Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Great Moments in Springsteen Cinema History: Home Alone

Want to feel old?  Well, this year, Home Alone turned 25 years old!  (As a personal aside, this is the first live-action movie I remember seeing in the theaters.)  So, if you choose to re-watch it this year, keep an eye out, for there is a fleeting great moment in Springsteen cinema history!

It takes place right after Kevin McCallister has made his family disappear.  He runs around screaming, starts going through his family's personal objects, and, of course, watches Angels With Filthy Souls.

But, what else could Kevin have watched?  Take a look:

A Bruce Springsteen video anthology!  My research shows that it is, specifically, this anthology collecting videos from 1978 to 1988.  The track listing is heavy on the then newly-released Tunnel of Love album and the big hits from Born In The USA.  Still, clocking in at 100 minutes, I imagine that, after getting scared from Angels With Filthy Souls, he may have turned to Springsteen to calm him down.  Perhaps, in a deleted scene, he played a prank on an unsuspecting delivery man using expertly-timed clips from Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" video.  The world may never know (well, the world does know, but let your imagination run wild).

Interested in decorating your house like the McCallisters?  The VHS is available for $0.95 on Amazon, or you can be a big spender and get the DVD.

And yes, I'm aware there's also a Rolling Stones tape there, but I'll let the good people at Legends Of Jagger cover that.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bruce on Saturday Night Live, 12/19/15

As twenty-firstly reported on Legends of Springsteen, Bruce played on Saturday Night Live last night.  Continuing the promotion for The Ties That Bind, Bruce played "Meet Me In The City" and "The Ties That Bind".

Saturday Night Live is a notoriously poor place to perform, and Bruce did his best.  While it was interesting to see the "stripped-down" band (if you can call 5 guitarists, a bassist, two keyboardists, a sax and a drummer "stripped-down), I felt that the keyboard was too high in the mix, and you could tell Bruce was missing the front-row of fans to play off of.  However, Bruce wasn't done with the night:

Instead of saying their regular goodbyes, Bruce joined the SNL cast to sing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", with a little help from Sir Paul McCartney!  It was a great treat for people who were lucky enough to stay up to 1AM, or, if you were a tired blogger, a delightful surprise to view on YouTube early the next morning.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bruce on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, 12/17/15

Last night, Bruce Springsteen appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, once again hyping The Ties That Bind collection and the subsequent tour.  It was a rather "tame" appearance, as Bruce didn't perform any music or partake in any skits.  However, fans got a chance to see some of the material that is included in the box set, to hear Bruce acknowledge the underlying homosexual themes in his music (I knew it!), and, most impressively, to hear the Roots do their rendition of the Ramones potential rendition of "Hungry Heart".  Catch up on all your Springsteen-ness below!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas, Baby

It wouldn't be the Christmas season if we didn't take the opportunity to highlight Bruce's rendition of "Merry Christmas, Baby" performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 2002.

While the song feels distinctly Bruce, it is an R&B Christmas standard written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore and originally recorded in 1947 by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers. It has been covered by everyone from Chuck Berry to Elvis Presley to Hanson.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bruce Calls In To E Street Radio

The level of hype for The Ties That Bind is, honestly, staggering.  I feel like I've started nearly every blog post these last two months with a sentence similar to that.  Most recently, "Bruce from New Jersey" called in to E Street Radio to discuss The Ties That Bind, as well as the upcoming tour.  Bruce explains the formation of the short tour, why he is playing The River at every show, and who will exactly be in the band.

Stay tuned for more and more Bruce this week, as he appears on Jimmy Fallon on Thursday and Saturday Night Live this weekend.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cover Spotlight - "Anytime At All" by the Weeklings, featuring Max Weinberg

Usually, around this time of year, Christmas music starts to subliminally weaves it way back into the public consciousness via car commercials, speaker systems at Starbucks, and the like.  However, while Springsteen has a couple of famous Christmas song performances in his catalog, we at Legends of Springsteen have already covered them extensively in our past.  Rather than rehash the same old tunes again, I'd encourage you to go back and check out our archives:

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

But, what video are you going to watch today?  Why, a cover of the Beatles' "Anytime At All" by the Weeklings, featuring E Street's own Max Weinberg on drums.  Why this song?  Well, this is from a concert in July, and the performance has a perfect "summer" feel to me.  In the midst of all this winter music, it's good to take a break from all the ho ho hos and holly jolliness.  Did this video help you feel a bit warmer?  No?  Well, I tried.

Thanks for your continued readership!

(And, if you are still in the holiday spirit, check out the Springsteen Holiday Gift Guide we posted last week!)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Official - Springsteen Tour in Early 2016

As first fake reported here, Springsteen has confirmed a short, two month, 24 show tour, officially called "The River Tour". is currently offline, but you can find the details on numerous other music websites (I found it on Pitchfork).  We here at Legends of Springsteen will be eagerly awaiting the news of when the tickets go on sale, and what shows we'll be able to attend.  Happy holidays, indeed!

