Monday, January 30, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Super Bowl Halftime Show, 2009

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, so the Video of the Week should come as no surprise.  I remember watching this three years ago, and thinking the performance was about a 6 out of 10.  I thought that jamming Springsteen into a 12-minute window for Mainstream America didn't do the Boss justice.  However, perhaps I was too drunk or pissy at the time.  Re-watching it this week, and taking into account how much Springsteen accomplished in spite of the time limitation, I'd give the performance a strong 8 out of 10.  Here are some highlights:

1. The Introduction

As I've discussed on this site before, "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" is the perfect introduction song.  The silhoutte of Clarence and Bruce back-to-back is beautiful.  And Bruce's speech in the beginning is amazing.  There are very few instances I can recall of the Super Bowl half-time performer addressing the audience - usually they just play their hits and leave.  With every second ticking down, he still finds time to be his loquacious self.  It's also important to remember that before the performance began, James Harrison ran back a touchdown that the referees had to review to make sure was good.  So, the beginning of the show was delayed.  You can just imagine Bruce just percolating with energy backstage, frantically pacing, not knowing when he'd be taking the stage.  His energy is clearly at a 10 in the opening.

2. Glory Days

The abbreviated "Born To Run" and "Working on a Dream" didn't really do it for me, although I can understand the reasoning behind the choices - the former to give the people what they want, the latter to sell the new album.  However, he brings it home with an excellent rendition of one of my lesser-loved songs.  I love Bruce's improvisation - as it confirms his lack of sports knowledge (a "speedball" is a replaced by "Hail Mary").  This version also gets tremendous contributions from Steven Van Zandt, the horn section from Conan O'Brien's band, and a random NFL referee. 

3. The Power Slide
funny gifs


4. Clarence's Outfit

The man has style. 
Anyway, here's our (completely unbiased) Super Bowl predictions.  Enjoy the game this weekend, and for God's sake, put down the chicken fingers.

OB: Giants 27, Patriots 24
Rory: Giants 21, Patriots 17
Steve: Giants 28, Patriots 10

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Troubles with Ticketmaster

Bruce fans across the nation were left muttering expletives and trying in vain to overcome Ticketmaster’s technical issues on Friday morning as error messages and erroneous wait times dominated computer screens. My personal plight involved scoring two General Admission tickets to the first night at the Izod Center only to receive a “could not process this request” message during payment. When I tried to purchase them again, I received the much-maligned “15 minute wait” message. reports that the woes were due in part to hackers looking to jack up scalping prices with lightning fast posts to other purchasing sites. also has a good take on the situation including an inspired tweet from a frustrated fan (is a Ticketmaster “15 min wait” screen a lie if it don’t come true / or is it something worse #springsteen).

Your three Legends of Springsteen webmasters were all lucky enough to get tickets in the end thanks to the LiveNation app for iPhone (a must have for all future Ticketmaster purchases). Between the three of us we’ll be attending both Izod nights, at least one MSG night and the North America-leg closing night at the Prudential Center.

We hope you were able to weather the Ticketmaster fiasco successfully and get the seats you wanted. Commiserate in the comments section with any horror stories and also let us know what shows you will be attending!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cover Me, Part 2 - Bruce's Covers

I discussed the top five Bruce songs as covered by others last week. This week, I am looking at the songs that Bruce has covered. The top five songs, according to Cover Me, are:

5. “Dream Baby Dream”- Suicide

I absolutely love this version by Bruce. I believe he closed every concert of the Devils & Dust tour with it. If it wasn’t every one, then it was an overwhelming majority of them. I had never heard of this song, or the group Suicide, prior to Bruce covering them and I can’t say I’m a big fan of them. This is one of the rare times where, in my opinion, the cover is vastly superior to the original. And I’m not the only one who feels that way as Alan Vega, lead singer of Suicide, told Backstreets Magazine (our arch rival!) “A lot of bands have done my stuff, Suicide stuff [...] Thank god, finally somebody did their version of it. He [Springsteen] interpreted my song, he did it his way, and such a great way that I'm going to have to sing it that way, or not sing it at all anymore! … On my death bed, that's [Springsteen’s version] the last thing I'm going to listen to. I'll play it at my funeral." The incredibly simple lyrics repeated over and over by Bruce sitting alone at a pump organ gives this song an incredible uniqueness. Not only is this in my top 5, it might be #1.

