Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review - Springsteen on Broadway

Well, I did it.  I was one of the lucky few selected in the lottery to attend Springsteen On Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in town.  Honestly, I didn't tell many of my friends I was going in the weeks leading up to it, for fear of jinxing it.  It was also the first time in my fandom that I felt nervous about seeing Springsteen, due to the exorbitant price of the tickets (I can only imagine how those who resorted to StubHub must have felt dropping well over $2,000) as well as seeing Springsteen in a completely new environment.  Up until this point, the smallest venue I've seen Springsteen at is the PNC Arts Center, which has a capacity of 17,500.  At the Walter Kerr Theater, Springsteen would be playing to a crowd roughly 1/20th the size of that.

I purposely avoided any articles about the show.  I wanted to go in cold.  So, if you feel the same way, I won't be offended if you turn away now.  I don't plan on going into "spoilers", but I respect you all enough to give you fair warning.  My major questions were:

  • What would Springsteen do?  It is Broadway, after all.  Would it be a solo acoustic set?  Would he treat it like a concert?  Would there be huge dance numbers with a full ensemble?
  • How would the audience react?  Would they be shouting "BRUUUUUUCEEE"?  Would little girls climb up on stage to sing "Waitin' On A Sunny Day"?  Or, would I be surrounded by Rich Uncle Pennybags types - classy theater folk who are just there to be seen?

Arriving about an hour early, I settled into the "cheap" seats and admired the view.  Any concerns I had about the seating in the theater instantly vanished.  As I could hear the conversations of people in the front row, it dawned on me that this would be the closest I've ever watched Bruce live (save for a brief moment where he popped up on a platform near me at Giants Stadium).  And yes, this photo was technically "illegal", as the security guards asked everyone not to take photography in the theater.  However, this rule was about as enforced as the jaywalking laws are in the nearby Times Square.

Before the show started, I made sure to thoroughly empty my bladder, as I did not expect there to be an "Outlaw Pete" pee-break.  During this time, I scoped out the merchandise.  They had standard Springsteen event goods - t-shirts, hoodies, and posters all in the $40 range.  I opted for the Springsteen tumbler you see above, which came when you ordered a beer/wine/cocktail.  For $15, I justified it as $10 for the cup and $5 for the beer.  But, after you spend as much as a flight to Los Angeles on a Broadway ticket, it basically seemed free.

Anyway, onto a formal review of the show:

To answer the first question - what would Springsteen do?  Well, Springsteen delivered a two-hour, 15-song acoustic set that was ostensibly his autobiography adapted for the stage.   As in his four-hour concerts, Springsteen covered a wide array of topics - from family, to love, to politics, to the meaning of life, all underscored by the one unifying force that had brought this all to him: his music.  For those who love Springsteen's speeches during his concerts, this is the show for you.  You'll hear stories that'll make you laugh, that'll depress you (wryly acknowledged by Springsteen), and that'll inspire you.  While I won't go into the specifics of the setlist (I'm sure it is online by now), there is not a clunker in the bunch.  The setlist has been excellently curated, perhaps the best sequential ordering I've seen at any Springsteen event.  The songs compliment the stories, and bridge the gap from one subject to the next.  You know certain hits will be played no matter where Springsteen shows up, but there were a couple of newer songs that were appreciated by this young(-ish) fan.

To answer the second question - how would the audience react?  While there was a couple of hobnobbers there, I'd say the fan lottery worked, as the place was filled with Bruce die-hards.  I had to go by myself (I couldn't get two tickets to the same show), but I was surrounded by other single-concert goers, as well as friendly, excited fans that were just as curious as I was about what was going to transpire.  The newness of the experience could be felt by all - it was Bruce's second night after all.  The audience wasn't sure when to laugh, or sing-along, or dance in the aisles (I'm not sure if Bruce knew these answers either).  But, overall, it was a fantastic energy and a fantastic crowd.

I've seen it said that this is not a concert - it's a show, and I absolutely agree.  While it is only about half the length of a normal Springsteen concert, it does not feel short.  You may not be physically drained from standing and dancing, but it plays with your heart all night.  I really don't need to tell you that you got to see this show - it feels like rubbing it in at this point.  But, I will do my best below to help you feel the experience.  The following photos are: the stage post concert, Springsteen and Patti leaving the theater, and the Playbill (you can click them all to embiggen).  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

R.I.P. Tom Petty

Yesterday, the music world lost yet another legend in the great Tom Petty.  While Petty is known for working with tons of other musicians, like Stevie Nicks and the Traveling Wilburys, there is surprisingly very little crossover between Petty and Springsteen.  However, I did find this photo and clip from a No Nukes benefit concert they did together in 1979 (but you can't really see Petty in the video).  With Springsteen on Broadway debuting tonight, I believe it is safe to assume the performance will include some tribute to Tom Petty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Great Moments in Springsteen Transportation History - The E Street Shuttle

Last weekend, I had the privilege of going to a lovely wedding in central NJ.  While I've recently moved to Bruce's old stomping ground, there's still plenty I have yet to experience in the 732 area code.  You can feel Bruce's influence throughout the area, from the music, to the style, to, apparently, the modes of transportation.

