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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

"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 (nineteen years ago) link


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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link


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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

"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 (nineteen years ago) link

"Nevermind he has out Dylan-ed Dylan"

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

Omar, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

The Automobile as Stationary Listening Environment. How revolutionary.

I wish I wasn't misinterpreting.

Otis Wheeler, Monday, 26 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

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

Patrick, Monday, 26 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

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

Ally, Tuesday, 27 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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

Robin Carmody, Friday, 2 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (nineteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (eighteen years ago) link

Anyway: classic, though not a personal favorite.

DeRayMi, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

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 (seventeen years ago) link

"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 (seventeen years ago) link

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

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:31 (seventeen years ago) link

"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 (seventeen years ago) link

So will I.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:23 (seventeen years ago) link

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

Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:24 (seventeen years ago) link

Meat Loaf almost makes me want to like him.

sundar subramanian (sundar), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:24 (seventeen years ago) link

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

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:34 (seventeen years ago) link

I didn't need to ask ;)

Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:39 (seventeen years ago) link

All is well. ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 05:21 (seventeen years ago) link

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

alext (alext), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 11:58 (seventeen years ago) link

Meanwhile, they just released official Winterland '78 sets!

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 20 December 2019 21:06 (seven months ago) link

Highway 29 is chilling
one of his greatest songs

"Told myself it was all something in her/but as we drove/I knew it was something in me"

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 20 December 2019 21:36 (seven months ago) link

"Straight Time" has the lines

Got a job at the rendering plant
it ain't gonna make me rich
darkness before dinner comes
sometimes I can feel the itch

and I had assumed a rendering plant was something with metal or steel, but it turns out

Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable, usable materials. Rendering can refer to any processing of animal products into more useful materials, or, more narrowly, to the rendering of whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats like lard or tallow. Rendering can be carried out on an industrial, farm, or kitchen scale.

... (Eazy), Friday, 20 December 2019 22:22 (seven months ago) link

I rendered some bear fat once. It makes pretty good pie crust if you don't mind your pie tasting like bear.

Lily Dale, Friday, 20 December 2019 22:33 (seven months ago) link

Is that what "come home in the evening/ can't get the smell from my hands" is about, then? I assumed it had something to do with whatever crime he was committing, but I hadn't thought about him working at the rendering plant. I guess the crime might still be in the future?

Lily Dale, Friday, 20 December 2019 22:47 (seven months ago) link

I grew up near a rendering plant, when the wind was right the whole town smelled of it, just a vile, sickly smell. I can almost smell it just thinking about it.

My brother in law's dad had a painting business so they had to go paint the walls one summer, he said they'd have to shower twice or take a bath mixed with vinegar. Threw out all the clothes they wore after the job was done. Can't imagine working there.

Plant ended up getting sued for a lot for illegally dumping stuff in the river. People used to say the town had a high cancer rate because of it but it's hard to say if that's just speculating.

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 21 December 2019 00:15 (seven months ago) link

Throw in some rhymes, tighten the meter, those could be lyrics.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 21 December 2019 00:36 (seven months ago) link

Threw away our clothes...had SEEEEEEXXXX IN A CAAAAAAARRRRR

Then threw away the car, down by the reservoir

a bevy of supermodels, musicians and Lena Dunham (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 21 December 2019 03:46 (seven months ago) link

Huh, so maybe that line isn’t about crime after all? I mean, what are the odds of both his day job and his life of crime making him smell bad?


Oh god, what if he just disposed of a dead body at the rendering plant?

Lily Dale, Saturday, 21 December 2019 17:33 (seven months ago) link

His daughter just won one of the competitions at the equestrian event here, congratulations! :-)

StanM, Sunday, 29 December 2019 08:41 (seven months ago) link

one month passes...

News on the (lack of tour) front. Bruce had been hinting at a band album and tour in 2020, most likely beginning toward the end of the year. But apparently Van Zandt carefully let slip that he suddenly has more free time than he expected this year, minimally clarifying that there has been no definitive yes/no on a tour. Still, apparently Max has booked some new 2020 commitments, too, so he no doubt got the same "maybe no tour" memo. Bruce nuts have hypothesized a few likely explanations. First and foremost, maybe the album is not close enough to being done to tour behind; his producer has been posting pictures from the studio. Two, there are rumors his mom has taken a turn and that's what's keeping him close to home (that was by some accounts one impetus for the Broadway show, staying local). Either way, the more psycho of his fans are apparently irked, because they plan for Springsteen tours like others plan for huge trips, saving up vacation time, squirreling away money ...

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 16 February 2020 22:54 (five months ago) link

Deciding on the best rental car to have sex in

a bevy of supermodels, musicians and Lena Dunham (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 17 February 2020 00:26 (five months ago) link

Either explanation makes sense, but I can't help finding this a bit worrying, given his whole thing about touring being essential for his mental health.

