Springsteen: great site, until you try to buy

Read the setlist, click through to find lyrics and the album on which the song was first released. But I still can't buy the song I want without getting the whole album.

I've always heard that Bruce Springsteen puts on a great show, and my wife's a huge fan, so on Saturday we went to see him with the fabled E Street Band. Much to my surprise, he kicked off the show with my favorite song of his, a Jimmy Cliff cover called "Trapped."

Some background: back in 1984, when Born in the U.S.A. was huge, the local hard rock station in Seattle, KISW, got a sudden Springsteen fetish and played some of his songs right alongside their usual fare of Zeppelin, Floyd, and metal. Not so much "Dancing in the Dark," as it was a little too pop with the synths, but edgier songs like "I'm on Fire" and "No Surrender." But their favorite was "Trapped," a live recording from that tour, which they played every single day. I'm not sure if it was the backside of a single from Born in the U.S.A., but it wasn't on that album, didn't appear on the 5-LP live Springsteen set released the next year, and I eventually gave up hope of finding it.

Trapped...on an album-only compilation. Bruce Springsteen

Hearing it live sparked my interest again, so the next day I logged on to his Web site. A pleasant surprise: last night'ssetlist was already posted. Each song has a link to the lyrics. The lyrics page also shows which album the song first appeared on--in this case I discovered he finally released "Trapped" on a compilation called The Essential Bruce Springsteen in 2003. The album page contains streaming versions of almost every song, in both RealAudio and WMA formats.

But there's no streaming version of "Trapped," there's no link to download the song, and on Amazon and iTunes, I can only download the whole album, which I won't do, as I have about 2/3ds of the songs on there. Too bad--they just lost a $0.99 sale. (I suspect that it's a publishing rights complication, given that this is one of the few songs on the site that Bruce himself didn't write.)

Despite this letdown at the transaction point, I came away impressed with the Springsteen Web site and wonder why every major touring act won't offer the same depth of information. I've seen a few other big arena shows in the last few years--Rush, The Police, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young--and usually I've had to turn to fan sites to get complete set lists the next day, then go somewhere else for the lyrics and album information.

About the author

    Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.

     

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