Yes, indeed, the shuttle that serviced us from the ceremony to the reception was none other than the E Street Shuttle.  This retro-style shuttle got us around Ocean Avenue in style.  It had an amazing sound system, complete with vintage record players (which I have to assume is for when the shuttle is stationery).  With cold beverages and comfortable seats, I'll have to keep this shuttle in mind for future events, such as a bachelor party, trip to Atlantic City, or going to the post office.  Seriously, I want to go on again.

Thanks for reading about a bus named after a Springsteen song.  I know it's just a bus named after a Springsteen song, but, you know, it's a bus named after a Springsteen song!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Great Moments in Springsteen Television History - Sealab 2021

After last month's 30 Day Challenge, I was pretty burnt out on Springsteen.  Even the announcement of Springsteen on Broadway didn't inspire me to get back on my Springsteen fanblog game. (Mainly because this ticketing system seems doomed to fail.  Don't say I didn't warn you! Don't you dare say it!)

So, what have I been doing with my summer?  Re-watching Sealab 2021.  A cartoon that has somewhat been forgotten over the last 15 years, Sealab 2021 was one of Adult Swim's first original shows, along with Aqua Teen Hunger Force and The Brak Show.  It was created by Adam Reed, who would go on to greater success with the hit show Archer.  However, those early Adult Swim years left a strong impression on many people around my age, as the shows introduced many of us to the strange, experimental comedy that can be done with almost no budget.

When re-watching any show from your past, it'll be impossible to escape the nostalgia.  Even though I'm watching these Sealabs as I'm getting ready for work, I'm still transported to being a 17-year-old staying up disturbingly late on Sunday nights to get a glimpse of this bizarro show.   There are tons of quotes that instantly come rushing back, though I haven't thought about them in over a decade.  When I saw the above clip, I was shocked by how clearly I remembered it, yet can't believe I haven't written about it on this blog before.

In this episode, the Sealab gang is trapped in a closet.  That's all you really know.  And, Captain Murphy (voiced by the late, great Harry Goz) fights back against a subordinate trying to give him orders, asking if Bruce Springsteen should find a new nickname.  Unfortunately, this was met with blank stares, as the crew doesn't know who Springsteen is.

This episode aired April 7, 2002, so just a bit before The Rising was released.  So, perhaps it was conceivable that in 19 years, people would forget who Springsteen was.  Fortunately, Sealab's prediction was wrong - given his sustained popularity in the 21st century, I doubt a Springsteen reference will fly over anyone's head in four years.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30

Finally!  The last day! My favorite song at this time last year!  Let's do this!

Last year, Bruce was in the middle of his River tour, and man did it deliver.  During the summer last year, I was probably listening to "Meet Me In The City", as well as many other tracks from The Ties That Bind (although I've never really given it a proper review - something to remember for a future post).  While the new songs have been mostly forgotten, "Meet Me In The City" still brings up fond memories of 2016.

That's it!  Challenge completed!  Now, if anybody ever asks if I listed 30 Springsteen songs, I can say a resounding "Hell yes."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 29

Two more to go!  For day 29, I have to pick a song from my childhood.  While I'd love to say my mom sang Springsteen songs as lullabies to me, that sadly is not the case.  However, as I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, Springsteen was everywhere and unavoidable.

"Born In The U.S.A." doesn't seem to get much play on the radio nowadays, but I swear, back 25-30 years ago, it was everywhere.  While my memory may be fuzzy, I'm willing to bet it's the first song that I knew was sung by a guy named "Bruce Springsteen".  The entire Born In The USA  album was probably the soundtrack for a lot of 80s babies.

What Springsteen song reminds you of your childhood?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 28

We're in the home stretch with a strange one - a song that makes you feel guilty.  Unlike a guilty pleasure, which I ranted about two weeks ago, today I actually have to pick a song that I feel bag when I rock out to.  Let's go:

"Trapped" is a fantastic cover, and a great song to see live (the coordinated fist-pump is a bit corny, but I dig it).  However, it's about a guy in a terrible relationship, which makes it somewhat difficult to relate to, as I've never really felt caught or manipulated by a significant other.  Being in a very loving relationship, I definitely feel guilty when I'm blasting a song about how awful someone's partner treats them.  Still, it's pretty catchy.

What Springsteen song makes you feel guilty?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 27

Day 27 is pure wish-fulfillment: what song do I wish I could play?  Not going to lie: I often walk down the streets with my music blasting in my ears, fantasizing about playing in front of thousands of adoring fans.  Is that relatable, or just sad? You decide.

As I've already shared an embarrassing way I listen to "The Promised Land", I might as well share that one of my rock-and-roll dreams is going up on stage and nailing the harmonica solo.  I think it's best for all parties if I never try to make this a reality.

What Springsteen songs do you wish you could play?

Monday, June 26, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 26

I'll totally have to cheat today.  It took about 5 years of piano lessons in the mid 90s, as well as a couple weeks dicking around on a guitar, to realize I have no musical ability.  So, my options here are incredibly limited.  But, we'll give it a shot.

