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

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.

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.

 

Countdown Kid # 96: Livin’ in the future

The E Street Band reunited for The Rising in 2002, but I would argue that the classic E Street Band sound didn’t return until 5 years later with this track off Magic. The groove is lifted straight from “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” with Clarence’s burly sax still blowing Bruce down the street just as it did 30 years earlier. 

The lyrics are a study in denial. Even with all of the walls of his life crumbling down upon him, the narrator tricks himself into believing everything is fine in the chorus with his own little imaginary time machine: “We’re livin’ in the future and none of this has happened yet.”

Even the band is in on the ruse, negating the dire lyrics with a good-time assault that even features some happy-go-lucky “sha-na-nas” at the end. Only Danny Federici’s organ solo lets some anguish Continue reading

Countdown Kid # 97: Mary Lou

After three years of rather intense study I am now at the point where it is still a surprise to discover new songs that I do not know yet. Still loving the long road of discovery!

This is what Countdown Kids says about Mary Lou:

Bruce never found a home for this song, though the fact that some lyrics show up in different incarnations elsewhere leads me to believe he gave it a good try. Eventually released on Tracks, “Mary Lou” might have been a tough fit for any album because of its very specific subject matter: A girl who’s mesmerized by movie stars and transfers that fascination to her real life by dating guys who are only out for good times that last about as long as your Continue reading

Countdown Kid # 98: Two Hearts

I absolutely love this song. This is what Countdown Kid has to say about it:

It rips by at such a hyperspeed pace, goosed by Max Weinberg’s rapid beat and the fast-fingered keyboard work of Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, that it’s easy to miss the depth of this peppy number off The River. Springsteen was taking a page from the Lennon/McCartney playbook by couching some of his deeply personal lyrics in a high-tempo number. In fact, if this song has a drawback, it’s that it takes that strategy too far to the extreme. If your ears pop, you could miss the message.

The second verse ranks with any of Springsteen’s all-time best, as he was beginning at that time to explore what it meant to be a man and what was really important in life. He sings: “Once I spent my time Continue reading

Weaving together the political and the personal

“Others have written about the complicated ways that Bruce Springsteen weaves together the personal and the political and how this interweaving has developed over time.  I’ll mention some of these themes but won’t spend a lot of time exploring or illustrating them:

1)  First and foremost, the healing and transcendent power of love and community.  This is, perhaps, one of the most central concerns of his life.  His songs are full of it.  The ecstatic sense of abandon, fusion and joy at his concerts feature it.  Wrecking Ball is a good example of this.

2)  Mutual recognition and embrace of the Other: Springsteen’s songs are full of images of people making the choice to—in the end—see their commonality rather than their difference.  The Ghost of Tom Joad Continue reading

Countdown Kid # 99: Lucky Town

The title track off the more effective album of Bruce’s double-release in 1992,Lucky Townis a solid grinder that benefits from an excellent driving chorus and an overall tight performance. Not a lot of wasted energy here, and it’s also one of Springsteen’s strongest vocals of that time period. He really sounds like a man who has followed the hard road the lyrics depict, even as a grizzled optimism still shines through.

Springsteen also pulls off the neat trick of making what is essentially a one-man performance (with the exception of Gary Mallabar on drums) sound like the work of a cohesive combo. His guitar work is fine, restrained but still clearly expressing powerful emotions.

The lyrics actually travel a similar path as “Better Days” off the same album, but the Continue reading

Countdown Kid’s Top 100 Springsteen songs: #100 – Devil’s Arcade

This song, the closing track off Magic (not counting the “hidden” track “Terry’s Song,”) shows some signs of strain as it attempts to be the all-encompassing anthem to sum up the disparate themes of that standout album. Still, it swings for the fences with such gusto that it’s still quite powerful, a damn impressive track that hits far more than it misses.

Where it does miss is in the fact that the hugeness of it can be a bit overbearing. From the atmospheric opening to the slow build-up to the thunderous climax, it groans with the weight of all of the effort that was clearly put into it to create a memorable album closer.

Compare it to the simple but unsettling “Wreck On The Highway” off The River, or the desperately romantic “Valentine’s Day” off Continue reading

No surrender? Not always a good idea …

As I am listening to the tracker from Gothenburg, Sweden, I can gladly announce that I have surrendered … 🙂

For a painful month I have tried to persuade myself that I have seen two Springsteen shows in my life, that it was a great, great blessing – and that it was enough.

