Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's from Legends of Springsteen!

The above video is from New Year's eve 1980 at the Nassau Colosseum in Uniondale, NY.  The concert went well over midnight, par for the course for 80's Springsteen, and Bruce was rocking on a cover of Wilson Picket's "In The Midnight Hour" in the minutes leading up to midnight followed promptly by the traditional classic "Auld Lang Syne".  I've seen Bruce play "In The Midnight Hour" at Metlife Stadium and he definitely brings the goods so I can definitely imagine that the Long Island crowd was getting into that New Year's eve.

A concert never really seems like a good way to spend New Year's Eve to me.  I have friends who go see Phish every year at MSG (which sounds like Hell to me, I hate Phish!), and one of my friends was trying to get me to go see Billy Joel in Brooklyn this year for New Year's.  But as fun as this concert looked, and even the old technology and shaky handling can't hide the fact that sharing champagne with Bruce at midnight would be amazing, I love New Year's Eve too much to spend it at a concert.  The booze, the countdown with friends, the fact that it's completely acceptable to kiss random women at midnight (don't even attempt this on any other night, and practice caution even on New Year's) all make for one of my favorite nights of the year.  However, if I was alive in 1980 and looking for New Year's plans, spending it with Bruce wouldn't be the worst way to do it.  So enjoy and a happy 2014 from your friends at Legends of Springsteen!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Great Moments in Springsteen TV History: WWF Wrestling Superstars

This isn't the first time I've written about "Born In The USA" as an entrance theme.  Nor is it the first time I've written about professional wrestling on this blog.  But back in the early to mid to eighties, when pro wrestling was gaining incredible popularity nationwide, as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now World Wrestling Entertainment) continued to expand nationwide, it wasn't uncommon for wrestlers to enter the ring songs by popular rock stars of the day.  But as cable TV became more and more prevalent, and musicians started to realize that they weren't getting any royalties, that was the ended of using copyrighted music without permission.

However before that time came, there was a popular tag team named the US Express, made up of Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo.  Two brothers-in-law, represented as "All-American" athletes, but not NCAA "All-American" athletes.  They represented hard work, dedication, and teamwork.  What better entrance theme for them then Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA"? As with a lot of people in the 1980's, including President Ronald Reagan, the actual lyrics and meaning of the song were overlooked due to it's catchy chorus and anthem-like introduction.  In the above match, watch how many fans are singing along with the music as they take to the ring.  Even moreso, after the match, when the US Express is celebrating winning the coveted WWF Tag Team titles, the music fits the atmosphere perfectly.  Unfortunately now, when WWE re-releases old US Express matches on DVD sets, "Born In The USA" is dubbed over with a generic knockoff to avoid paying for the rights to use it, as seen here.  It just doesn't seem the same without Bruce.

Interesting trivia fact:  When WWF stopped using copyrighted music they replaced "Born In The USA" with a song that was written by a songwriter they hired to create new entrance music for everyone.  The song he wrote for The US Express was "I Am A Real American", but Barry Windham quit WWF a few weeks later and "I Am A Real American" was given to wrestling phenomenon Hulk Hogan.  The song would become a major part in Hogan's identity and help propel him from beyond just pro wrestling fame and into a pop culture superstar.  However if you are not a fan of wrestling or Bruce Springsteen, this is not interesting trivia at all.  I apologize.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas From Legends Of Springsteen!

Here's just a quick note to thank all of our readers for a successful year two!  You may be wondering, "Hey, Goober, where were all the Christmas songs this month?"  Well, we covered them all last year.  So sit back, relax, and take a look through our archives:

Have a safe and happy holidays!

Monday, December 23, 2013

OB's Christmas List: Heavy Metal Songs I wish Bruce Would Cover

So with Christmas only being two days away I came up with my Christmas list of songs that I would love to see Bruce cover.  Keep in mind I grew up listening to heavy metal, and some of my friends are shocked when they know of all the other bands I love (Metallica, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath etc) that Bruce trumps all of them.  However I did put some forethought and didn't just randomly want to hear Bruce sing "Master Of Puppets", "Run To The Hills" and "Iron Man" as they wouldn't fit with the E Street sound.  So below are songs that I really do think could work for Bruce, but even still I'm well aware there is practically no chance of Bruce ever playing them.  I say practically, because as we all know anything is possible with Bruce.  And without further ado...

5.  Iron Maiden - "Afraid To Shoot Strangers"

Just because I said "Run To The Hills" didn't make it, doesn't mean Iron Maiden isn't on the list entirely.  One of my all-time favorite metal bands, and one of my favorite live acts to see, Iron Maiden has been putting out stellar albums since 1978.  Their lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, has one of the most powerful voices in all of music and probably would give Springsteen a hard time with most other Maiden songs.  But in this song Dickinson's voice is consistently low, almost whisper like, to portray the gravity of the emotion behind this song.  Before "Devils and Dust" questioned the The Second Gulf War with Iraq, Iron Maiden penned this song questioning The First Gulf War.  Like "Devils and Dust", the song is written from a soldier's point of view, who is following orders.  And although he knows there is honor in following orders, his conscience troubles him, as he is "Afraid To Shoot Strangers".

