Friday, December 2, 2016

The Great Albums - Born In The USA Podcast

The Great Albums is a music podcast that has been running for a little under two years, and I've been a fan since close to the beginning.  It is run by two dudes in their early 30s from New Jersey, where their goal is to discuss music as fans would, rather than critics.  Sound familiar?  Having Born To Run as one of their earliest episodes also helped hook me.  Since then, I've tuned into nearly every episode.  Not only does it help me discover new music, but I find their analysis helps me articulate my own musical opinions better.

This month, they are celebrating "Massive Album November", tackling extremely popular albums by extremely popular artists - Madonna, Pink Floyd, The Who, and, now, Bruce.  If you've got two hours, check out their Born In The USA podcast, and, if you are jonesing for more, they have a bonus episode featuring "Streets of Philadelphia".

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Springsteen Honors - Cover of the Costco Connection!

As it has happened for the last several years, Springsteen puts together a promotional push every fall/winter.  In 2013, he was gearing up for High Hopes.  In 2014, he re-released seven albums.  Last year, it was the Ties That Bind box set.  Now, it has been all about the new autobiography (side note: I have recently gotten the book, and should have a review ready before the end of the year).  So, Springsteen is everywhere, from Colbert to book signings and now, to his latest feat, making the cover of the illustrious Costco Connection!  

Sure, any artist can get on the cover of the Rolling Stone, but how many artists can say they've been on the premier national magazine of big-box wholesalers? Scroll through the archives, and you'll find entrepreneurs, actors, national heroes, etc. but no musicians....until Bruce broke down that wall.

It is just a short two page interview with a couple of good photos, and has no other goal but to promote the book.  But still! It is quite the achievement, rivaling the Medal of Freedom he received earlier this month.  Plus, I also found a delicious recipe for salty chocolaty peanut buttery crunchy bars!

You can download the whole magazine for yourself here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Steven Van Zandt's Reaction to the Hamilton/Pence Incident

While two weeks ago seems like forever in Internet-time, this is one issue I just wanted to share my two-cents on.  I promised more complaining after the election, so bear with me on this.

Here was Steven Van Zandt's reaction to the cast of Hamilton sharing a personalized message to Vice President-elect Mike Pence after the performance of a show.  Now, Little Stevie's entitled to his opinion, just like anyone else.  His point about letting art speak for itself is valid, but where I disagree with him is when he calls it "inappropriate", a "mistake", and says that they owe an apology.  In my opinion, there is no wrong way to do a peaceful protest, mainly because there is no right way to do one.  Cancel your show?  You get criticized.  Silently kneel during an anthem?  You get criticized.  Read a short message at the end of a show?  You get criticized.  I'd be open to changing my mind if I could find an example of a peaceful protest that was met with universal acclaim and succeeded in its goals.

As long as the message is peaceful and civil, there is room for it in the national dialogue, regardless whether it is part of an artistic performance or not.  With threats to the first amendment becoming more and more routine, I respectfully disagree with Stevie's opinion and hope other artists do not hesitate to share their thoughts and feelings.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Meeting Bruce: The Day I Never Thought Would Happen

Never in my life did I anticipate that I would shake hands, pose for a picture and be greeted by name by Bruce Springsteen. But that's exactly what happened today thanks to his appearance at Books-a-Million in Chicago.

Bruce: Hi, there
Me: Hi, I'm Steve. Nice to meet you
*Pose for picture*
Me: We played "Happy" as our first dance at our wedding
Bruce: Ah, thank you Steve

I waited in line just over 3 1/2 hours for that fleeting exchange. It was well worth it. Many waited longer than me, and in the cold.

In classic Legends of Springsteen fashion, he showed up 30 minutes earlier than advertised and got right to work shaking hands and giving hugs to his fans.

It was a very civilized group, many who had traveled from out of state (Indiana, Michigan and beyond) and embarked in the wee hours of the morning, I heard 4 a.m. departures referenced a few times.

The feeling itself was surreal. I felt compelled to go buy gum before I got to the store. I was envious of the families there together, hopeful that one day my children would be old enough and interested enough to experience something similar with me.

I kept my guard up that at any moment something might go wrong. Perhaps I was tricked by a scam ticket? What if my cell phone suddenly malfunctions? What if I accidentally step out of line or engage in any other general buffoonery? In the end, it was over before I knew it. I stood speechless with my signed book in hand and my photo on my phone, trying to process what had transpired.

It may have been over in the blink of an eye, but I wish every fan could be lucky enough to receive this experience.

And it only happened because of my wife. If she hadn't told me, I wouldn't have known about it. If she hadn't encouraged me, I wouldn't have gone.

Friday, November 11, 2016

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen

Yesterday, music legend Leonard Cohen passed away at the age of 82, as 2016 adds yet another dead legend to its list.  As we view everything here through a Springsteen lens, today we dip far back into Springsteen's past and re-share his cover of Cohen's "Suzanne".  Thank you for everything, Leonard.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Video Spotlight - "Badlands"

From the day after Reagan's election in 1980, here's a rousing performance of "Badlands".  Bruce starts it off with a small speech that reflects what many people may be feeling today.  I can't help but feel the famous facts Bruce had learned real good are particularly relevant.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lyrics Spotlight - Election Day Special!

"Woke up Election Day, skies gunpowder and shades of gray
Beneath a dirty sun, I whistled my time away"
-- "Livin' in the Future", Magic

Long-time readers may be experiencing deja vu with this post, and they would be right.  Fellow LOS writer Steve and I have referenced this lyric on every election day since 2008.  We are truly a hilarious duo.

In last year's post, I encouraged everyone to "go out and vote", which, if you actually know me, is very uncharacteristic.  I'm very against pro-voting rhetoric - in fact, I didn't even vote in 2012.  I have various thoughts about the election process that I really can't devote the time and energy to properly present on this little blog; but basically, I feel that choosing not to vote is a personal choice that should be respected.

However, I also believe in the maxim "if you don't vote, don't complain."  Having not voted in 2012, I'm proud to say that I really haven't complained.  LOS writer OB and I frequently discuss politics, and while I have had my share of complaints with the country, I have not directed my frustration at the Obama administration.  With that being said, I will not be whistling my time away this year.  I fully plan to vote, not for patriotic reasons, but for whining reasons.  If my candidate loses, I really want to feel justified in my whinging and belly-aching for the next four years.

So, unlike last year's call to vote, this year, I'll just say: vote, or don't.  It's really up to you.  I'm just in it for the complaining.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Great Potential Moments in Springsteen Cinema History - Bruce wrote a song for Harry Potter?

In an interview with the BBC last week, Bruce confirmed that he had written a song for the Harry Potter film series called "I'll Stand By You Always".  While the song has yet to be released, Bruce says he likes the song and hopes that it will one day be used in another children's movie.  However, that did not stop Conan O'Brien from speculating what the song could sound like.

While this is news to me, it is clear the Harry Potter franchise has been influencing Springsteen for a while, with songs such as "Harry's Place" and an album called Magic.