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

I love Wreck on the Highway. So restrained, and so devastating. Something very powerful about that idea of just casually crossing paths with someone else's tragedy, and it leaving a mark on you even though it's not really part of your life. Also the only Bruce song I've made my dad listen to that got an actual "that's good" out of him as opposed to polite tolerance.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 15:51 (three weeks ago) link


Think he sings about a 'state trooper knocking on the door' - ahead of his song 'State Trooper'. I love Bruce's specific references to the authorities, police, etc.

Listening today, I also thought this song was as Country (& Western) as that LP gets.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 16:42 (three weeks ago) link

There are several fatalistic "it could have been me" sort of death fantasies in Bruce's catalog, especially that era and some of those aforementioned songs. State Trooper, Stolen Car, Wreck on the Highway...

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 16:47 (three weeks ago) link

I like how indirect the storytelling is. All you know at first is that there was an accident, you don't know how much time passed or what happened in between the man asking for help and the ambulance arriving. And then the narrator starts thinking about the man's wife getting the news, and you realize for the first time just how bad it was.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 17:04 (three weeks ago) link

"Ghosts" is great. First thing from him I've heard in a long time that has that big emotional "lift" in the chorus that to me is sort of key to Springsteen.

I could even see it sticking around in the setlist (if tours still exist) in subsequent tours.

Like the details - Les Paul, Fender Twin etc he's lost that over the years.

Only thing I don't like is the intro drums, feels very "100 Royalty Free Big Rock Drum Loops" but i'm not a big fan of Max in general.

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 17:30 (three weeks ago) link

production as always in late period is grey, flat, "professional" in the way that modern rock records sound like shit. a windmill i can't stop tilting at, but the ship has sailed, anyway 10th Avenue Freeze Out autoplayed after and sounded like the world opened up in my headphones in comparison.

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 17:33 (three weeks ago) link

How many times in Bruce's work does a man sit up at night while his woman sleeps, and the moonlight shines through the window, and he thinks about [betrayal / love / being a cautious man / God's grace / Elvis Presley / a wreck on the highway] ?

Variant: he runs out of the house at night, through the woods, across the highway, and collapses, his shirt soaked from sweat, and finds himself outside his old house, and looks up, with a realisation about [betrayal / loss / his father / God's grace / a downbound train]

the pinefox, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 18:43 (three weeks ago) link

fwiw I heard Letter to You on the radio the other day and it sounded great.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 18:55 (three weeks ago) link

xpost you left out the part where he puts on/takes off his jacket - a key moment in all Bruce's dream sequences and midnight epiphanies.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 19:55 (three weeks ago) link

How many times in Bruce's work does a man sit up at night while his woman sleeps, and the moonlight shines through the window, and he thinks about [betrayal / love / being a cautious man / God's grace / Elvis Presley / a wreck on the highway] ?

Heh, now I'm imagining a Bruce song where he thinks about all of these at once.

One of the many great things about Dylan's Springsteen parody is that it totally ends this way: "Sometimes I think of Tweeter/ sometimes I think of Jan/ sometimes I don't think about nothin' / but the Monkeyman."

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 20:00 (three weeks ago) link

I think I read in Michael Gray's BOB DYLAN ENCYLOPEDIA that that was a Boss parody!

I don't think I would have realised otherwise.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 07:20 (three weeks ago) link

Well, It's tricky, because the music doesn't sound at all like Bruce. It sounds, of course, like the Traveling Wilburys. But the lyrics are hilarious. Bruce and Bob are friends, or at least as friendly as anybody can be with Dylan. I wonder what Bruce thought of that? I've always wondered why he's never performed it, which would be hilarious too.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 12:25 (three weeks ago) link

Sometimes I wonder if it makes Bruce sad that Tom Petty got to be in the Traveling Wilburys and he didn't.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 15:53 (three weeks ago) link

I agree, that song doesn't sound like Bruce. In a way, it feels less like a straight parody and more more like a complicated in-joke for Springsteen fans. He bypasses the really obvious jokes - cars, girls, factory jobs, dads - and goes straight to the more obscure stuff, like the trans character, the sister, the "lonely guy thinkin' baout things" ending, and all those b-side song titles.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 16:38 (three weeks ago) link

Sometimes I wonder if it makes Bruce sad that Tom Petty got to be in the Traveling Wilburys and he didn't.
I'm not sure I'd want to hear Jeff Lynne's signature on Springsteen's music. To be fair, it worked very well on (most of) Petty's Full Moon Fever where, on a modest scale, it fit the whimsical and occasionally wistful nature of those songs. Otherwise, his sound is usually way too glossy for my tastes.

