Jack of All Trades

Album: Wrecking Ball (2012)
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Songfacts®:

  • This aching track finds Springsteen singing of an everyman figure willing to do anything to get a job. However, though the man is initially confident his work ethic will see him through, he finds its not the case. There is no doubt whom he blames: "The banker man grows fat / The working man grows thin / It's all happened before /And it'll happen again". "You can never go wrong in rock'n'roll when you're p---ed off," said Springsteen at Sony Records' Paris headquarters when he unveiled the album to the world's media, adding that it had been written in a spirit of political anger: "My work has always been about judging the distance between American reality and the American Dream.
  • As the piano-based ballad draws to a close, Springsteen vents his anger at the bankers. "Shoot the bastards on sight," he cries. Asked in Paris where the fury of this lyric had come from, The Boss talked of his father losing his job in the 1970s and never recovering from the damage to his pride. "Unemployment is a really devastating thing. I know the damage it does to families," he said. "Growing up in that house there were things you couldn't say. It was a minefield. My mother was the breadwinner. She was steadfast and relentless and I took that from her. "Pessimism and optimism are slammed up against each other in my records, the tension between them is where it's all at, it's what lights the fire." (Above 2 reported by The Guardian).
  • The song is one of three on Wrecking Ball to feature an orchestral backing from the New York Chamber Consort. The other two are the title track and the first single, "We Take Care Of Our Own."
  • Normally, this would have been a showcase for Springsteen's sax player, Clarence Clemons, who passed away in June 2011. Performing on this track are American tenor saxophonist Stan Harrison, who has also worked with David Bowie, Talking Heads and Radiohead, and original Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes sax player Ed Manion, who toured with The Boss on his Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour.

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