4.  Black Label Society - "Road Back Home"

Fellow New Jersey native, Zakk Wylde's band Black Label Society is known for their brutally hard guitar riffs and Zakk's signature gravelly blues voice.  However on this album, Book of Shadows, their trademark sound is changed for a much more melodic sound with acoustic guitars and pianos.  Of all the songs on this list, this is the one that I think has the most E Street sound - from the opening organ intro, to the pre-chorus and chorus that I could easily see Bruce and Stevie getting into.

3.  Guns N' Roses - "I Used To Love Her"

If Bruce Springsteen didn't exist, Guns N' Roses would be my favorite band.  But he does, so they ain't. Still, I absolutely love them. They were the first band that absolutely captured my attention and imagination.  From their bad boy antics to their legendary live shows, GNR was rock and roll rebellion personified, and I loved them for it.  Although Bruce and Axl Rose have played together before, I still can't imagine Bruce ever singing GNR.  Even though I can easily see Stevie and Nils jamming on this guitar riff like Slash and Izzy, and I can even see Bruce doing his playful laughing while singing the lyrics "I knew I'd miss her, so I had to keep her.  She's buried right in my backyard."  Still, a man can dream.

2. KISS - "Hard Luck Woman"

Much like Springsteen fanatics, KISS fans are as hardcore as they come.  The costumes, the facepaint, but most importantly the music has endeared KISS to their fans for decades now.  For a long time I didn't count myself as one of them, simply because Gene Simmons is probably the biggest jerk in rock and roll.  Stories of his ego and attitude has caused nearly as many headlines as their hit songs have.  However, much like I have with Axl Rose, I simply separate the music from the person.  Just because I don't agree with them personally, doesn't mean I can't like their music.  I even feel that way about Bruce sometimes!  And ever since I've been able to do that, I have become as big a KISS fan as can be.  I love everything about them, their characters, the blood and fire, but above all else their songs.  Oh man, how awesome would it be if Bruce came out in full blow KISS make up and then went right into this opening guitar lick!?  Alright, I gotta calm down.

1.  Motorhead- "I Ain't No Nice Guy" (Featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Slash)

Cigarettes, whiskey, and a lifetime of playing hard music at a blistering fast pace: that's what gave Motorhead their signature sound that has made them icons that they are in heavy metal.  When one first hears that Motorhead is playing with Ozzy and Slash, you can't help but think it's got to be a heavy metal classic.  And it definitely is, but not in the way you might think.  This mostly-acoustic, ballad-like song features an aging Lemmy and Ozzy (and this was over 20 years ago!) contemplating about the mistakes they've made in their life.   I would absolutely love to see Bruce take the stage with this song, solo with only an acoustic guitar, but again, like every song on this list, it is just not going to happen.

So, there you have it.  What do you guys say?  Any metal fans agree or have different picks?  Are their any weird genres of music that you would to see Bruce cover?  Let us know!  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Johnny Cash's "Johnny 99" and "Highway Patrolman"

Last month, I spotlighted Johnny Cash's cover of "I'm On Fire", and emphasized how it encouraged me to check out more music from the Man In Black.  Little do I know that it was not Cash's first foray into Springsteen music.  In 1983, Cash released an album called Johnny 99, including covers of both the title track and "Highway Patrolman".  Johnny takes Bruce's stark, bleak tunes and gives them a country flair.

While the Nebraska album was divisive among Springsteen fans at the time, but its influence on other musicians is clear, as it has been cited as an influence for musicians ranging from Steve Earle to Kelly Clarkson.  There are various covers of nearly every song from Nebraska - too many to list in this post.  So, let us know in the comments: do you have a favorite Nebraska cover?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Song Spotlight - "The Last Words Of Copernicus"

It is weird to think of Bruce Springsteen incorporating samples into his music (a la 2 Live Crew).  However, in "Death To My Hometown", Bruce took the chanting from Alan Lomax's recording of "The Last Words of Copernicus" to enhance the riotous sound of the record.  In fact, in many songs featured on Wrecking Ball, snippets from other songs are parsed through tracks such as "Shackled and Drawn" (Lyn Collin's "Me And My Baby Got Our Own Thing Going") and "Rocky Ground" (Peerless Four's "A Soldier In The Army Of the Lord").  It is interesting to see the Boss still experimenting with different ways of creating music in the fifth decade of his career.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Great Moments in Springsteen Cinema History: Grown-Ups 2

I recently had the great fortune of catching Grown-Ups 2 on an airplane. The fact that this half hazard collection of half heartedly written scenes makes up an actual movie – let alone one released by a major studio grossing over $100 million – is nothing short of astounding. Now, I’m an Adam Sandler faithful, so I’ll concede that I laughed a few times, but the only moment of real value is the invocation of Springsteen.

In the film’s climax, Sandler hosts an ‘80s themed party for the neighborhood, with attendees all dressed as pop culture icons. Happily, Sandler dresses like Springsteen on the cover of Born in the U.S.A. When his son doesn’t know who that is, Sandler responds, “My own son doesn’t know The Boss? I’ve failed as a father.”


