Bruce Springsteen - Classic or Dud ?

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I know he's bound to be considered a monstrous dud, especially with British folks and technoid types, but I'm especially curious as to why. Poor Bruce, he's gotta be more uncool than Richard Marx these days. Not that his 90s albums helped much.

Patrick, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Yep, big fat dud. Always hated him. Crap songs that dominated 1984. Shit voice. The fucking E-street band. Never saw the point of Da Boss. It all when wrong early on when he was proclaimed The Future of Rock 'n Roll way back when. Okay so he wrote "Because the Night" and even that isn't too hot. Almost the perfect antipole of what I look for in music. Sorry, had to be predictable here.

Omar, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

"Born To Run" is a classic, up there with Roxy Music as an early example of po-mo cut-and-paste kitsch pop.

I can't get worked up and annoyed about Bruce in the way I can about some other rockers. He has an ear for a great line (the opening of "Hungry Heart" for instance) and I can forgive him a lot for that. He doesn't resonate with me and like the Replacements I think that's a cultural thing.

I also - and this is totally subjective - never get the impression Bruce ever thinks he's particularly cool. Which is not something I can say of most other 'real rock'n'roller' types, mainstream or otherwise.

Tom, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink


File under yet to be discovered. I was listening to an apologetic defence of his work from Sean Rowley on the radio the other day, and it got me wondering again. People of my generation's first real exposure to him was the 'Born in the USA' air-punching era and that obviously wasn't likely to engender much interest. Yes, I know it was all ironic.

What I have heard of his 70's stuff sounds like I might grow to love it. That midwest blue-collar world his songs inhabit seems harder to relate to than any other, but even in 1988, I had the feeling Paddy McAloon was missing the point with the song 'Cars & Girls'.

At the moment, I'm afraid the song of his I like best is a 90s one - 'If I Should Fall Behind', which I only know from the Grant McLellan cover version.

Badly Drawn Boy is a Springsteen obsessive, which I thought was quite cute.

Nick, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I guess if want a simple answer as to why he's treated with disdain by the certain people, it's his overwhelming aura of earnestness.


Nick, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Paddy McAloon is an odd one, because he'd already missed a very similar point with "Faron Young", and then said in interviews that he'd missed it, and then proceeded to miss it again. I can't stand "Cars And Girls".

Tom, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

i admit i don't like all of the boss's stuff. i haven't even tried to, really. but "nebraska" and "ghost of tom joad" are terrific records.

matthew stevens, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Classic all the way as well. Soft-spot. As a youth I hated him (I was 7 in 1984 and "Born in the USA" was nowhere as fun as "Karma Chameleon" - I wanted to be Boy George, not some sweaty guy with a baseball cap tucked in his blue jeans). But in my teens I kept hearing fantastic pop tracks on the classic rock radio ("Badlands" for instance), and my English teacher once had us work on the lyrics to "The River" - the long live version with the speech at the beginning - so I went out and purchased a few Springsteen albums. For the record, there's always been City Simon who likes the Dead Boys and the Damned, and Countryside Simon who likes Ry Cooder and the Sundays, and somehow Springsteen linked these two sides of me beautifully. From "Thunder Road" to "Highway Patrolman" (I bought "Nebraska" after seeing Sean Penn's haunting "Indian Runner") to "I'm On Fire", Springsteen's songs have accompanied me through important journeys, love affairs and dry winters.

Simon, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, same as Simon, I used to dislike Bruce too at first, in 1984. I was into British synth-pop at the time and to me, he was just some old guy making a comeback, like John Fogerty or something. And I definitely agree that "Cars And Girls" song makes that Prefab Sprout guy look like a pretentious little twit. I kinda get the feeling that a lot of people dislike him (Bruce) because he's never had much of a sex-and-drugs-and-darkness-and-destruction image (even though Nebraska is as dark as 10000 Trent Reznors).

Patrick, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

DUDE! There is not excuse for even asking this, totally classic, baby. Born To Run (the album and the song) is one of the most glorious moments in rock-pop ever, out Spector-ing Phil Spector. His voice is only crap when he decides to pretend he's Bob Dylan, which is becoming frightfully more and more common. Sure, a lot of the Born In The USA-era stuff is dated now due to production value but it's still got some very solid songwriting.

