Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lyrics Spotlight - Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Windows are for cheaters, chimneys for the poor
Closets are for hangers, winners use the door
- Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

For years I’ve been perplexed by this particular set of lyrics. In many ways, I still am. But listening to it the other day, I had a sudden insight into what they might mean. In this ode to fervent young love in the face of family, societal and economic hurdles, these lyrics express the narrator’s refusal to let his courtship be clandestine. His relationship is going to be out in the open, regardless of what anyone else thinks. With windows suggesting the furtive side-entrance for infidelity and closets being the hiding place of those afraid of getting caught, I’m not quite sure where chimneys and the poor fit into this picture. But then part of the joy of listening to a Bruce Springsteen song is that you never understand 100% of the song anyway. The mysteries and peculiarities of some of his iconic songs are often what bring us back, each time hoping to understand a little more.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lyrics Spotlight - Ain't Good Enough for You

If we go out, you say I'm such a bore
If we stay in, you say what are we living for
- Ain’t Good Enough for You, The Promise

These lyrics echo my internal monologue on many a Saturday night. I’ve always been one to agonize over the decision making process more than I should, even for silly things like whether to go out on the town or stay in and keep it low key on a weekend. Either way you lose according to the narrator in “Ain’t Good Enough for You.” But when I’m having trouble deciding which way to go on a Saturday night, I often think of these lyrics and remind myself it’s not all as doom and gloom as it is for the narrator in this song. As with many of Sprinsteen’s lyrics, the sadness of his characters reminds me to appreciate how fortunate I am with my lot in life. So this weekend, whether you go out or stay in, just live in the moment!

On a side note, by pure coincidence, this post appears exactly a year after the last time I did a lyrics spotlight on this song. Here's to 2014!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Video Spotlight - She's The One

Another one of the top 100 Bruce songs that we've yet to discuss, "She's The One" is a classic Springsteen song that often gets overlooked.  The main problem for this is the company it keeps.  The Born To Run album is so strong that "She's The One" doesn't crack the top five!  On nearly any other album, "She's The One" is strong enough to be a hit single.

The video above really encapsulates the pounding energy of this song.  Like "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", this song is much better seen live.  Also, in past articles, I've discussed the eras of Springsteen.  While late-70s Springsteen is still my favorite, the post-Rising Springsteen is a strong runner-up.  After about a decade off his game, Bruce's reunion with the E Street Band in 1999 and subsequent Rising album boosted his performance to a height seldom seen by aging rock stars.  The entire E Street Band here is firing on all cylinders, topped off by Clarence's magnificent sax solo.

So to sum up - great (and slightly overlooked) song, and an amazing live performance.  Enjoy your week, folks!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lyrics Spotlight - Drive All Night

"I swear I'll drive all night again, just to buy you some shoes."
--Drive All Night, The River

When I posted about the top 100 Springsteen songs, it was not only a blatant attempt at getting you to click on the links and read our archives.  I also listed the songs to spotlight those we haven't  yet discussed in roughly 200 blog posts.  The highest ranking song was "Drive All Night", coming in at number 14.

While there is no denying the popularity of "Drive All Night", the song never quite clicked with me.  Tucked in at the end of The River's second album, it is yet another song covering the topics of cars and women.  And while I do love songs dedicated to the ladies, it is the car aspect that loses me.

As a city dweller for roughly 10 years, I've come to embrace public transportation.  Many people hate public transportation, preferring to go where they want at whatever time they want.  However, a car is a very expensive investment, as gas and maintenance can cost a pretty penny.  I always saw the freedom gained by using a car cancelled out by the options you lose by having less money.  Furthermore, as the functional alcoholic that I am, I prefer being able to drink as much as I want, whenever I want, and not have to worry about how to get home.  In addition, you can sleep on public transportation, or read a book, or write a blog article....

Anyway, back to the song.  While Clarence's solo in the middle is fantastic, the song is too long, and doesn't have the dramatic flair of other eight-minute-plus Bruce epics like "Jungleland" or "New York City Serenade".  But what sticks in my craw about this song is the lyrics in the chorus.  Driving all night, for a pair of freaking shoes?!?

First of all, the narrator of this song must have nothing going on in his life.  Seriously, does he not have to work in the morning?  How can he justify such a long journey for something so frivolous?  And this isn't an easy mission - not only is it taking all night, but he is battling the wind, the rain, and the snow!  And what kind of woman would be impressed by this?  I know that if I came back at 4 in the morning on a harsh winter night and gave my girlfriend a pair of shoes, she'd think I was insane.  This is the only scenario in my mind where this songs makes sense:

Bruce and his lady friend were having a nice Italian dinner, that she cooked all day.  While Bruce is slurping up his pasta fagioli, he gets marinara on his girlfriend's shoes.  The horror!  And, to top it off, his girlfriend is a nurse, and she has to wear those boring nurse shoes to work (she can't work in high heels or designer shoes), and her shift starts at 5AM.  So, Bruce, to make it up, goes out driving all night to find an all-night shoe-store.

