― Patrick, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Omar, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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
― 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
― matthew stevens, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Simon, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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 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.
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
― 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
ned, i think you have the same problem as tom: it's a cultural
― fred from new jersey, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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
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
Nevermind that Born in the USA was my first record not meant to
be played on the Fisher Price record player (with the STEEL
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
Nevermind Time and Newsweek
Nevermind The cover of Jersey Girl
Nevermind the MTV Unplugged set where he scrapped the entire
notion of an acoustic show and just plugged in and tore down
Nevermind everyone on this list who called him a dud.
― JM, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
well, Bruce isn't *that* bad! ;)
― Omar, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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
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
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
― Michael Daddino, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Mark Richardson, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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
― Patrick, Monday, 26 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
I wish I wasn't misinterpreting.
― Otis Wheeler, Monday, 26 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Ally, Tuesday, 27 February 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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
― Robin Carmody, Friday, 2 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Michael Bourke, Sunday, 4 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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
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'
and...love 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
― the pinefox, Monday, 2 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
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.
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
― DeRayMi, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:18 (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
― mark s (mark s), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:22 (seventeen years ago) link
― Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:25 (seventeen years ago) link
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:29 (seventeen years ago) link
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 23:31 (seventeen years ago) link
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
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:23 (seventeen years ago) link
― Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:24 (seventeen years ago) link
― sundar subramanian (sundar), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:24 (seventeen years ago) link
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:34 (seventeen years ago) link
― Ally (mlescaut), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 03:39 (seventeen years ago) link
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 November 2002 05:21 (seventeen years ago) link
― 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 chillingone 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 plantit ain't gonna make me richdarkness before dinner comessometimes 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
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
― that's not my post, Thursday, 19 March 2020 02:52 (four months ago) link
― curmudgeon, Thursday, 19 March 2020 04:27 (four months ago) link
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
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.)
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
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
― Greetings from CHAZbury Park (Lily Dale), Tuesday, 23 June 2020 20:25 (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
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