of course, as with anything, there’s the good ones and the bad ones — so in celebration of the release of latter day Bruce-alike Craig Finn’s debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes, here’s our verdict on Springsteen wannabes over the years, starting with the best and working progressively down the totem pole.
Craig Finn / The Hold Steady
At his best, Springsteen is an unusually literate songwriter with a talent for creating narrative lyrics that are both vivid and involving — a description that also fits Craig Finn down to a tee. Finn is pretty open about the influence that the Boss has had on his work, citing the Springsteen tribute show at Carnegie Hall in 2007 (where he shared the stage and the mic with Bruce himself) as his “#1 magic moment.”