Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Official Springsteen 2017 Wall Calendar!

The holidays have just passed, and I'm sure there are many among us who have received tons of Springsteen-related loot.  While there was no holiday gift guide this year, I'm sure a copy of Born To Run was under most Boss fans' trees.

I, however, received a different sort of stocking stuff: the OFFICIAL Bruce Springsteen 2017 wall calendar.  The front cover is stylized a la Born To Run, and contains dozens of high-quality Springsteen photos to cheer you up every month.

Here is the back, previewing the months ahead.  As a wall calendar aficionado, I'd say proper etiquette allows one brief look upon receipt of the gift, and then quickly looking away to maintain the surprise for the upcoming months.  So, here's your chance.  Soak it in! Now stop! 

It's traditional for the wall calendar to give you some leadway upon receipt, with a 16-month calendar being the standard.  However, like a Bruce concert, he'll always deliver more than you bargained for.  Springsteen's OFFICIAL calendar comes with a whopping 18 months, including two bonus Polaroids from his pre-E Street days.

So here's as far as I'll go right now, with Bruce's first image, a summer photo in Long Branch, NJ.  While it may be an inappropriate photo for the cold month of January, I have a feeling that the images will be more of a chronicle of his career, rather than timed to compliment the months.  I mean, I could scroll up and look at the photo spread earlier in the article, but that would be cheating!  Seriously, don't do it!

It fits in quite nicely at the workstation in my mancave.  Thanks for reading - I assure you  I didn't plan on writing 300 words on wall calendars today (shattering my previous record by 150!), but it is the holiday season.  If you received another cool Springsteen-related gift this holiday season, let me know in the comments!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Great Albums - Born In The USA Podcast

The Great Albums is a music podcast that has been running for a little under two years, and I've been a fan since close to the beginning.  It is run by two dudes in their early 30s from New Jersey, where their goal is to discuss music as fans would, rather than critics.  Sound familiar?  Having Born To Run as one of their earliest episodes also helped hook me.  Since then, I've tuned into nearly every episode.  Not only does it help me discover new music, but I find their analysis helps me articulate my own musical opinions better.

This month, they are celebrating "Massive Album November", tackling extremely popular albums by extremely popular artists - Madonna, Pink Floyd, The Who, and, now, Bruce.  If you've got two hours, check out their Born In The USA podcast, and, if you are jonesing for more, they have a bonus episode featuring "Streets of Philadelphia".

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Springsteen Honors - Cover of the Costco Connection!

As it has happened for the last several years, Springsteen puts together a promotional push every fall/winter.  In 2013, he was gearing up for High Hopes.  In 2014, he re-released seven albums.  Last year, it was the Ties That Bind box set.  Now, it has been all about the new autobiography (side note: I have recently gotten the book, and should have a review ready before the end of the year).  So, Springsteen is everywhere, from Colbert to book signings and now, to his latest feat, making the cover of the illustrious Costco Connection!  

Sure, any artist can get on the cover of the Rolling Stone, but how many artists can say they've been on the premier national magazine of big-box wholesalers? Scroll through the archives, and you'll find entrepreneurs, actors, national heroes, etc. but no musicians....until Bruce broke down that wall.

It is just a short two page interview with a couple of good photos, and has no other goal but to promote the book.  But still! It is quite the achievement, rivaling the Medal of Freedom he received earlier this month.  Plus, I also found a delicious recipe for salty chocolaty peanut buttery crunchy bars!

You can download the whole magazine for yourself here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Steven Van Zandt's Reaction to the Hamilton/Pence Incident

While two weeks ago seems like forever in Internet-time, this is one issue I just wanted to share my two-cents on.  I promised more complaining after the election, so bear with me on this.

Here was Steven Van Zandt's reaction to the cast of Hamilton sharing a personalized message to Vice President-elect Mike Pence after the performance of a show.  Now, Little Stevie's entitled to his opinion, just like anyone else.  His point about letting art speak for itself is valid, but where I disagree with him is when he calls it "inappropriate", a "mistake", and says that they owe an apology.  In my opinion, there is no wrong way to do a peaceful protest, mainly because there is no right way to do one.  Cancel your show?  You get criticized.  Silently kneel during an anthem?  You get criticized.  Read a short message at the end of a show?  You get criticized.  I'd be open to changing my mind if I could find an example of a peaceful protest that was met with universal acclaim and succeeded in its goals.

As long as the message is peaceful and civil, there is room for it in the national dialogue, regardless whether it is part of an artistic performance or not.  With threats to the first amendment becoming more and more routine, I respectfully disagree with Stevie's opinion and hope other artists do not hesitate to share their thoughts and feelings.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Meeting Bruce: The Day I Never Thought Would Happen

Never in my life did I anticipate that I would shake hands, pose for a picture and be greeted by name by Bruce Springsteen. But that's exactly what happened today thanks to his appearance at Books-a-Million in Chicago.

Bruce: Hi, there
Me: Hi, I'm Steve. Nice to meet you
*Pose for picture*
Me: We played "Happy" as our first dance at our wedding
Bruce: Ah, thank you Steve

I waited in line just over 3 1/2 hours for that fleeting exchange. It was well worth it. Many waited longer than me, and in the cold.

In classic Legends of Springsteen fashion, he showed up 30 minutes earlier than advertised and got right to work shaking hands and giving hugs to his fans.

It was a very civilized group, many who had traveled from out of state (Indiana, Michigan and beyond) and embarked in the wee hours of the morning, I heard 4 a.m. departures referenced a few times.