birdistheword, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 17:36 (three weeks ago) link

no room for a gruff voice in the traveling wilburys, though that would have been a funny addition.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 17:37 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah I don't think Bruce would have meshed well w/the Wilburys at all, for many reasons. But it is kind of funny that three of his musical heroes formed a group with another heartland rocker and then made fun of him on their first album.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 17:41 (three weeks ago) link

handle me with CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRE ohhhh aaaa ohhhhhhh oooooo

maf you one two (maffew12), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 17:41 (three weeks ago) link

unrelated: I love all the footage of Bruce in Roy Orbison’s “Black and White Night”
He looks so genuinely excited to be there & to be playing the songs, like he’s turn & grin at whoever’s standing next to him with a “can you BELIEVE this shit?” look on his face
he looks like a little kid at times <3

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 17:48 (three weeks ago) link

Absolutely. My friend and I find it hilarious that he was ever in a guitar duel with James Burton, but you can tell that Bruce truly understands and relishes his role on that stage.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 17:59 (three weeks ago) link

I'm not sure I'd want to hear Jeff Lynne's signature on Springsteen's music.

Yeah, I can't even imagine what a gated snare would sound like on a Springsteen song.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 18:17 (three weeks ago) link

there aren't any gated snares on born in the u.s.a (the album)?

i got a homogenic björk wine farmer permabanned (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 18:30 (three weeks ago) link

(I was joking)

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 18:34 (three weeks ago) link

That childlike joy is one of Bruce's most endearing qualities imo. I love the bit in his autobiography where he gets to rehearse with the Rolling Stones and he can barely contain his fanboy glee and there are SO MANY CAPITAL LETTERS.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 18:39 (three weeks ago) link

lol yes that was great

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 19:46 (three weeks ago) link

What's great is that Bruce reveals that same childlike enthusiasm whenever he pops on stage with anyone, from b listers like Southside Johnny or Joe Grushezcky (however you spell it, from Pittsburgh) to random bar bands

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 30 September 2020 19:53 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah, I can't even imagine what a gated snare would sound like on a Springsteen song.
Clever, but it takes a lot more than a gated snare to make a record sound like a Jeff Lynne production. (thank god)

birdistheword, Thursday, 1 October 2020 02:23 (three weeks ago) link

fwiw I may have mentioned it, but Bob Clearmountain has said the heavily gated BitUSA era snare was all Bruce's idea, so maybe he would have been all in on Lynne.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 1 October 2020 02:26 (three weeks ago) link

Of course. FWIW, this came up during Tracks, but the mixing engineers went on record at the time saying Springsteen loved bathing his vocal in echo and giving it a humongous sound, something he completely reversed by 1998 when they remixed those recordings and stripped out the reverb per his request as he now wanted a more "personal" sounding mix.

Besides the squashed, far-mic'd drum kit, Lynne likes a lot of acoustic guitars and not much bass, typically compressed to hell, and then you have the way he mixes those distinctive harmonies that are probably the most grating thing about his records. Above all, the key is the way everything is compressed (reportedly done with Universal Audio solid state limiting). Springsteen was making shiny, pop-friendly records in 1987, but they didn't sound nearly as synthetic.

birdistheword, Thursday, 1 October 2020 04:00 (three weeks ago) link

(to be fair, a lot of people probably love that sound - Harrison, Petty et al wouldn't have sold so many records then if they didn't)

birdistheword, Thursday, 1 October 2020 04:08 (three weeks ago) link

I finish with THE RIVER again. Still a bemusing LP, with so much seeming filler, but good songs also, and the title track a masterpiece that could stand for his whole career.

I go on to WORKING ON A DREAM for the first time in years. The quality of this record is so high. Songs like 'life itself' and 'good eye' take the Boss to a different realm. 'This life' with its Beach Boys approach and unusual chords, and lines about looking through a telescope! ... This feels to me like the greatest thing he's done since TUNNEL OF LOVE - save perhaps WESTERN STARS. No-one ever mentions it - maybe because, I always say, Bruce's consistency is just so high, people take it for granted.

the pinefox, Thursday, 1 October 2020 10:08 (three weeks ago) link

October 23rd baybee 😃

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 03:36 (two weeks ago) link

Reviews are popping up and the ones I've seen have been very positive.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 15 October 2020 18:47 (one week ago) link

OK, first song is one of the best things he's done since "Tunnel of Love" imo.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 15 October 2020 18:56 (one week ago) link

Four or five tracks in and I think I'm calling it: barring some sort of precipitous nosedive, this is his best since "The Rising," by a long shot, and probably better. Seems to have finally cracked the production problem, too, because the album even sounds pretty great.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 15 October 2020 19:11 (one week ago) link

OK, "Power of Prayer" is not necessarily bad, but it's not really my thing, either. Immediately bounces back with "House of a Thousand Guitars," though.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 15 October 2020 19:20 (one week ago) link

Final (first) reaction. The album's great, but it's also the start-to-finish Bruciest album he's done in a long time, which I can imagine some will find exhausting. Factor in the three old songs and it's really doubling (tripling) down on his own mythology/mortality. There's a sense of self-awareness to this album that finds him finally giving in to the temptation to ... be himself? Rather than asking "what would Bruce/E Street Band do?" and then doing something different, this album is him leaning hard into his strengths from the perspective of an old guy whose friends are all dying and leaving him behind to carry the weight of their souls.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 15 October 2020 19:51 (one week ago) link

I didn't like "Power of Prayer" either, it's too corny.