Lily Dale, Monday, 17 February 2020 04:33 (five months ago) link

On the plus side, it seems he's been popping up for guest appearances more often than usual lately, and he sounds pretty good.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 17 February 2020 04:43 (five months ago) link

is there any word on a Born in the USA box? I mean, I have made my own from all the outtakes etc but the sound on an official one would have to be an upgrade.

juntos pedemos (Euler), Monday, 17 February 2020 16:12 (five months ago) link

one month passes...


curmudgeon, Thursday, 19 March 2020 04:27 (four months ago) link

two weeks pass...

He did a guest DJ thing today on E. Street Radio, which is free right now - basically playing his quarantine playlist, talking about how things are going, asking how we're doing. I liked it.

One thing he brought up that I thought was interesting was PTSD - that we're all going to be left with some PTSD from this and it's going to be hard for us to get back to trusting each other and feeling safe in public.

The fillyjonk who believed in pandemics (Lily Dale), Wednesday, 8 April 2020 23:06 (three months ago) link

two months pass...

People have been going nuts for the show. You can get a transcript, plus links to songs, here, I think:

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 20 June 2020 03:28 (one month ago) link

This most recent one he played everything from Paul Robeson to Fugazi.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 20 June 2020 03:30 (one month ago) link

Yeah, I've been listening to them and they've all been good. The first one and the last two are very serious and specifically tailored to what's going on in the country; Episodes 2, 3 and 4 are looser and goofier. I think Episodes 3 and 5 are particularly strong.

Greetings from CHAZbury Park (Lily Dale), Saturday, 20 June 2020 03:40 (one month ago) link

Listening to Bruce read out a handful of obituaries is just heartbreaking.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 20 June 2020 14:31 (one month ago) link

Pardon my ignorance but how does someone listen to these shows?

tobo73, Saturday, 20 June 2020 15:04 (one month ago) link

They're on E. Street Radio on Sirius.xm. When he first started doing them, Sirius was making all its radio free because of the pandemic, but that ended May 31st I think. If you click Listen Online and it takes you to a sign-in page, you may have to do their free trial in order to listen.

Greetings from CHAZbury Park (Lily Dale), Saturday, 20 June 2020 15:36 (one month ago) link

I was able to stream it for free here:

As I understand it you can just clear your cookies and try the free trial multiple times.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 20 June 2020 16:09 (one month ago) link

(Should say I didn't have to fill out any forms or anything, just pressed play.)

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 20 June 2020 16:09 (one month ago) link

Wish I'd known that two weeks ago! I ended up getting a subscription where they don't charge you for the first four months, and set a reminder to cancel it on October.

Greetings from CHAZbury Park (Lily Dale), Saturday, 20 June 2020 16:15 (one month ago) link

in October

Greetings from CHAZbury Park (Lily Dale), Saturday, 20 June 2020 16:15 (one month ago) link

it's hard out there for a satellite

maf you one two (maffew12), Saturday, 20 June 2020 16:18 (one month ago) link

beaming through space all day, working your antenna to your hyperbolic reflector

maf you one two (maffew12), Saturday, 20 June 2020 16:19 (one month ago) link

He just posted his fifth installment, but Max has been doing a Q&A video series!

(The quality gets better in future installments)

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 24 June 2020 00:42 (one month ago) link

two weeks pass...

Bruce keeps the band on pretty tight radio silence lockdown, but Nils just more or less confirmed the E Street Band was gearing up to tour again at the end of the year, but - but! - I think Nils said Bruce had actually changed his mind and decided he needed a break, and that had the tour been announced it likely would have been postponed even pre-covid. FWIW, Nils also said the new E Street album is as good as anything Bruce has ever done, which ... I mean, I wish!

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 9 July 2020 19:36 (four weeks ago) link

I think he said it's as good as any record he's heard Bruce make, which is a less extravagant claim but still somewhat promising.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 9 July 2020 20:13 (four weeks ago) link

Funny, Nils didn’t mention anything about this when he said Happy Birthday on Ringo’s video the other day.

Lipstick O.G. (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 9 July 2020 20:52 (four weeks ago) link

Springsteen's work since the '90s has been really hit-or-miss for me, so I can see it going either way. Except for a few keepers, "Western Stars," "High Hopes," "Working on a Dream," "We Shall Overcome," "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and "Human Touch" were generally failed experiments or thoroughly mediocre, but "Springsteen on Broadway," "Wrecking Ball," "Magic," "Devils & Dust," half of "The Rising" and "Lucky Town" were surprisingly good, even excellent albums. We'll see.

birdistheword, Thursday, 9 July 2020 21:13 (four weeks ago) link

I disagree on "We Shall Overcome," which I love in its entirety. "Ghost of Tom Joad," its gifts have revealed themselves slowly over time. I agree on those others, though. Well, maybe not "Devils & Dust" as much, it's often pretty dull. That and "Joad" would have really benefitted from a looser approach. I always thought Bob Dylan/Jack Frost would have been a really sympathetic producer.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 9 July 2020 21:22 (four weeks ago) link

And then if you exclude solo records and records made with other bands, and narrow it down to albums Nils has personally heard recorded, you end up with what? Maayyybe Tunnel of Love, though it's sort of half a solo album, so who knows if Nils was thinking of it or not. But otherwise The Rising, Magic, High Hopes, Working on a Dream and Wrecking Ball, and I'm not a big fan of any of those, so I'm keeping my expectations low.