The feeling itself was surreal. I felt compelled to go buy gum before I got to the store. I was envious of the families there together, hopeful that one day my children would be old enough and interested enough to experience something similar with me.

I kept my guard up that at any moment something might go wrong. Perhaps I was tricked by a scam ticket? What if my cell phone suddenly malfunctions? What if I accidentally step out of line or engage in any other general buffoonery? In the end, it was over before I knew it. I stood speechless with my signed book in hand and my photo on my phone, trying to process what had transpired.

It may have been over in the blink of an eye, but I wish every fan could be lucky enough to receive this experience.

And it only happened because of my wife. If she hadn't told me, I wouldn't have known about it. If she hadn't encouraged me, I wouldn't have gone.

Friday, November 11, 2016

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen

Yesterday, music legend Leonard Cohen passed away at the age of 82, as 2016 adds yet another dead legend to its list.  As we view everything here through a Springsteen lens, today we dip far back into Springsteen's past and re-share his cover of Cohen's "Suzanne".  Thank you for everything, Leonard.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Video Spotlight - "Badlands"

From the day after Reagan's election in 1980, here's a rousing performance of "Badlands".  Bruce starts it off with a small speech that reflects what many people may be feeling today.  I can't help but feel the famous facts Bruce had learned real good are particularly relevant.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lyrics Spotlight - Election Day Special!

"Woke up Election Day, skies gunpowder and shades of gray
Beneath a dirty sun, I whistled my time away"
-- "Livin' in the Future", Magic

Long-time readers may be experiencing deja vu with this post, and they would be right.  Fellow LOS writer Steve and I have referenced this lyric on every election day since 2008.  We are truly a hilarious duo.

In last year's post, I encouraged everyone to "go out and vote", which, if you actually know me, is very uncharacteristic.  I'm very against pro-voting rhetoric - in fact, I didn't even vote in 2012.  I have various thoughts about the election process that I really can't devote the time and energy to properly present on this little blog; but basically, I feel that choosing not to vote is a personal choice that should be respected.

However, I also believe in the maxim "if you don't vote, don't complain."  Having not voted in 2012, I'm proud to say that I really haven't complained.  LOS writer OB and I frequently discuss politics, and while I have had my share of complaints with the country, I have not directed my frustration at the Obama administration.  With that being said, I will not be whistling my time away this year.  I fully plan to vote, not for patriotic reasons, but for whining reasons.  If my candidate loses, I really want to feel justified in my whinging and belly-aching for the next four years.

So, unlike last year's call to vote, this year, I'll just say: vote, or don't.  It's really up to you.  I'm just in it for the complaining.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Great Potential Moments in Springsteen Cinema History - Bruce wrote a song for Harry Potter?

In an interview with the BBC last week, Bruce confirmed that he had written a song for the Harry Potter film series called "I'll Stand By You Always".  While the song has yet to be released, Bruce says he likes the song and hopes that it will one day be used in another children's movie.  However, that did not stop Conan O'Brien from speculating what the song could sound like.

While this is news to me, it is clear the Harry Potter franchise has been influencing Springsteen for a while, with songs such as "Harry's Place" and an album called Magic.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Awkward Cover Spotlight - Mary J. Blige's "American Skin (41 Shots)"

I must say, I am late to the party of this, having seen this already skewered on several late night talk shows.  But, for the uninitiated, here we go:

In an interview about three weeks ago, political powerhouse Mary J. Blige sat down with democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  I didn't watch the whole thirty minute interview, but I"m sure it was a spirited discussion spanning numerous topics like emerging overseas markets, alternative energy solutions, and the ongoing Boko Haram conflict.  In the midst of all that, the conversation shockingly turned to police brutality, giving Mary J. a chance to serenade Secretary Clinton with an intimate performance of Bruce's "American Skin (41 Shots)".

The uncomfortability levels are off the charts and even moreso in the unedited, full version (the whole interview is here, and the singing starts at minute 18).  I'm so happy this moment exists - that Clinton actually sat down with Blige, that Blige is a Bruce fan, that Blige decided it'd be great to sing to Clinton during an interview, that Clinton had no idea how to process it.  While Bruce has been unusually quiet during this campaign (I'd assume he's a slightly wounded BernieBro, but that's just pure speculation), it's nice that he was able to somewhat contribute yet another WTF moment in this batshit crazy election.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Springsteen on Colbert, September 23rd

As mentioned previously, Bruce's book tour is in full swing, with new interview galore.  Last Friday (Springsteen's 67th birthday), Bruce sat down with Stephen Colbert for an extensive interview:

Like a Springsteen concert, this interview went extremely long past its scheduled time.  It was interesting to hear Colbert interview him, as, unlike his counterpart Jon Stewart, Colbert isn't a fawning Springsteen fan.  He spends a lot of time studying Springsteen's words in his book, and tries to tie it to his own life.  Colbert is an outsider to the Springsteen phenomenon, and does his best to understand it.  There isn't much new here for the die-hard Springsteen fans, but we do get an top 5 (or 6) list of Springsteen's favorite songs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Springsteen on CBS Sunday Morning

With his new autobiography and his return to America, we're about to get our annual Springsteen media blitz (last seen when promoting the River Box Set, which seems like just yesterday).  So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this nostalgic trip back to Springsteen's hometown and school.  It's a ten minute interview that gets very deep and emotional, with the conversation turning towards Clarence Clemons, Bruce's battle with depression, and his relationship with his father.  Keep your eyes peeled for even more appearances in the future - he'll be on Stephen Colbert's show this Friday, his 67th birthday!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Springsteen Buttons!