But the album starts off great. It got less interesting as it went on, but that's just after one listen. Maybe it'll grow on me, so we'll see. I started listening in the late '90s, and no newly released Springsteen album (not counting archival releases) has ever won me over that quickly. I wound up liking Wrecking Ball, Magic, Devils and Dust and half of The Rising, and it took some time.

birdistheword, Thursday, 15 October 2020 22:25 (one week ago) link

Gah, I wasn't planning to try to listen to it before the release date, but the suspense is driving me nuts.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 15 October 2020 22:32 (one week ago) link

I can't say I'm a fan of "Songs for Orphans" (which I didn't know about - it was written in 1971 and a publishing demo apparently circulates), but except for "Power of Prayer," the other ten track are hanging together pretty well for me.

birdistheword, Thursday, 15 October 2020 23:41 (one week ago) link

xpost Do it!

Listening again, those first four songs culminating in a powerhouse like "Janey" are just unstoppable. But "The Power of Prayer" ... I just can't take it, it's too corny, and throws off my listening experience. But then it pretty much bounces back. I still think it's his best band album since "The Rising" - that's the easiest part. Whether it's as good as or better than "The Rising," I'll have to think about it.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 15 October 2020 23:44 (one week ago) link

Re: "Orphans," several different recordings actually circulate. What's probably the demo does nothing for me, but two live performances are very different and much better IMHO. All with just Springsteen on an acoustic:

From Springsteen's very first radio performances, still the earliest circulating 'live' material with what would become the E Street Band (though again it's just Bruce on this song). From WBCN-FM on January 9, 1973.

From the Devils and Dust tour, Nov. 22, 2005, this is an official upload from and it's actually the first official release of this song ever (dated March 1, 2019). The whole show is up on for purchase. Reportedly the 1st (and only) time he's played it in concert since the early 70's

birdistheword, Friday, 16 October 2020 00:00 (one week ago) link

*release dated March 1, 2019, performance is again from 2005

birdistheword, Friday, 16 October 2020 00:01 (one week ago) link

To be fair, Springsteen's albums tend to be longer than usual in the digital era, so even when I take out the ones I don't want to hear again, there's still more than enough for a standard LP.

Wrecking Ball without "Jack of All Trades" is over 45 minutes, Magic without "Terry's Song" is over 43 minutes, and even the leanest cut of The Rising comes out to 38 minutes for me (a more generous version I sometimes listen to would be 49 minutes). Without the new version of "Orphans" and "The Power of Prayer," this one's well over 48 minutes, and at the moment I don't find myself wanting to skip through any of these remaining ten cuts. Even "Ghosts" sounds better following the eight preceding and remaining tracks - it didn't feel like a great single, but it works well in this context, feeding off of everything that's been building up to it.

birdistheword, Friday, 16 October 2020 00:24 (one week ago) link

Yeah, for the sake of brevity I would have been cool with them cutting Prayer and relegating Priest to a bonus track.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 16 October 2020 01:05 (one week ago) link

I think WORKING ON A DREAM and WESTERN STARS are better than THE RISING. Maybe.

Haven't heard the new record.

the pinefox, Friday, 16 October 2020 08:38 (one week ago) link

Think I'll wait till it comes out; hopefully you guys don't get sick of talking about it before then.

I'm listening to his most recent radio show, and so far it's awesome. He just made my whole day by playing Sir Mix-a-Lot's "My Hooptie" and giving a detailed nine-point explanation of what qualifies as a hooptie.

Lily Dale, Friday, 16 October 2020 22:42 (one week ago) link


terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 16 October 2020 23:26 (one week ago) link

Nice interview in Forbes with Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren.

Van Zandt: Bruce has performed the brilliant artistic task of being extremely personal, extremely detailed and nuanced in his personal explanation and descriptions and insights, and the more personal he gets the more universal the message becomes. And I learned from that... But it was Bruce really that said, "We don't need to generalize, we don't need to say let me explain the whole world to you as an artist. You don't have to do that. Just tell the truth about your own life, what you're experiencing, what you're seeing and dig into it. Don't be afraid of it, confront it. Let's see where it comes out. Let's describe our most intimate relationships with the hopes that other people can see themselves in our work." That's the great thing about art. Art can pass along inspiration, motivation, insights, even information. But the main thing art does is it lets you know you're not alone and I think that's what Bruce's gift has always been.

Lily Dale, Sunday, 18 October 2020 16:37 (five days ago) link

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