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!)