Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes (HBO)



For a Springsteen fan, getting insight into his creative process is like eating just enough candy. It makes you giddy and leaves you wanting more. Thom Zimny’s new 30-minute special Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes gives you just enough interviews and, better yet, fly-on-the-wall recording studio footage to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Released nearly three months after the High Hopes album debuted, this very carefully timed piece of content marketing serves two purposes. First, it extends the conversation around the album when its natural lifespan on the charts was dying out (it’s currently at 189 on the Billboard 200). Second, and more importantly because this is Bruce’s real money-maker, it primes audiences for the new smattering of US concert dates (things officially kick off in Cincinnati this Tuesday).

To the non-enthusiast, Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes offers little more than an extended commercial for the album. It gives you a healthy sampling of the music (often with lyrics on screen, which is helpful when it comes to Bruce), live performance footage, and interviews with the band about how the songs were created.

My favorite moment featured Bruce and Max Weinberg in the recording studio discussing the drumming on “Frankie Fell in Love”. Bruce, donning a black hat and wife beater, instructs Max that the drums need to sound “half-drunk” and “the sloppier, the better.” We hear a sample of the track pre-instruction and post, and you know what, he’s right. That moment alone is enough for a Springsteen fan.

Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes is currently airing on HBO and HBO Go.