4. “Chimes of Freedom”- Bob Dylan

If “Dream Baby Dream” isn’t #1, then this is. I’ve often said that Springsteen and Dylan are the most important American artists of the past 50 years, and I believe this songs show why. Between Dylan’s incredibly introspective lyrics, Bruce’s incomparable stage performance, this is a song that always gives me chills. Either #1 or #2 on my list. I can’t put into words how to accurately describe this song. Just listen to it, you won’t regret it.

3. “Trapped”- Jimmy Cliff

Again, no arguments from me on being on this list. I wouldn’t have placed it ahead of the previous 2, but that’s just nit-picking. I didn’t know of Jimmy Cliff or this song prior to hearing Bruce cover it, but I’m definitely a fan of the Springsteen version. The original is a reggae classic, but just not up my alley.

2. “War”- Edwin Starr

Eh, I can take or leave this. I like Bruce’s version and I like the original but I just don’t consider it “Top 5” Material. I’m pretty sure this was the only single Bruce released off his enormous Live/1975-1985 box set. It’s certainly good, and contains a nice political message from Bruce as an introduction. I don’t necessarily agree with Bruce’s comments, or most of his political views, but that’s for a blog entry on another day.

1. “Jersey Girl” - Tom Waits

Really? I mean, really? Come on!!! I guess it has to be #1 as the song is so identified with Bruce, that I often forget that it’s a cover and many people have been shocked to find out Bruce didn’t write this song. Maybe it was ruined for me cause I grew up in New Jersey my whole life, and every dumb girl I knew from there thinks this song is about her, but if I never hear this Bruce play this song again, it’s A-OK with me! I guess I can’t argue it too much, but I’ll pass.

My picks:

5. “Pretty Woman” - Roy Orbison

4. “Trapped”- Jimmy Cliff
3. “Rockin’ All Over the World”- Credence Clearwater Revival

2. “Chimes of Freedom” - Bob Dylan
1. “Dream Baby Dream” - Suicide

Let me know your choices for the best covers in the comments.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - Ain't Good Enough For You

I tried to change, I got a job in sales
I bought a shirt uptown in Bloomingdales
- Ain’t Good Enough for You (The Promise)

The specificity of these lyrics makes it all the more painful to listen to this admission of the futility of trying to impress someone out of your league. The entire song is infused with this kind of blind youthful desperation to impress a first crush. The recording of the song sounds like it was captured in a crowded bar being performed by teenagers. On the one hand, there’s a lot of pain in the lyrics, but the rollicking energy in the composition nods to its adolescent folly and within it, a hope that maturity lies ahead.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Breaking News: Bruce U.S. Tour Dates

Today, on, the long-awaited U.S. tour dates were announced.  Below are the cities, venues, dates, and date the tickets will be on sale:
March 18 - Atlanta, GA - Philips Arena (on sale Feb 4)
March 19 - Greensboro, NC - Greensboro Coliseum (on sale Feb 3)
March 23 - Tampa, FL - Tampa Bay Times Forum (on sale Jan 28)
March 26 - Boston, MA - TD Garden (on sale Jan 28)
March 28 - Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center (on sale Jan 28)
March 29 - Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 1 - Washington, DC - Verizon Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 3 - East Rutherford, NJ - Izod Center (on sale Jan 27)
April 4 - East Rutherford, NJ - Izod Center (on sale Jan 27)
April 6 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden (on sale Jan 27)
April 9 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden (on sale Jan 27)
April 12 - Detroit, MI - The Palace of Auburn Hills (on sale Jan 28)
April 13 - Buffalo, NY - First Niagara Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 16 - Albany, NY - Times Union Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 17 - Cleveland, OH - Quicken Loans Arena (on sale Jan 28)
April 24 - San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion (on sale Feb 3)
April 26 - Los Angeles, CA - Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (on sale Feb 3)
April 29 - New Orleans, LA - New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (on sale now)
May 2 - Newark, NJ - Prudential Center (on sale Jan 27)

This brief, month-and-a-half tour will be followed by Bruce packing his bags and heading to Europe for the summer.  It is unclear if he'll be continuing his tour in the US this fall, but we'll keep our fingers crossed.

As someone living in Manhattan, I've got a tough decision to make this Friday.  The Izod Center often receives praise from musicians as one of the best sounding arenas in the country.  Madison Square Garden would be the easiest for me to travel to.  And the Prudential Center will be Bruce's last U.S. show, which he may pull out all the stops for.  Personally, I'm leaning towards April 3rd.  Let us know what shows you plan to attend in the comments.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Roll Of The Dice

This time period of Springsteen is clearly not his best, but I have a soft spot in my heart for this song. It may be because it is a catchy song, but it is more likely because I'm a gambling addict. However, I never play craps. Every time I go to a craps table, it is surrounded by the manliest looking men, chomping on their cigars and speaking in great gambling lingo ("Give me a nickel on the hard eight!"). It is very intimidating.