Normally, I have mixed feelings about merchandise booths at concerts.  I would always love a souvenir to commemorate the experience, but everything is priced at roughly three times as much as I'd like to pay for it.  However, for the River tour, there's quite the variety for Springsteen fans of all budgets, from the normal t-shirts, to patches, to sunglasses, to water bottle holders, and to the buttons, pictured above.  Acquired by my mother-in-law (seeing her first ever Springsteen show), these buttons were divvied up among my family, with everyone seemingly getting their favorite choice.  Which one did I end up with?

Yes, I went with handsome young Bruce.  Pictured here about the same age I currently am, this is a button that separates the true Springsteen fans from the people who have to ask "hey, who's that guy on your button?"

While I still don't own a concert t-shirt, I can now add the button to my collection including Springsteen vinyls, Springsteen comic books, and Springsteen DVD inserts.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Concert Review: 8/25/16, Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford

So the summer of 2016, I had really only cared about one concert...and for once it wasn't Bruce!  I had been so obsessed about the Guns N' Roses reunion that I kinda forgot that Bruce was coming back to Metlife Stadium this summer.  Shame on me.  Maybe it was because I had already been to the Prudential Center show, and the Barclays Center with Rory, but I just didn't have the same enthusiasm that I usually did in the weeks leading up to this show.  Which to say my excitement was at like an 8 or a 9 instead of the usual 10.  Like I said, shame on me.  And it's almost as if Bruce knew that he was kind of flying in under the radar and wanted to pull out all the stops to really show his fans why he was, is, and always will be the greatest live musician you can possibly see.

I went to this concert with my wonderful girlfriend, whom I had gotten the tickets for her birthday.  Alright, the tickets were more a gift for me, but she was a Bruce fan prior to us dating and had been to about half a dozen concerts before, but this would be our first concert together.  And my God, was it a memorable show.  Four hours!  We had General Admission tickets on the floor, and I was exhausted at the end from just standing there.  I know we at LoS marvel at Bruce's energy and showmanship all the time, but it's really getting ridiculous.  Bruce is older than my parents, and he's not just "not slowing down", he's raising his game and playing some of the longest shows of his life.  And as much credit as we give to Bruce, The E Street Band needs credit too.  They are all close to Bruce, if not older, in age and keep up with him every step of the way.  I noticed a few times Bruce's interaction with Max, Nils, Garry, and everyone else in the band.  Bruce had a look in his eyes like he was almost challenging them to keep up with him.  And they absolutely did, and made it look easy.

So the night started out a little bit rough, as after our tailgate, we went into the concert and were met by enormous lines to get into the stadium.  It was just as I was about to go through the metal detectors that I heard the worst sound I could possibly hear, "Good Evening, New Jersey".  I had never missed the beginning of a concert, especially a Bruce show.  And as I heard the opening chords to "New York City Serenade", I finally got through security and had my ticket scanned.  It'll be ok, I can still catch the end of the song, and see the whole concert.  Nope, we hit another enormous line for getting on to the floor of the General Admission section.  The good news is I can hear the concert, but I was starting to get cranky at the drunks on the line, and the jerks who tried to cut the line, but were caught by the security staff.  Bruce was finishing up "Prove It All Night", when we finally were allowed into the stadium.  But now we have to stop and get wrist bands to get on to the floor.  Alright, now it's getting ridiculous.  I hear the familiar drum intro to "Night" as I finally am walking on to the floor of Metlife Stadium.  It was really only two songs that I missed, and considering the amount of time Bruce played for, it's just a drop in the bucket, but man I couldn't helped but feel somewhat bummed.  The feeling lasted all of two minutes, and by the time Bruce played "No Surrender" I had totally forgotten about those security lines.  And it's nothing I can be mad at Metlife Stadium at.  They're doing their job and security is a real issue.  But if you're going to any of his other shows this summer, allow yourself plenty of time to get into the venue.  Especially if you have GA tickets.

Even though this is The River tour, there were only a handful of songs played from that album, not including concert staples for every tour like "Hungry Heart" and "Out In The Street".  And since he's not touring for a new album, that leaves the setlist wide open for songs from Bruce's entire career, which for a hardcore fan was really exciting.  Like Rory said about Tuesday's show, the setlist last night was kind of somber at times.  And I think the songs he chose to play definitely were speaking for Bruce, especially this close to the election, without him having to make political statements.  I don't think it's a coincidence that "Ghost of Tom Joad", "Jack of All Trades", "Youngstown", "Death To My Hometown", and "41 Shots" were all played.  And Tom Morello being there for guest spots on certain songs certainly added to the political message.  But it wasn't beaten over your head, and it wasn't in your face.  Bruce was simply doing what he does best and expressing his thoughts through his song catalog.  And trust me, there were plenty of rocking tunes that kept people dancing in East Rutherford til after midnight, when they finally called it a night and said good night to an exhausted but thoroughly satisfied crowd.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Concert Review: 8/23/16, Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford

After a summer abroad, Springsteen returned last night to his home state, and performed one of his more somber and challenging setlists that I have seen.  When I last saw Springsteen, he was at the end of the first leg of the new River tour.  Since then, he ditched playing the entirety of The River, performing varied sets throughout Europe.  I chose not to look at the setlists all summer in order to be surprised, and found last nights results fascinating.