UPDATE: Tickets for all shows go on sale Friday, December 11th, at 10AM EST.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review - HBO's "The Ties That Bind" Documentary

When they announced The River box set six weeks ago, I thought it was an odd choice.  It has an odd place in Springsteen's discography: of course, it is a classic, but it is arguably the least classic of Springsteen's classics.  It doesn't have the rawness of his first two records, the birth of stardom that surrounded Born To Run, the drama and meloncholy behind the production of Darkness, the experimentation of Nebraska, nor the unprecedented hit-making with Born In The USA.  It came at a point where Springsteen was, more or less, very comfortable with his music career.  Also, it is the 35th year anniversary - while it may be an anniversary worth a quick blog post, it isn't not quite a nice round number for a celebration.  So, I found myself asking, what is the point of all of this?

Well, to help answer that question, along came the HBO documentary The Ties That Bind.  In what is basically a 60-minute infomercial for the aforementioned box set, we sit down with Bruce as he discusses the making of The River.  And, let me be clear, we are only talking to Bruce.  There are no other interviewees - and any other voices heard in the documentary are quick or off-camera (like a bizarro-Springsteen & I).  While this may sound like Bruce-overkill, it is fortunately padded with live performances to break up the interview sections (Bruce plays "Two Hearts", "The River", and "Independence Day", among others).  It is also interesting to note that, at times, they subtitled Bruce while he was singing, which should elicit a chuckle from Bruce-diehards but was probably necessary to help the casual fan follow along.

However, despite my snark present in the last paragraph, the documentary did provide some fascinating insights into this period of Springsteen's life and career.  Without giving away too much, the documentary explores the decision to make The River a double-album, the often clashing dynamic between Jon Landau and Steven Van Zandt, and the issue of Springsteen's live shows being a better experience than his record (a problem some critics may say he never solved).  The most relatable part, to me, was Springsteen talking about entering his thirties, and trying to move from an observer in life into being a participant.  While Darkness came from a period of isolation, he wanted The River to be a movement towards the mainstream.  As a 31-year-old New Jersey boy myself, I can't help but vicariously project myself into Bruce's shoes in the recording studio.

Ultimately, the documentary helped show The River in a slightly new light.  Many people may criticize it for being entirely about cars and girls, it shows Springsteen's maturity as an artist - he had the confidence needed to put out an extra-long album with a variety of genres on it. While the documentary may be hampered with a bit of padding and a lack of voices, I would recommend it to any fan just as confused as I was about this recent celebration of The River.  I can't say that I still don't find the whole thing to be coming out of the blue, but I am enjoying the ride.

You can watch the documentary on HBOGO, or try this link while it lasts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Springsteen Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Season’s greetings! Fretting about what gift to get that special Springsteen fan in your life? Worry not. Legends of Springsteen’s annual Holiday Gift Guide is here!

For Every Springsteen Fan:

The Ties That Bind: The River Collection ($107)

The single must-have present this season. Featuring 1980’s The River, a collection of previously unreleased songs and three DVDs of documentaries and concert footage, this is shaping up to be every bit the treasure chest that was The Promise in 2010. Caution, the most diehard Springsteen fans may have already rushed out on their own to buy it. Be sure to investigate the situation before plunging into anything.

For the Springsteen Fan Who Loves Motown:

Introducing Darlene Love ($11)

Fans of the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom or the fantastic Holiday pop song “All Alone on Christmas” will be familiar with Darlene Love’s connection to Springsteen and The E Street Band. The latest in a career that started in the 60s, “Introducing Darlene Love” is her first solo album in decades and is produced by Steve Van Zandt. What’s more, Springsteen himself penned two tracks including “Night Closing In” which sounds very Springsteen indeed.

For the Springsteen Fan who is a History Buff:

Marching Home: To War & Back with the Men of One American Town ($6)

Historian Kevin Coyne gives us an intimate depiction of Springsteen’s hometown of Freehold, New Jersey by chronicling the impact of World War II on this NJ town where some 900 men went off to war and returned to shuttered factories and racial tension. Reading this captivating history will make Springsteen’s lyrics resonate with newfound understanding.

For the Springsteen Fan who is a Mom:

Ricki and the Flash ($18)

Meryl Streep is always a crowd-pleaser and here she stars as an aging rocker who chose life as a cover band queen over a close relationship with her family. Whether you’re a new mom or a veteran mom, this family dramedy beats with the heart of rock and roll. Bonus points, of course, because Streep performs Springsteen’s “My Love Will Not Let You Down.”

For the Springsteen Fan in College:

Bruce Springsteen 2016 Wall Calendar ($20)

12 pages of Springsteen will keep you inspired all year round. This gift is more appropriate for the dorm room demographic, but if you have a large refrigerator and an accepting spouse, you might be able to get away with it as well.

Happy Holidays from Legends of Springsteen!

For even more gift ideas, check out last year's gift guide as well!