Anyway, a few things about this particular video:

- An already campy song gets even campier with the tossing of fuzzy dice during the set. Why hasn't he played this song live in concert recently? I'd bring my dice!

- Bruce's non E-Street band is disturbing to watch. Not only is there a wannabe Clarence, there's a wannabe Slash as well. And furthermore, you have to love them for doing a plugged set on MTV's Unplugged.

- The middle part of this makes this song worth watching. It is a shining example of what your blog editors love to call "Beautiful Bruce". It is inspirational and makes me remember not to give up when times look tough. And, it makes me want to learn how to play craps.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Takes - We Take Care of Our Own

OB's Take:

Upon first listen to Bruce's new track I have to admit I wasn't terribly impressed. But the more I listened to it the more I enjoyed it. Hours later I found myself singing it to myself. The poignant lyrics, catchy chorus, all set to a pure E Street sound makes for a damn good song. In fact after listening to it all day I have to say I enjoy it more than a majority of the songs on Working On A Dream.

As with most Bruce songs, the most noticeable part of this song is the lyrics. In this song Springsteen sings about the frustration he feels with our Government and the fact that the people feel that they need to take matters into their own hands. I couldn’t help but think a few times while listening to the song that if it had come out a few months earlier this would have been the perfect anthem for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

As for the new album, I’m very excited. I was really surprised to see that “Wrecking Ball”, “Land of Hope & Dreams” as well as “American Land” are getting studio treatment. Those have always been songs I enjoyed live and I’m sure will sound great after Bruce has had the chance to polish them up and make them sound their best. I am anxiously awaiting March 6th, but even more so waiting for Bruce to announce some US tour dates!

Rory’s Take:

When I had heard that this would be Bruce's angriest album yet, I was expecting something more somber and dark like Devils & Dust or Nebraska. This, along with tracks like "Wrecking Ball", "Land of Hopes and Dreams", and "American Land", give me the sense that the rest of the songs will be solid stadium anthems. The three previous songs have been fantastic to see live, and I believe "We Take Care of Our Own" will also follow suit. The song is simplistic, and the lyrics don't create as vivid of a picture as I'm usually accustomed to getting from Bruce, however the message is clear. This album will be thematically more like The Rising or Magic - we're in hard times, but togetherness will get us through.

Steve's Take:

I'm immediately drawn to the melody and the energy of this song. It's firmly arena rock and the lyrics are surface deep, but that's not a bad thing. It takes a talent like Bruce to make such an unabashedly anthemic song that can be cheered in unison by people from all nationalities, races, classes and genders. I can't wait to sing along with thousands of others at the concert.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cover Me, Part 1 - Artists Covering Bruce

I am a huge fan of Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Maybe it’s the fact that I can listen to any sports game I want, or because I’m a big fan of The Opie and Anthony Show, but most likely it’s that the geniuses at the network decided to create a 24/7 Bruce Springsteen channel that has made me not want to ever go back to terrestrial radio. In addition to playing Springsteen‘s songs from his albums, “E Street Radio” plays full concerts, interviews, outtakes and B-Sides, and just recently they started a show called Cover Me.

Cover Me, cleverly named after the track from Born In The USA, plays bands that cover Bruce in addition to playing covers of other artists performed by Bruce. I love this show to see just how far Bruce’s influence goes as well as seeing who Bruce was influenced by. The last show of 2011 had them counting down their favorite covers of Bruce and their favorite covers by Bruce. This week I’ll be discussing other artists covering Bruce.

According to Cover Me, the top five covers are:

5. “Ghost of Tom Joad”- Rage Against The Machine

Rage is one of those bands that as I grow older I fail to see what I ever found so great about them. Zach De La Rocha’s voice is terrible, he doesn’t even sing. And while Tom Morello is an absolutely brilliant guitar player, he seems to be “too good” on the guitar. Seriously, can’t he just do a normal solo or riff? Does everything has to be some manipulation of the guitar strings? Rage will always be remembered for their political stances, and certainly that’s why they would be drawn to cover to this song but I can’t stand their version. It’s everything I can’t stand about the band, but Bruce seems to be a big fan of it as evidenced by the number of times Tom Morello has joined him on stage to play this song, so I guess I’m in the minority here but no way would this be one of my picks.

