Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quick Hit - "America's Funniest Home Videos" by Bruce Springsteen, interpreted by Jimmy Fallon

It's been a while since Jimmy Fallon busted out his Bruce impersonation, but he rectified this long absence earlier this week in a round of celebrity impressions with Jamie Foxx.  Skip forward to the 4:48 mark of the video, and you'll hear JimmyBruce gutting out a rendition of the America's Funniest Home Videos theme.  I'd also recommend sticking around for Jamie Foxx's Doc Rivers impression.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Under the Influence - Bruce Springsteen!

The music world has been rocked by recent "rip-off" scandals, such as Sam Smith/Tom Petty, Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye, and (after 30 years) Guns N Roses/Australian Crawl.  We here at Legends of Springsteen have previously chided artists for trying their best at aping Springsteen, too.  However, it is in this author's personal opinion that we shouldn't judge music "rip-offs" that harshly, as artists generally wear their influences on their sleeves.

So, today, instead of spotlighting an artist that Springsteen has influenced, we'll spotlight a few artists that have influenced the Boss.  There are obvious ones like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, but this time, we'll take a look at some Springsteen songs that sound suspiciously like previous hits.  First up, let's take a look at some classics from Born To Run.

Bo Diddley Beat / "She's The One"

In "She's The One", Bruce uses the classic Bo Diddley beat.  This beat has been used in a ton of pop songs, but the ones I hear the most with just the beat are Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" and George Michael's "Faith".  It's an iconic beat, so it's no shame in Bruce stealing from the best (you can also sorta hear this beat on "High Hopes" as well).

"Tiny Dancer" / "Jungleland"

Specifically, we are talking about the piano introductions on both songs.  I guess I kinda see this one, but it is fleeting.  The songs are just four years apart, so I'll leave it up to you to make the call.

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" / "Badlands"

The video above is just a small excerpt from Bruce's 2012 keynote speech at SXSW.  The first five minutes is dedicated to his love of The Animals, pointing exactly how they inspired him.  At the end of the video, however, Bruce clearly illustrates how "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" directly influenced "Badlands".  As Bruce says at the end, "Listen up youngsters!  This is how successful theft is accomplished!"

Now, you may be saying, "Hey goober, all these examples are from Bruce's early career!  Of course a young artist is going to rely a lot on his influences."  Fairly noted.  So, let's take a look at some examples from later on down the line.

"867-5309 (Jenny)" / "Radio Nowhere"

Hard to argue with this one - it's one of the more blatant offenders I've heard in the last ten years.  But kudos to Mr. Tutone for letting it go and not lawyer-ing it up.

"I Was Made For Lovin' You" / "Outlaw Pete"

We here at Legends of Springsteen are no fans of "Outlaw Pete", which has come up with a disturbing amount of frequency on this blog.  However, we have previously noted that KISS has taken from the Boss, so turnabout is fair play, I say.

"Small Town" / "Just Like Fire Would"

Ok, let's see if you can follow this one.  You have Bruce Springsteen, who inspired John Mellencamp.  Then, years later, Bruce Springsteen is inspired by a punk band called The Saints.  He covers the band, using an arrangement similar to John Mellencamp.  Can you really rip someone off who has been ripping you off?  Like the KISS example above, turnabout is still fair play.

So, there we have it.  In this humble author's opinion, I believe we need to relax whenever one song sounds somewhat similar to another song.  Often in these scenarios, people like to get on a very high horse.  Sometimes they'll criticize a particular artist mainly because they have an axe to grind against them (which happened a lot with Lady Gaga's "Born This Way").  More often, I've seen this old chestnut - "There's no original music anymore!"  Well, next time you hear some fuddy-duddy complaining about originality in music, please direct them to this post.  As you can see, every artist is guilty of being, let's say, "overly-inspired" by their predecessors.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Song Spotlight - "Bullets Fever" by Nils Lofgren

As documented many times in the past, I am a huge NBA fan.  We're at the half-way point of the NBA Playoffs, and my beloved team, the Brooklyn Nets, are long gone.  Now, I am going through the process every fan of a loser has to go through at one point - the playoff team adoption.  There are many factors to consider when adopting a playoff team that is not your own.  Do they have a rivalry with your team?  Are there any players on the team that used to play for your team?  Is your adopted team too popular?  It is not a task to be taken lightly.

This year, the Washington Wizards present a strong case.  First, you've got former Nets Paul Pierce and Kris Humphries.  Then, you've got a team that hasn't won a lot of championships.  Finally, you've got this rocking song by Nils Lofgren!  If there's anything wrong with music in this day and age, it's clearly the lack of novelty songs about sports teams.  However, there is something wrong karma-wise with adopting a team in your own conference, and, unfortunately, they are named the Wizards.  

Therefore, I will be hitching my wagon to the Memphis Grizzlies.  They satisfy the "former Nets" requirement (the beloved Vince Carter and the forgettable Courtney Lee), as well as the "not winning a lot" requirement.  While they don't have any songs about them (yet), I'll pretend "Walking in Memphis" is about them.  Plus, Marc Cohn kinda sounds like Bruce Springsteen.

Thank you for continuing to read this blog.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Counting On A Package Deal, Part 5 - The River

Today, on 5/5, we'll be examining Springsteen's fifth album, The River.  This package is full of tons of goodies, so sit back and enjoy a nice, lengthy article.  And, by that, I mean a ton of photos, because that's what you are really here for, right?  The cover is the simplest to date: Springsteenface.  Nothing to see here.  But the back?  Good lord.

This might be the first time I've seen the back of The River album, and goodness, what on Earth is going on?  There's creepy wedding decorations, and American flag with its own bald eagle, and various other party decorations like glitter, glue sticks, and cups.  I can see why the back of The River has never reached the notoriety of other Springsteen black-and-white photos, such as Nebraska.  This is downright scary and confusing.  I assume it has something to do with all the weddings discussed in songs such as "The River" and "I Wanna Marry You", but the overall effect is horrifying.  It's one of those images that, if you encountered at a very young age, would be forever burned into your sub-conscience.  To pacify myself, I'll say that, seeing the name "Charlie" in the background and the American flag/eagle combination, this photo served as inspiration for Charlie Kelly's "Rock Flag & Eagle" song.

The album doesn't unfold ala Born To Run, but each album comes in its own sleeve.  These sleeves are amazing.  Presented, in order, are album one's sleeve and album two's sleeve (both sides of each).  Please, take your time to absorb these all, I'll still be here when you are done:

Go back and look one more time.  Tons of classic, old-school photos of the Boss and crew in their primes.  The E Street Band had been missing from Bruce's album packaging since The Wild, but they make up for lost time here.  And, guess what?  There's more!

Like Darkness, The River has a separate sheet for Springsteen's lyrics.  Unlike Darkness, we get more photos of the band (plus some funky used car art).  

Overall, I absolutely love the packaging for The River.  This is exactly what I want to compliment the music I'm listening to: pictures of the band that performed it!  The only thing that can make this better is if they varied the record label, right?  I mean, it's been four records in a row of the same red circle?  Surely, with two records, they will HAVE to change it!  I can't wait to see what they went with!

...I brought this upon myself.

Want to start your own record collection?  Buy it on Amazon!

Past installments: 
Greetings from Asbury Park
The Wild The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
Born To Run
Darkness on the Edge of Town