Previously opening most of the tour with the new rocker "Meet Me In The City", Bruce kicked off the night with "New York City Serenade", setting the somber mood to come.  Throughout the section of the concert, special care was taken in emotive performances of "Independence Day", "Jack of All Trades" (with a small introduction by Bruce), and "American Skin" (surprisingly lacking an introduction).  The lighter songs were pocked with some more seriousness as well, as Bruce grumped at taking a selfie with a fan during "Santa Clause Is Coming To Town", and forewent the crowd-surf at the end of "Hungry  Heart".

However, the moodier songs in the first half gave Bruce's bouncier songs a stronger punch.  Going through the darkness made the light seem even brighter, as the crowd welcomed barroom rockers like "Working on the Highway" and "Darlington County". However, even after a flurry of crowd-pleasing boppers, Bruce still brought down the house with "Jungleland" to start the encore.  It was merely the start of a nearly hour long encore, which could have ended with "Shout", but, staying true to the core of the night, ended with slower, more thoughtful songs like "Bobby Jean" and "Jersey Girl".

Clocking in at almost four hours, it was one of the more complex Springsteen shows I've seen.  Maybe it was not so much what he said, but rather what he didn't say: there were no political rants, not many jokes, and very few "Bruce stories".  As he has done throughout his career, he let his music speak for him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Arcade Fire - "Born In The USA", WayHome Festival

Springsteen enthusiasts Arcade Fire played yet another tribute to their idol last July at the WayHome Festival in Ontario.  True to their hipster nature, the Canadian band sang a few lines of "Born In The USA", at a Canadian music festival.  Unfortunately, it is tough to tell whether the video is of poor quality, or if the performance itself wasn't very good (I'm leaning towards the former).  This, however, leads me to a rant that I'm sure many fans of going to concerts can relate to.

Whenever you see a live band, the pit will be littered with people holding up their cell phones to record the show.  While some musicians will try to ban them, it's a battle that is long over; love them or hate them, the smartphones are there to stay.  I have two conflicting thoughts on this issue.  My heart says that people should put down their phones, live in the moment, and enjoy the amazing performance that they paid good money for.  However, my brain says: who I am to tell people how to enjoy the show?  And, haven't I posted hundreds of articles using recordings that people made at concerts?  Touché, Rorybrain.

However, let's be realistic - there's a happy medium.  For the dozens of cameras at every concert, there's only maybe 1-2 good quality videos from any show that I can find online.  The success rate of recording is poor.  So, I'd ask all amateur concert historians to take an honest look at their abilities.  Are they producing quality concert footage?  Is it worth the distraction?  Can they improve the moments they capture?  If smartphones plan to be a permanent feature at concerts, the least we can do is improve their output.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Great Moments in Springsteen Snubs History - The 81st Academy Awards

In late 2008, Springsteen was riding high.  He just helped Barack Obama win the presidency.  He had just completed Working On A Dream, and would be starting a new tour.  He would soon play the Super Bowl, where he could finally finally complete his life's mission of telling America to put down their chicken fingers.  For any artist, that'd be quite a run, but in the midst of all this, he somehow earned himself his yet another Golden Globe award for his song "The Wrestler".

The stage was all set for this run to culminate in Springsteen's second Academy Award.  But, fate, the fickle mistress that she is, spit in his eye.

Now, granted, I'm not here to rag on the music of Slumdog Millionaire.  But, not only did Springsteen not win, he wasn't even nominated!  In fact, only three songs were nominated.  Generally, there are five songs nominated each year, although that can vary.  However, up until that point, there had only been four prior years since 1934 where just three songs were nominated! (Just to be thorough: in 2011, two songs were nominated.  That still makes it just five times in 82 years.) My conspiracy theory is that they wanted Springsteen to perform the song himself, but Springsteen declined (perhaps due to a scheduling conflict), so the Academy kicked him to the curb.  Do I have proof?  Of course not.  Regardless, it robbed Springsteen of his chance to go down in history as a musician to win two or more Academy Awards, and, today, it officially goes down as a Great Moment in Springsteen Snubs History.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Great Moments in Springsteen Snubs History - The "Share a Coke and a Song" Campaign

I am a man who loves a good Coca-Cola.  It's one of the few products for which I am highly brand loyal.  I especially love Coca-Cola's various marketing campaigns: it's the only drink I associate with both the summer and the winter.

This year, the company started a new gimmick: Share a Coke and a Song.  It's a disturbingly simple promotion: they put song lyrics on their bottles.  I feel like I'm missing something.

Needless to say, you can find many artists represented.  There's patriotic anthems, lyrics in Spanish, and references to Coca-Cola's own commercial jingles.  Springsteen disciples the Killers even get a shout-out.  But you know who is missing?  THE BOSS HIMSELF!

This is quite the egregious snub!  I mean, nothing says "summertime" quite like a ice-cold Coca-Cola with some Springsteen on the radio.  The two were meant to be together.  This oversight is almost enough to turn me into a Pepsi man!  Well, "almost".  Let's not go crazy.

