Happy birthday, Bruce

65 3Dearest Bruce
Please open your heart for thousands and thousands of sincere good wishes coming your way today.
May this be a peaceful day and the start of a great new year.
May there be sunshine wherever you are. And if not, may the clouds be enfolded in thick, heavy silver linings.
May your redheaded woman be by your side. And may things be really good between the two of you.
May your children shower you with love and care today and always. You made them a priority from the very start. In my mind it is one of the greatest gifts one can give your children.
May your dear mother be spared to you for many years to come. We love her, because she believed in you when nobody else did. (Except maybe you yourself. That’s one of the many things I have learned from you, this believing in oneself. I am doing my best.)
May you be surrounded by good, real friends. May the E Streeters never be far away. May you always remain blood brothers.
May the creative juices never cease to flow.
May your health stay as good as it apparently is. Please, please continue to look after yourself really well. And do consider skipping the crowd surfing. We do love it, but we love you more.
Please consider another tour. But first consider your health.
Please consider another album. Could be anything you want to do. We will be grateful. Except maybe rap.🙂
Please consider to visit South Africa again. I don’t think you have been to the Kruger Park. But firstly come to Cape Town again!
Thank you for another year of giving freely to your fans. We treasure the example of love, energy, passion, some good solid common sense, creativity, joy and deep humanness that you show us.
Please be with us for a very long time to come.
With lots of love
The fans

Why I admire Bruce Springsteen: Reason 5 – A man who can actually multi-task

1978 plat voor meisies Crowd surf val Pauline SmitWatching Bruce and The Band onstage (on DVD – never had the opportunity to see him live) I realized that I am watching something very rare – a man who can do quite a few things at one time! In my world, that is a scarce and wonderful gem to find.
He keeps the band together, he works the crowd and the cameras, he is all over the place and at the right moment back at the mike stand again … and he still finds the time to actually sing and play the guitar. And to remember the words – well, mostly … And remember in which city he is – well, mostly … And stay on his feet – well, mostly!
No, I am not negative about him using the teleprompter nowadays, or about the one time he shouted out the wrong city, or the few falls he had on the 2009 tour. We are all human, and he has never pretended to be less human than the rest of us. What I do admire, is the way he took those things in his stride, made a joke about it when he could, and just went on. Those are things us humans often find virtually impossible.

PS. So wonderful that after this was written in on 20 Aug. 2011 I had the opportunity to see Bruce and the ESB a whole six times. Also that he has never fallen or forgotton his lyrics after that (as far as I know). One cannot think it is possible, but he still works on and improves his act.  In these nearly three years my admiration for him has just grown and grown.

Springsteen in SA: Ready to grow young again

Cape of High Hope 1

From Backstreets, the largest Springsteen fanzine, for which I was privileged to write about my experience:

Bruce Springsteen landed in Perth earlier today, where he and the E Street Band will begin a month-long Australia/New Zealand run on Wednesday night. But before we turn our full attention to Oz, let’s take one more look at Bruce’s first visit to South Africa, which wrapped up on Saturday. These four shows constituted a massive road trip for writer Connor Kirkpatrick, who flew 14,000 miles in covering Cape Town and Johannesburg for us. But we also wanted to hear from someone who wasn’t traveling, but rather traveled to — someone for whom South Africa is home. Alta Cloete, who administers a Bruce Springsteen South Africa Facebook page, found Springsteen’s first visit to her homeland “a tremendous experience.”

When I was privileged to see Bruce Springsteen for the first time in the UK in 2012, I never thought for one moment that he would ever come to South Africa. For that matter, when I became a fan in late 2009 I never thought I would ever get to see him live.

Bruce has proved me wrong again and again. He taught me to dream and to work for my dreams. So I, not an adventurous traveler and aged only a few years younger than Bruce, made it to the pit in Sunderland — and survived to tell the story. It ain’t no sin to be glad Continue reading

Johannesburg: 1 February 2014

HandeOn Saturday afternoon six formidable women (Yes, I include myself! 🙂) packed themselves into a sexy silver 4×4, turned Wrecking Ball up real loud and got ready to grow young again. As we went barreling along the highway way above the speed limit, I felt like I was living dangerously for the first time in my life. (Yes, I know that’s a bit sad, but so be it.)

