Friday, October 31, 2014

Video Spotlight - "Monster Mash"

Happy Halloween!  I'll keep this post quick, so that our young fans can go back to eating candy, our older fans can go back to drinking, and our writer, OB, can go back to doing both.  Here we have Bruce and company playing live in Rochester on Halloween night two years ago.  It takes a bit of time to get the band into it, but we are treated to a version of the "Monster Mash" that sounds like it could be played on a cruise ship.  Stick around for Springsteen's Lugosi-voice, perhaps the most surprising Lugosi-voice since Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  If that doesn't scare you tonight, who knows what will.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trivia Time! Springsteen or Taylor Swift?

In honor of Taylor Swift's new album, the good folks at have put together quite the quiz.  Can you identify, through a small lyrical excerpt, which songs are by Bruce Springsteen, and which songs are by Taylor Swift?  I must confess that I only scored a 9/10, erring on the side of thinking a Taylor Swift song was a Bruce Springsteen song.  To compare scores, fellow Legends of Springsteen writer OB scored a perfect 10/10, while my girlfriend managed a respectable 6/10.  A word of advice for all Springsteen fans: don't overthink it.  The lyrics quoted are not particularly obscure, so if you can't immediately identify it, it is probably belongs to Taylor Swift.  Good luck!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Great Moments in Springsteen Television History: The Sopranos

We have been doing this blog for nearly 3 years, and The Sopranos is my all-time favorite TV Drama.  How did it take me this long to do a tribute to Stevie Van Zandt's role as Silvio Dante on HBO's The Sopranos?!?

According to Van Zandt, Sopranos creator David Chase decided to cast him in the show after seeing Stevie induct The Rascals into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997, despite him having no acting experience at all.

It should go without saying that the clips I will show in this post are not even remotely safe for work.  And there will also be spoilers.  But the show has been off the air for seven years, so if you haven't seen it by now, what are you waiting for?

Silvio starts off as just a regular mafia soldier with very little to make him standout from the others. He keeps a low profile, runs a legitimate(ish) business in the infamous "Bada Bing" strip club, and is fiercely loyal to his family and his boss.

However, slowly throughout the show, he starts showing more and more personality, such as when he's annoyed with the officiating at his daughter's soccer game.

But perhaps what he would be most noted for was his Michael Corleone from The Godfather impressions, as seen below and would become one of his character's trademark.

His loyalty to his crime family was abundantly clear when he whacked several FBI informants seen here, here, and especially here.  That's in addition to all the other murders he committed on the show.  He may have been a soft-spoken guy, but he was an absolute bad-ass, cold-blooded, brutal mobster.

But, my all time favorite scene is when he's playing poker.  As an avid gambler, I absolutely know the frustration he felt of losing money and taking that frustration out on the nearest person.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Video Spotlight - SNL Dress Rehearsal 2002 "You're Missing"

I came across this video while meticulous researching my Joe Piscopo posts for this blog.  Both of them.  I remember this episode of Saturday Night Live airing, it was the season premiere with Matt Damon hosting.  Bruce sang this song, as well as "Lonesome Day".  There's actually a great skit of Matt Damon and Jimmy Fallon as drunk guys with strong Boston accents at a Springsteen concert who keep fighting the people around them for ruining the concert. Specifically the line "I did nawt pay $200 for flawr seats and hear you singing Thundah Road in my ear!  So shut up!"  I can't find that skit anywhere, so this will have to do for now.

This was the beginning of Bruce's comeback.  It's not really fair to call it a comeback, when he never really went away, but he was about to reclaim his title as "The Boss", just in case anyone had forgotten.   The Rising had just been released, and Bruce was about to make his first appearance on SNL in approximately a decade.  I'm pretty sure these two appearances were Bruce's only  times on the show.  Pretty crazy to think they didn't have him on during the Born To Run or Born In The USA phases of his career when he was arguably the biggest name in pop and rock music.  Actually even now, he'd do great on the show.  But this show was to prove to the audience, he wasn't back to just play his greatest hits.  "Lonesome Day" showed Bruce and The E Street band still knew how to rock, while this piano solo ballad, showed Bruce was still the foremost songwriter out there.  And this dress rehearsal just shows Bruce at his most raw and concentrated, and must have been amazing for the cast and crew to watch.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bruce Vs. Bruce - Springsteen versus Batman

After dispatching the Hulk back in the summer, Springsteen moves on to his next opponent.  As we are in prime Halloween season, what better opponent to take on than Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman, the fearsome protector of Gotham City.  While everyone awaits to see how Batman versus Superman will play out, let's see how he does against Jersey's native son.