Side note: I do like Ghost of Tom Joad a lot, but the more I listen to it the more I think that aside from a couple of really strong songs (Highway 29 in particular) it's one of those albums where the songwriting is iffy and it's saved by really great singing.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 9 July 2020 21:38 (four weeks ago) link

To be fair, the tour for "We Shall Overcome" was lots of fun, and that comes through on the DVD where they filled those Dublin performance. But it never did it for me when I put on the album - maybe it's more about the experience? Regardless, totally understand if you love it.

"Ghost of Tom Joad" has good lyrics, and lyrically it's possibly stronger than anything's he written since, but the music's too monochromatic and dull to me. (I say this as a "Nebraska" fan - that's my favorite Springsteen album, and in a way it's a lesson that if you're going to stick to spare arrangements, you need something like atmosphere to make it work across an entire album.) The opening title track is great, but after that, things grow increasingly stale. It kind of works in small doses - if I go back to just one song, any song, it's impressive for the narrative or character it sketches out, but the whole thing never holds together as an album for me.

Anyway, funny that we disagree on which one's the dull one, but it reminds me of Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis's discussion on "Devils & Dust" - DeRogatis has never been a fan, but that's the first time I've ever heard him approve of a Springsteen album. Not completely, but he didn't dislike it because he thought the best stuff like "Long Time Comin'" reminded him of a Fairport Convention album - I don't quite agree with that comparison, but the tracks he referred to did have gorgeous arrangements. (Kot on the other hand thought the album was a little overproduced.)

That would be interesting if Dylan produced those songs, or maybe Joe Boyd, or even Jon Langford (which would never happen, but he'd certainly go for a rawer roots sound).

birdistheword, Thursday, 9 July 2020 21:52 (four weeks ago) link

*filmed not filled

birdistheword, Thursday, 9 July 2020 21:54 (four weeks ago) link

I think Tom Joad would be a much better album if he'd included "Brothers Under the Bridge" and ditched either "Balboa Park" or "The Line" or "Sinaloa Cowboys," or maybe all three. Those are the ones where I feel like he saw an issue, thought it was important, but couldn't really get at it from the inside or come up with a way to make it interesting musically.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:00 (four weeks ago) link

Yeah, Nebraska is my favorite too, but spare as the arrangements are, there's a lot more variation to them than you get on Tom Joad. One of my favorite things about Nebraska is the sequencing; somehow songs that I wouldn't listen to on their own, like Used Cars, seem perfect and right in their place in the album. There's a whole arc to Nebraska, and Tom Joad doesn't really have an arc, just a mood.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:08 (four weeks ago) link

That's a good point about "Nebraska" too - it feels apiece, like you're floating through the same movie, and the characters don't necessarily have to be the same from one song to the next (although they could be for some), they all feel like a solid part of the same narrative.

"Brothers Under the Bridge" is a good outtake. That last, fourth disc of TRACKS gets knocked for being the least essential one by a good margin - that's generally true, but there are some keepers and the best of that fourth disc is probably that song, the only recording drawn from the TOM JOAD sessions.

birdistheword, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:11 (four weeks ago) link

"Tom Joad" is sort of the songwriter equivalent of the singer who suddenly starts taking singing lessons. It's like he exited a writer's workshop and went straight for his guitar.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:13 (four weeks ago) link

LOL, that description kind of brings to mind an old "In Living Color" sketch - if you want to be uncharitable, I'd say it's more like Springsteen sat down with a stack of newspapers, acoustic guitar in hand, and wrote the whole album in one sitting:

birdistheword, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:17 (four weeks ago) link

See, this is where I think Balboa Park, Sinaloa Cowboys and The Line are really dragging down the album. Take them out, and you've got a couple of classic noirs, a couple of sad countryish ballads, an angry out-of-work song, some songs about abandoning your family to hang out with dudes under bridges, - all in all, a pretty standard Bruce assortment. (Galveston Bay also sounds like Bruce has been reading the paper, but I'll keep it because it makes me cry, even if he does rhyme "water" with "water.")

Lily Dale, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:31 (four weeks ago) link

every time i revisit magic i think it's really remarkable on a songwriting level. on a production level it's like very squashed but y'know whatever that's the brendan o'brien touch

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:47 (four weeks ago) link

His Pearl Jam albums sound ok, though, so I think I blame Bruce.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:49 (four weeks ago) link

That's probably right. Springsteen loves that excessive brickwall, headache inducing compression. Most of his live archive releases are plagued with it too, and even though people post complaints about it all the time, little has changed (though they're starting to ease off on it just a touch).

birdistheword, Thursday, 9 July 2020 22:59 (four weeks ago) link

I read an interview with Bob Clearmountain in TapeOp, and he said the BitUSA drum sound, among other aspects of that album, was all Bruce's doing.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 9 July 2020 23:01 (four weeks ago) link

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