4. “Atlantic City” - The Hold Steady

I had never heard this cover before, but wow, I was impressed. This piano and brass instrument driven version of song really pays tribute to this Springsteen classic, while making it their own, at the same time. When Springsteen plays “Atlantic City” live now it is a full electric song with the E Street Band, that while certainly a great song, it takes away from some of the somberness from the original acoustic studio version found on Nebraska. This cover I think really combines the Springsteen’s studio and live version quite well. It illustrates the dire situation the protagonist finds himself in, as well as being a fun upbeat song that you’ll find yourself tapping your toes along with. Big thumbs up for this pick.

3. “Thunder Road” - Tortoise with Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Another cover I was not familiar with. This is definitely an interesting version. At first I didn’t care for it, but the more I listened to it the more I could at least respect it, if not be a small fan of it. It’s nowhere near as good as the Springsteen version, but I don’t think it was trying to be. It’s simply a different interpretation, and while it’s not exactly my cup of tea, I absolutely will give Tortoise credit for being unique. Not one of my picks but, kudos anyway.

2. “Growing Up”- Eddie Veder

Eddie Veder and Pearl Jam have covered Bruce countless times. Some of them I like, others I’m not too crazy about. This is one I’m not too crazy about. There’s nothing unique about it. It’s just Eddie Veder singing “Growing Up”. It’s not bad at all, but I just don’t find anything too special about it. Now, when Veder covered “My City of Ruins” at Springsteen’s induction into the Kennedy Center, that was impressive. I would have definitely picked that. But, to each their own.

1. “Because the Night” - Patti Smith

This isn’t really fair to put this on the list. Yes, Bruce did write this song, but he didn’t release it till 2010 on The Promise. Patti Smith made this song a hit, and certainly deserves the credit for it. I wouldn’t put this song on the list because of that technicality, but if you can get past that, then I have no argument with this being #1. My particular favorite version is Bruce and Patti singing this with U2 at 25th anniversary concert for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

My picks:
5. “Atlantic City” - The Hold Steady
4. “My City of Ruins”- Eddie Veder

3. “I’m Going Down” - Vampire Weekend

2. “Badlands” - Dropkick Murphy’s

1. “Atlantic City” - The Band

Let me know your choices for the best covers in the comments. Next week: the top five songs covered by Bruce.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Breaking News: New Bruce Single Debuting 1/19

We're incredibly excited to bring you breaking news that Bruce's new single entitled "We Take Care of Our Own" is scheduled for digital download via Amazon tomorrow.

There are a lot of rumors flying around regarding the new album. Rolling Stone is reporting the E Street Band will be involved with possible guest work by Rage Against the Machine alum Tom Morello (and "Ghost of Tom Joad" cohort) and former Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain. Other sites are cautioning that the cover art for the single does not mention E Street Band however.

Meanwhile, Consequence of Sound is reporting the album will be called Wrecking Ball based on information available on iTunes UK. They've posted a rumored track list too. While this isn't verified, the titles sure do sound like Bruce songs:

01. We Take Care of Our Own
02. Easy Money
03. Shackled and Down
04. Jack of All Trades
05. Death to My Hometown
06. The Depression
07. Wrecking Ball
08. You’ve Got It
09. Rocky Ground
10. Land of Hope and Dreams
11. We Are Live
12. Swallowed Up (iTunes Bonus Track)
13. American Land (iTunes Bonus Track)

Along with the entire Bruce community, we'll be waiting with baited breath to hear the new single tomorrow morning. The possible album title does strike a bit of concern as the version of Wrecking Ball that Bruce played in tribute to Giants Stadium in 2009 felt very incomplete, but we can assume he's had time to tighten up the lyrics and refine the sound in the recording studio. Regardless, this is amazing news and an exciting start to 2012 for Bruce fans everywhere.

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - Waitin' on a Sunny Day

Without you, I'm a drummer girl that can't keep a beat
An ice cream truck on a deserted street
- Waitin’ on a Sunny Day

Sometimes Bruce’s lyrics are vague. Sometimes they are instantly relatable. Sometimes they are somewhere in between. You wouldn’t expect a 53-year-old man to describe himself as either of the above descriptors but that’s just what Bruce did in 2002.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Come Together

My 2 favorite singers, inducting my favorite Beatle into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and covering one of my favorite Beatle tunes. And…it sucks. Seriously, this is just awful. Bruce’s voice is unnecessarily gravely and Axl sounds like he’s doing a poor imitation of himself. Trust me, I didn’t pick this video for it’s musical qualities, but rather just to show how far Bruce had come.

