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Working on a Dream
Studio album by Bruce Springsteen
Released January 27, 2009
Recorded 2007-2008
Genre Rock
Length 51:20
Label Columbia Records
Producer Brendan O'Brien
Professional reviews
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band chronology
Greatest Hits
Working on a Dream
Singles from Working on a Dream
  1. "Working on a Dream"
    Released: November 21, 2008
  2. "My Lucky Day"
    Released: November 28, 2008
  3. "The Wrestler"
    Released: December 16, 2008

Working on a Dream is the 16th studio album by Bruce Springsteen, released on January 27, 2009.[1] It has sold over 3 million copies worldwide.



The album was officially announced, along with a track listing, on November 17, 2008.[2] The album first began selling in Germany and Ireland, on January 23.

The album came out of songwriting and recording that Springsteen continued with towards the close of his previous work, 2007's Magic, as the band worked on a video for one of that album's songs.[3][4] "What Love Can Do" was written, in Springsteen's words, as a "love in the time of Bush" meditation, but felt like the start of something new rather than a candidate for Magic.[3] Encouraged by his 2000s producer Brendan O'Brien, Springsteen decided to start work on a new album and wrote "This Life", "My Lucky Day", "Life Itself", "Good Eye", and "Tomorrow Never Knows" over the next week.[3] They were then recorded with the E Street Band during breaks on their 2007–2008 Magic Tour, with most being finished in just a few takes.[2] This all reflected a faster pace of producing new music than Springsteen had been known for in the past;[3] Springsteen said, "I hope Working on a Dream has caught the energy of the band fresh off the road from some of the most exciting shows we've ever done."[4] As with Magic, most of the tracks were first recorded with a core rhythm section band comprising Springsteen, drummer Max Weinberg, bassist Garry Tallent, and pianist Roy Bittan; other members' contributions were then added subsequently.[5]

The album is the last to feature new work of founding E Street Band member Danny Federici, who died in April 2008.[6] Federici's son Jason also plays on the album.[6]

Title number "Working on a Dream" was first performed during Springsteen's November 2, 2008 appearance in Cleveland for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign (accompanied by Patti Scialfa), and then a chopped-up airing of the recorded version first appeared during the November 16 NBC Sunday Night Football broadcast at halftime. The intact "Working on a Dream" began airing on radio stations and their websites on November 21;[7][8] it was made available for free download via iTunes and the Sony BMG website on November 24. The track entered the UK Singles Chart at position 195 the following week.[9] A music video appeared on some foreign sites showing the recording of the song. "My Lucky Day" was made available in the U.S. on on December 1, accompanied by a longer music video that showed Springsteen and the band arranging and recording the song.[10] "Life Itself" was released as a free download from on December 28, with a music video that featured studio footage interspersed with vague scene snippets that may illuminate the moody song.[11]

On January 12, 2009, the album leaked onto the internet. On January 19, scheduled a streaming of it free for a week, in advance of the actual release.[12] Sony BMG's Irish website also began streaming it.[13] An extensive and carefully planned promotional push for Springsteen and the album was put together, incorporating his appearances at the Golden Globe Awards, the Barack Obama presidential inauguration, a new greatest hits album, the half-time show of Super Bowl XLIII, and an anticipated appearance at the 81st Academy Awards.[14] The last of these went awry when, in what Rolling Stone termed "shocking news", "The Wrestler" was snubbed by the Academy and failed to gain a nomination.[15] Nevertheless, all the activity led Springsteen to say, "This has probably been the busiest month of my life."[16]

"Working on a Dream" was included in Springsteen's February 1 performance during the Super Bowl. VH1 Classic aired the documentary Bruce Springsteen: The Making Of 'Working On A Dream' in early February 2009.[17] The Working on a Dream Tour began on April 1, 2009, in the wake of the album's release.


