Dispatches for Luna & Max (#13)

A triptych of covers:

  • Here’s the thing, I’m not a Springsteen fan. He’s fine.
  • I don’t even really love the original version of this song (although I think I could personally get down with it as a karaoke jam).
  • I do wonder what it says about my tastes that three artists I do like all offer drastically different takes on this song. Is “Dancing in the Dark” the indie-rock version of “My Favorite Things” or “I Got Rhythm” for jazz musicians? A familiar slate on which to do something innovative, meaningful, personal?
  • A few words on each of these versions:
    • The brattiness of the Downtown Boys in this song is just straight up jubilant. Also that… sax solo. The skronkiest of saxophone solos. It sounds both entirely out of place and imperatively necessary—something that could probably be said about every sax solo on the two Downtown Boys records.
    • Hot Chip does their Hot Chip thing adequately in this. I think it’s the interpolation halfway through of an LCD Soundsystem song that I love enough that I used it when I announced my first professor gig nearly a decade ago and that I also had a good friend perform a version of during my wedding ceremony. You just like it when things you like get combined into one (it’s the sonic peanut butter and chocolate model). I think it’s why everyone continues to love that damn cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World that gets played everywhere for everything in all contexts forever (we will have our culture collapse as a montage to Izzy’s, sadly, singularly memorable recording for most).
    • I guess Lucy Dacus offers the most conventional cover of the three. I think I get wrapped up thinking about how damn good of a songwriter she is. I mean, Night Shift. I dig the levity and the fun here and it’s a joy that, to these ears, goes beyond The Boss’s original.
  • I should note that, while I don’t really love Springsteen, I guess I appreciate the work in his wake. This cover aside, I am a big fan of dumb bombastic sax-heavy pop. The upcoming Bleachers album feels like it’s basically one big Springsteen tribute (he even shows up on the first single on the album). I am overdue to draft a dispatch entry on just how much I like Bleachers, btw. Also, in the same way that that solo feels like the entire reason My Guitar Gently Weeps was brought into reality, I kind of think one of Springsteen’s greatest accomplishments was paving the way for this Sharon Van Etten cover.
  • I think the line “This gun’s for hire” is one of the dumbest things ever written in a song.
  • And it gets immediately forgiven because I love belting along with “Even if we’re just dancin’ in the dark” right after it.


  • “I’m sick of sittin’ ’round here tryin’ to write this book.”

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