Friday, May 31, 2013

Springsteen Remix - Girl Talk: "Steady Shock"

(Note: the Springsteen sample starts around the one minute mark)

For those who are completely unfamiliar with Girl Talk, that is the professional name of Gregg Gillis, a DJ specializing in creating dance music for people with ADD.  Mixing current hip-hop with classic rock staples, he creates unexpected and surprising music that will get anyone dancing.  If you don't like the current mash-up, just wait a minute, and it will change to something you love.

In this excerpt, Girl Talk mixes Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark" with N.E.R.D.'s Everyone Nose.  I'm sure it will rub some Springsteen fan's the wrong way, but I encourage you to keep an open mind.  It is interesting to hear a riff you've heard thousands of times in a completely new context - after a couple listens, you may find yourself singing "All the girls standing in the line for the bathroom" to that familiar tune.  Mixes like these benefit both artists, as fans of N.E.R.D. may check out Springsteen and vice versa.

Girl Talk makes all of his music available for free, as 1) he has no way of secure the copyrights from all of these artists to make the music legally and 2) he makes his money from touring.  You can download his work at Illegal Art - the album that this mix is from is his most recent work All Day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lyrics Spotlight- "Mary Queen Of Arkansas"

“I don’t understand how you can hold me so tight and love me so damn loose.”
(“Mary Queen of Arkansas“, Greetings From Asbury Park)

Greetings is one of those albums I have to be in the mood to listen to.  That is not to say that it’s a bad album, or even one that I don’t enjoy.  But I just can’t throw it on, like I would Darkness or Born In The USA.  Bruce still hadn't established himself as Bruce yet.  He was still trying to figure out his own identity and gave in too easy to his influences and tried to write songs like Dylan and Elvis.  It wasn't until Born To Run when he identified himself as Bruce Springsteen, and would go on to inspire an entire generation of singers and songwriters himself.

But he still had some great songs before Born To Run, and they are counted among his fans as some of his best work.  I wouldn't exactly call this song that, but there are some who do, and good for them.  I was listening to this song and never noticed this lyric before.  It’s pure Springsteen, and it’s lyrics like that foreshadowed the Bruce that was to come and would become so beloved.

I haven’t exactly had the best luck with the fairer sex.  I won’t act like I have been terribly wronged by them, or lost the great love of my life.  But like everyone, I've had my share of heartbreak and great moments too.  But it’s only in looking back at them that we realize that maybe some of them weren't as great as we think they were.  Maybe if we paid a little more attention to signals at that time, instead of interpreting them the way we would want them, it would have helped.  At least there’s always Bruce to help us.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Great Moments in Springsteen Television History: "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia"

Saying "yes" is not only a great way to succeed in improv comedy, but also a great way to succeed in life.  Cynicism and doubt may help you avoid danger, but it will also completely prevent you from taking the risks necessary to achieve your dreams.  This truism is made clear in "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia", a show that not only makes you laugh but teaches you morals and valuable life lessons.  In the episode "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods", Charlies and Dennis find that saying "yes" leads them to unforgettable experiences in Atlantic City, ranging from meeting a suspicious trucker to winning a ton of money, donating it to charity, and having a drunken romp with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard set to the tune of "Glory Days".  This also ties in with another important lesson hammered home in many episodes of "It's Always Sunny": drink a lot and have fun, because nothing bad will happen.  Coincidentally, your three blog writers will be making a trip to Atlantic City tonight, testing out these practices.  So, if you see three men saying "yes" and singing Bruce tunes, be sure to stop by and introduce yourself.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Concert Review: The Killers, Brooklyn, NY (05/18/2013)

I've always heard that The Killers were enormously influenced by Springsteen, and if you loved Bruce, you'll love The Killers.  I just never believed it.  Until I saw them live...

A little personal history first.  I was late to get into The Killers.  In 2004, when all my friends were raving about this new album, Hot Fuss, I wasn't really into it.  Sure the single from it "Somebody Told Me" was fairly catchy, but I was sure NYC rock radio stations would outplay it that summer, which they did.  When they followed it up with another huge single, "Mr. Brightside", I simply thought "Ok, they are not 1 hit wonders.  But they're not Metallica, so no need to get overexcited about them like some of my friends were."  They weren't Metallica, and they weren't trying to be.  I just didn't understand that at the time.  