The release of the first two songs prompted The New York Times to proclaim Springsteen as "more hopeful, less bleak" than on his previous album Magic.[18] It saw this go-around of the Springsteen persona manifesting "the voice of an honest striver redeemed by love and hard work".[18] E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt sees Working on a Dream as part of a trilogy with The Rising and Magic: "They make sense together in terms of sound, concept and writing style. The three records have been a projection more toward the pop-rock form – this one more than the other two."[5]

The album's opener, "Outlaw Pete", which many observers felt borrowed a central riff from Kiss's 1979 disco hit "I Was Made for Lovin' You",[19][20][21][22][23] is over eight minutes, while two others are under three minutes.[6]

Listeners considered it one of Springsteen's most stylistically diverse efforts overall.[14] The album recalls some of Springsteen's earlier efforts, as "The Last Carnival" has been interpreted as a sequel to "Wild Billy's Circus Story" from 1973's The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.[24] 1960s production flourishes are omnipresent, including ones derived from Wall of Sound, girl group, British Invasion-era Top 40, Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds, and The Byrds and "Eight Miles High".[21][24]

Release and reception

Working on a Dream debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 224,000 copies in its first week of release, knocking off a seven-week continuous run by Taylor Swift's Fearless.[25] It was Springsteen's ninth number one album in the U.S.[25] This tied him with The Rolling Stones for the fourth-highest total in that regard; only The Beatles (with 19) and Elvis Presley with 10 and Jay-Z ( with 11) have more.[25] Working on a Dream also debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart, Top Digital Albums chart, and Top Internet Albums chart.

In all, it reached #1 in 17 countries around the world, and reached the Top 10 almost everywhere else.

Critical reception to Working on a Dream ranged widely. Rolling Stone gave it a five-star rating and compared it to 1975's Born to Run in scale and ambition.[24] But Los Angeles Times writer Ann Powers said "The best thing that can be said about Working on a Dream is that it's boisterously scatterbrained, exhilaratingly bad."[26] Review aggregator Metacritic calculated the album as an overall rating of 72 out of 100,[27] the lowest score of Springsteen's six albums released during the 2000s.[28]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Bruce Springsteen

# Title Length
1. "Outlaw Pete"   8:00
2. "My Lucky Day"   4:01
3. "Working on a Dream"   3:30
4. "Queen of the Supermarket"   4:40
5. "What Love Can Do"   2:57
6. "This Life"   4:30
7. "Good Eye"   3:01
8. "Tomorrow Never Knows"   2:14
9. "Life Itself"   4:00
10. "Kingdom of Days"   4:02
11. "Surprise, Surprise"   3:24
12. "The Last Carnival"   3:11
13. "The Wrestler" (Bonus track) 3:50

Bonus track information

"The Wrestler" first appeared in August 2008 at the 65th Venice International Film Festival debut of the film The Wrestler. In December 2008 it received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and won the award during the 66th Golden Globe Awards on January 11, 2009. The album version, without end-credits string introduction, became available on iTunes on December 16, in advance of the film's U.S. major cities openings in the subsequent days.

"A Night With the Jersey Devil" first appeared in October 2008 on Springsteen's website, accompanied by a Halloween-themed music video.[1] But subsequent press releases omitted mention of it, and Springsteen sources confirmed it had been removed, for reasons unknown.[29] The song was announced by to be included as the fourteenth track on the Japanese CD edition on the album, but the current tracklist does not include it.[30] The video, however, is featured in the DVD included with the album's deluxe edition (as listed below).