"Waitin' On A Sunny Day" has a fairly simple chord progression - C, Am, F, C, G.  Just play that over and over again, and you've got "Waitin' On A Sunny Day".  Sure, there's a solo in there, and some different chords at the end, and the F chord is kinda hard, but you can kinda sorta strum something that sounds like "Waitin' On A Sunny Day".  Just take my word for it, because I won't show you in person.

Do we have any musically inclined people?  Can you play any Springsteen songs?  Comment below!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 25

The last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions - angry, happy, sad, weddings, and funerals.  We take yet another turn today with a song that makes me laugh.  While Springsteen can often be humorous on stage and in interviews, his songs are often dour.  Yet I still didn't find today all that much of a challenge:

Bruce has some silly songs such as "Sherry Darling" and "Working On The Highway", but "In Freehold" is always the one that gets me, especially the line about his Catholic education.  I don't want to spoil all the jokes, so give it a listen yourself.

What Springsteen songs make you laugh?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 24

We get a little dour here today, talking about what song I want played at my funeral.  Not that I really care, because I'll be dead.  Ah well.

From The Rising, "You're Missing" would be a great tear-jerker at any funeral.  I want my friends and family bawling their eyes out, and this would definitely set the mood.

Bruce has a bunch of great funeral songs, so what's yours?  Are you going for super-sad, or perhaps something lighter to make people feel better at your funeral?

Friday, June 23, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 23

Day 23 is a piece of cake, since I'm already married, and, of course, had Springsteen songs played there.  But there is a story:

My wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life (duh), so of course "Rosalita" had to have been played.  Well, it was nearing the final 20 minutes of the wedding, before the venue would viciously give us the boot.  We hadn't heard a Bruce song on the dance floor in over an hour ("Dancing in the Dark"), and asked the DJ what his final few songs would be.  His choices were fine, but they weren't "end of the wedding" worthy.  So, we told him to scrap all that and immediately put on "Rosalita".  He did, and it was a highlight of the wedding.

What song do you want played at your wedding (or, if you are already married, what song was played)?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 22

Like the previous day, today seems to be splitting hairs with a prior day.  Not a song like day 4 that MAKES you sad, but a song you listen to WHEN you are sad.  Again, this is open to multiple interpretations, so let me present, and subsequently defend, my choice:

When I'm sad, I'm looking for a specific type of song.  I don't want an escapist song that ignores my problems and tells me everything is sunny and happy.  And yet, I don't want to wallow in misery with a sad song that makes me want to kill myself.  The intersection of this is "happy-sad", those songs with happy beats and sad lyrics (see: the Cure).  Bruce has plenty of "happy-sad" in his catalog, and "I'm Goin' Down" is among his best.

What songs do you listen to WHEN you are sad?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 21

For day 21, I have to pick a song that I listen to WHEN I'm happy.  This is not to be confused with day 3, which was a song that MAKES me happy.  Got it?  Moving on:

Well, I usually listen to a lot of Springsteen when I'm happy, so I just grabbed this one at random.  "Blinded by the Light" is a great listen WHEN you are happy: you get to hear Bruce at his youngest and most ambitious, and know that it's just going to get better for this young kid.

So, what Bruce song do you listen to WHEN you are happy?  And don't you dare list a Bruce song that MAKES you happy.  Rules are rules, got it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 20

Day 20 is a weird one - a song that I listen to when I'm angry.  The image of my head of being so incredibly angry that I run to my computer and pull up a must-listen-to song is quite amusing.  There's a couple ways you can go with this, I guess, such as picking a song that will calm you down, or perhaps a song you can scream along with to vent your frustrations.  I'll go with the latter:

"Because the Night" has one of Bruce's scream-ier choruses, which is why it worked so well in Patti Smith's punk-poet setting.

What Bruce songs do you listen to when angry?

Monday, June 19, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 19

As opposed to the recent struggles I've had with this challenge (negativity based ones, ones with unclear instructions, oddly dated questions about the radio), this is a lob over home plate.  Just a song on my favorite album.  Easy peasy.

While I'd love to make the case that Darkness on the Edge of Town is better than Born To Run, I just feel like taking it easy today.  We all know Born To Run is Bruce's best album, so let's put aside any squabbles and embrace it.

What's your a song from your favorite Bruce album (which, as I just said, is Born To Run - come on, you know it is right)?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challnege, Day 18

Given that everyone carries around smartphones, and you can access every song ever made at any time, day 18's "song you wish you heard on the radio" seems quaint.  But I'll answer anyway:

I've written plenty of times about "Livin' In The Future".  It feels like it should've been a hit, and I would love to still hear it on the radio (or in live shows, or at dentist's offices, or at weddings).

What song do you wish got more radio play, or anywhere play?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 17

Let's see - a song I hear too often on the radio?  This is another one of those "negative" days, so I'll spare you being negative about being negative (But seriously, who complains about hearing a song on the radio too much?  You can switch the channel!  And, come on, can we really have too much Bruce on the radio?)  Being in New Jersey, you'd think I hear a lot of Bruce on the classic rock stations, but somehow I end up hearing a ton of Billy Joel.  Have I written enough words to post the song yet?