Thanks for reading this rant.  I, too, am looking forward to Springsteen's tour coming back to the United States.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Counting On A Package Deal, Part 7 - Dancing In The Dark Single

After over a year away, the Counting On A Package Deal series has returned.  For those not in the know, this is a series of posts that I went through in 2015, where I dissected the packaging of Springsteen's discography.  While seemingly discontinued after my Born In The U.S.A. post, I was fortunate enough to receive the following gift:

Yes, that leaping lothario is the Boss, posing for his "Dancing In The Dark" single cover.  This particular record is an unusual 12" single, featuring a dance club "Blaster Mix" version of the song.  But, I'm not here to break down the music, I'm just judging the aesthetics of the package.  This cover is easily Springsteen's most active.  Most albums just show his face, and on the rare moments of below-neck Springsteen shots, he's just leaning on cars (Tunnel of Love), walls (back of Wild, Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle), or bandmates (Born To Run).  Here, Springsteen is getting some serious air.  And the moves don't just stop on the front cover.

On the back, Springsteen gets right up on his tip-toes.  Perhaps a challenge to the King of Pop himself, who was also huge in the mid-80s?  He also tops off the move with a straightening of the jacket.  Nice work, Bruce.

Finally, the record itself varies in no way, shape, or form from all of Springsteen's other Columbia records.  I wore out this schtick in the previous six entries.

So, that'll do it for this installment of Counting On A Package Deal.  Hopefully, I can receive more random gifts like this one!

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
The River
Born In The U.S.A.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bruce Vs. Bruce - Springsteen versus Bruce, the shark from Jaws

We here at Legends of Springsteen hope you are all having a great summer so far.  Personally, I think summer is the best season for Springsteen music.  His songs are the perfect soundtrack for a backyard barbecue.

For this fourth of July weekend, we bring you another installment of "Bruce Versus Bruce"!  Did you know that the mechanical shark from Jaws was named "Bruce"?  Well, now you know!  And do you know what would happen in a fictitious match-up between Springsteen the shark-Bruce?  Well, let's find out!

Smile you son of a bitch!

Bruce the Shark
Bruce Springsteen
Amity Island
Freehold, New Jersey
Advantage: Springsteen
Hang Out Spot
The Ocean
The Boardwalk
Advantage: Springsteen
Relationship With Fish
Eats Them
Duets With Them
Advantage: Shark
Steven Spielberg
He's His Own Boss
Advantage: Springsteen
Soundtrack Created By
John Williams
Bruce Springsteen
Advantage: Springsteen
Critically Acclaimed
Advantage: Springsteen
Acadmey Awards
Advantage: Shark
Main Goal
Eating Swimmers
Rocking For The Working Man
Advantage: Springsteen
Ability to Live On Land
Advantage: Springsteen

Well, in a 7-2 beat-down, Springsteen wins again!  Sorry, Shark-Bruce, perhaps you have to set your sights on a lower Bruce to devour.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bono Joins Bruce for "Because The Night" In Dublin

You know, it's been a while since I got to post a celebrity joining Bruce on stage.  It seems that the major highlights from The River Tour have been Bruce's tributes to recently passed musicians.  So, on a lighter note, please enjoy Bruce and Bono having fun rocking out to this classic.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

100 Seconds Of Bruce Counting

This is why the internet is beautiful.  Recently, a dedicated fan compiled all of Bruce's count-ins for all his official releases (studio and live albums).  Loyal readers know that I have long been obsessed with Bruce's count-ins, so this was a treat.  It's also presents an interesting challenge to see if you can recognize the song about to be played.  By the time this gets posted, you can rest assured that I have listened to this video ah-one, ah-two, ah-one two three four (or more) times.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Great Moments In Springsteen Cinema History: Money Monster Trailer

Money Monster, the Wall Street hostage thriller, is hitting theaters this Friday.  While the movie is looking to sell itself with a topical story and high profile actors, it is the song in the trailer that really caught me.  About halfway in, after the characters and plot have been established, we hear the familiar strums of Springsteen's "Devils & Dust".  While "Devils & Dust" isn't frequently discussed among Springsteen fans, I did note in an ancient post that it is one of the few modern protest songs that has held up well.  While originally about the Iraq war, it seems to fit right in with the common man's anger towards the financial sector.

No word as of yet if this is just a song for the trailer, or if it will highlight a particular scene in the movie.  If you see it, let us know!

Monday, May 9, 2016

OFFICIAL - River Tour Extension

As reported this weekend, the River Tour will be expanding with eight new dates in North America.  Tickets will go on sale for certain shows as early as Friday!  I know dealing with Ticketmaster is a horrific struggle, so I wish all fans the best of luck in the next coming days.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Rumor Alert - River Tour Extension!

According to the good folks at Blog It All Night, Bruce should be announcing some new dates next week:

It is just a rumor right now, and I am assuming that these shows will not feature full performances of The River (he made a note of that in the last Brooklyn show).  I had many difficulties in getting tickets for the prior dates, and so I don't want to count my chickens.  But, it is exciting news!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Concert Review: 4/25/16, Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Well, I finally made it.  First, OB went to a show in Newark.  Then, my mother saw him in Los Angeles.  But, on the final night of the American tour, I was able to see the man myself.  I have to admit, it was looking a little bleak there for a while, but I have to thank my mom for securing a ticket to me so I could see Bruce one more time.  With musicians dropping like flies these days, it is important to see the acts you love while you still can.

What can I say that hasn't already been said at this point?  Every time I go into these shows, I'm expecting "the bad one", the one where we can see the signs of aging and the dip in quality.  You might call this thinking pessimistic, but honestly: how long can a 66-year-old keep performing at such a high level?  And yet, here I am, about to write yet another glowing review of a Springsteen concert.

