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Happy Birthday, Sister Soozie Tyrell! - featuring a special solo-discography find from a decade ago

Albany, NY - April 15, 2024 - photo by and © Dan Reiner - used w/ permission

May 4, 2024

Happy Birthday, and best wishes for many, many more happy birthdays ahead, to E Street Band member Soozie Tyrell. Beginning with Lucky Town in 1992, Soozie has contributed vocals and/or instrumentation to each of Bruce Springsteen's officially released studio recordings, from Lucky Town through his latest release, Only The Strong Survive. Her violin/fiddle-playing has been an essential part of much of Springsteen's music for more than two decades, both in the studio and on the stage, beginning with her special appearances on The Ghost of Tom Joad Tour and the Reunion Tour, and of course expanding greatly once she officially joined the E Street Band, beginning with The Rising Tour.

Soozie's recorded and performed extensively over the years with not just Bruce Springsteen, but other major artists like David Johansen (aka "Buster Poindexter") and Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. She hasn't been quite as productive, however, when it comes to solo recordings under her own name, with just one officially released full-length album, 2003's White Lines, under her belt. Nevertheless, while Soozie's solo work may be low in quantity, it more than makes up for it in quality.

Case in point: her contribution a decade ago to the 2014 various-artists compilation Songs From A Stolen Spring. This was a unique project, pairing American and English musicians with Arab artists, in the wake of the 2011 uprisings known as "the Arab Spring." As producer Erik Hillestad wrote, "What in the West has been named the 'Arab Spring' brought so much hope when it started in Tunis in January 2011. But in all the countries involved, those revolutions have been stolen by forces of various kinds, from salafist militants to military coups. Still, people refuse to give up... Just as people at similar moments of struggle have done before them, Arab artists also created new songs, shared by the masses in the squares of Tunis, Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem and in many other cities. This album presents a few of their songs paired with some from the time of the American struggles."

Soozie's contribution was a beautiful, moving version of Percy Mayfield's song "Danger Zone," which Ray Charles recorded as the B-side for his 1961 number-one hit single "Hit The Road Jack," also written by Mayfield. On the Songs From A Stolen Spring album, Soozie's "Danger Zone" segues directly into "Break Your Fears" by the late Palestinian singer-songwriter Rim Banna. YouTube links for each individual track are below, but it's best to hear them segued seamlessly, as they are on the album:

Of course, great music like this remains all too essential and relevant to our current realities. If you're seeking some voices of reason and hope, when it often feels like you're searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity, you certainly couldn't find much better.

Thank you, "Sister Soozie," for "Danger Zone" and all of your other beautiful musical gifts to us over the years. And here's to much more great music to come. Happy Birthday!


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