Deluxe edition

Includes the full CD plus a DVD featuring:

  1. "The Sessions DVD"
    • A 38-minute documentary showing behind-the-scenes footage of the recording of the album.[6] Produced, directed, and edited by Thom Zimny, it includes studio footage edited to the tracks of "My Lucky Day," "Queen of the Supermarket," "Kingdom of Days," "Working on a Dream," "Life Itself," and "The Last Carnival."[31] It also contains demos and early band versions of the songs as they were worked up.[31]
  2. "A Night With the Jersey Devil" (Springsteen, Robert Jones, Gene Vincent) – 3:23


The E Street Band

Additional musicians

  • Soozie Tyrell[32]violin, vocals
  • Patrick Warren – organ, piano, keyboards ("Outlaw Pete", "This Life", "Tomorrow Never Knows")
  • Jason Federici – accordion ("The Last Carnival")
  • Edward Hurst – string and horn arrangements ("Outlaw Pete", "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Surprise Surprise", "Kingdom of Days")

Chart performance

Chart (2009) Peak
Certification Sales/Shipments
Argentina[33] 2 15.000
Australia[34] 3 26,700
Austria[35] 1 Gold 17,400
Belgium[36] (Flanders) 1 Gold [37] 23,100+
Belgium[36] (Wallonia) 2
Canada[38] 1 Platinum [39] 80,000 [39]
Denmark[40] 1 Platinum[40] 30,000[40]
Europe[41] 1 1,000,000
Finland[42] 1
France[43] 2 58,000
Germany[44] 1 105,200
Hungary [45] 2
Ireland[46] 1 Platinum 27,500
Italy[47] 1 Platinum 90,000
Netherlands[48] 1 41,500
New Zealand[49] 1
Norway[50] 1 Gold 43,800
Portugal[51] 5
Spain[52] 1 Platinum[52] 80,000[52]
Sweden[53] 1 Platinum[53] 55,000[53]
Switzerland[54 ] 1 Gold[54 ] 20,200[54 ]
U.K.[55] 1 Gold 375.000[56]
U.S. Billboard 200[25] 1 Platinum[57] 1,200,554[58]
Preceded by
Fearless by Taylor Swift
Billboard 200 number-one album
February 14, 2009
Succeeded by
The Fray by The Fray
Preceded by
To Lose My Life... by White Lies
UK Albums Chart Number-one album
February 1, 2009 - February 14, 2009
Succeeded by
It's Not Me, It's You by Lily Allen
Preceded by
The Crying Light by Antony and The Johnsons
Belgian (Flanders) Albums Chart number-one album
February 7 - February 14, 2009 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
Only by the Night by Kings of Leon
Preceded by
Songs for You, Truths for Me by James Morrison
Irish Albums Chart number one album
29 January - 5 February
Succeeded by
The Fame by Lady GaGa