And yes, Tom, he's got a very good ear for a line.

Ally, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I get to piss on the parade here. Yay me!

I heard the version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" when I was young and that is pretty spiff, I freely agree. Circa 1984, liking El Bruce was unsurprising for me as that was a pretty damn good radio year -- Chuck Eddy specifically called it as such in _Stairway to Hell_, and he was goddamn right. Thus liking all that stuff he made was a matter of course alongside all those singles from _Purple Rain_ and _Like A Virgin_ and etc.

Time went on and I proceeded to not care. I never cared enough to buy an album anyway, and the 'classic early singles' only made sense in my classic rock phase, which lasted about nine months in senior year.

Then I ended up in LA and encountered the first of Robert Hilburn's 345,234,843 printed sermons on How Bruce Springsteen Heals the Sick, Raises the Dead and Means More to Human Existence Than the Combined Efforts of Louis Pasteur, Billie Holiday and Charles Schulz. I encountered other blowhards. The music touched me with the impact of a dying flea. A roommate was obsessed with him to the point of near mania. I cried.

The end.

Frankly, the Walkabouts any day of the goddamn week, month, year, decade, century, etc. If the relative fame levels were reversed, I would cling to this assumption with even more deep, abiding passion because then I would have The People on my side. Even alone, though, it's comfy. And Frankie Goes to Hollywood's version of "Born to Run" is my fave.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle is a terrific album. Also the live boxed set. Also, The River. Also, hell. Also almost everything thru Tunnel Of Love. One of those artists who you need the right "mood" to get. Or, just to be driving a car.

Sterling Clover, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink


i actually liked born_in_the_u.s.a when it came out at age 7, but later, i found it to be an obstacle in getting to love bruce, and i'm sure there are a ton of artists out there whose work at that time has kept people away from them.

as sterling said, it's funny what driving a car can do, especially when it's another dark and lonely night out on an empty anonymous new jersey highway and "born to run" comes on the highway. but i've been there, so i'll move on.

you can get by on the first five or so albums on the music and production alone -- unless of course you hate phil spector and are, therefore, destined to spend eternity in hell -- and the later stuff will stick if you find something in the lyrics that rings far too true. sure, he mines the same territory in a lot of his songs, but so do belle & sebastian and so did the smiths; except the kids in bruce's songs could kick the ass of their counterparts in the aforementioned.

ned, i think you have the same problem as tom: it's a cultural thing. ;)

fred from new jersey, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Ooh. The dark and lonely highways of despair. *plays the violin*

It's not a cultural thing; I mean for god's sake Motorcycle Emptiness might as well be Bruce Springsteen on a literacy trip in terms of subject, and I know Tom likes the song, and I believe Ned does too. Whether that particular statement was tongue in cheek or not, it's a tired excuse and reasoning, one usually used by the saddest of Bruce Springsteen fans, the ones who "identify" with his sentiments, seemingly losing track of the fact that BRUCE'S CHARACTERS NEVER ACTUALLY MAKE IT OUT. Some positive role models to rock out to.

The thing is, I think it's the voice and the earnestness, which was already said. The stylistic values of it....the basic cultural and escape sentiments, lyrically, of Motorcycle Emptiness and Born to Run might be very similar in tone, but the style and vocalisings are entirely, 100% different. Bruce has a very sarcastic bent, a very dark bent, lyrically, but his style of music softens the blow and sometimes people just don't like it.

And those people are wrong, incidentally :P

Ally, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

2 albums are CLASSIX: 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' and especially 'Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ'.

Nebraska is half good but doesn't deserve the plaudits it gets as the Springsteen album it's cool to like.

The rest is pretty much DUD.

alex thomson, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

"Oh yes, he's a dud..."

Nevermind that Born in the USA was my first record not meant to be played on the Fisher Price record player (with the STEEL NEEDLE)

Nevermind Tracks Nevermind the fact that Born to Run is one of the best driving albums ever when your top is down and it's summer and the road between Ventura and home stretches out and empty at night with no cops...

Nevermind he has out Dylan-ed Dylan

Nevermind that he can outrage The Man as he pushes the dark side of life. (41 Shots)

Nevermind the line "The record company Rosie, JUST GAVE ME A BIG ADVANCE!"