In 1994, Guns N’ Roses was arguably the biggest band in the world. They had just finished up their massive Use Your Illusion tour, and were getting ready to release a new album in the year entitled Chinese Democracy. They were no strangers to controversy, but with legions of fans and an incredible sound, Axl Rose and his band were definitely Rock royalty.

Bruce Springsteen on the other hand seemed to be on the downswing of his career. He had broken up with his E Street Band; his last 2 albums didn’t fare nearly as well as his 80’s material. He wasn’t playing big stadium shows anymore. He had a good run, but it seemed it was probably time for him to pack it up. He wasn’t dead yet, but his popularity was definitely on wane.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some of their inductions, as well as their snubs, infuriate me. But one thing I always enjoy is the induction ceremony. Sometimes the band themselves play, as Bruce and the E Street band did when then they were inducted. Or sometimes, as in this case, they get popular artists from today to show the influence of the inducted artist. For John Lennon’s deserving induction they chose the lead singer of the biggest rock band in the world, and one of the most iconic rock stars of 1980’s. The performance, as I stated earlier, leaves a lot to be desired. But hey, on paper it sounds fantastic.

Fast Forward to 2012: That was the last public appearance of Axl Rose for 8 years, until the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, where he debuted his new Guns N’ Roses band, after breaking up the beloved classic GN’R in the mid 90’s. The MTV performance was universally panned by fans and critics alike. In 2009, Axl finally released Chinese Democracy, you know the album that was supposed to be released 15 years prior. The album failed to even come close to projected numbers in sales. Although I actually love this album, the message from fans was clear, Guns N’ Roses, in particular Axl Rose, was yesterday’s news. In November of 2011, I saw Axl Rose and his new GN’R band play in front a half-empty crowd at the Izod Center in New Jersey. The band didn’t take the stage till close to midnight, 4 hours late of the time start time on the ticket. However the concert itself was incredible. Axl and his new band sounded amazing. However, years of treating fans badly and calling this band Guns N’ Roses, when fans clearly want to see the original line up, is coming back to bite Axl.

Bruce Springsteen on the other hand, reunited with beloved E Street Band, was named one Rolling Stone’s top 10 artists of the new millennium, and was one of the top 5 grossing touring artists of the new millennium. Songs from The Rising and Magic have become as much of staples at concerts as classics from Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. He is just as popular now as he ever was, and continues to play gigantic stadium shows in front of rabid sell-out crowds. His constant touring, releasing of new music, and general appreciation for those who pay their hard-earned money to listen to him has paid off in dividends for the Boss. Just goes to show to never count out Bruce!

This year the classic Guns N’ Roses lineup will join Bruce Springsteen in the RN’R HOF. Something tells me that they won’t be performing at their induction and instead another band will pay tribute to them. Maybe they should see if Bruce is available, that way they can actually sell some tickets.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review - Springsteen: Point Blank by Chris Sanford

Knowing that this was a limited-access biography written over 10 years ago, my expectations were not high. However, there are certain celebrities that are so fascinating that you'd really have to work hard to make them seem uninteresting - The Beatles, Stan Lee, Michael Jordan, etc. I was hoping Springsteen would fall into this category. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Sanford's book begins with a catty tale about Bruce dumping a girlfriend after a concert in 1979, and really doesn't rise much above that. He claims he is attempting to be "iconoclastic" and present the "real" story of Springsteen, but the book is filled with anonymous quotes from former bandmates and lovers, with occasional shots at Dave Marsh. It even has the audacity to lift stories straight from Bruce's Live 1975-85 album (did you know that Bruce's parents wanted a lawyer or an author, but had to settle for rock and roll?). The author takes gossip and draws ridiculous interpretations about Bruce and his songs - he repeatedly calls Springsteen "schizophrenic" to the point where I was thinking, "I don't think you know what that word means" (ala Mandy Patinkin). Furthermore, the writing is verbose, clumsy, and often non-sensical. For example, "Whatever his shin-guard flaws, they were more than matched by his academic scrapes."

Sanford is in his element when he is sticking to the cold hard facts. He does a fine job outlining Bruce's rise to fame. I've never been quite sure how people make the leap from local stars to rock stars, but this book immerses itself in the details. Bruce's decline is the 1990s is an interesting read as well, as it proposes Bruce not really "caring" about his music at that time. It isn't quite as ludicrous as Sanford's other theories, and it will be interesting to read about if Bruce ever does his own tell-all book.