While it wasn't Bruce's first time in Brooklyn, it seems that many people in the crowd were first-timers at a Springsteen concert.  They had a ton of awkward energy, from shouting during Bruce's speeches (Bruce: "The River....was an album....." Drunk Guy: "That FUCKIN' rocked!"), to forming a conga line during "Dancing in the Dark".  There were also many rookie mistakes, as beer was spilled all over my aunt, one girl was drunkenly escorted out before The River was completed, and it looked like it might be the first crowd to drop Bruce during his "Hungry Heart" crowd surf.  Give it time, and I'm sure Brooklyn will build up its alcohol tolerance and upper arm strength.

As for the concert itself, I have to say, despite my slight skepticism for seeing The River performed live, Bruce made it feel like an entirely unique experience.  Slower songs like "Independence Day", "I Wanna Marry You" and "Drive All Night" were given longer introductions and unique live additions, allowing the songs to slowly wash over you.  On the other end of the spectrum, Bruce was able to get the audience going for bar-room bouncers like "I'm a Rocker" and "Ramrod", making the 20,000 seat stadium feel like an Asbury juke joint.

After The River, Bruce treated the audience to rarities, with three songs not on Bruce's formal studio albums ("Loose Ends", "Trapped", and "My Love Will Not Let You Down").  As my first introduction to Bruce was Live in New York City, it was especially sentimental to hear "My Love Will Not Let You Down".  A young girl was brought on to sing about half of "Blinded by the Light", and Springsteen added additional covers of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" and Prince's "Purple Rain" (which set the internet abuzz after Saturday's performance).

The audience began to leave during "Shout", assuming it was the end of the night.  However, as "Shout" ended, Bruce reached back for another guitar, and, bam, "Bobby Jean" was closing the night.  By my count, this was the tenth official Springsteen concert I've seen (not counting a performance for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), and it was just as special as the rest.  Given that it took so long to get tickets, I tried convincing myself I wasn't missing much, or that I'll wait for the next tour.  But, it was yet another fantastic evening, and I cannot wait for the next tour.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Springsteen Covers "Purple Rain"

As I said in yesterday's post, I would not be surprised to see Bruce honor Prince by playing one of his songs.  I speculated as what it could be - perhaps something of a rocker like "Let's Go Crazy", or maybe follow Warren Zevon's path with "Raspberry Beret".  However, he opened last night's show with an outstanding version of "Purple Rain".  Nils Lofgren also shines, making this a perfect tribute to the late Prince.

Update: Springsteen has made this available as a free download on his website.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Prince Talks Bruce Springsteen

In this short clip, the late great Prince talks about how Springsteen inspired him as a band leader, talking about how he rehearsed and trained his band to improvise while in concert.  It also should be noted that Springsteen has often talked about Prince, too, telling the story of how "When Doves Cry" kept "Dancing In The Dark" out of the top spot on the chart, denying Bruce his only chance at a number one song.  It is not a bitter story, and you can tell that both musicians respected and inspired each other.  I would not be surprised if Bruce had a tribute to Prince in his live show tonight.

I am not personally a huge Prince fan (not that I dislike his stuff, I just never really listened to his songs outside of the major hits), but he was an amazing performer.  While 2016 seems to be sparing no celebrity, this was a bit more shocking, as he did not appear old or slowing down in anyway.  My condolences go out to his family and his fans.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Bruce Springsteen Cancels Show In North Carolina

As I am sure you have all heard, this past weekend, Bruce Springsteen cancelled his show in Greensboro, North Carolina, in protest of House Bill 2.  HB2 is the infamous "bathroom bill", which critics have said discriminates among those in the LGBT community.  As far as I know, this is the first Springsteen show cancelled for political reasons, and it is a move that has generated the most debate about Springsteen since he played "American Skin (41 Shots)" at Madison Square Garden.

It's a tough subject for me to fully discuss, as I do not wish to make this blog too political (and expose my own lack of knowledge on the subject).  I'd just like to express my thoughts as a Springsteen fan.  From what I'm feeling right now, I'm about 85% certain Springsteen made the right move, so I'd just like to start by addressing some of the general criticism he has received:

Issue 1: Other states have laws that can be seen as discriminatory, yet Springsteen still plays there

Critics of Springsteen's move will be quick to point out that in 28 states, you can still be fired for being gay.  Therefore, shouldn't Bruce cancel touring in these states?

I absolutely hate this type of arguing.  It is a slippery-slope argument that is basically saying "If one thing is broken, it isn't worth it to fix something else."  This argument is purposefully designed to kill the conversation and stop progress.  House Bill 2 is a hot topic that is in the news, so it makes sense that Bruce would focus on that issue first and foremost.

Issue 2: Bruce should have said something at his show.

Another reason critics will say that Springsteen should have done the show is that his message would reach more people by performing.  He would have a major platform, and could make political statements throughout the show.

In theory, this makes sense.....to someone who hasn't seen a Springsteen show.  In nearly every show he has performed, he has made a political speech.  None of them have gotten the news coverage that his cancellation has received.  It isn't a stretch to say that much of mainstream America had no idea Bruce even had a show planned for Greenboro.  This grand gesture worked better at spreading his message than a few words before "The River" would have.

Issue 3: It hurts the fans.

This is the argument that I have a hard time resolving.  Bruce's fans come from far and wide to see his shows.  It wasn't just a show for the North Carolina legislature, but for people across the world.  Cancelling a show deprives fans who have been looking forward to this show for months, who have saved up money to see him, who have taken their time to travel to the show, who may be seeing Bruce for the first time, and some who may never have an opportunity to see Bruce again.