Of the dangers of Johannesburg I did not see anything. I saw thousands of excited people streaming into the beautiful stadium affectionately dubbed The Calabash and groups of friends preparing boerewors on gas fires and drinking lots of beer. I saw diehard fans from Europe who had spent the day in the African sun for that treasured place right in front. I experienced a level of anticipation Continue reading

Cape Town Night Three

Born in the RSAI have made various interesting discoveries, mostly about myself and mostly not very positive, during this show.

Firstly I need to feel at home, even in a crowd of strangers, to really enjoy myself. Unfortunately I could not really relate to the fans around me, simply because they were no fans.

There were clearly more young people in the audience that the previous nights, which is good, as Bruce has surely made some new fans. The fact is, however, that many of them did not know the music and they did not care. (Of course I was more than willing to share my great knowledge of all things Springsteen with anybody acting vaguely interested. :)) They were there to have a great time and they had just that.

Of course Bruce always delivers and they were surely in for a few surprises. Probably firstly that he is so OLD. Secondly that one can be old AND stunningly sexy. Thirdly just the sheer energy that he exudes. Fourthly the frequent Continue reading

Cape Town Night Two – 28 January 2014

Met Pete Seeger 1Last night I felt like an experienced fan. Gone were the anxiousness, the jitters and the fear of the unknown of Sunday night. In was the heady feeling of something great drawing near. I knew the venue, how the process of entering is handled (although they made some changes), where I like to stand, what to expect of the audience.

Of course I knew what to expect of Bruce. Has he ever had a bad show Continue reading

Cape Town Day One – 26 January 2014

Belville-VelodromeNabyWhen I was privileged to see Bruce Springsteen in the UK (Sunderland and Manchester) in 2012, I never thought for one moment that he would ever come to South Africa. Well, for that matter, when I became a fan in late 2009 I never thought I would see him live.

Bruce his proved me wrong again and again. He taught me to dream and to work for my dreams. This enhanced my writing career, but most of all my personal life. So I, not an adventurous traveler, in 2012 managed to find a dear friend to guide me through the terrors of the level of public transport we only dream about here. Aged only a few years younger than Bruce, I made it to the pit in Sunderland – and survived to tell Continue reading

Another year is over!

Onlangs kitaar hoogI have really neglected this blog during 2013. But I have not forgotten my readers. And I have certainly not forgotten what Bruce has done and still is doing for me.

The dream of an e-book about handling depression with the help of Springsteen music has brought me to the point where I had the courage to announce it to kindred souls worldwide and to start the Facebook page Fighting depression with the music of Bruce Springsteen. This has brought me into contact with lots of wonderful people. It is precious when you share your pain and your victories with me.

Of course the greatest joy of my year was the announcement on 1 November that Bruce is coming to South Africa. I cannot describe my joy. I am extremely grateful that I can (more or less!) afford to attend each and every one of the four shows. Of course I am totally scared about handling four shows in GA in a week. I had a knee operation during the year struggles to get fit again. Another problem is that only for one show I will be among real fans. For the three Cape Town shows I will be with three different people, only one of the being a bit of a fan. The other two will be there because they love me. I am grateful for that, but also quite stressed. I laugh a little at myself, but I am very apprehensive that South Africans will not really know his work well enough to understand and appreciate the shows. If I catch one soul complaining about the length of the shows, I am certainly going to do something to him!

Thank you for popping in here. Thank you to everybody with whom I can share the depths of my struggle with depression, as well as the joy and strength I get from the music of Bruce Springsteen. I feel privileged and humbled by the contact with Bruce fans and depression fighters from all over the world.

And as always: Thank you, Bruce!

