Music: Against the American Grain

Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel risk big and score big

The pure products of America go crazy," William Carlos Williams said. The new albums by a couple of rock's most formidable figures, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, use that kind of down-home craziness as a centerpiece, setting it out for examination like a death's head on a coffee table. Springsteen's haunted and haunting Nebraska, Joel's hallucinatory The Nylon Curtain are not just tours across some nightmare landscape. They are not mere descriptions of madness. They are about the process of contemporary craziness, and...

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