It was a terrible month. (I must add that other factors attributed to Continue reading

Manchester (continued)

About ten days have passed and I seem to have lost the essence of the show experience. I find it difficult to remember detail about any of the songs. As dearly as I would have loved to catch time in my hands and hold it, to hang on to the essence of the experience, I could not do it. It is over. It is gone. I will have to find a way to deal with the sense of loss that threatens to overwhelm me at the moment.

But I can see myself very clearly on both nights. In Sunderland in the pit, absolutely overwhelmed by the mass of people pressed around me (have read that somebody said he has Continue reading

Looking back 9: 4 December 2011 – When is it time to let go of (part of) a dream?

I was not raised with confidence, but with fear.

Of course, today I can totally understand it. My dear mother was married when she was nothing but an innocent teenager to a man 25 years older.
My father died when I was a preschooler and my only recollection of him is of an old and very sick man. But he must have been totally besotted by this girl to leave his fiancée of several years and marry my mother. For those days it was certainly a very unacceptable thing in society. Certainly he was – for those days – a good husband to my mother. They raised a large family and when he died, she was left with enough to go on.
And go on, she did. Of course, today I can understand how difficult it must have been for her. She did not have any experience in managing Continue reading

Looking back 8: 1 December 2011 – Dreams can come true

Of the many things I have learned from Bruce, the idea of striving for a dream is certainly one of the most prominent. And where is a better place to start than at the dream of seeing him live?
After much thought (and a few tears) I have decided to let the Norway part of the dream go. Painful, but necessary. But today, thanks to a dear friend  (whom I have met exactly once), we got tickets for Sunderland Continue reading

Looking back 7: 27 November – Feel the fear …

I read somewhere that Max once said “Bruce makes you do things you never thought you could do.” Well, for me this certainly is true.

Firstly, I have never before admired any entertainer (and no, I don’t think this word even begins to describe what Bruce does) so much and made such a study of his work.  I have never allowed anybody except my nearest and Continue reading

Looking back 1: 18 May 2011 – A lifelong campaign to see the Boss live

In my country the idea of huge live music shows in stadiums is only just settling in with recent visits by the likes of U2, Neil Diamond and Roxette. For a middle-aged (hate that word!) woman it is fairly weird to have a desire to attend something like that, unless it is somebody like Neil, who was on his height of popularity when you were young. I am also aware of the fact that Bruce will most likely never come to SA. I am still amazed Continue reading

Looking back 2: 21 November 2011 – Can the dream come true?

Screaming through the Springsteen community is the following short note from the official Springsteen website: (It was gone and has just come back on again – maybe due to overload??)

http://brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html

Please, please … If it’s true, I might be able to make it to a show … or even a few … Am feeling a bit silly, because long term fans who have seen scores of shows might not understand my feeling of jittery anticipation. Or … thinking about it – they might just understand perfectly!

Looking back: Where it all started for me …

This post was written about two years ago. Nothing has changed since then. Except my growing respect for the man.  And my continuous gratitude for what he is doing for me.

I have alwyas had a pretty nice life, full of good things and fun. I have a beautiful family, I live in one of the safest places in my troubled country. But for the last twenty of more years I have struggled with depression. There were many good times, but the darkness was always hovering on the edge of town. And often it invaded the town, it ruined its buildings, it hurt its citizens.
Recently a few things came together in my head. I did a course in life coaching, which gave me wonderful Continue reading

Why I admire Bruce Springsteen (12) – A man who can deal with loss

Since Bruce and his work became part of my life towards the end of 2009, he has lost quite a few important persons in his life.

Through death, I mean.

Could be he has lost some to life also. As we all sometimes do.

None of these  losses has stopped him in his tracks.

I am sure there were private moments of despair. And maybe Continue reading

Why I admire Bruce Springsteen (11) – A man who can take mistakes in his stride

When Bruce made the mistake to call out the wrong city during the WOAD tour in 2009, I had just recently come on board as a Springsteen fan. At the time I did not think much about it. It was a little mistake of no consequence, wasn’t it?

Of course, in the world of show biz no mistake is a little mistake. Even the smallest slip gets picked up by the media and the social media and spread around the world in no time at all. This is surely enough to scare most people out of ever trying to do anything new, especially in front of an audience.

Now, we all know if you never try something new, you will never make a mistake. But you will hardly Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: We are alive

At the first listen We are alive seemed to be a rather weird song. Quite gross, to be honest. (If you don’t agree, just read the last verse.) Beautiful lines about tragedy and death set to a jolly little tune which makes you want to dance. Although Bruce  is a genius at setting heartbreaking lyrics to catchy tunes and driving rhythms, this song seems to go too far in that Continue reading