You know, that story I just pulled out of my ass isn't half-bad.  If you have the same issues with the song as I do, try remembering this back story to give it more context.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gambling With Bruce Springsteen

As mentioned numerous times on this blog, both myself and OB are degenerate gamblers.  In fact, when I'm not writing about Bruce Springsteen, I write rambling reviews of my trips down to Atlantic City.  In my most recent entry, I listed the 12 keys to a successful trip to Atlantic City.  However, upon rereading it, I left out an important variable: music.

Even during the wildest weekends in Atlantic City, you will find yourself with a bit of downtime in your hotel room.  Perhaps you are cracking open a few beers and getting ready for the night to come....or perhaps you are suffering from a vicious hangover you had from last night's activities.  Regardless, nothing brightens up either scenario like some great tunes.  This is why I always bring my iPod and a small speaker on each trip.  Throughout the years, I've assembled a gambling playlist for Atlantic City, which, unsurprisingly, leans heavily on Bruce's song catalog.  The songs are broken into three categories:

Category 1: Yeah, I guess there's some vague reference to gambling there

"Shackled and Drawn"

While other songs ("Rockaway the Days" and "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City") also reference gambling, "Shackled and Drawn" makes the list due to its the foot-stomping beat and Bruce's hollering.  While the "gambling man" here is an obvious metaphor for the financial institutions of the country, as a literal gambling man, that one line creates quite the fantasy.  Unfortunately,when I roll the dice, I still end up paying the bills.

"Land of Hope and Dreams"

I've written about this song plenty of times on this blog already, and have even highlighted how much I love the "whores and gamblers" line.  Combined with "Shackled and Drawn", these two songs are like a shot of adrenaline, giving you the energy you'll need to pull an all-nighter on the town.

Category 2: Ooh, that's gambling, baby!

"Easy Money"

Wrecking Ball certainly is quite the album for gamblers, isn't it?  While this song doesn't directly reference gambling, the attitude of "going on the town looking for easy money" is definitely the mindset of every Atlantic City visitor.


From Tracks, I was surprised to see this song make the top 100 Bruce songs list that came out a couple weeks ago.  It was one of the rare songs that we had not yet covered on Legends of Springsteen.  Like an angry version of "Hungry Heart", Bruce unveils his personal rage, showing a side of him rarely seen.  I feel the same about the song "Roulette" on this playlist as I do about actual roulette in the casino- it isn't my favorite, but it would be weird if it wasn't there.

"Roll of the Dice"

Another song I've previously discussed on this site, this is Bruce on auto-pilot.  It is simple song telling a simple story of a guy down on his luck and taking a chance, yet I can't help but get sucked in by it.  It truly encapsulates the crazy optimism that gamblers have - despite losing all the time, we all think we're just a moment away from sipping champagne on ice.  By the end of the song, as Bruce begs for "one more roll", I imagine him being dragged out of the casino by security guards.  We've all been there, right?

Category 3: That's it, I gotta go to the casino!  See you guys in 3 hours!

"Atlantic City"

You knew this was coming, right?  It's why you clicked on this link, admit it.  Yet another frequently discussed song, this is one of my all-time favorites.  Mind you, there are many versions of "Atlantic City", and each one has value to your gambling playlist.  The above version is the electric version from 2000, and the upbeat sound works best as you prepare to go out for the night.  The original acoustic version, however, is best listened to as you sober up, count your losses, and swear never to return to that wretched town again (but you know that's a lie).

"Viva Las Vegas"

Simply put, it is the greatest ode to gambling ever written, and we really must consider ourselves truly blessed that Bruce covered this song.

So, there you have it: put these songs on your iPod next time you hit a casino, and even if you wind up broke, you'll know you had a swinging time.  Good luck on those aces, sirs!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Why I Stopped Blogging by OB

So you may or may have not noticed that I didn't write much in the past few weeks on this blog.  Three posts in two months, to be specific.  Steve and Rory kept this blog going, and did a phenomenal job.  Kudos, guys.  Thank you.  

So why did I stop?   In short, I ran out of topics.  There's only so many ways I can say that Bruce is great.  He is, there's no two which ways about it.  But I got bored writing that over and over again.  This isn't Bruce's fault, he hit big in 1975 with Born To Run, 2 years after his debut release, and has been on top ever since.  Yeah, his popularity has dipped at times, but he's never really gone away.  He's taken some time off, he hasn't always been as popular as he is at his peaks, but he never was in the "Where Are They Now?" group.

And there's not really a story arc either.  He's never dealt with drug and alcohol issues, or had embarrassing PR problems.  He's just been on top of his game, immensely popular, and stayed out of the tabloids.  This hasn't made me any less of a fan, in fact it made me an even bigger one.  But I got bored writing over and over how much I loved Bruce.