Bruce Wayne
Bruce Springsteen
The Caped Crusader
The Boss
Advantage: Springsteen

Gotham City, Fictional
Freehold, NJ, Reality
Advantage: Springsteen

Kicking Ass Since
Advantage: Batman

Rich Kid With Dead Parents
Poor Kid With Alive Parents
Advantage: Springsteen

Fear into the Hearts of Criminals
A Chord with the Working Class
Advantage: Springsteen

Youthful Ward
Tom Morello
Advantage: Batman

Criminals are…
A Cowardly, Supersticious Lot
Inspirations for songs on Nebraska
Advantage: Springsteen

The Joker, Two-Face, The Penguin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, etc.
Republican Presidents
Advantage: Batman

Boy, it was a close one, but in a 5-3 decision, Springsteen showed Batman who truly ruled the darkness on the edge of town.  Stay tuned for yet another scientific breakdown of how Springsteen would fair against the other famous Bruces throughout time and space.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Even More Joe Piscopo

I'm not through with Joe Piscopo.  Not by a long shot,  Remember when I said he was obsessed with New Jersey?  Well, this video pretty much cements it.  And it's not even his only song about New Jersey.

There's not much more I can say about my man Joe Piscopo.  I know I was kind of rough on him last time, but it came from a place of love and admiration.  And just to show no hard feelings, I'll also throw in this video from  The Dolly Show where he does his Springsteen impression to do a duet with Dolly Parton of "I'm On Fire".  It's actually, pretty good.  Wait, scratch that, he actually catches on fire at  the 3:30 mark.  Oh Joe, I'd hate you if I didn't love you so much.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lyrics Spotlight: "Worlds Apart"

Author's note:  The views and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect the other writers at Legends of Springsteen,  or the website as a whole.  Thank you.

"Sometimes the truth just ain't enough,
But it's too much in times likes this."- "Worlds Apart", The Rising

Last week, Bill Maher and Ben Affleck made headlines on Maher's HBO show "Real Time With Bill Maher", when they got into a heated debate on the Islamic faith.  Even though I'm fairly conservative, and Maher is staunchly liberal, I do watch his show every week.  Part of the reason is the intellectual reward of wanting to broaden my horizons and hear the counter-thoughts to my views so I can fully understand issues.  However another part, and major part at that, is because I like how angry shows like this make me and strengthen my own conservative arguments.

However, even though I usually can't stand Maher, I absolutely agreed with him on this issue.  It got me thinking about the Springsteen song "Worlds Apart", which musically and lyrically compare and contrast Eastern and Western cultures.  Maher is an unapologetic critic of all organized religion, but has said "All religion is disease.  But Christianity is herpes, and Islam is cancer."  I thought about the above Springsteen lyrics during this debate, when Maher and author Sam Harris plead for fellow liberals to stand up for their liberal values and face the ugly truth that sometimes criticizing someone other than White Christian Males, which liberals are always fine with criticizing, is sometimes acceptable.  But notice, even before they get to that point that Ben Affleck, another staunch liberal, seems to sense where this conversation is going.  Before Harris is even finished with his point, Affleck is combative and dismissive of his credentials.  When Harris confirms that he has studied Islamic culture extensively, Affleck give him an incredibly passive-aggressive comment of "I was just asking."   And the whole debate is downhill from that point, and neither really seems to listen to one another.  Maher asks his fellow liberals to examine the facts and not just label criticism of Islam as bigoted.  Affleck, overwhelmed by anger and emotion, lashes out and calls Maher a bigot.  "Sometimes the truth just ain't enough,  But it's too much in times likes this."  Worlds Apart, indeed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Review - "Leading the Life You Want" by Stewart Friedman

Bruce Springsteen makes an unlikely appearance on bookshelves this week: in the pages of a business book where he’s heralded as an individual who masters the intersection of work and home. The book is from Harvard Business Review Press and is entitled “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life.” It’s written by Stewart Friedman, a professor at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life.”

The book is designed to help readers achieve success in what Friedman describes as the four central domains: work, home, community, and the private self. He argues against the metaphor of “work/life balance” and in favor of creating a harmonious intersection of these four elements by applying principles and skills such as focusing on results, building support networks and clarifying expectations.

“Leading the Life You Want” is an action-oriented book that encourages the reader to take notes, complete self-assessment tests and skip around from section to section in whatever order works best for the individual. The book is split into two sections. The first offers profiles of individuals who have achieved success and the second goes in-depth on how to implement the specific skills illustrated. If you’re reading the book without an explicit purpose (e.g. improving your prioritization) and looking more for general enlightenment, the six profiles will prove the most engaging.

