Monday, July 17, 2006

Springsteen Album Expanded

Word has it that the only Boss I could ever get along with, Bruce Springsteen, will be releasing an expanded version of his brilliant "We Shall Overcome" album on September 4th with--among other delights undoubtedly--a song called "Bring 'Em Home". Wonder what that will be about, eh?
I'm listening to his Greatest Hits as I write and thinking of many things, including Billy Bragg's comment Bruce Springsteen is the reason I don't lose faith in America. There are many other reasons--like t.k.splake, Ralph Murre, Sharon Auberle, Norb Blei, Walt Whitman, Sam Shepard, Gary Cooper AND the landscape, the American Constitution (however much they abuse it), the Indian traditions, George Bush's atrocious stateside poll ratings--but you know what Billy Bragg means. Springsteen seems to carry on his shoulders the whole left-wing/ independent American song tradition, and if anything has radical fervour has increased with age. But he's also extremely cool, in a very geeky uncool way. The beautiful thing about America was always the perfect marrying of style and substance. Would the Beat Generation continue to appeal to us across the globe if they were associated with cardigans and slippers in damp wallpapered attic rooms rather than road going and jeans and great hair? I am a wholly unreconstructed hardcore Kerouac-loving Angel Head, and even I don't think so.
Springsteen hit big at the exact moment I hit adulthood (1983/ '84), and as such he belongs to my generation in a way that none of the other singers I admire ever could. I drove past an abandoned petrol station in Wellingborough the other day and remembered going into it in my dad's car the day I bought "Born in the U.S.A." (the day it was released in the UK). My dad put it on the car stereo grudgingly--I suppose my mum had pressured him into it--and keeping it at a volume almost too low for me to hear in the back, played it for a few minutes before declaring, "That's so repetitive" and taking it off. But through Springsteen I learned to love my dad and be proud that I had sprung from his loins. When I listen to "My Hometown" now I think of Wellingborough and my dad and I know who I am and where I have come from; I know with pride and love the stuff that has made me the man I am today. A 41-year-old Beat Brit Bard full of sadness and regret, with a lifetime of selfishness and bad choices made and emotional cruelty to others still not quite behind me, but perhaps not such a bad guy after all, somehow. "This is the creature I am," as Allen Ginsberg would say.
And half of the love I have in me I found in Bruce Springsteen albums. Can't say anything like that about any of the other artists I listen to.

6 comments:

Janey... said...

Bruce...

The Seeger Sessions Tour has been wonderful to watch and hear unfold...This tour, even though it has received a lukewarm reception in the U.S.(as we are pretty spoiled and demanding of him) has given Bruce yet another cathartic surge of energy and creativity...
It's a pivotal time in Bruce's history...just wait and see...
This tour is far beyond reworking traditional folk songs...it's far beyond just witnessing Bruce's interpretations...The driving force of energy stems from watching a modern day icon mentor 17 other musicians sharing the stage with him(even with those who are not a stranger to the stage)...It's a stage lacking a fight between egos...It's a stage filled with such raw enthusiasm, you can't help but see the contrast next to one another of where Bruce has been...and where he is now...We will all soon reap the rewards as I hear he's been a writing madman...
I am glad to see Europe receive another leg of the tour...darned wish I could get there...
Catch a show if you are able...it is well worth it and you'll have no regret...
Send me an email if you'd like a stellar live recording...you're sure to enjoy...

Janey... said...

oops...this might help...
crazyjaney6@yahoo.com

Bruce Hodder said...

It surprises me the US has been lukewarm about the Seeger Sessions tour. It has gone over wonderfully in Europe. I saw an edited version of the show on the BBC and it was great--Springsteen in terrific form, and of course the band really impressive: they are some of the best musicians he has ever taken the stage with. The British show ended with the crowd singing "Pay Me My Money Down" for a full minute after Bruce had finished, and the feeling, coming even through the tv screen, that everybody's hope had been renewed in this most depressing of historical times.
I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
I will drop you a line later today as that recording sounds too good to miss.

Sharon Auberle said...

Bruce, wow, thanks for the great company you've put me in! and thanks for the first Springsteen album review of the Seeger Sessions--I play mine to death. Can't wait for the next..

Bruce Hodder said...

Sharon,
It thrills me to have introduced someone to Springsteen just by communicating some of my own enthusiasm for his work. Oddly, when you mentioned that I felt for the first time that I had actually achieved something with my writing. He's been an example to me ideologically, socially and personally for 23 years--a true teacher, and though I hesitate to place too much importance on anybody, one of America's greatest thinkers.
Anybody discovering Springsteen is about go on a really interesting journey...

Janey... said...

Bruce...

The lukewarm reception is attributed to several factors...
On the east coast, we have more opportunity to see him since Jersey is where he calls home...We also have the ability to see those non-tour shows, whether benefits, surprise visits to the Stone Pony, or numbers of rehearsal/Holiday shows he does in Asbury Park at Convention Hall...There's been many a time that I've been able to make a last minute decision to take the day off and drive to Jersey for a rehearsal show or Holiday show without ticket in hand...
Historically, the US has been the recipient of more than one leg of a tour...therefore, there's quite a fan base that travels the U.S. to see shows...I know there are people worldwide who also can do likewise but I imagine it's less frequent and I imagine quite costly...
With the Seeger Sessions Band, I know that those who were interested in his new endeavor and open to any sort of his musical experience...might have caught one show and absolutely loved it...
But there's a good dose of those folks who would be catching multiple shows if it were an E Street Band tour...in fact, they might have more than one ticket for any given show and end up giving away or eatiung the ticket...hence, ticket sales were lacking in part this time around because of it...
And sadly...there's quite a large embarrassing number of "fans" who are quite narrow-minded but would staunchly deny it...Regardless, if it's not Bruce and the ESB...it's not worth their while and they seem to take it as a personal insult like he's wasting their time not cranking out the album machine...Sadly, those are the people who weren't happy when his Devils and Dust album came out(that tour was tremendous too)...and they had nothing but criticism for his Rising album too...I keep waiting for those bone heads to move along unfortunately...they are the same ones who were spilling their beer on me and pumping their fist in the air with the misinformed Ronald Reagan...
Anyway...sorry about the rant...I am just glad Bruce has been wise this time and given where credit is due...
I'll wait to hear from you...