Nevermind the Live box set, reminding us just how powerful he was

Nevermind Time and Newsweek

Nevermind Thunder-Fucking-Road

Nevermind The cover of Jersey Girl

Nevermind Tracks

Nevermind the MTV Unplugged set where he scrapped the entire notion of an acoustic show and just plugged in and tore down the house

Nevermind everyone on this list who called him a dud.

JM, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

"Nevermind he has out Dylan-ed Dylan"

well, Bruce isn't *that* bad! ;)

Omar, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

The entirety of the lyrics to Rosalita are a Great Rock Moment, Jimmy. Don't just single out that line ;)

Ally, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I note your list, Jimmy, and yet, somehow, it makes no sense to me. ;- )

La Bruce just collectively calls to my mind a stunted bastard vision of music that presumes he was the sole carrier of the 'spirit of rock and roll truth' that the Beatles and Stones 'started' in the sixties. A CLAIM I HAVE ENCOUNTERED MORE THAN ONCE, though thankfully not here, and happily never from the man's own lips either, at least to my knowledge. Without that rhetoric I would just shrug and ignore him for somebody more interesting, but with it, frankly, he becomes a very very useful target to kick against. Perhaps only a straw man, but one I wouldn't mind seeing go up in flames.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Springsteen is, doubtless, a spirit of a rock and roll truth, which he has a near monopoly on. I think, maybe, if I had grown up in a real city, instead of a tourist-trap disneyburb retirement town, that whole swaths of music wouldn't resonate with me. But there I was, and I don't know if you have to have that certain feeling to get Bruce. If you have to know that you're suffocating, that you'd rather die than stay, that the air was too think to dream in, if you have to have known that.

The boy has fallen off of late, but... I'm reminded of the Bangs article where he describes how he dismissed this Maoist band as sounding like Bruce, and the band replied "oh, good, the working class like that stuff" or something of the sort, and I'm reading this thinking -- no. no. no. The correct answer is "oh, good. Bruce fucking rocks!"

What I appreciate about Bruce is how he can capture the majesty of a major chord. How so many of his songs have the same progression, but you don't realize it 'till you try to play 'em yourself. How he can take gospel music and write it to a girl instead. And yes, more of them damn anthems.

I mean.. I know that anthems aren't an alien concept to the UK -- after all, The Who were full of them. But maybe British anthems are a different type a "get off of my cloud" or "sod off" type, more cynical and pissy than dreamy and wide-eyed. Maybe this is, after all, because America is The Big Country, The Great Bitch, et cet. Maybe to get America you have to get just how there's always somewhere you might go, maybe.

Along these lines, "Not Fade Away" which is a novel by Jim Dodge is a great rock road story, sort of like the lighter side of Richard Hell's "Go Now" or the more earnest(?) side of Bruce McCullough's "Doors Fan" sketch (on his album, Shame-Based Man). Yes. Get that spirit of the open highway.

Sterling Clover, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

A dud, but only because of unpleasant memories of listening attentively to my copies of *The River* and *Live 1975-1985* like a good rock-critic-in-training, and finding it impossible to feel anything about them other than apathy. He's done a goodly number of really great ones such as "Hungry Heart," "Dancing In The Dark," and "Racing in the Street" but he invariably makes my mind wander after more than a couple songs.

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I have to say Classic, though I can see why some could argue otherwise. Looming large is the cultural gap, for our friends from the Eastern Hemisphere. Hard to tune in to what Springsteen has going on from there. But those first three records are great, still, and Nebraska is also excellent when you're in the mood. In 1984 I owned about 15 albums total, and even then I had Springsteen's entire catalog. So I'm definitely biased. All of Born in the USA is horrible now. That production really sinks it, even though half the songs are strong.

Mark Richardson, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I should note that, being American myself, the Cultural Gap thing is rather overrated as an explanation. ;-)

I will say, though, that I do lack a car and have never had one. That might serve as a better explanation. ;-)

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Nah... I don't even have a driver's license and I love the man. Cars are my favorite place to listen to music though.

Patrick, Monday, 26 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

The Automobile as Stationary Listening Environment. How revolutionary.