Overall, I cannot recommend any use their time on this book. Even the die-hards will be left cold by this. I give Point Blank 1 out of 5 right between the eyes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - The Promised Land

Explode and tear this town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start

As it will become painfully obvious to anyone who reads this blog for more than two weeks, Darkness on the Edge of Town is my favorite Springsteen album. The best concert I've ever attended was one of the last concerts at Giants Stadium, where Bruce played the entirety of Darkness. From that concert, I picked up the habit of singing along to "The Promised Land" frequently. When the second line of the selected lyrics above is sang, I unknowingly begin to make a stabbing motion to my chest. You know, for emphasis of the knife-heart-cutting. Am I a nerd? Perhaps. But I encourage you to try it out when listening to this song. It is very exhilarating.

Happy Birthday, Clarence Clemons

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this blog entry.  Today would be the the 70th birthday of Clarence Clemons.  When I first heard the news that Clarence had a stroke, I was devastated and thought for sure this was the end of the E Street Band, but still had high hopes that he would pull through in the end.  Days later I found out I was wrong on both counts.  Clarence had passed away, but it was in no way the end of the E Street Band.  As much as of a cliché line this is, I do believe Clarence would want it this way.  

As much as I am a fan of Bruce Springsteen, I think that his music is exponentially better with the E Street Band as opposed to his solo efforts as well as his poor-received Human Touch and  Lucky Town.  A major reason for that is Clarence Clemons.  Clarence’s work at times was understated, but at others was brought to the forefront of the E Street Sound.  I truly in my heart believe Bruce would not know the success he has known, had it not been for Clarence Clemons.  

If you were to ask a Bruce fan what his favorite Clarence Clemons solo is, 9/10 will say “Jungleland”, and with good reason too.  It is not only his most recognizable, and longest solo, but also probably his most technically proficient.  Luckily for you, oh faithful readers, I am that 1/10 that does not think so.

My all time favorite Clarence solo come at the end of “Bobby Jean”.  In my own humble opinion, without that solo, “Bobby Jean” could easily become just another lost track that probably wouldn’t make the final cut of Born In The USA.  However, the last verse of the song contains one of my all time favorite Bruce lyrics: “I’m just calling one last time, not to change your mind but just to say I miss you baby.  Good luck, goodbye Bobby Jean.”  As soon as the last word is spoken, Clarence comes through with an absolutely amazing solo on his sax that perfectly describes the mood of the song.  

Many a night Steve, Rory, and myself have debated if this is a song dedicated to a girl or a man, and even moreso are the lyrics platonic or romantic.  I say that the song is for a girl, and the feelings are indeed romantic, but the singer of this song never had the chance to act upon his feelings.  He knows if he tells this girl that he loves her before she moves away that it will forever ruin her memories of him.  Rather, he just suffers and says goodbye to his best friend and true love.  While this is one of Bruce’s more uplifting pop-sounding songs, Clarence’s solo at the end gives the end a final somber grievance that contradicts the synthesized beats.  In the end, it becomes another Springsteen classic and beloved tune at all Springsteen Concerts.

(Editor's note: Common opinion agrees "Bobby Jean" was inspired by Steven Van Zandt leaving the E Street Band.)

As word spread of Clarence’s death, the rock 'n roll community mourned the incredible loss of the one and only “Big Man”.  I close this blog entry with 2 of my other favorite bands paying tribute to him, U2 and Bon Jovi.  

RIP Big Man.  


Monday, January 9, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Springsteen in the Streets

Two things about this video from 1988 in Copenhagen:

First, all three of the handsome fellows running this blog have lived in New York City for a bit of time now. Which means that we've seen, roughly, 10,000 street performers. And we've NEVER seen anything close to something like this video. Hell, I would've loved to see even the dork in the yellow sweater.

And secondly, it is amazing that this video still exists. I often forget that people shot home videos that had good sound and picture quality before 2002. Everything in my mind looks like the opening of The Wonder Years.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Brief History of Bruce (OB)

In this series of posts, we will give you some background on how your three lovely bloggers became Springsteen fans. Third up, OB:

If you were to ask me when I discovered Bruce Springsteen, the answer would probably be, “When I was about 6 or 7 years old.” If you were to ask mewhen I became a fan of Bruce, I would say, “Probably around 14 or 15 years old.” But if you asked me when I became an obsessed Springsteen fanatic, then I can answer, without hesitation, “Sunday July 27, 2003.”