I'll just go with this, as it is probably my least favorite of Springsteen's big hits.  Also, we are heading to peak summer, so I fully expect to hear this song on Q104.3 over...and over....and over....

Any Springsteen song that's a bit too radio friendly for your tastes?

Friday, June 16, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 16

Today is another one of the "negative" days, where I have to talk about a song I used to love but now hate.  Again, a difficult challenge, as even as I start to fall "out of love" with a song for whatever reason (usually being overplayed), I still retain fond memories of that initial attraction, and rarely go to hating it (with one major exception - Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'").  And, the fact that I hate so few Springsteen songs to begin with adds another layer to the challenge.  Therefore:

As I've referenced many time, Live in NYC was my true first introduction to Springsteen.  "Two Hearts" was the third track on the album, and therefore received a lot of plays (it was sandwiched between "Prove It All Night" and "Atlantic City", which is like being in the 8:30 slot between Friends and Seinfeld).  Being a new Springsteen fan, it was among the first Springsteen songs I fell in love with.  However, as I listened to more music, it was easy to see that this was one of the lesser hits.  I wouldn't say I hate it now, but I don't hold it in such high-esteem anymore, and rarely am I thinking "Man, I could really go for listening to 'Two Hearts'."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 15

Oh, we're halfway there!  Day 15!  Another peculiar challenge, as I'd have a difficult time describing myself with words, let alone a song.  Anyhoo:

Does "Growin' Up" describe me?  Well, the lyrics are pretty vague and silly enough that you can make it mean anything.  Plus, I used the acoustic version from Tracks for the mother-son dance at my wedding.  If someone needs to describe me, I'll pass the job to my momma, as I'm sure she'll let you know how special I am!

What song describes you?  Got a better answer?  Are you still reading?  Just 15 more days!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 14

Here's another challenging one: finding a song no one could expect me to love.  I mean, I've been writing about Springsteen since 2012 (including doing this ridiculous challenge with just his music), so could anyone be surprised by any Springsteen song I'll pick?  Well, I'll pick one anyway, and try to come up with some justification:

So I guess people would expect me to love "Janey Don't You Lose Heart", but probably don't expect me to REALLY love it.  It's easily one of my favorite songs from Bruce's 80s work, having fallen in love with it during a live performance back in 2008.  And yet, shockingly, I have not written about it on the blog at all.

So, that's my reasoning for today.  What Bruce song would people not expect you to love?  Give it a shot in the comments.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 13

I don't really like the term "guilty pleasure".  It is commonly used to describe some work of entertainment that you enjoy but is considered "dumb" by an arbitrary, nebulous critical community.  Personally, I feel that if you enjoy a song/movie, then you have nothing to feel "guilty" about - you are liking this song for a particular reason that is being overlooked by this mysterious elite group that have deemed it unworthy.  Now, if someone got their jollies by kicking puppies, that's a true "guilty pleasure"!  (Perhaps I'm taking a bit too literally.)  Anyway, my point is that you shouldn't feel shame in merely enjoying a song.  Rant over.

So, as I clearly showed that I have no idea what a "guilty pleasure" is, I'll go with "Ain't Got You" from Tunnel of Love.  It's a song that Steven Van Zandt hated, and it signals Bruce's move away from the E Street Band, giving it two reasons I could feel guilty about enjoying it.  But man, I do love that Bo Diddley beat.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 12

OK, this one is even trickier than yesterday.  A song from a band I hate....that also has Bruce Springsteen in it.  Yeesh.  Here we go:

Here is "Roll of the Dice", by Springsteen....and the other guys.  These were the replacements to the E Street Band that Bruce used in the early 90s.  Much like the Smashing Pumpkins replacing D'arcy Wretzky with similar skinny goth girls, the not-E-Street band had eerily similar clones, including a man who was certainly not Clarence Clemons.  Fortunately, this period did not last too long, and by the end of the decade, Bruce had reunited with the E Street Band.  Still, I do love "Roll of the Dice".

What's a song by a band you hate....that also has Bruce Springsteen in it?  Are you going to go with my pick from the early 90s, or perhaps do you have a deep hatred of Steel Mill?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 11

Welcome to day 11, and we've got ourselves a weird one.  A song from my favorite band?  I mean, I could just pick any Springsteen and the E Street Band song and call it a day.  But, I'll not phone it in that much:

Here we've got "The E Street Shuffle", from The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle.  So, I'm not just picking any song with the E Street Band, I'm picking a song that identifies itself as my favorite band.  Impressive?  Just 19 more to go.

What's your favorite band that Bruce Springsteen is in?  Let us know in the comments.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 10

Day 10 - the big fat hen of days.  Today's challenge is to find a song that makes you fall asleep.  That' odd challenge.  It could be interpreted negatively - in that a song is so boring that it puts you to sleep.  However, I'll go with the positive interpretation - that the song puts you in a nice, relaxed state and sweeps you away to dreamland:

"Jungleland" is perfect for this.  It's slow, and long (it takes me a while to fall asleep).  But, once I get to that beautiful sax solo, I'm in the perfect state for a nice nap.