Next year, when they released Sam's Town, highlighted by the hit single "When You Were Young", I stopped being so negative and acknowledged that The Killers were for real and deserved a listen.  It was around this time, while reading reviews of Sam's Town, that I started reading about how much you can tell the influence of Bruce in their music.  I went out and bought Sam's Town and Hot Fuss.  And I was underwhelmed...Sure, they were good (not great) albums, but Ijust didn't hear any Bruce influence.  I was actually a little disappointed in myself, thinking I'd bought into the hype around this band.  Their next album, Day and Age, again I liked a lot, but I would still barely even acknowledge that I was a Killers fan.  Then this past September, when I head "Runaways", I realized two things: This was the first time I really, truly loved a Killers song.  And this was the first time I heard a clear Springsteen influence.  When they released the album, Battle Born, and I listened to it in its entirety, I was seriously impressed.  It was a solid album, and I thought to myself, "I really am a fan of this band."

It was with that mindset, that I went and bought tickets to see them for the first time at  this past weekend at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  I went with my buddy Tom.  Tom and I have the exact vice-versa feelings when it comes to Bruce and The Killers.  Tom LOVES The Killers, I'm pretty sure they are his favorite band, and while he definitely likes and respects Bruce, he's not obsessed like I am.  I like and respect The Killers, but they are miles away from my level of Bruce fandom.  However, after seeing them live I absolutely gained a new appreciation for them as their own separate band but also as them being  fans of Springsteen(Ironically enough, it was taking Tom to his first Bruce concert that got really got him into in Springsteen.)  

Yes, the Springsteen influence could be felt right from the start.  When their lead singer, Brandon Flowers, walked out with zero fanfare and played solo piano piece "Enterlude" right into "When You Were Young", with the house lights still on, in that same  "1,2 punch" that it is on Sam's Town, I thought "straight from Bruce's playbook.  Very nice."  When Flowers addressed the crowd, and said "It's Saturday night, and you knew The Killers were in town!  So don't tell me you forgot to bring your dancing shoes!"  as the intro for "From Here On Out"(one of the best songs on the new album), it was "Springsteen 101".  When he got the fans chant along "Woah oh oh oh oh ohhhh" during "Spaceman", it was like hearing Bruce get the crowd into "Badlands".  Flowers also gave the band the same, over the top, but sincerely heartfelt, introductions that Bruce gives the boys and girls from E Street.  Even hearing certain lyrics, just reminded me of Bruce's songwriting style.  For example:

"Should our paths ever decide to cross
You may wonder what the trouble cost
That don't matter now, life goes on
Hallelujah, the troubles' gone"
("From Here On Out", Battle Born)

Tell me that's influenced by a guy who just has Darkness On The Edge Of Town on repeat, and I'll call you a liar!

It's hard to explain without being their live, which is the best endorsement I can give The Killers.  If you're a fan of rock and roll music, you really owe it to yourself to see them live.  We had awful seats, and that's what I was most annoyed about.  I wanted to be down on the lower levels, closer to the stage to really get into those songs.  I know all great lead singers find a way to interact with that crowd but Flowers has a certain "Springsteen-esque" quality that has to be seen.  Speaking of Flowers, he is easily one of the best lead singers I've heard live.  He hit every note, and gave it his all for the entire concert without showing any signs of struggle. 

I've been listening to their four studio albums non-stop since Saturday night, and I feel like such a dummy for never hearing the Springsteen influence before.  Seriously,I don't know how I didn't know songs like "Dustland Fairytale" and "For Reason Unknown" are descended from a band that truly loves Born To Run.  
If you're on this blog, clearly you're a fan of Bruce.  In which case I definitely would say they are worth the money to see live, and if you have the means, spend a little extra for good seats.  You won't be disappointed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Video Spotlight- "Glory Days" (Bon Jovi)

I once heard Stevie Van Zandt say in an interview "You know if Jon or Bruce were from any other state no one would ever compare the two."  I somewhat agree with him, as the two aren't very similar but you know that old stereotype: "All white males from New Jersey who play in rock bands are the same."

That's not to say that there isn't a connection. Bon Jovi has stated on many occasions how big a fan he is of Bruce and Bruce has stated his admiration for Bon Jovi too. They have shared the stage a few times and I'm sure I will be covering that in future Video Spotlights.

