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

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: 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 (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

A fine example!

Here is theSpringsteen  applicable part of a fine discussion of the work of three icons in the music world: Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and (of course!) Bruce Springsteen. It makes some interesing and very valid points about what makes Bruce so special. And why he is such an inspiration for so many people, musicians, fans or anybody trying to do anything creative.

“And then by far the weirdest release of the three: Springsteen’s post-recession bitchslap Wrecking Ball.  I’ve been mildly obsessed with The Boss for years, and spent most of Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics – Land of hope and dreams

I have always loved this song since I got to know it on DVD. Only recently have I heard that it specifically references to people coming by train from Central America to the USA to find a better life. Of course I can really relate to that, as South Africa is the host to thousands and thousands of Zimbabwians and also many from the DRC, who hope to find a better life here. Unfortunately most of them are too poor to come by train. They often have to walk, and often through national park areas where lions are one of the many dangers. And tragically few really find a better life here, because my beloved country is too busy struggling with her own overwhelming problems (especially poverty, unemployment, the Continue reading

Wrecking Ball lyrics: Rocky Ground

Rocky Ground is one of the very few songs on Wrecking Ball that I do not really like, and which does not seem to grow on me. It is difficult to say why, as quite a few reviewers see it as one of the best songs on the album. Which shows that a song being good or bad does not always have that much to do with how it touches people.
Maybe it is because personally I am moving away from the old beliefs with which I have grown up. Bruce’s music generally speaks so clearly to me because he usually seems to concentrate on the power of a Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Swallowed up

This song surprised me in more than one way. Firstly because I have not expected it to turn up on the internet before the official release of Wrecking Ball, as I got the feeling the bonus tracks are not out there yet. As if I have not had more than enough opportunity to realize  the immense power of the virtual community! So there it was, with the beautiful visuals from  Bruce fan Gina Giambone.
Somehow I had the idea it would be a kind of throwaway, being tucked in at the end of the album. (I still do not really understand the concept of bonus or hidden tracks. Would appreciate any insights into the reasoning behind it.) Which was also stupid, as The Way (hidden track on The Promise) is a great favourite of mine. Also, I find the singing on this track absolutely Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: You’ve got it

You’ve got it certainly sounds a little out of place on the album at first. But of course, if your mind is open, it grows on you. I am at the moment listening to Tracks, and I think it would have fitted perfectly there. A nice song, nothing wrong with it, but not with the same power as the previous songs on Wrecking Ball. And maybe that is the reason for its inclusion, just to break the tension.
As a writer of romantic novels, I assume the it to be that elusive something that attracts a person to another, that something that you cannot really explain. The quality that makes you fall in love with this person and not the other, although the latter might be Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: The title track

Even though I know nothing about the stadium or about American football, this song has resonated with me from the first time I heard it in 2009. To me it is a defiant shout to all things trying to take away the quality of our lives. It could be all kinds of trouble, but especially old age. And ultimately death.

No, we cannot stop these things. But we can give them a hell of a time while we have breath in our lungs and fire in our hearts. We can look them in the face even if we cannot change them or make them go away. This song is at once sad in that it admits the difficulties in life, but exuberant as well, as it pours out a great love Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Death to my hometown

One does not have to know anything about history to recognize the scenes painted in this song. I can only marvel at Springsteen’s ability to paint a verbal picture.

I agree with the three-minute review on Blogness where they say it is at once the album’s angriest song and also its most jubilant. Like in most Springsteen songs the shimmer of hope Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Jack of all trades

This song came as a bit of a surprise after Easy Money and Schackled and drawn,  as it brings a complete change of pace. Which I later realized, fits perfectly into the bigger picture of the album as a whole. Personally I think one of Bruce’s many talents is to fit heartbreaking lyrics to feet-stomping melodies, and in doing so he makes it more accessible for ordinary folks (like me) who are no music pros, but just enjoy a nice, catching melody. Of course then the lyrics creeps up on you and before you know, they have you by the throat.

This song made me cry the very first time I heard it. It seems to be a beautiful pledge of love and commitment, something a groom Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: This depression

This seems to be one of the saddest songs I have ever heard Bruce sing. But also a hopeful (Now the morning sun, the morning sun is breaking) and brave song. Brave because here is somebody in deep anguish, but who knows what he needs. If all of us could consciously reach out for love and connection when we are in trouble (any kind of trouble), the world probably would have been a better place. But instead we are all too inclined to cut ourselves off from the human touch Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Shackled and drawn

I can see an old workhorse patiently trudging along. Or an old man with a solid work ethic handling a hard life the only way he knows to – by hard, honest work. He has never learned about working smarter instead of harder. And would probably despise the idea. He takes immense pride in his work and probably despises guys with soft hands and desk jobs (the bankers?) But if hard work does not solve all his problems, he is at a lose Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Easy money

In my head I can see the couple on their way to go out, just like any of us would. See to the pets, put on something nice to wear, prepare for a nice evening out. But of course there is no fun in this song, only heartbreak.

My favourite lines:
There’s nothing to it mister, you won’t hear a sound
When your whole world Continue reading

To listen or not to listen

Although I am only a few years younger than Bruce, this is my first experience of the release of a Springsteen album. And yes, that is really sad … 🙂 I honestly think my life would have been better if I had been on board since the early years. Not that I had a bad life, not at all. But with all this positive energy, all this passion … could have moved mountains! 🙂
So tonight (after a long day without internet access) it’s time to search for the first released song as promised on Backstreets. And of Continue reading