Which songs make you fall asleep?  Feel free to answer in the either positive or negative reading.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 9

Day number 9 brings us an interesting question: what Bruce song can you dance to?  Well, there are plenty, but I'll tackle it as: what song can you dance to WELL?  Sure, you can hit the dance floor during many Bruce songs, but most of the time you'll look like a drunk wearing his shoes on the wrong feet.  So, how can you look impressive with Springsteen blaring through the speakers?  Bruce, fortunately, provided an easy answer:

Sure, it's corny, but it's a set of moves.  Everyone knows the "Dancing in the Dark" dance, and there's not much of a gap between the best "Dancing in the Dark" dancer in the world and the worst "Dancing in the Dark" dancer in the world.  Given the overwhelming Caucasian-ness of Springsteen fandom, this song is a welcome relief to those without rhythm and/or flow.

What are your favorite Springsteen songs to dance to?  Or, what are your go-to dance moves when Springsteen is on?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 8

Day 8? More like Day Great!

As we careen past a week of Springsteen songs, we encounter yet another day that could have multiple answers.  While Bruce can write some crazy lyrics, there's easily a handful of songs we all know by heart.  Here's the choice for today:

When I first got into Springsteen, I was obsessed with "Thunder Road" - it could easily have been the choice for day one of the challenge.  I tried to insert "Thunder Road" lyrics into most aspects in my high school / early college days, whether it be in my Facebook profile, AOL Instant Messenger away messages, or anything else that reminds me of how old I am.

Feel free to add your favorite Springsteen songs you can karaoke to without a screen in the comments.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 7

Lucky day 7!  Like yesterday, today is another easy choice where the only issue is choosing between dozens of potential songs.  Let's just dive right in:

This was LOS writer Steve's first dance song at his wedding.  In fact, he wrote about choosing the song on this blog.  Steve has been happily married for over six years, and his family has grown (two kids, with a third on the way).  "Happy" was not a Springsteen song I paid much attention to before his wedding, so it has immediate association with this event every time I hear it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 6

Day 6 Day 6 Day 6!  Yes, I've ran out of introductions to this.  24 more, folks.

Today is another easy day where the only question is which song to choose.  While a sense of location plays a part in a lot of music, Springsteen has excelled in using his music to create vivid environments, not just about New Jersey but from coast to coast and the flyover country in between.  However, being a Jersey boy, I'll just take the easy choice:

While specifically calling out Asbury Park, I think "Sandy" is the perfect soundtrack for any Jersey Shore town (Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, etc.), capturing that lazy, carefree atmosphere of the perfect summer night.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 5

Here we are, five days in, covering the topic of a song that reminds you of someone.  As a person who knows some people, I found this actually to be easy.  There's a lot of people to choose from, like my mother (who helped get me into Springsteen), my fellow LOS writers (all huge Springsteen fans), etc.  And I may talk more about these people in future entries (stay tuned).  But, today I'll go with a song that helped someone get into Springsteen:

"I'm On Fire" is my wife's favorite song.  Before she met me, she had a general knowledge of Springsteen, knowing the big hits and radio staples.  So, as we began dating and she discovered my disturbing affinity for the Boss, I tried to make her a convert.  While she may never be the Springsteen crazy that I am, she instantly gravitated to "I'm On Fire", and it is clearly her favorite Springsteen song.  I always loved "I'm On Fire" too, but it is now closely associated with my lovely lady.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 4

Today, we take a swing in the complete opposite direction of yesterday, and talk about a Bruce song that makes me sad.  Now, as mentioned yesterday, most Bruce music makes me happy.  I can even rock out to the more depressing Bruce songs (and so can Bruce, apparently, as shown by that amazing guitar solo that has worked its way into "Youngstown" over the years).  And, it doesn't help that I'm fairly emotionally dead.  With that being said, here's a Springsteen song that make the room seem a bit dustier:

While "Bobby Jean" has a bit of an uplifting swing, the emotional core of the song really connects with me.  It drips with nostalgia, striving to recover things we've lost and go back to the way things were.  I'm even nostalgic when hearing a song about nostalgia, remembering embarrassing moments from my life.

So, what Bruce song makes you sad?  Bruce has a plethora of downers, so this should be much easier for others, unlike this old soulless robot.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 3

Onto day 3, which is a slam-dunk.  Pretty much any Bruce song makes me happy, even the depressing ones.  I've probably written about this before, but Bruce's music just "centers" me - whenever I'm feeling nervous or overwhelmed, I put on Bruce and it brings me back down to Earth.  So, for today, I'll pick "My Love Will Not Let You Down":

While The Rising was the first Bruce studio album that started my fandom, it truly began with the Live In New York City concert album.  Popping in the CD and being blasted with "My Love Will Not Let You Down" always reminds me of my first foray into Springsteen, and will always make me happy.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 2

As we enter the 30 Day Challenge's second day, we reach a very controversial topic: your least favorite song.  Now, I try to keep this blog positive and upbeat.  There's too much negativity on the Internet, so why bother doing the same thing everyone else is doing?  Plus, our wonderful world is full of diversity - songs you hate can be adored by other people, and vice versa.