  1. ^ a b Cohen, Jonathan. "Bruce Springsteen 'Dreams' Big on New Album". November 17, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Shore Fire Media (2008-11-17). "Bruce Springsteen's 'Working On A Dream' Set For January 27 Release On Columbia Records". Press release. Retrieved 2008-11-18.  
  3. ^ a b c d Shore Fire Media (2008-12-23). "Message From Bruce Springsteen". Press release. Retrieved 2008-12-24.  
  4. ^ a b Fricke, David (2009-01-22). "The E Street Band Keep Rolling in '09". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-02-07.  
  5. ^ a b Fricke, David (2009-01-21). "The Band on Bruce: Their Springsteen". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-02-07.  
  6. ^ a b c d Cohen, Jonathan (2008-12-08). "Billboard Bits: Bruce Springsteen". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-12-09.  
  7. ^ Goldstein, Stan (2008-11-20). "Hear "Working on a Dream" on Friday". The Star Ledger. Retrieved 2008-11-25.  
  8. ^ "Title track to Bruce Springsteen's new album released". WAXQ. 2008-11-21.  
  9. ^ UK Singles Chart, chart date 6 December 2008.
  10. ^ "Bruce Springsteen "My Lucky Day" from the new album Working on a Dream". Retrieved 2008-12-01.  
  11. ^ "Life Itself (Amazon Exclusive)". Retrieved 2008-12-28.  
  12. ^ "Exclusive First Listen: Bruce Springsteen". NPR. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-01-16.  
  13. ^ "Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream". Sony BMG. Retrieved 2009-01-19.  
  14. ^ a b Smith, Ethan (2009-01-16). "Born to Run – and Promote". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-16.  
  15. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2009-01-22). "Oscars Snub Springsteen, Celebrate “Slumdog” As Nominations Are Announced". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-01-23.  
  16. ^ Wallace, Lindsay (2009-02-10). "Bruce Springsteen Exclusive: 'I Didn't Even Know I Was Up For A Grammy!'". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  17. ^ "The Making Of Working On A Dream Episode". VH1. Retrieved 2009-02-07.  
  18. ^ a b Chinen, Nate (2008-12-12). "Playlist: Lucky Days and Marvelous Times : Bruce Springsteen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15.  
  19. ^ Gottlieb, Jed (2009-01-23). "Bruce Springsteen working to find that old magic, but it’s just a ‘Dream’". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  20. ^ Cooper, Leonie (2009-01-28). "Working on a Dream". NME. Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  21. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen M. (2009-01-27). "Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2000-02-09.  
  22. ^ Lu, Anne (2009-02-03). "Kiss' Fans Accuse Bruce Springsteen Of Plagiarism". Celebrity News Service. All Headline News. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  23. ^ Brinn, David (2009-03-04). "Disc Review: Bruce Springsteen, 'Working on a Dream'". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  24. ^ a b c Hiatt, Brian (2009-01-21). "Album Review: Working on a Dream". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-01-28.  
  25. ^ a b c d Hasty, Katie and Keith Caulfield. "Springsteen Has 'Dream' Debut Atop Album Chart". February 4 2009.
  26. ^ Powers, Ann (2009-01-24). "Album review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's 'Working on a Dream'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  27. ^ "Working On A Dream reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 6, 2009.  
  28. ^ "Index of Music Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 6, 2009.  
  29. ^ "Devil, I Cast Thee Out!". News ( 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2008-11-28.  
  30. ^ current tracklist of Japan CD edition
  31. ^ a b "Working on a Dream – Deluxe Package Details". News ( 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2008-12-12.  
  32. ^ Though Tyrell is sometimes viewed as an E Street Band member, her photograph was not included with the other band members in the album liner notes. However, her "additional musicians" line was separated by a blank line from the other additional musicians.
  33. ^ CAPIF - Representando a la Industria Argentina de la Música
  34. ^ Australia Top 50 Albums Chart
  35. ^ Austria Albums Top 75
  36. ^ a b Belgium Albums Top 50
  37. ^
  38. ^ CANOE - JAM! Music
  39. ^ a b CRIA - The Canadian Recording Industry Association
  40. ^ a b c "Danish Album Top-40, Week 17 - 2009" (in Danish). Hitlisten.NU. 2009-02-06. Retrieved 2009-02-08.  
  41. ^ Billboard European Top 100 Albums
  42. ^ Suomen virallinen lista - Albumit
  43. ^ "Classement officiel des ventes d'albums en France du 26 janvier au 01 février 2009" (in French). 2009-02-06. Retrieved 2009-02-08.  
  44. ^ Die offiziellen deutschen Album-Charts
  45. ^ "Hungarian Albums Chart".és. Retrieved 2009-12-03.  
  46. ^ Ireland Top 100 Individual Artist Albums
  47. ^ FIMI Italy Albums Top 100
  48. ^ Dutch Album Top 100
  49. ^ New Zealand Music Chart
  50. ^ Norway Topp 40 Album
  52. ^ a b c "Spanish Top 100 Albums, Week 8 - 2009" (in Spanish). 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-08-17.  
  53. ^ a b c Swedish Album Chart
  54. ^ a b c Swiss Chart - Albums Top 100
  55. ^ UK Top 40 Albums
  56. ^ Music Week (UK) - Music Business Magazine
  57. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for Albums by Bruce Springsteen
  58. ^ Yahoo! Music Blogs - Chart Watch

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