But for now we have this, a quick little cover thrown into the middle of a Bon Jovi concert in Long Island, NY in 1995. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lost Songs- "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)"

So it's not entirely fair to call this a "lost" song.  Bruce did release it on the limited edition third disc of his compilation double album The Essential Bruce Springsteen.  But that disc is pretty rare.  Bruce also will sometimes play this song live, as seen above from a recent concert at Metlife Stadium.

However, it's played rarely enough and not widely distributed, and this is my blog so I'm calling it a lost song.  As you can tell from listening to it, it definitely has that early 1980's Springsteen sound.  Clearly influenced by 1950's rockabilly style guitar riffs, this song was criminally cut from The River, never put on another studio album, including Tracks.  That's a shame, as this might be one of the best Bruce songs to dance to.  Seriously, pump it up right now and just try not to tap your toes.  It's nearly impossible.

This song reached popularity, when covered by Welsh singer/songwriter Dave Edmunds.  According to the 2005 Springsteen Biography, The Ties That Bind:

"When (Edmunds) went to see Springsteen perform at Wembley Arena (in 1981), he expected a good show but not necessarily a new song to record. "I was backstage in the hospitality area after the gig," Edmunds remembered, "and one of his crew of road managers tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Bruce wants to meet you.' I went back and had this great talk with him, and he played me this song and said, 'I'd like you to do this, if you like it.' He said he'd send me the tape, which he did."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Video Spotlight- "Old Time Rock N' Roll"

In December of 2011 I got an email at work from a coworker asking if anyone wanted to buy his tickets to see Bob Seger that night at Madison Square Garden.  I texted my buddy Mike and asked him if wanted to go with me.  He said he would have if it wasn't a weekday, and money wasn't so tight.  Since I'm only a casual fan of Seger, I didn't particularly care and went about the rest of my day.  Later that night the following texts were exchanged between myself and Mike:

Mike: "My parents are at Seger tonight"
Me: Cool.
Mike: "Bruce is there too"
Me: Bruce???
Mike: The Boss.

Dammit!  That one hurt.  The next day I looked up Seger's setlist and sure enough saw Bruce came out to do "Old Time Rock N' Roll" with Seger.  At first I was kinda mad at Mike for talking me out of going, but quickly got over it, as there was no way of knowing Bruce would be there.  At least there is always YouTube to enjoy the Bruce that got away.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Video Spotlight - Diarrhea Planet covering "Born To Run"

Here, the appetizingly named Diarrhea Planet and Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus perform a punked-out cover of "Born To Run", which may offend some hardcore fans but I thoroughly enjoyed.  While on the surface Bruce and punk music seem like strange bedfellows, the two have been intertwined for decades, going back to Bruce penning "Because the Night" for Patti Smith and originally writing "Hungry Heart" for the Ramones (one of my favorite factoids that I hope to one day use at a trivia night in a bar).  Bruce still affects the world of punk rock today, as many young punk bands (such as those in the video, as well as the Gaslight Anthem and Against Me!) cite Bruce as a huge influence on their music.  What is the cause of this relationship?  It is tough to tell, but I believe that Bruce's music, especially early in his career, was about a certain sense of alienation in a tough world, and a fight to find freedom.  Like the Sex Pistols or The Clash, he was singing for the outcasts in society, but with an American point-of-view.  While musically different (I haven't found many punk songs with saxophone solos), lyrically his songs speak to the same audience that would listen to punk rock, influencing future generations of musicians.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Video Spotlight - "Tumbling Dice" with the Rolling Stones

Continuing with the theme of "Bruce rocking out with legendary British musicians", here's our boy with the Rolling Stones in New Jersey, from last December.  As you can clearly see, Mick Jagger really can't get into the whole "share the microphone" move that Bruce is keen to do - he has to have his own mic with him at all times.  I'd be annoyed at this if it wasn't a classic Mick Jagger move.  Amusingly, Keith Richards doesn't seem to notice Bruce is on stage until Bruce comes up to him towards the end of the song.  Anyway, it isn't a great performance (it's been a while since the Rolling Stones have had one), so it'll have to settle for second place in the "Springsteen and Dice" category.  Sorry, but nothing is beating this one.