But this song stinks.  Yes - I know this is just a throw-away B-side, but....why Bruce?  It's just three minutes of noise.

Bruce has his share of clunkers (especially in the last few albums), so my least favorite song may vary day-to-day, but I have no hesitation giving "A Night With The Jersey Devil" the honors in this challenge.

Want to rage impudently on a random Internet blog?  Share your least favorite Bruce song in the comments.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Day 1

A few weeks ago, fellow Legends-of-Springsteener OB sent me the above list entitled the "30 Day Song Challenge".  Now, usually I don't go for these Internet shenanigans, as I'm a very private person (if you couldn't tell from me openly sharing every single thought I've had about Bruce Springsteen over the last 5 years).  I feel these lists are best left for the youth of today, who actually feel things like happiness and sadness when listening to songs and aren't emotionally dead inside.  However, OB proposed an interesting twist: do this list with only Bruce Springsteen songs.  Seeing as I've been light on material for this blog over the last couple years, I figured what the hell.  So, let's start things off with:

Day 1: Your Favorite Song

Like I said, maybe them kids can easily choose a favorite song, but not me.  Honestly, this isn't a true answer, as my top Springsteen song is constantly rotating.  Songs like "Thunder Road" and "Rosalita" have held the number one position for long stretches.  However, "Atlantic City" has consistently been in my top five for as long as I could remember.  So, given the consistency of my love for this song, I'll start the challenge with it.

Are you up for the challenge?  Leave your favorite song in the comments.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Bruce covers Sting's "I Hung My Head"

Here's Bruce doing a cover of Sting's "I Hung My Head" at the Kennedy Center honors.  I'm not too familiar with the original song (this isn't Legends of Sting), but man, Bruce really knocks this out of the park, making it feel like an old Bruce classic.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

RIP Jonathan Demme, 1944-2017

We lost another legend this year in filmmaker Jonathan Demme.  Perhaps best remembered for Silence of the Lambs, he was notable to us Springsteen fan's for his "Streets of Philadelphia" video (the use of it in Demme's Philadelphia earned Springsteen an Oscar).  It should also be noted that Demme used Springsteen's "My Love Will Not Let You Down" in his final major film Ricki And The Flash.  He's truly a great director, and will be missed be all of us here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Springsteen Covers Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me" and Berry's "Little Queenie"

This past weekend, Springsteen released a concert he performed in St. Louis in 2008 on his website.  This concert from the Magic tour includes covers of the Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me" and Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie".  You can download the concert on his website, but here's "Then He Kissed Me" and "Little Queenie" for you now!

Monday, April 17, 2017

More Springsteen Sound-a-Likes!

On this blog, we've covered artists who have tried to ape Springsteen, as well as the songs and artists that have influenced Springsteen.  So, for this random post to keep the blog alive during this gorgeous spring, here's a few more songs that seem heavily influenced by the Boss.

Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back In Town" (Springsteen - "Kitty's Back")

This one doesn't seem that blatant to me, but I've have seen it cited as a rip-off on numerous Springsteen forums, so I'll toss it in here just to be thorough.  While "Kitty's Back" is a sprawling epic, it has a dramatic build-and-release leading to Kitty being back in town (4:55 to 5:18).  This small section seems to have influenced the good folks of Thin Lizzy, as they were able to transform it into the hook of their their signature song.

Pink Floyd - "Lost For Words" (Springsteen - "Independence Day")

While I think the prior entry is a bit of a stretch, this is a slam dunk.  This song is from Floyd's The Division Bell, and the band was pretty long in the tooth, so I'm not going to hold this against them.  After producing 30+ years of progressive and experimental music, who can fault them for looking to Bruce for some inspiration?

Best Coast - "Boyfriend" (Springsteen - "Badlands")

OK, here we're just talking about two seconds of the drum opening.  I always feel duped every time "Boyfriend" comes up on my iPod.  But when I first noticed this, it did make me sit up and take notice of how great that opening two seconds of "Badlands" is - perhaps being the second most iconic Springsteen drum opening of all time (behind "Born To Run", obviously).

Now, this article isn't to knock any artists - I believe the three listed above are great musicians, and don't think any of them purposefully set out to "steal" from Springsteen.  We're here to appreciate Springsteen, as well as the (direct or incidental) influence he's made on others.  So, have you noticed any other songs similar to Springsteen songs (or vice versa)?  Any other Springsteen drum intros you love?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Album Review: Human Touch and Lucky Town

Today marks the 25th anniversary of one of Springsteen's most dubious career moves to date: the release of both Human Touch and Lucky Town.  These albums were Bruce's first away from the E Street Band, and missed out on the top spot on the billboard charts to the Wayne's World soundtrack.  Widely considered the nadir of Springsteen's popularity, Bruce didn't even mention these albums in his autobiography.  But, a generation later, it's time to look back and ask the question: was it really that bad?