I understand that having a weekend ruined is nothing compared to having a bill passed to discriminate against your personage, but what stuck with me was when Bruce said in his statement, "Some things are more important than a rock show".  I get the sentiment, but I feel it undersells the power of music.  After nearly every disaster in the world, there is a musical fundraiser for the victims (Bruce has participated in several of them).  Music continually inspires people, changing their lives and the world at large.

The results of Bruce's protest remains to be seen.  It seems that this move has inspired other fellow musicians - Bryan Adams just cancelled a show in Mississippi, and I expect more announcements to come.  Perhaps the cancellation will create the change in the world Bruce is working towards, and I hope he'll be back in North Carolina again soon.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Song Spotlight - "Bruce" by Rick Springfield

Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman.  Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg.  Ketchup and catsup.  Mistaken identity is a common problem in society.  Heck, even I, Rory Toohey, have been mistaken for the Rutti Tutti Fresh and Fruity meal at IHOP.  Rick Springfield knows this feeling well, and took his frustration out in his 1980 novelty song "Bruce".  There's no subtlety or metaphor here, as aside from the name "Bruce", there's also references to Springsteen's Time Magazine cover and Born To Run.  Even poor Rick's mom isn't immune from the mix-up.  It's a funny (and catchy) anthem for all of those who have been misidentified in their lives.  Thanks, Bruce I mean, Rick!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Concert Review: 3/17/2016, Los Angeles Sports Arena

Two years ago, Mama Toohey made her blogging debut with this ebullient review of Springsteen's Nashville concert.  Now, she's in Los Angeles, taking in Bruce on his latest tour.  Let's see what she thought!

I know a pretty little place in Southern California where a Jerseyan can get Bruce tickets....

I had to travel to the west coast to catch the River tour since the Jersey and New York tickets magically disappeared in 20 seconds (Editor's Note: One of the Legends of Springsteen writers did manage to get to the show in New Jersey - check out his review when you are done with this one!)

But it was well worth the plane ticket.  Bruce did not disappoint.  But, let me back up and set the stage.  When I was bragging to the clerk at a Los Angeles Starbucks that I was seeing Bruce, she just looked at me with a vague stare!  Then I said "Springsteen", and understanding came into her eyes.  Alas, Jerseyans pump their own gas and know who exactly who "Bruce" is.

Back to the concert review: It rates in my top three of all time.  Bruce has more energy than possible!  I will admit that The River is not my favorite album - I am a classic Born To Run fan. But, when Bruce crowd-surfed to "Hungry Heart", I was sold.

Throughout the show, Bruce shared his thoughts behind the development of The River album, discussing about his time of maturity, his emotional connection, and creating a fun and live flow.

Some of The River brings a quiet introspection to the crowd, but when he closed the album and burst into "Badland, the arena went wild.  Out came the hits: "The Promised Land", "Rosalita", and, yes, "Born To Run".

Our group also included a Bruce virgin.  Our friend Mallory, a Texas country music fan, was seeing Bruce for the first time.  "Hungry Heart" was her favorite, as was "Shout", which closed the concert.

All-in-all, I am ready for the next show.  See you in April when Bruce returns to New York!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

E Street Spotlight - Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg

Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg share a special place in Springsteen folklore.  While they were absent from the first two Bruce records, they joined the team in 1974, and helped launch Bruce Springsteen into super-stardom.  Bittan's elegant piano work and Weinberg's powerful drums gave Born To Run the grand, cinematic sound that was absent in Bruce's earlier work.  With these two new additions, the band was fully complete, catapulting Springsteen on 10-year-run straight to being a household name.

Parallel to Bruce's rise, Bittan and Weinberg continued as session musicians, adding their input to iconic acts of the late 70s and early 80s.

Many music fans have dubbed Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell as an "unofficial" E Street album.  Bittan and Weinberg contributed on three songs: "Bat Out Of Hell", "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)", and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light".  Even Steven Van Zandt was involved in getting the record produced.  Bittan and Weinberg would also contribute to Meat Loaf's follow-up album Dead Ringer.  

In 1983, Bittan and Weinberg scored something Bruce never accomplished: a number one song!  I'm sure everyone is familiar with the iconic Bonnie Tyler song "Total Eclipse of the Heart", but did you know that it was two E Streeters providing the dramatic piano and booming drums?  Not only were Bittan and Weinberg at number one on the charts, but they are also at number two with their contributions to Air Supply's "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All".  With Born In The U.S.A. the year after, you'd be hard pressed to find a two-year hit streak like that.

Roy and Max have contributed to dozens of artists throughout their careers (Max with Carole King, Roy with David Bowie, etc.).  It's an impressive list, and researching it took me down a crazy rabbit hole of the E Street Band's extra-curricular work.  But for today, let's raise a glass to Max and Roy for their roles in creating some of the most bombastic sweeping epics of the late 70s and early 80s!

What are you other favorite examples of non-Bruce E Street work?  Are there any others you'd like us to spotlight in the future?  Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cover Spotlight - "Human Touch" by Joe Cocker

File this under "Covers I Had No Idea Existed".  This cut comes from Cocker's 1996 mostly-cover album Organic, which also features covers of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Stevie Wonder.  While it gives Springsteen's original a more country flare, it still has a 90s-style sound (which also hampers the original, too).  The music sounds a little too clean and polished for my taste, as I'm more used to a grittier sound, like in Cocker's famous "With A Little Help From My Friends".