Sadly, the film doesn’t feature any Springsteen tunes – even if it begs for a “Glory Days” riff. Alas, Sandler fans will just have to satiate themselves with “Growin’ Up” in Big Daddy or “Hungry Heart” in The Wedding Singer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Video Spotlight - "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)"....A Cappella!

Usually, we spotlight a ton of acoustic performances on this blog, but here's something that I personally haven't seen before: a completely instrument-free Springsteen snarling out a song.  And, surprisingly, it works!  Bruce fully commits to the rambunctious style, swinging his hips in his best Elvis impersonation and making classic Bruce-faces throughout the quick performance, and the audience buys in completely.

We usually try to keep the video spotlights short, but if you've got an hour to kill, I highly recommend watching this whole concert from 1986.  It is a must watch for fans of acoustic Bruce, as he plays a stripped down set with Danny Federici and Nils Lofgren.  The setlist includes many Born In The USA-era hits, as well as a being joined on stage by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lyrics Spotlight - Bobby Jean

And 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", Born In The U.S.A.

As I've mentioned before, I am a big comic book fan.  And, as any comic book fan knows, you will be the subject of hundreds of embarrassing moments that are almost unavoidable given the lifestyle.  Perhaps its that time you thought buying that fedora was a good idea; or that time your mom yelled "I'll pick you up at 8!" in front of all the cool kids at the comic convention; or that time someone asked you who would win in a fight between Batman and the Hulk, and you went into an extremely detailed break-down that disturbed the person who asked the question.  All of these are ultimately harmless "character builders", and everyone has them.  On the comic book podcast In This Issue, they will occasionally share these amusing tales, calling them "Embarrassing Nerd Confessions".  Their openness has inspired me to share some of my embarrassing Springsteen confessions, so strap yourself in - it is pretty cringe-worthy.  Ready?  Let's not beat around the bush:

I thought the above lyrics would be good to text to a girl.

Ugh, I want to kick my own ass after typing that.  But, now that that is out in the open, let's go back a bit.  It was college, and I was in my golden age of drunken texting.  I would get a couple of shots in me and think my texts were worthy of Bartlett's.  Some texts would be humorous, but most of the time I was sending a message at 4:17 AM that elegantly stated, "what r u up to".  Most of these texts would go unanswered, but I was a young man; a little failure would not deter me.

Upon this occasion, there was a girl who I had seen maybe a handful of times.  However, my charm was starting to wear thin (shocking!), and the girl was doing what was probably the most polite and mature thing you could do in your college years: just ignore me.  Now, this wasn't the first time, nor the last time, things would end this way with a girl.  But, I'd just like to breakdown how my reaction to this has changed over the last few years:

Early 20s Rory: "She hasn't responded to my text in two days!  Oh no!  This is it.  I'm doomed.  She hates me.  What did I do wrong?  Will I ever find love?  I'm going to die alone.  But maybe she lost her phone?  Or should I wait another day?  Should I give her a call?  Or maybe just another text?  Will that seem too desperate?  But what do I have to lose?  Heaven's to Betsy, what a pickle!"

Late 20s Rory: "She hasn't responded in two days?  Ah well, guess she's not that interested.  I wish her the best in all her future ventures.  On to the next."

Unfortunately, I was still in my early 20s.  So, feeling a bit depressed, I went out drinking with some friends (including fellow blog editor Steve).  And a thought started brewing.  Who never fails with the ladies?  The Boss, that's who.  So, perhaps I could use his coolness to win the heart of this girl (and, for the record, I do not believe this girl had shown any positive or negative feelings about Bruce Springsteen in the brief time I knew her).

The message was typed.  My finger hovered over the send button.  And, then, I made an excellent decision: I talked to Steve about it.  Steve had (and still has) one of the best relationships I know, so I figured I would take his advice.  He told me, politely, that it probably would not be a good idea.  However, looking back, I could tell he was biting his tongue, fighting back the urge to call me an idiot and slap me upside the head.  And, with that, Steve saved the day, and the text was deleted.

The next day, as I sobered up, I realized how close I was to adding another embarrassing drunk moment to an ever-growing list.  An important lesson was learned, and I curtailed my drunken texting. (Side note to all single people struggling with this: delete the phone numbers of your exes.  They will just linger their in your phone book, and can cause nothing but misery.)

So, perhaps I misled you all, as the embarrassing action was not seen through to its completion.  I just figured I'd share it all with you - it was cathartic to get it off my chest.  We all make embarrassing Springsteen-related decisions, so no need to feel bad about them.  If you've got any such confessions, please feel free to share them in the comments!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Duet Spotlight: Bruce and Phish

At Bonnaroo in 2009, one of the more unlikely musical pairings happened: Bruce Springsteen (who performed as the headliner the previous night) teamed up with those lovable stoners known as Phish.  It was a short team-up, where Bruce sang the lead for three songs, and Phish gave them all their trademarked jam band sound.

The performance doesn't seem quite legendary, but it is tough to tell with these poorly filmed Youtube clips.  But Bruce does seem a bit looser than usual, especially during the extended jam finishes.  Perhaps he's riding a contact high from Trey Anastasio?