Human Touch is a beast to review.  It's hard to say anything complimentary about any song without noting how much the music is a product of the time.  In the late 80s and early 90s, the "white dude rock world" (for obvious lack of a better term) was dominated by the ballad:

On Human Touch, Bruce was working too hard to find that type of sound.  While there's definitely some solid songs on here, they are buried under a 90s gloss.  "Soul Driver" has the new jack swing drum splash (think a slower Bell Biv Devoe).  "Cross My Heart" is the epitome of 90s country, seeming to draw from the then-uber popular Garth Brooks.  While songs like "Roll of the Dice" and "All or Nothin' At All" are energetic rockers, could you imagine them being done in a jazzier, looser E Street style?  They'd be instant classics!  The album is a long listen, and gets bogged down by numerous generic songs that just bleed into each other.

However, time has been much kinder to Lucky Town.  While Human Touch was a scattered attempt to find the "ballad", Lucky Town is a much more focused, personal, and catchier.  The album starts incredibly strong with the joyous "Better Days", the angry "Lucky Town", and the wedding classic "If I Should Fall Behind".  Unfortunately, the back half of the album sounds like remixes of the first: "Living Proof" is another "Better Days", "Book of Dreams" is another "If I Should Fall Behind", "Souls of the Departed" is another "Lucky Town".  However, the sound is definitely less dated than Human Touch - if this is what Bruce's long-rumored country album sounds like, I'll be very pleased.

Ultimately, I'd give Human Touch 2 out of 5 stars, and Lucky Town 3 out of 5 stars.  Human Touch is only for the Bruce completists, but the casual rock fan should be able to find a couple songs on Lucky Town that they'd enjoy.  Either way, I think we can all agree that the Wayne's World soundtrack definitely deserved the number 1 spot that week.

As for the question of Bruce's worst album of all-time - I'd still give that to Working On A Dream.  While I gave them both 2/5 scores, I can imagine a Human Touch E Street "remix" that could save a lot of the songs.  And, finally, the last thought exercise for this album: how would you make it one album?  Here's my Lucky Touch (Human Town?) playlist:

1. Better Days
2. Roll of the Dice
3. Real World
4. All Or Nothin' At All
5. Lucky Town
6. Man's Job
7. I Wish I Were Blind
8. If I Should Fall Behind
9. Leap of Faith
10. Human Touch

So, what are your thoughts on these two albums?  What would be your Lucky Touch? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Video Spotlight - "You Never Can Tell", Germany 7/7/2013

For your weekend enjoyment: this cover of "You Never Can Tell", a Chuck Berry song that most from my generation will know from Pulp Fiction.  While Bruce's cover itself is fun and rocking (kind of like his version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"), I absolutely love the first three minutes of the video.  Here, we see Bruce the bandleader - teaching not only his horn section how to play the song, but the entire crowd.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

When Bruce Springsteen opened for Chuck Berry


Found via the Springsteen sub-reddit, here is an advertisement for an April 1973 concert, where Bruce Springsteen opened for Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.  According to Brucebase, Springsteen and company were told about a week before that they had to be Chuck Berry's backing band.  So, with very little practice, the boys went out there and improvised with Berry for 70 minutes.  Unfortunately, there exists no recording of this show.  But, I think we can safely assume that the concert goers got their $5.50 worth that night (roughly $30 today).

Monday, March 20, 2017

R.I.P. Chuck Berry, 1926-2017

This past weekend, we lost another musical legend - Chuck Berry.  While Chuck lived to the ripe old age of 90, he was still rocking out to his final days.  To honor him, let's re-watch this classic performance of Berry and the Boss, from 1995.  Watch for around the 2-minute mark, and you can see Bruce being completely star-struck, playing with one of his biggest musical heroes.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Legends of Springsteen's Super Bowl Picks - Celebrating Six Crappy Years!

Boy, are we gluttons for punishment.  After five years, and a robust 6-9 in just picking a game straight up, we're back for yet another round of the worst Super Bowl predictions you'll read on a Springsteen fanblog.  Here we go:

OB: Patriots 45, Falcons 21 (Overall 2-3)
Rory: Patriots 28, Falcons 27 (Overall 2-3)
Steve: Patriots 23, Falcons 7 (Overall 2-3)

I still cling to my glorious 2012 pick, where I actually called the exact score.

Anyway, since the Super Bowl is in Houston this year, here's Bruce singing about living on the streets of Houston with "Seeds" - live in Houston! How's that for synergy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bill Burr referencing Springsteen on Jimmy Kimmel

Like the great comic Louie CK, Bill Burr has also turned to Springsteen for joke-inspiration.  Having just experienced the birth of his first child, he reflects on the attitude that would cause someone to abandon their family, noting the Springsteen hit "Hungry Heart".  While Burr doesn't know the song entirely, Kimmel gets the reference immediately.  This bit opens the video, but it is worth sticking around, as Burr is one of the best comics working today.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Obama Exits to "Land of Hope and Dreams"

Taking a page directly out of Jon Stewart's book, President Obama said goodbye to the nation on Tuesday night, being played off by Springsteen's "Land of Hope and Dreams".  You can skip to the 6:36:40 mark to where the song plays, if you don't want to hear a speech and just want to see a guy in a suit hugging and waiving to a Springsteen song.  While Springsteen fandom encompasses many political beliefs (the B Street Band are playing at the New Jersey Inauguration Ball next week), Obama and Springsteen have one of the strongest links I've seen between an artist and a president, from with Springsteen's "Obama-influenced" (for lack of a better description) Working on a Dream album in 2009 to Obama awarding Springsteen the Medal of Freedom a couple months ago.