My mother was a Springsteen fan and we had a few of his albums around the house. Born In The USA was the first cassette tape that I really remember listening to. No fast forwarding, both sides, just really loving these pop-rock anthems. The titular song was the first song I knew all the words to and could sing along with, albeit horribly. Along with Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, I was introduced to Bruce at an early age, and can honestly say I did like him.

As I got older though, I kind of just forgot about Bruce and got into harder and heavier music. Bruce was replaced by the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Ozzy Osboune. But when he released The Rising in 2002, I have to say that I was really impressed. I remembered why I loved his music so much in the first place. In December of 2002, I got my driver’s license and would borrow my mom’s car a lot. Most of the CDs in there were show tunes, which I despise. But there was one CD that I could always listen to, Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits. Even though now I think that is a pretty poor representation of his career, both "Born To Run" and "Badlands" still bring back nostalgic feelings about being 17 and driving around in my mom’s car.

But on July 27th, 2003 I can literally say I had a life-changing-experience when I saw my first ever Bruce Springsteen concert. I went with some friends from high school; we had just graduated the month prior and were still about a month away from leaving for college. It was a beautiful summer night in the parking lot of Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. My friends and I were able to sneak a case of beer from one of our houses, we were grilling some hot dogs, and I was pretty excited to see what I thought would be a pretty good rock n’ roll show.

When the lights went down in Giants Stadium and I heard the opening chords of "Downbound Train", I knew this was going to be so much more than just a pretty good rock n’ roll show. I remembered this song from my mom’s Born In The USA tape, but this was so different. Next he kicked into "Lonesome Day" and "The Rising", and I was just mesmerized by what I was seeing on stage. I had a small knowledge of Springsteen songs, but most of the songs that night I was hearing for the first time. Sometimes, I look back at the setlist from that night and get angry that I didn’t appreciate some of the songs I was hearing then, but I knew they were special even then.

Bruce had connected with me! When he sang "Candy’s Room" I was surehe was singing about the girl I had an unrequited crush on in high school. When he sang about “getting wasted in thesummer heat” during Backstreets, I was certain he was singing about me and my buddies in the parking lot just a few hours ago. When I got home that night I went hunting formy mom’s old tapes of Greetings and Born In The USA. I listened to them with new appreciation,and started downloading whatever else I could by Springsteen. The man was a genius and I was hooked. I still had a love for hard rock music, but nothing could top Springsteen.

Nine years later, I’ve seen Bruce a few more times, and now as a fully fledged fanatic, I know and sing along with every song. But I always remember my first Bruce show and the night I went from listening to Bruce Springsteen’s music to becoming a fan of Bruce Springsteen.

OB's Stats
Favorite song: Incident on 57th Street
Favorite album: Born in the USA
Number of Concerts attended: 8
Least favorite song: 57 Channels and Nothing On

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - The River

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy

When the Occupy Wall Street protests began, they started a blog where people shared their stories of tough economic times. It may be a touch insensitive, but as I read these, they immediately reminded me of Bruce Springsteen lyrics. Bruce has always been inspired by the working class poor, and it speaks loads that lyrics from 30 years ago are even more significant today.

In a 2009 interview on The Daily Show, Springsteen described the state of America and his role in it: "We've had an enormous moral, spiritual, economic collapse. People go to storytellers when times are like that. And our band was built from the beginning for hard times." When I look at story told in The River (and other classic story-songs like Atlantic City), it is somewhat depressing to see how little things have changed over the years. However, these songs are universal and serve as an inspiration to others.

In the same interview, Stewart said, "You introduced me to the concept of the other side. You introduce me to the concept of you go through the tunnel, and you take a chance, and you can work to get away from your circumstance. And by working to get away from your circumstance, you can make something better of yourself, but there's no guarantee." I've taken this message away from Springsteen's songs for years, but I've never been able to explain it this clearly and succinctly.

My Brief History of Bruce (Steve)

In this series of posts, we will give you some background on how your three lovely bloggers became Springsteen fans. Second up, Steve:

My Bruce Springsteen indoctrination was a three-stage process dating back to 1995 when I received Bruce’s Greatest Hits album as a Christmas stocking stuffer (purchased by my Mother at the checkout aisle at Pathmark). I had an instant affection for Born in the USA but as an eleven-year-old brainwashed by grunge and heavy metal on the radio, I found Bruce’s music too soft to fully get me behind the entire album.

My interest remained limited until 2002 when The Rising was top of the charts and a live performance music video of The Rising gave me a sample of Bruce’s enthralling entertainer skills. But it was Lonesome Day’s music video, with its elegiac imagery and hopeful lyrics mixed with melancholy that compelled to receive my second Bruce album, once again in the form of a Christmas present.