Reasons I admire Bruce Springsteen (4): A well-rounded person

Onlangs beautifulThis short post was written about three years ago. In the meantime I have learned a lot about Bruce. And I still feel the same. He seems to be a devoted husband and dad, conscious of his health, good at keeping long-term friendships, respected as rock’s decent guy, always attentive at interviews, always ready for some fun. What really earned my respect, was when I read how he tackled his out of control life after the BITUSA hype and worked hard to create a more balanced life.

Original post: During the last year Springteen’s influence seeped into nearly all aspects of my life. And all of it is positive. I read and listen to his lyrics for inspiration for my own writing, his music fills the times when I am alone/bored/down with power and energy, my daily walk has become better with his music in my ears, I have even started working out on some Springsteen DVD’s. Does that sound crazy? Obsessive? My family seems to think so, but I honestly don’t agree. I think it is just because there are so many facets to his work that his influence stretches so wide into people’s lives. (If you start reading on the internet, it quickly becomes clear that there are many, many people all over the world who experience this influence on their lives.) He is not a shallow character – like many so-called celebrities – who can do only one thing really well and that is it. He seems to be a rounded personality who really tries to live his whole life in balance and integrity. Yes, surely he must have a little weak point somewhere – but who cares?🙂

Reasons I admire Bruce Springsteen (3): Unique combination of music and lyrics

Vooroor by fans in pitI am constantly amazed at Bruce’s talent to marry the depth and scope of his lyrics to the wonderful tunes that make them accessible to thousands (millions?!) of people. Three of the best examples (in my opinion) are Badlands, The promised land, Dancing in the dark and Better days. All of them songs with a profound meaning, but also a whole stadium of people can dance on that music.

I have once read somebody describing one of the shows as bipolar. This person found the distance between the often sad lyrics and the exuberant music too much. Personally I have often wondered how Bruce himself can handle it. Maybe the answer lies in the question: He can handle the sadness in the lyrics through the joy of the music.

Of course there are many songs where the music is just as sad as the lyrics. I often find these difficult to handle. The whole of the Nebraska album is certainly the best example, with Tom Joad not far behind. I admire those fans who can really enjoy these songs. I certainly need the music to lift me up.

Why I admire Bruce Springsteen (2): Lyrics, lyrics, lyrics

Skryf atmosfeer 1This is the most important reason to me, the one that defines the man: his lyrics.
I am a person who love words and whose greatest challenge is to use words in new ways to create something new. It follows that I will have great admiration for someone who can do this well, and of course there are thousands of wonderful writers in many languages. But I have never found another singer/songwriter whose lyrics come near those of Mr Springsteen. Yes, he has a great musical talent (and I know some people would disagree!) and many, many other wonderful qualities.  But his writing is what he first and foremost is about. I would rather not start listing examples, because the list will be virtually never-ending.
For hours of happy reading, go to http://search.brucespringsteen.net/

Fighting depression: The value of lasting relationships

FriendshipTo me this picture symbolizes the lasting friendship among these eight people. There must have been occasions when things did not go that well. There must be some personalities that do not gel that well with certain others. But over the years they managed to not only keep in touch, but to maintain that special something which make them so special as the ESB.

I am sure the band members had lots of negative feelings when Bruce basically sacked them to work on his marriage with Patti and building a family. I have only read of Clarence who said something in the press about it and even then it was without malice. Recently I have read about Bruce saying he was just no good to them at that stage. I am sure as time went by they realized that and respected him for his decision.

The way they all came back when the time was right never seizes to amaze me. Surely the time apart gave each one the opportunity to build his own life, find other ways of earning money and expressing himself, to work on their own families. The wonderful thing among wonderful things is that all of them survived in the big world outside the ESB, all of them were there when it was the right time for the reunion.

Healthy relations are crucial to human beings. We need to work on that and not take it for granted. Without people to really connect to, we are more susceptible to all kinds of dangers, among which is certainly depression.

We need to work on surrounding us with people who add value to our lives and try to avoid the negative ones who only take value away. Of course it is not always possible, but at least we can try.