 Any other president/artist combos that stand out in history?  Any you'd like to see in the future?  It's too early to tell how the Trump/Kanye relationship will grow, but you never know.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review - Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen

Well, after three months, we here are finally able to weigh in on Bruce's highly anticipated autobiography Born To Run.  And, I must say, it lives up to the hype.  This book is an immensely satisfying look into one of the most unique American talents of the 20th century.

Told chronologically and straight-forward, Bruce takes you from his birth until, seemingly, the minute you finish the book.  Like a Springsteen concert, the book is extra-long, clocking in at just over 500 pages (with photos tucked into the back, a nice move since many books awkwardly stick the photo section in the middle).  However, the chapters are short (81 sections including the forward and epilogue), making a perfect "bathroom book" that you can read in small chunks.

The book is appropriately titled Born To Run, as the consistent theme of this book is how much of an "outsider" Bruce has been throughout his life.  He is a man of two worlds - both blue collar and an artist, and straddling the line has caused him alienation from both.  Having his family "abandon" him at 18 surely plays into this, but Bruce finds himself most comfortable on the road, be it driving across the country with a couple of friends or going on months-spanning tours across the globe.  While as a fan, we all have the tendency to be "armchair psychiatrists" to our favorite artists, it is fascinating to see Bruce open up in his own words.

Throughout it all, Bruce remains humble, almost to a fault.  He doesn't try to be your friend, but doesn't wallow in self-pity, either.  There are no salacious "rock star" stories either, as there's just a tale or two involving tequila, and the only relationships he dives into are his two marriages. (Bruce blames his past relationships failing on his immaturity and insecurities, but come on Bruce - there had to be at least one crazy girl in that mix!)  Perhaps the most unexpected confession comes at the end, where Bruce discusses how he views his own voice (for good and for bad).

Nearly every step of his career is covered, with special attention paid, unsurprisingly, to Born To Run and, surprisingly, to Wrecking Ball.  The biggest omissions were Lucky Town and Human Touch, which were not even mentioned by name in the book.  During that time, the book focuses on his children, which may be all that needs to be said about why these albums were skipped over.  Unlike many of the Springsteen biography's I've read in the past, Bruce doesn't skim when it comes to his later career, as he discusses with particular care the controversy surrounding "American Skin" as well as The Rising and its role post-9/11.

So, I know I'm late to the party, but if you are a Springsteen fan, this is an absolute must read.  I have read many books about Springsteen in the past, but this is easily the best.  Despite Clarence's disappointing autobiography, this has me itching for more E Street books - could Little Stevie be next?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bruce Springsteen on WTF with Marc Maron

Bruce Springsteen guested on this Monday's episode of Marc Maron's WTF podcast (interview starts around the 15 minute mark).  As far as I can tell, this is the Boss's first podcast experience.  The two Jersey boys reminisce about growing up in the Garden state, as well as dive into Bruce's own history (this is part of the promotion for Born To Run, which I assure you I'm just about 100 pages away from finishing!).  Springsteen's interviews of late have re-hashed themes that are thoroughly covered in the book, and this podcast ventures down that road at times.  However, in this interview, Springsteen is able to dive deeper and expand upon topics such as his father's illness, being a control nut, his "biological clock", and his mental health.  While I'm not the biggest Marc Maron fan (he does laugh at a few inappropriate times during the interview), it is still worth checking out.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Great Moments In Springsteen Comic Book History - Band For Life

Happy 2017 everybody!  Hopefully, your hangover is just about finished, and we here at Legends of Springsteen look forward to our FIFTH year of bringing you the strangest and obscure Springsteen articles on the Internets.  Today's entry comes from Anya Davidson's Band For Life, a graphic novel about the trials and tribulations of a struggling young experimental rock band.

In this small part of the story, the characters are retelling how they met to become a band, and take a pause at a point where they got stuck in an elevator.  How did they get out?  Why, a Bruce Springsteen cover band heard them, probably thought they were requesting them to play "Trapped", and came to the rescue.  This act of heroism turns the lead singer into from Springsteen hater to Springsteen lover!  As someone who has been stuck in an elevator before, let me tell you that it's no picnic, and you'll be forever grateful to your rescuers.

Band For Life has made several "Best Graphic Novels of 2016" lists, but, personally, I'd be hesitant to recommend it, as the dialogue can be a bit dense and corny, and the artwork is too chunky for my tastses.  However, it tells a unique story with many characters that get surprisingly fleshed out in under 300 pages.  It's definitely something for the graphic novel reader with discriminating tastes, but might be too challenging for a newcomer to the comics world.

But, still, they referenced Springsteen! Happy 2017!

(And, yes, this is what I've been reading instead of Born To Run, I'm a terrible Springsteen fan.  I assure you I will finish that very soon!)