The final stage of complete immersion came in 2004 during my sophomore year at college. I finally had access to a high-speed Internet connection, considerable CPU storage space and an unregulated network to do all the illegal music downloading I wanted. With such freedoms I was able to explore Bruce’s entire body of work, devouring everything from Tunnel of Love to an alternate version of the then unreleased Spanish Eyes to a live version of Downbound Train from 1985.

I’ve spent the past seven years obsessing over his music and feel like I still discover another amazing song every week. But through it all, The Rising is – and always will be – the album that defines my relationship.

Steve's Stats
Favorite song: Rosalita
Favorite album: The Rising
Number of Concerts attended:4
Least favorite song: Part Man, Part Monkey

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Brief History of Bruce (Rory)

In this series of posts, we will give you some background on how your three lovely bloggers became Springsteen fans. First up, Rory:

In what would seem stunning to most people, I didn't give a crap about music from the age of 12 through 16. While these are usually formative years for most people's music tastes, I was more obsessed with comic books and basketball. I had a brief affair with Hootie and the Blowfish in 1995, but that taught me the harsh lesson that "cool" comes and goes in the blink of an eye. In addition, it was too expensive to keep up with all the latest crazes. CDs and CD players were outrageously expensive, especially considering the vastly superior music formats and players we currently have at mostly lower prices.

Then, in 1999, Bruce reunited back with the E Street Band, and he was all over the news. My mom went to his concert in Madison Square Garden in the summer of 2000, and would constantly rave about him. I had been working part time at a comic book store, which had the radio station blaring Q104.3, New York's classic rock station. So, I did enjoy the genre, and was vaguely familiar with some of Springsteen's work. When my mom brought home Springsteen's Live in New York album in 2001, I decided "I will now become a Springsteen fan." Bruce didn't disappoint, as that album, in addition with The Rising, was the perfect way to win over a new fan like myself.

With this, I finally began to develop what one woud call "musical taste". After exploring Bruce's work, I became a fan of many other classic rock musicians (Beatles, Bowie, Queen, etc.). I sought out the bands that both influenced, and drew inspiration from, these musicians. Springsteen's work reintroduced me to music as a whole, and without him, I wouldn't be the loveable karoake crooner I become after several drinks.

Rory's Stats
Favorite Song: Atlantic City
Favorite Album: Darkness On The Edge of Town
Number of Bruce Concerts Attended: 7
Least Favorite Song: A Night With The Jersey Devil

Monday, January 2, 2012

Springsteen Video of the Week - Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, Live in New York City

For the first ever Springsteen Video of the Week, I'd like to humbly submit this live version of "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out". I love this song, because it touches on two subjects I've been obsessed with since childhood.

The first is entrance music. As a wee boy growing up in Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey, I dreamed of making it as a star in the National Basketball Association. And while being a basketball star would potentially bring me fame, fortune, and women, what I truly desired was a bad-ass song to enter the court to. Who can hear this song without thinking of Michael Jordan? And entrance music worked for many of the careers I came up with as a child: wrestler, astronaut, Transformer, what have you.

"Tenth Avenue Freeze Out"'s opening would be what I'd want to enter a confetti-and-laser-light-filled room to. The original studio version is a scant few seconds. However, in the video above, Clarence plays those same nine notes for over two minutes. Honestly, I could've listened to it for twenty-two minutes.

The second reason to love this song is because it is the origin story of the E Street Band. As a comic book nerd, I always loved a good story explaining how the hero got his powers. In this live version he goes into even greater detail explaining how the E Streeters came to be.

So this is why I chose a twenty minute version of "Tenth Avenue" as the first Springsteen Video of the Week. It is powerful, and Bruce gives it his all. This blog may last two weeks, two years, or two decades, but at least, off the bat, we got to throw a rock-and-roll bar mitzvah.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let Us Now Praise Bruce

Welcome to Legends of Springsteen, your new source for complete and utter Springsteenmania. 2012 is an exciting time for fans as we have a new album and a worldwide tour on the horizon. We’ll be spending plenty of time discussing both of those events but we’re really here to dive into the minutiae of Bruce Springsteen’s entire career.

We don't claim to be experts. But we recognize we have an unhealthy obsession with all things Springsteen and our family members say we need to channel it somehow, so hopefully you'll indulge us for a little while.

Thank you to Ben Stiller for giving us the Legends of Springsteen sketches that inspired the title of this blog. Please don’t sue us.

-- OB, Rory and Steve