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
This 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? 🙂
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.
I 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
A 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
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.
I do hope Bruce with his years of experience can handle the disappointment better than us!
Luckily we do not need any awards to show us the value of his music and the example of a fine human being that he sets us.
So 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
This article sums up beautifully the gift from Springsteen to all depression fighters – the gift of not hiding it any more:
Bruce Springsteen’s decision to take antidepressants was coloured by the fact that his father didn’t or wouldn’t. But it took a lot of psychotherapy for him to reach that point.
That is the stark admission we get from Bruce, the recent biography by Peter Ames Carlin. While the book wasn’t authorised per se, Springsteen gave Carlin countless interview hours, facilitated meetings with family and friends, and opened up his personal scrapbook to the author.
The fact that Springsteen has spoken openly about his chronic depression and other issues, and his use of medication to deal with those problems, has been welcomed by some in the fields of medicine and psychology as a breakthrough, given his popularity as a performer. It’s been quite a Continue reading
No, I am not talking about the book as such, although it is one of the best presents I have ever given myself.
But even better are the few paragraphs on pages 454 and 455, where Bruce speaks about his struggle with dark moods and depression. By speaking about it, he acknowledges the ongoing battle of so many depression fighters. So many of us are still ashamed of it and find it very hard to admit that we struggle. But here is this brilliant, rich and famous man – and he admits to being in therapy for many years, to being on antidepressants, to being unable to stay completely out of the claws of depression. Then surely the rest of us can do it, too?
“You go through periods of being good, then something Continue reading
This is my first read of a Springsteen biography.
Overall experience with books about him has not been too good.
With the exception of the Big Man’s book. Which in fact did not say that much about Bruce.
Thus Bruce is a real experience to me. I have not finished it yet, is reading and digesting in small parts.
I feel the author has really tried to portray the man in all his greatness and humanity. I do not find attempts at sensation. Or maybe it is because there is so little stuff for sensation is his life.
Full report later – enough to say that I think this book is an absolute must for every Springsteen fan.
PS. No, it is not a peace of jewellery, but only part Continue reading
Sometimes I miss my boring life-before-Springsteen.
I really don’t like all my emotions when these dates just start to roll out.
Joy, nerves, joy, anxiety, joy, fear, joy …
Should I try to attend a show? Should I spend the money and take the stress?
Should I wait and hope he comes here?
What if the man totally overworks himself?
What if … a hundred things … I am not even going to think any further.
One can only stand Continue reading
WHERE DOES THE MAN GET ALL THE ENERGY FROM?
Cannot believe the string of new dates coming out.
Hoping, hoping for Poland.
Because that could work for me …
Yes, I am Continue reading
No, I am not American and the election does not affect me directly.
Indirectly it will probably affect everybody.
I was also very far removed from the impact of Hurricane Sandy.
But my love and admiration for Mr Springsteen has grown via these two issues.
I just love his connection to his roots, his loyalty to where he comes from, the way he has a positive impact wherever he goes.
He may not be the Continue reading
Bruce fans, please allow me this one non-Bruce post!
Or maybe it is not a non-Bruce post, as it has a lot to do with changing your life if you are not satisfied with it.
And with perseverance and lots of hard word.
Things we all know are important parts of the Springsteen magic we all love.
So please allow me this little ode to my brave son:
Most of us often find it difficult to speak our mind, even without having a Continue reading
What a privilege to be 63 and to be able to party till the morning hours with thousands of friends enjoying it with you!
But to earn such a party, you must be a pretty special person.
You must have unlimited passion for what you do.
You must absolutely believe in what you do.
You must really love people with all their strengths and weaknesses.
You must be able to turn great personal loss into 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
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
I was raised in fear.
No, not fear for my life or my possessions. Lucky me.
But mostly fear of the unknown, the fear that something will go wrong somewhere. My dear old mother was a worrier. She worried constantly about everybody in the huge family. Will the one who is travelling have an accident? Will the one with a cold get pneumonia? Will the one doing an exam fail?
Of course her worry was born out of love. And of course life sometimes Continue reading
I am sure quite a lot of fond Aaawww’s escaped from Springsteen fans all around the world when the video clip of Bruce handing the dehydrated lady the glass of water and the energy drink hit the internet earlier this week.
Ever since I have been wondering about that little incident. Was it really special? Was it not what any decent person would do? Why did none of the band members do it? Was it only because she was right in front of Bruce? Was it because he is the leader and nobody does anything much (but play and enjoy themselves!) without his consent? Did he perhaps feel like Continue reading
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
My first experience of a rock show in a stadium was something I will not easily forget. Unfortunately this has more to do with the pleasure of spending some time in beautiful Cape Town with my youngest son, being pleasantly surprised with the organization of the public transport (not something that South Africa is great at) to the Cape Town Stadium and Continue reading
These photos show why he is such an inspiration to me. Willing to take chances. Trusting the hands beneath him. Living in the moment. Giving his all. Having fun. (And probably just being a stubborn Continue reading