I wish I wasn't misinterpreting.

Otis Wheeler, Monday, 26 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Uh... I meant when *someone else* is driving, Otis.

Patrick, Monday, 26 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Thank god, otherwise it sounds like something Thom Yorke would do.

Ally, Tuesday, 27 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Smashing, in loads of ways. You have to get used to REPETITION with the Boss - you have to get used to the idea that he is frequently writing pretty much the same song again and again, and is *not apologizing for it*. On Nebraska (yes, probably still the best LP, for my money; but I like lots of the others) he even repeats the same lyrics. The whole rock-writer idea of originality, uniqueness etc is just not in play with a lot of the Boss's stuff: to stretch a point, it's less like a load of individual songs, more like a single fabric that he is reweaving for as long as he likes. In that sense he's something akin to a bluesman, I suppose.

Inspirational in some ways. I have often felt that England needed a Springsteen, albeit not just a a copycat 'rocker'; I mean, someone who would write about all the lost and found small-town lives. But to be fair, I suppose there is already a UK tradition here: the probably Jarvis Cocker is a case in point.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 28 February 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Ah, but that's what you're doing yourself, Reynard :).

Robin Carmody, Friday, 2 March 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Dud. Never cared much for Brooce's brand of schlock n' roll....Heard "Greetings from.." and "Darkness at the edge of town" and they just sounded like MOR to me. "Nebraska" I do like however but thats even got "Used cars" on used cars are a symbol of poverty...pah!...There isnt too many highways in Ireland and if there was I wouldnt spend time listening to Springsteen...

Michael Bourke, Sunday, 4 March 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
A part of the reason he's not being taken too kindly by them there "hip" folks is:

1. they don't understand that he's actually not as "pro-america" as they might think he is

2. they don't have as close a connection to "old school" code (which includes "old school" rock)

3. they are mostly college kids on their way up to some office job or whatever that is removed (if not far removed) from the "underworld" (the "blue collar" or "real" world) to get the lyrical sentiments

4. well, and...sometimes people just don't like something 'cause they just don't like it

I, however, do not apply to any of those 4. For I actually do "get" some of the appeal of Bruce (albeit, it took my until my mid or late twenties to get there). Sure, his overly sentimental (downright broadway or maudlin) look at the working class can be a bit (or a bunch) too much. And sure, his music can be too simple and/or too derivitive. But, that's a part of the whole. Familiarity in both music and lyrics, is a large part of the appeal of his stuff (and those like him, ala Mellencamp, etc). He just had the concept to put nearly a whole career on the working class/blue collar life like no other has (not in such a wide reaching broad sense, at least - other than Mellencamp, but Bruce did it a bit better and first).


Having said all that, 'Nebraska' and 'Ghost of Tom Joad' are the only two full albums that I would declare anywhere near a "classic" state of existence (with 'Nebraska' being the one clear-cut vote). Many of the rest of his 70's and 80's albums have some good solid worthy singles on them, but. I can't go so far as to get 'The River' (for example) anywhere near a "classic" nod. That one, in particular, I find to be overrated (though still having the wonderful track "Stolen Car" and the title track deserving of 'Nebraska'-like attention).

michael g. breece, Sunday, 1 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Wow. I'm digging this message board "I Love Music". To think one would find a mention of Bruce McCulloch 'Shame Based Man' in a Bruce Springsteen thread, ahhh...the possibilities.

Anyways, I forgot to mention to huge (to the point of shadowing) element as to one of the why's (or why not's) of enjoy/appreciating Bruce. Which is: DRIVING. Cars and driving is such a central and/or reoccuring figure/subject in his work that...I can't believe I forgot to touch upon that (only after reading some of the others posts, darn it). But yea, I do LOVE to drive. Which also helps to explain the appeal of Springsteen (to me, at least).