I always like the image of Bruce personally calling each band member when he had to tell them he wants to go forward on his own. It must have been very difficult for him, but he did not send Jon in to do it of let them read about it in the press.

Communication is vital to healthy relationships, we all know that. Unfortunately most of us also knows how difficult real communication is.

Let’s keep the band’s example in mind and work hard to follow their example of investing in the important relationships in our lives.

Happy birthday!

IMG_0021My message on what may or may not be the real Bruce fb profile – and the answer (Yes, I nearly fainted!🙂🙂 )

Dearest Bruce, this is a photo of me before my first show (last year in Sunderland). I think it shows a little bit of the joy you have brought into my life. (I also travelled the distance from South Africa for the show, and I am not a natural traveller.) You taught me to dream and to work for those dreams. You taught me not to be daunted by age (I am a few years younger than you and very much afraid of growing old and feeble.) You confirmed to me how important clean living and working out are. You also confirmed to me that it is worth working very hard on the upbringing of your children. 
For these things and many more I can never thank you enough. For this new year I wish you everything you bring so generously to all your fans: Not only music, but also joy, friendship, tears, laughter, endurance and lots and lots of just plain old fun. Yes, it is only rock and roll, but sometimes it feels a lot like love. 
May this new year bring you buckets full of the best things in life and may you enjoy many, many more years with your lovely family. Lots of the best kind of greetings from Alta Cloete in South Africa.

Springsteen Bruce wow this is nice..thank you!!

Countdown Kid # 95 – Jackson Cage

1980s blou frokkie, ligte stewelsSpringsteen has always had a knack for dissecting the lives of the downhearted. “Jackson Cage” is one such character study, an incisive look at a girl whose life is a prison that’s caused only in part by circumstance. His point here is that sometimes people can be beat down so much that they fail to realize that there’s a way up, and they end up only contributing to their own misery.

“Jackson Cage” is one of the many songs on The River that are all about the economy and efficiency of the package; it’s why the album is one of the rare double LP’s that doesn’t feel bloated. The band sinks their teeth into a tight arrangement with all the pieces interlocking brilliantly. Bruce also zigs when you would expect him to zag in the instrumental section by dropping a harmonica solo into the thunderous rock background.

The lyrics are effective because they don’t pull any punches. Bruce’s words make it clear of the consequences here: “Every day ends in wasted motion/Just crossed swords on the killing floor.” This doesn’t seem like hyperbole, because this girl is dying inside little by little.

Springsteen wails in the lead-up to the chorus with the strangled voice he used on Darkness On The Edge Of Town, valiantly trying to get through to this girl. He knows that ultimately it’s up to her to turn the key, but his powerful argument at least should show her to the door.

Original post at http://countdownkid.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/bruce-springsteen-countdown-95-jackson-cage/

Diary of a depression fighter

Originally posted on 3 March 2011.Balanced

This idea has been haunting me for some time now. (If you are not yet aware of the link between my personal fight against depression and my love for Bruce’s music, do read about my journey at https://marilebetterdays.wordpress.com/these-are-better-days/ and https://marilebetterdays.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/out-of-the-badlands-into-the-promised-land/). I have started a diary about depression on my personal blog. (in Afrikaans my home language) afther having some success with my diary of a romance writer.

My first post has created so much reaction that I decided to give it a try in English, too. So I hope the Springsteen fans who have no interest in depression will forgive me for using this platform to reach those of us who are familiar with the havoc this terrible thing can run in a person’s life. (If nothing else, it can be a good excercise to hone my translation skills!) Hopefully my readers will not see it as let me show you how it must be done, but as travelling a road together and learning from one another. In this way it can be of great value for both writer and reader. I have been battling with the insistant feeling that I must do something for people fighting depression for some time .

The problem is that I really do not know where I will find the time. (But I also know that being busy can be very stimulating and invigorating – and that the busy person is usually the best one to ask to do something!) I would have loved to develop a course and present it for small groups. But that could be a completely new career. After much thought I have realised that there is no way in which I can do this AND still stay focused on my writing. (I am a writer of romantic fiction in my home language.)