So will I keep going?  Yeah, I will.  I thought about quitting the blog for awhile, but really what's to be gained?  So I hope you love Bruce as much as I do, because you're going to be hearing about how incredible he is.  Deal with it, you know he is.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Top 100 Springsteen Songs

Last Thursday, two Springsteen fans released their crowd-sourced list of the top 100 Springsteen songs.  Now, mind you, analyzing "best of" lists on the Internet is tired and pointless, but I can't help myself from sharing a few thoughts.

Firstly, when looking at such a long list, it is important not to get hung up on the rankings of each song.  Whether "Long Time Comin'" is better than "Blood Brothers" does not matter.  I'm grading this list for its comprehensiveness.  Does this list accurately represent Bruce's career?  Can a Springsteen novice use this as a launching pad for exploring Springsteen's music?  On these aspects, the list is very successful.  Nearly every album and landmark single from Bruce's career is represented here.  While Working on a Dream is snubbed, the list still has numerous songs from recent albums such as Magic (4 songs!), The Promise, and Wrecking Ball.  This list is so thorough that even a Springsteen die-hard like myself had to go back and listen to a few songs that I had forgotten about.

Only two downsides pop to mind regarding this list.  One is that it doesn't look like Bruce is anywhere near retirement - I expect him to keep chugging out more albums in the near future (dozens of songs were scrapped in the writing process for Wrecking Ball, so if nothing else, I'd expect another B-sides album).  Therefore, this list will probably  have to be constantly updated.  The other negative of this list probably only bugs me: it is in an image format!  Why not list it out in text?  It makes it easier to search and find specific songs in the list!

With that being said, I've taken a few minutes to type up the list for you, dear reader.  I've also added links to the times we've discussed these songs on the blog, so if you want to know our thoughts on each song, including live performances and analysis of the lyrics, make sure to click away.

1. Thunder Road
2. Jungleland
3. Backstreets
4. Born To Run
5. Incident On 57th Street
6. Racing In The Street
7. Badlands
8. The River
9. The Promised Land
10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
11. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
12. Land Of Hope & Dreams
13. Prove It All Night
14. Drive All Night
15. Lost In The Flood
16. New York City Serenade
17. Atlantic City
18. No Surrender
19. Long Walk Home
20. 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
21. The Promise
22. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
23. The Rising
24. Something In The Night
25. For You
26. Kitty's Back
27. Growin' Up
28. Brilliant Disguise
29. Downbound Train
30. Spirit In The Night
31. Because The Night
32. She's The One
33. Born In The USA
34. Tougher Than The Rest
35. My City Of Ruins
36. Candy's Room
37. One Step Up
38. If I Should Fall Behind
39. Point Blank
40. Independence Day
41. Youngstown
42. Stolen Car
43. Out In The Street
44. The Price You Pay
45. Adam Raised A Cain
46. Sherry Darling
47. Loose Ends
48. This Hard Land
49. The Ghost of Tom Joad
50. Thundercrack
51. Tunnel of Love
52. Bobby Jean
53. It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City
54. Meeting Across the River
55. Reason To Believe
56. My Love Will Not Let You Down
57. Human Touch
58. Frankie
59. The Ties That Bind
60. Ramrod
61. Dancing In The Dark
62. Back In Your Arms
63. Living Proof
64. You're Missing
65. Long Time Comin'
66. Blood Brothers
67. Streets Of Fire
68. Girls In Their Summer Clothes
69. Glory Days
70. Night
71. Better Days
72. Highway Patrolman
73. Wrecking Ball
74. American Skin (41 Shots)
75. Cadillac Ranch
76. The E Street Shuffle
77. Fade Away
78. I'm Goin' Down
79. Be True
80. Hungry Heart
81. The Fever
82. Death To My Hometown
83. Roulette
84. Radio Nowhere
85. Walk Like A Man
86. Janey Don't You Lose Heart
87. Jackson Cage
88. Lucky Town
89. Take 'Em As They Come
90. Valentine's Day
91. Streets Of Philadelphia
92. I'm On Fire
93. My Hometown
94. None But The Brave
95. Blinded By The Light
96. Across the Border
97. Murder Incorporated
98. Devil's Arcade
99. Happy
100. Open All Night

Friday, January 4, 2013

Video Spotlight: "Poor Poor Pitiful Me"/"Cadillac Ranch"

I've been on a big Warren Zevon kick lately, and enjoying it immensely.  Bruce and Warren Zevon were no strangers, as previously discussed on this blog.  But I found this video on YouTube, and really loved it.  What's really cool about it is Warren covering a Bruce song in Jersey, a gutsy move in and of itself, but not even a hit single, instead a deep track off The River.  And he pulls it off!  Listen to the crowd reaction when "Cadillac Ranch" starts up, they recognize the song and immediately get into it and start singing and dancing along.  Awesome stuff.