*By the way, I do own that McCulloch album 'Shame Based Man' it (some really funny stuff and one of the very rare comedy albums worthy of many plays - if not it's own discussion here on "I Love Music"...anyone?). Every single one of my girlfriends (one present, others past) hated it. "And if (after torching the stolen car) you can still hear the Doors playing...then you have become...a DOORS...FAN!" I'm not a Doors fan, however.

michael g. breece, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

MG Breece (hey, sounds like a car): I wonder whether you agree with me that a large part of the point of the Boss is repetition - the fact that he does the same thing over and over again?

the pinefox, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

six months pass...
I listened to Born To Run riding the bus to work today. This is the first CD I ever purchased, back in 1985 (I'd already bought a few LPs), and I still have my original copy. Don't believe that business about CD rot -- it's doing fine.

I hadn't listened to this record in a couple of years, but god, it still sounded great. Actually, I kept getting shivers down my spine when it was playing and it had me close to tears a few times (mostly on "Thunder Road" and "Backstreets.") Listening to this today finally settled an ILM debate for me: Music can never affect me quite as much now as it did when I was a teenager. No record I've heard in the last few years, including Loveless, has had as much affect on me as Born to Run did this morning, and I know it's not just because Born to Run is such a great album. This is a record that got to me when I was young and emotionally vulnerable in a way that I'm not anymore, at the age of 32. I still feel music very deeply and appreciate and enjoy a wider range of music than ever, but music doesn’t completely overpower me the way it did when I was 15. Oh well.

Springsteen is still a big classic, by the way, despite all the incredibly corny lines on Born to Run.

Mark, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I like how he lets the words of "Born to Run" tumble out of his mouth, like a horse taking a dump.

DeRayMi, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I like how he lets the words of "Born to Run" tumble out of his mouth, like a horse taking a dump.

So much for my epiphany...;0)

Mark, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Anyway: classic, though not a personal favorite.

DeRayMi, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...
I finally bought a Springsteen record! (The G Hits, even though I know it's got lots of shite on, cause I like owning G Hits). It's pretty great up to the point at which it isn't. Let's talk about Bruce again!

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:18 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

the new one that ponefix and dq agreed on is unfortunately quite boring as to its actual like, er, sound – hence i only played it once so far, curse you persuasive fellows

"candy's room" is the grebtest song ever written about being in love w. a prostitute when you sound a bit like david bowie

mark s (mark s), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:22 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Tom if you ever feel like owning a whole album I have you pegged as a River man. At what point does G hits peter out?

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:25 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"My Hometown" is the first one I didn't really enjoy. "Brilliant Disguise" sounds laboured. After that I don't 'get it' yet (or it sucks).

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:29 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(It's obviously my Mark Pitchfork day cos I also bought Vision Creation Newsun!)

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"candy's room" is the grebtest song ever written about being in love w. a prostitute when you sound a bit like david bowie

Is this a new genre? Cos that'd be fucking incredible.

I still love Bruce Springsteen. Put on Rosalita and you will see me go insane.

Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:01 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

So will I.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Right, so next time you are in NYC, that's what we shall do.

Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:24 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Meat Loaf almost makes me want to like him.

sundar subramanian (sundar), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:24 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I didn't explain exactly WHY I would go insane, but hey.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I didn't need to ask ;)

Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

All is well. ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 05:21 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Candy's Room" was the first Bruce song I wuvved.

alext (alext), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 11:58 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Oh, I agree, it's still gross (just not as gross as Swift).

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 30 August 2017 02:34 (eight months ago) Permalink

Shocking no one, all sorts of fuck up stories with this system, and hey, look, tickets already showing up on Stub Hub for a few thousand dollars.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 30 August 2017 14:57 (eight months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

After listening to Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town a lot this week, it's fair to say that I've changed my mind about Bruce.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 15:46 (eight months ago) Permalink

Yeah I mean his image and earnestness was unpalatable to a 90s alt rock loving like myself but when I actually listened to his records, I realised what an incredible artist he is.

