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
I 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
Last 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
When 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
I 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.
This 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/
Top ten Springsteen love songs … some interesting choices.
And 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.
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.
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
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
The title track off the more effective album of Bruce’s double-release in 1992, “Lucky Town” is 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The second book about Springsteen that I read on Kindle, is Darkness on the edge: Tales inspired by the songs of Bruce Springsteen, edited (2008) by Harrison Howe.
The idea to have short stories written on the base of Springsteen songs is of course brilliant. And very logical, seeing that most of his songs are just perfect little short stories with (often) a great beat. And those who do not tell a story, usually paint such a clear picture that Continue reading
This link can change your life forever. It can be the start to discovering there are certain, definitive things you can DO to conquer depression. Yes, we are not hopeless victims anymore – we can take charge and fight this beast! In Springsteen language: You can take the first steps out of the badlands of depression into the Continue reading
Bruce: From Thunder Road to 62 by Ron Wells
On Sept. 23, 1949 there was a darkness all over the land, a darkness rising from the desert floor, and a deathly darkness on the edge of town. There was blackness and sorrow, a sky of longing and emptiness. The poets weren’t writing nothin’ at all, they just stood back and let it all be. Everyone hid on the backstreets, even the river was dry, containing nothing but memory and shadow. In one town , a man was taking a knife to cut the pain from his heart. So many were bruised and battered, it was like a living hell of devils and dust. There was just a meanness in this world, and a father sighed, “Sorry son it’s Continue reading
After a wonderful week in nature, out of reach of cell phones or internet (thank heavens for my MP3 player!), I came back to the stark reality of what happened ten years ago and still feels impossible to believe (never mind understand). In 2001 I was struggling with life in general and depression specifically, so I protected myself by trying to avoid most news about what happened. But of course that was impossible. Today I remember three specific articles I read in the aftermath of 9/11. Each of them carried so much of the goodness that can come out of evil, that I was lifted up Continue reading
One soft infested summer me and Terry became friends
Trying in vain to breathe the fire we was born in
Catching rides to the outskirts tying faith between our teeth
Sleeping in that old abandoned beach house getting wasted in the heat
And hiding on the backstreets,
hiding on the backstreets
With a love so hard and filled with defeat
Running for our lives at night on them backstreets
… how long I will be able to stand this theme, without my beloved images from the BTR album at the top! But the rays of the sun (well, that’s what it looks like to me) above kind of fits with the idea of Better Days, is’n it? Although it is not seen as one of the great songs, and comes from the time when Bruce worked without the ESB, Better Days became a strong symbol in my life. Together with Badlands and The Promised Land, of course.
All my readers will by now know that Bruce’s work and the way he conducts his professional life is a huge inspiration for me while I am trying for excellence in my little corner of the creative world. Mostly I was just inspired by his work ethics, his quest for constant renewal and a lot of other qualities. All Springsteen fans will understand what I am going on about. But recently I have deliberately used him as inspiration for two of my romance novels.
In Liedjie vir jou (Song for you) the romantic hero is a scientist and singer who composes in Afrikaans, but is inspired by The Boss and loves his music. He has a particular aversion to Afrikaans commercial music. (Which is in reality quite awful.) He meets his dream girl in Continue reading
This was posted a year ago. Thinking of Bruce and Clarence as I prepare to travel to Sunderland for my very first Springsteen show …
I have decided to allow myself one more post concentrating on Clarence’s death. Which brings me to the very real danger of allowing oneself to concentrate on death – and to forget about life. And as we all know, he was a man who really enjoyed living.
One of my recurring thoughts during the week since his death was Continue reading
I have recently acquired this album for the first time. I did not realize beforehand how many of the songs I already know from other sources (meaning various DVD’s and from YouTube, of course). I’ve not only known them, but got to love them already. Independence Day and Fade away I first saw on the album of early shows included in The Promise. And I think Fade away, too. I find Independence Day an absolutely heartbreaking and hauntingly beautiful song. Stolen car and The price Continue reading
And I’m driving a stolen car
On a pitch black night
And I’m telling myself
I’m gonna be alright
But I ride by night
and I travel in fear
That in this darkness
I will disappear Continue reading
Well tonight I just wanna shout
I feel my soul waist deep and sinkin’
Into this black river of doubt
I just wanna rise and walk along the riverside
And when the morning Continue reading