Bruce Springsteen says “Tell me somethin’ girl, are you happy in this modern world?” in his new country-tinged music video for “Western Stars.” In the video, he sits in a colorfully lit bar, sipping on something brown, quietly people-watching. Then, suddenly, he’s onstage singing. He’s both Jackson Maine and Ally Campana, but with more superstardom than the two of them combined. He likes his nose. He just wants to take another look at himself.
The music video and song actually tell a different story about the tragedies of fame. In “Western Stars,” an aging actor recalls working with the likes of John Wayne and how popular he once was. Now, he does credit card commercials. “Western Stars” is the titular track on Springsteen’s new album. It’s his first studio release since 2014 and, according to Vulture’s Craig Jenkins, his best since Wrecking Ball. “Springsteen’s love letter to the California sound honors the music of his youth and the fans of his present, altering the script without alienating the audience,” he wrote in his review. “It examines the experience of getting older in earnest, avoiding self-parody and self-pity.”