Each profile reads like a mini biography by giving you such precise detail and a concisely structured character arc that you walk away with an efficient understanding of these diverse personalities. The section begins with two tales you might expect, tales of business in the more traditional sense, illustrated by Tom Tierney (Former CEO of Bain & Company) and Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook). It then transitions into individuals you will be more surprised to see in a business text: Eric Greitens (US Navy Seal), Michelle Obama (US First Lady), Julie Foudy (soccer champion-turned-broadcaster) and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.

The ‘pick and choose’ approach Friedman recommends benefits the reader. By and large, I didn't relate to the Greitens section but still would have been able to find great value from the book if I had skipped it. However, I could see how a reader with a different background might read just this one section and find the book extremely valuable.

So what about the Bruce section? It doesn’t disappoint. Like the other sections, it provides a comprehensive overview of his life and clearly connects his success to the mastery of certain skills such as truly embodying one’s values and practicing self-reflection. Springsteen fans will be familiar with the ground covered here, but may find themselves surprised by the analysis applied. For example, this is the first time I recognized that Bruce’s least prolific years from a music standpoint (late 80s to early 90s) coincide with those crucial early years of forming a family and becoming a parent (his first child was born in 1990). This isn’t presented as a hindrance to his career, but an essential step toward Bruce achieving satisfaction in all four quadrants: work, home, community and the private self.

There is a recurring undercurrent throughout the book: nobody’s perfect. And we make it extra hard on ourselves because we live in a society of heightened self-scrutiny. The profiles in the book are just celebratory enough to inspire you and just realistic enough to prevent you from simply envying their success.

It’s peculiar to say, but I frequently feel proud of Bruce Springsteen. This is an odd emotion to feel for a rich and famous artist that you’ve never met. But it’s true. I can’t help but feel proud of all that Bruce Springsteen has accomplished, and all that he’s given to this world. In a funny way, seeing Bruce profiled here as the only artist represented (from any medium), my pride feels justified.

Whether or not you are a Springsteen fan, this is a useful book to read. The way it’s written makes it a good resource that you can turn to time and again for inspiration when you find yourself stuck. Whatever your profession may be, you’d be well suited to keep a copy of “Leading the Life You Want” on your office desk or your bedside table.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Joe Piscopo

Now, some of you may be saying, "Who the hell is Joe Piscopo?"  That's a fair question, however, most will remember this Jersey-born, not-so-iconic comedian.  But in the dark days of Saturday Night Live, from 1980-1985, Joe Piscopo was kind of the man.  Really.  He was only eclipsed by Eddie Murphy, who at that time was probably the most revolutionary thing in comedy since George Carlin.  But then Piscopo left SNL, and went promptly into the "Where Are They Now?" fame.  But don't tell Joe that.  No, Joe still thinks he's the man.  And it'd almost be admirable if it wasn't so sad.  I'm sorry, I don't want this to come off as mean, but he might be the most delusional man about his own talent and stardom that I ever heard.

My fascination with Joe Piscopo started a few years ago when I was listening to my favorite radio show, Opie and Anthony (I really miss the show), and co-host Anthony Cumia started bashing Joe Piscopo's recent Showtime special "Club Piscopo".  For the next 3 hours, Opie and Anthony proceeded to watch Joe Piscopo clips on YouTube and absolutely destroy Piscopo.  It was hysterically funny (NSFW).  Then things only got better, when Piscopo called in and took his beating like a good sport, and won over the audience.  Since then, watching Joe Piscopo clips on YouTube is one of my favorite things.  Some of his impressions are cringe inducing, and his singing is downright laughable (but not as bad as his rapping).  And yet, in the end, I love the guy.

I have to admit, his Sinatra impression is very good.  However, when Phil Hartman came along to SNL, he blew it Piscopo's impression out of the water.  And Joe's Bruce impression is kind of hacky.  Oh yeah, another thing about Piscopo, he's obsessed with being from Jersey.  Listen, I've lived in NYC for the past 4 years, but in my heart I still am a Jersey guy.  I get it.  It's in the blood, and hard to let go of.  But Joe takes it to a new level.  So I was not shocked at all to see this video from Joe's mid 80's comedy special.  Piscopo's most famous impression from SNL, the biggest rock star at the time, and it's all in Jersey?  It's the Joe Piscopo Holy Trinity.