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 16:15 (eight months ago) Permalink

90s alt rock loving teen

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 16:16 (eight months ago) Permalink

I think I'm more of a fan of the Bruce that writes songs and makes records than Bruce the stadium rock'n'roll preacher guy.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 16:41 (eight months ago) Permalink

"Darkness" is probably my favourite. Everything from '75 to '87 is great. A synth-pop fan like yourself would like "Tunnel of Love" I think

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 17:30 (eight months ago) Permalink


stadium Bruce is crucial tho (for me anyway) - creating what feels like an intimate, shared experience for THAT many ppl is a gift. it looks corny outside the show experience...hell it can be pretty corny during it sometimes...but godammit i love how hard he works to make me feel like i spent my money on something special/worthwhile

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 17:33 (eight months ago) Permalink


he is incredible live, you'll be totally won over. He played a mammoth 4 hour show in Limerick a few years and i went out for a pint once

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 17:36 (eight months ago) Permalink

like, he's giving 3+ hour shows on the regular when a lot of acts have to push to do 2+ hours as a special treat ffs

dude is cognizant of his role as an entertainer & he has made it his life's work to try to live up to that for every audience at every show

it's pretty great

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 17:40 (eight months ago) Permalink

More impressively, the last couple E Street tours (well, maybe not The River Redux tour) they ended up playing some 170 songs or something. Yeah, tons of covers, and yeah, teleprompter, but who the fuck cares about that? Any band that could be so on the ball that they could play dozens of different songs at the drop of the hat is something awe inspiring.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:07 (eight months ago) Permalink

From Nils:

Your teleprompter article left out some important points. Last E Street tour, (”Working On A Dream”) we played 192 different songs on that tour alone. Dozens of those songs were from audience-request signs Bruce would collect and dump in front of the drum riser. He would then rifle through them, sailing them around him until he found a song to attempt — much like the college kid rummaging through the pile of dirty laundry in search of one clean shirt.

Many of those audibles were Bruce songs unrehearsed or played in years or decades. With our collective musical memory, hand signals and teleprompter, it allows for those ambitious, ad lib moments and an inspired, musical recklessness I believe is unique to our shows. These points might have brought some additional perspective to your article. In our case, the teleprompter has a much more ambitious use and purpose than your article indicates.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:09 (eight months ago) Permalink


Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:21 (eight months ago) Permalink

i really really hope bruce's teleprompter tells nils exactly when to do a backflip. i can see how a guitarist could forget to do that otherwise!

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 22:17 (eight months ago) Permalink

I guess this explains why when the band struck up "Thunder Road" Bruce just started reciting Clinton's 1994 State of the Union address.

President Keyes, Thursday, 21 September 2017 14:22 (eight months ago) Permalink

I'm finding I'm enjoying all of his records for different reasons: the big production and heart-on-sleeve emoting of Born to Run, the leaner and meaner Darkness on the Edge of Town, the sprawl of The River, the quieter, more intimate and in places quite unsettling Nebraska, and the "I'm going to go for a huge commercial blockbuster" vibe of Born in the USA...

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Thursday, 21 September 2017 19:09 (eight months ago) Permalink

Like, each of his so-called classic albums has its own distinct feel/vibe/approach that it's become apparent to me that "stadium rock'n'roll preacher" is just one side of what he does, and realising this is what's opened me up more to his music.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Thursday, 21 September 2017 19:11 (eight months ago) Permalink

I'm guessing Bruce's live schtick is much better when you're in the thick of it.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Thursday, 21 September 2017 19:15 (eight months ago) Permalink

He's pretty undeniable live.

I agree, though, that I think of his albums as pretty distinct from one another. Obviously the guy left behind or gave away dozens of great songs, and he's said he regrets not releasing more albums, but I wonder if doing so would have robbed what he did release of their self-contained (and semi-mythic) qualities.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 21 September 2017 21:26 (eight months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I think it would have done. Springsteen's classic-era catalogue is strange in that there's not really any record that feels "transitional", they all feel so distinct. I suppose there would have been if he'd put out more records. I like that he was able to be picky with his material.

The gap between his breakthrough with Born to Run and the follow-up could have been potentially career-killing back then. If people back then were putting out a record every year, and these days it's roughly three years on average between records, then in 2017 terms it would be like an artist breaking through this year and not putting out the follow-up until 2026.

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:09 (seven months ago) Permalink

i hate almost everything about tracks and as a general rule i find his outtakes to sound distinctly like ... outtakes. i think he's a really good editor and selector of his own material, and i therefore think he has put out exactly the correct amount of albums, especially during that long initial run of consistent greatness.