Eventually my thoughts led me to the idea of an online course. But two months of 2011 have passed – and I still have no idea where to start! Which makes it time for serious action, because I do not want to be stuck with some unresolved resolutions – I have found that not achieving a goal (however small) is a sure way to pull yourself down into the mud …

Thus – my goal: To add a thought/chapter/idea to this diary-to-be each week. Let’s see how it goes. (And yes, I already suspect that I will learn more than the readers.)

In the two years since I wrote the above I have established  a readership about depression in my home language and started an e-book on the topic. My original idea was to translate this in English, but eventually the idea of using Bruce’s work grew on me. There are just so many songs as well as so many aspects of his life which are relevant to a depression fighter’s situation.

Thanks to the unknown artist!

Not quite sure yet how I will go about it. But hopefully something positive will come out of this. Like something positive always comes out of listening to Springsteen music.

Bruce on Bruce

Springsteen on SpringsteenI am reading this book of interviews slowly, savouring every moment. Through his own words, Bruce comes forward as the human being we know him to be. Just a kid from an insignificant town doing what he does best. And trying to be useful while enjoying himself.

Just a few random picks to wet your appetite:

From the early years:

… overlooked aspect of Bruce’s many talents is his ability to express his hopes, dreams and dedication so eloquently in interviews and speeches.

… he is often as articulate and provocative in interviews and speeches as he is emotive onstage and in records.

“I don’t just grind (interviews) out … I think the main thing is the quality.”

Springsteen has little small talk.

… signs of having had some considerable thought expended on them.

… he was running on fumes and Continue reading

Great new documentary for Bruce fans!

Dans met maA few years ago I – being a lone fan in a country where Bruce’s work before and after Born in the USA is little known – to my delight discovered Julian Garcia’s Springsteen show Groove it all night on Home Grown Radio NJ.
This led to numerous exhausting nights, as the time slot was for me in South Africa between 3 and 5 in the morning in winter (if I remember correctly) and between 4 and 6 in summer. Only true fans will understand somebody doing this!

By the time the programme was discontinued due to the barrage of Springsteen activities 2012 brought with it, I had luckily also discovered Tom Cunningham‘s Bruce Brunch on 105.7 The Hawk (which falls right in the time when ordinary South Africans take their Sunday nap). 

Great was my surprise when I received a message from Julian yesterday (on the saddest Valentine’s Day South Africa has had in some time, due to the Oscar Pistorius tragedy) that he has been busy working on a documentary about people who had been Continue reading

Be my Valentine …

Top ten Springsteen love songs … some interesting choices. 

Skets kyk oor skouer jonkAnd so few of them are really ordinary love songs … there’s always a different perspective … from Reno to Candy to If I should fall behind …

Only Bruce can do this. 

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/bruce-springsteen-love-songs/

Great thanks to the unknown artist! I just love this pic  and the way Clarence and Stevie are just behind him.     It says such a lot.

 

Quick review: Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

BruceSo much has been written about this book, and by more knowledgeable fans and musical fundi’s than myself, that I am not going to try and construct a detailed review here. I will leave you with just a few thoughts:

  • The book is an easy and pleasurable read. Not overly flowery, but written in beautiful English.
  • But, with due respect to the author, the most beautiful English is that spoken by The Boss himself. The direct quotations are mostly little gems that show us why Bruce Springsteen’s work still has so much impact – the man has a wonderful way to say even the most basic things.
  • Lots and lots of research was done and carefully used, an immense task.
  • Some of the detail of the processes in the various studios became a bit tedious to me, but for fans who are technically minded it may be very interesting.
  • I was a bit surprised to find so much input from the ever quiet Garry Tallent. And quite a lot of it came over as a bit negative. We are so used to him, always there, always in his place, that it comes as a surprise that he may not always have been too happy in that spot.
  • On the other hand, the total absence of Continue reading