However, it is an interesting, unusual, and unexpected cover - if you told me Joe Cocker covered a Springsteen song, this would not have been on my shortlist of guesses.  And, personally, this was a new discovery for me, and, even if you've known about this cover for a while, I'm sure you can relate to the feeling of being a fan of something for so long, thinking you've seen it all, and then finding something new.  Hopefully, someone else reading this today will get that same feeling.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Legends of Springsteen's Super Bowl Picks!

Hoo-boy.  Here we go again.  Despite nobody asking, we here at Legends of Springsteen are predicting the Super Bowl, yet again.  Last year, we all gave you the Seahawks, and look how that turned out.  Combined, we are a total 4-8.  So....I guess we're due!  Here we go:

OB: Broncos 38, Panthers 34 (overall 1-3)
Rory: Panthers 35, Broncos 10 (overall 2-2)
Steve: Broncos 35, Panthers 31 (overall 1-3)

Now, to keep this Springsteen related, here's "The River".  Why?  Well, we're in the mist of the River tour, and the Panthers head coach is Ron "River"-a.  Do you have a better Springsteen song pun for either the Panthers or Broncos?  Let us know in the comments.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Concert Review: 1/31/2016, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

"Good Evening New Jersey!"

It's one of the greatest sounds a Bruce fan can hear.  There's nothing quite like that moment when the house lights go out, the stage lights go on and Bruce takes the stage.  And you know for the next 3+ hours, you're about to see a legend in concert, and he won't disappoint.  He never has before, and he isn't going to tonight.  And man, was Bruce ON tonight.

I almost didn't make it to this concert, as tickets were incredibly difficult to get when they went on sale.  Fortunately, my good buddy Kyle called me a few minutes after they went on sale while I was still trying to get them and told me he had gotten tickets.  So off I went to the lovely Prudential Center in downtown Newark, NJ with Kyle, his girlfriend, and brother.  This was the first time in a long time I was going to see Bruce without my fellow Legends Of Springsteen contributors.  I was a little nervous that perhaps my fandom might be a little much for the others in my group, but they kept up right along with me belting out the lyrics to "Out In The Street", dancing on the floor of the Prudential Center to "Cadillac Ranch", and chugging beers like we were still in college to "Sherry Darling".  We also met a really nice father and son on the floor who had been to countless shows together and were huge fans.  I suggested that they visit this site later, so Matt and Joe if you see this, we had a blast rocking out with you!

The first thing I noticed about this show, was that the E Street Band was much smaller than it's been on the past few tours.  That's actually a good thing, as I specifically remember thinking the last time I saw Bruce that the band had gotten comically large.  Gone is the horns section, save Jake Clemons of course, and gone are the background singers, and back up percussionists.  This is the lineup from the original River tour, except for the members who have passed away and been replaced, and plus Patti and Soozi Tyrell.

Also, this is kind of a strange tour.  The River is a classic Bruce album, no doubt about it.  But it's not one of his most classic.  And 35 isn't exactly a milestone year.  Put it this way, I'll be turning 35 in a few short years, and I don't in any way see it as a milestone.  What did I care though?  If it meant going to see Bruce live, I didn't care how strange the touring circumstances were.

But of course, Bruce explained it perfectly.  This wasn't his  introduction to rock and roll like Greetings From Asbury Park or his masterpiece Born To Run.  And he was still a few years away from the height of his popularity with Born In The USA.  This was him proving he still had "it".  It was the album Bruce wrote in his 30s, way past the point where he can say he was the new guy, the up and comer.  He had been around for too long and had way too much success.  But he wasn't done, so he wasn't at the point where he could just rest on his laurels, and call it a career.  Hell, I don't even think he's at that point now, nor does he want to be.  Bruce proved tonight what he's proved to me every night that I've gone to see him: that he wants to be better than he was the last time he played.

And of course, after he played The River  in it's entirety he played a setlist that would rival any of his other previous ones.  Non-stop crowd pleasers, including having the house lights on for his entire encore.  By the end of the night, there wasn't a disappointed fan in all of the Prudential Center.  I would write more, but I'm exhausted and need to go to bed now.  Bottom line: if you're debating on whether or not to go see Bruce on this tour, don't.  It's 100% worth every penny, and for the first time in a long time, I left a Bruce concert without thinking "This might be the last tour I get to see him on."  He's looks and sounds better than any performer half his age and shows absolutely no desire to slow down any time soon.

Click here for the entire setlist.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The 1/19 Chicago show now available to download for free

With a major snow storm wrecking the east coast this weekend, Springsteen had to postpone his highly anticipated return to Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.  As a "thank you / I'm sorry" to the fans, he has released a live recording of the 1/19 Chicago show for free.  It is only available for 48 hours, so if you are interested, make sure to grab it quickly!  You can download the show here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

David Bowie Impersonates Springsteen!....And others!

Despite the new spat of Springsteen shows, I still can't shake the post-Bowie mourning I am going through.  It seems that every day there's something new about Bowie, whether it is a tribute by another artist, a retrospective article, or, in this case, a rare audio clip.  Here, Bowie is messing around, singing in the style of many different musicians.  His Springsteen is in the first 48 seconds of the clip, and it seems that even Bowie can't get his voice to go as low and gravely as Bruce's.  Bowie also goofs on Tom Waits, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop, among others.  However, the thing I enjoyed most about these clips were the small moments in between the impressions, as you could hear Bowie just talking and laughing, with his persona completely "off".  I'll say it before, and I'll say it again (because I have no idea how to end the post), but thank you Bowie!