(i've always wondered, on the other hand, what he might have produced if he wrote/recorded/worked more in the '90s. but he was raising his kids, and if that's what he most wanted to, um, produce, more power to him for that.)

fact checking cuz, Saturday, 23 September 2017 12:14 (seven months ago) Permalink

The Ghost of Tom Joad is really good even though its kinda Nebraska Revisited

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Saturday, 23 September 2017 12:22 (seven months ago) Permalink

Well, if Human Touch and Lucky Town are any indication...

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Saturday, 23 September 2017 12:22 (seven months ago) Permalink

Those albums have the odd good tune in fairness. The title tracks of both are great. Came out in the grunge era and Bruce just felt redundant at the time

Well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Saturday, 23 September 2017 12:25 (seven months ago) Permalink

I do like Tunnel of Love, though!

more Allegro-like (Turrican), Saturday, 23 September 2017 12:26 (seven months ago) Permalink

it took me a long long long time to come around to tunnel of love but yeah it's pretty damn great. the title track of human touch is way up there in my bruce pantheon but the mediocrity ratio is pretty high on that one and lucky town. i've always penalized ghost of tom joad for not being nebraska, which is #1 bruce for me.

fact checking cuz, Saturday, 23 September 2017 13:22 (seven months ago) Permalink

Always preferred the Fun Boy Three "Tunnel of Love" myself, but maybe it is time to give this one another listen.

Merry-Go-Sorry Somehow (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 23 September 2017 14:30 (seven months ago) Permalink

So many lovely songs on Lucky Town. Like


So simple, yet so Springsteen. I think it's the performances/production that ultimately lets the songs down on these albums.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 23 September 2017 14:33 (seven months ago) Permalink

Ghost of Tom Joad is amazing, has a very eerie feel to it

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 23 September 2017 14:48 (seven months ago) Permalink

I think that's a very good example of an album perhaps unfairly underrated for not being something it never tried to be (Nebraska II). But that period was absolutely essential for his rebirth as Mythic Bruce. The 90s albums (and band) just rubbed people the wrong way. Then Bruce comes back with "Tom Joad" (and with a goatee), a spare reboot, and embarks on a really important and very personal solo tour that allowed him to reconnect with his catalog and fans unencumbered by band and baggage. That tour also, iirc, showed how funny and colorful he could be, which is ironic, given that it hinged on such a not funny album. Either way, right after that reboot he restarts the E Street Band and things turn around. I forget when he apparently started treating his depression, but it might have been around this period, too.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 23 September 2017 15:55 (seven months ago) Permalink

i fully acknowledge that my "sorry tom joad, but you're no nebraska" prejudice is unfair. but i can't help hearing it that way.

fact checking cuz, Saturday, 23 September 2017 17:10 (seven months ago) Permalink

Well, it's no "Nebraska" ! But I think a lot of its attributes came out during the subsequent tour and the "Devils & Dust" solo tour. Which was awesome, and introduced spooky surprises like this:

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 23 September 2017 17:12 (seven months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Rehearsing “Cuts Like A Knife” with its author:

Eazy, Friday, 13 October 2017 03:04 (seven months ago) Permalink

I think that may be the only Bryan Adams song he knows. He covered it several years back for a benefit, too.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 13 October 2017 12:11 (seven months ago) Permalink

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 13 October 2017 12:17 (seven months ago) Permalink

Anyone got tickets for the Broadway run? Sounds incredible:

heaven parker (anagram), Friday, 13 October 2017 12:24 (seven months ago) Permalink

Hmm. I'm sure it's great, but I don't know about that. Like I noted earlier, he's done solo tours before, behind Devils & Dust and Tom Joad, each with stories, jokes, one-offs, impulsive setlists. This is a set setlist, apparently, with scripted bits from his book and elsewhere. Again, I'm sure it's good, he's an incredible performer, but not sure how this is necessarily better than the aforementioned. If it makes him and others happy ...

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 13 October 2017 12:36 (seven months ago) Permalink

True, but I think it's possible to overemphasize how unscripted those earlier solo concerts were. Knowing Springsteen's approach to stagecraft, I'm pretty sure that the stories and jokes in those were fairly well rehearsed. Plus, the review I linked to above makes the point that the bits from the book take on a new life when performed. Finally, this theatre is a lot smaller than any place he played on the D&D/TJ tours, so it'd be worth seeing for that reason alone. Not that I've got tickets...

heaven parker (anagram), Friday, 13 October 2017 14:43 (seven months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Earlier in his career, the skinny, junk-food eating star would become so exhausted that trainer, Phil Dunphy, once claimed “they used to have to carry him offstage”.

fuck you, your hat is horrible (Neanderthal), Thursday, 23 November 2017 19:15 (five months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

On this same stretch of 99, I once wrote a story about farmworkers who moonlighted as meth cookers to make ends meet. Bruce Springsteen turned it into a song on his Ghost of Tom Joad album. More than one ballad was about the valley, so he came to Fresno. The William Saroyan Theatre was packed that October 1996 night. Halfway through his solo performance, he interrupted his set to tell us a piggy bank had been set up by the exit to donate money to the “hardworking men and women in the fields.’’  When the concert was over, I took my wife and children backstage to meet him. As we sat down to chat, one of his assistants leaned over and whispered into his jewel-studded ear. Springsteen shook his head and smiled a thin, ironic smile. Then he turned and faced me. “Tell me,” he asked, though it wasn’t entirely a question. “What kind of place is this? Not a single penny was put in that piggy bank.”

Anyway, Broadway run extended to Dec. 15th! I'm seeing it in a couple of weeks.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 21 March 2018 20:59 (two months ago) Permalink

who’s the quote from?

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 22 March 2018 02:30 (two months ago) Permalink

It's from some epic (but worth your time) reported piece:

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 22 March 2018 03:29 (two months ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

So Springsteen On Broadway was as corny/inspiring/rousing/entertaining as any of his shows, but I was really surprised how big a roll mortality plays in the narrative, as well as the overall sense of sadness. It's a really moving show that hinges a lot on intimacy and vulnerability.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 19 April 2018 04:49 (one month ago) Permalink

Ugh, role.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 19 April 2018 13:00 (one month ago) Permalink

saw it too, back in Oct I think. I am not a Bruce obsessive by any stretch, and was pretty unfamiliar with his on-stage schtick. Loved it and was repeatedl struck by the artifice he acknowledges in himself. Thought it was cool that he did that while at the same time making some moving points via the spoken sections. I assume those were lifted from his book?

tobo73, Thursday, 19 April 2018 13:13 (one month ago) Permalink

Some of them are. Some of them were different, some of them were expanded. Also, he's made a few slight changes since then. For example, there is a brief section about the March for Our Lives movement. I was struck by just how personal it seems, even for him. There is a weird balance, between an admission of artifice and what seems to be painful, really close to the bone honesty, a fear of the unknown, but also this strange fatalism. I can't believe he does this every night.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 19 April 2018 13:18 (one month ago) Permalink

I was really surprised how big a roll mortality plays in the narrative

my friend who i saw it with last week asked me, as we were walking out, "is he dying?"

as corny/inspiring/rousing/entertaining as any of his shows

agree completely with this. his stories about his mother and especially his father, who looms enormously large in this show, left me in puddles of tears. also, in case anyone forgot, dude is an amazing storyteller.

my two nitpicks:

he and patti are terrible harmonizing together. it's astonishing how not-together they still are, more than a half year into the run. it's weird.

about two-thirds of the way through the show, he kind of gives up on the narrative. like he didn't quite finish writing his own play.

but it really is a tremendous performance.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 19 April 2018 15:17 (one month ago) Permalink

There's an undercurrent of therapy coursing throughout the entire thing. I agree his harmonies with his wife are pretty not good, but given the song selections it feels and looks like two people working through some stuff in real time, in public. The fact that this is a one man show ... except for two (of his best, but still thematically awkward) songs with his wife, who otherwise doesn't even play a small part in the narrative, says a lot. But yeah, after that he drops any real pretense of narrative at all.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 19 April 2018 15:26 (one month ago) Permalink

yeah, that's the exact point where the narrative ends. the other thing my friend said as we were walking out: "did he mention his kids?" answer: no. which also seemed weird, especially in a show that devotes so much time to processing his memories abnd feelings about his father and mother. but then again, this is his therapy, not mine.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 19 April 2018 15:31 (one month ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Huh, I'd never seen this:

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 16 May 2018 19:49 (six days ago) Permalink

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