Skip

At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet...
June 12, 2013 10:04 PM   Subscribe


 
ANNE! HELEN! PETERSEN!
posted by liketitanic at 10:10 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Should probably have added the Bruce Springsteen's Crotch tumblr to the post.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:11 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you grow up in NJ, Springsteen is like the weather. It's just always there in the background and you can't do anything about it. Liking or disliking any particular aspect of Springsteen is like saying it's muggy out, or nice out today. Springsteen isn't a THING it's an IS.
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wish the weather was as consistantly good and fair as Springsteen. I wish the sun shone like his smile, and the snow sheltered us like his songs. I wish, like Springsteen, the warm weather favored the crops of the poor and the lightning struck at the unjust in positions of power.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:18 PM on June 12, 2013 [25 favorites]


God, I love Anne Helen Petersen.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:26 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Very smart piece. Put me in the mind of another good Springsteen article.
posted by latkes at 10:44 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hopefully they'll issue an updated edition of the Springsteen Reader that I keep by my bed with these in them.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:46 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're going to regionals!
posted by docgonzo at 11:06 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


My son is a musician, and bruce springsteen is a re-occuring conversation between us.

my son's side of the conversation is that, I am out of date, the boss is an old man, an anachronism from an irrelevant past.

My side of the conversation is that my if my son could look past the new jersey rock, and abstract the essence of what springsteen does, getting past his reaction to the specific aesthetic that springsteen works in, he would see the the boss is a, no 'the' powerful shaman, that he leads the crowd in a ritual of lust and yearning, shows that go for hours until exhausted the desire of the crowd is spent.

If you can understand how to do that it doesn't matter if you make ska music or french house,
the hordes will gather to you like the eloi to the morlocks horns
posted by compound eye at 11:06 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The crotch tumblr doesn't include this photo, so it is invalid.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:07 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


As proof of his unending charisma, here is a video of Springsteen having a metric fuckton more chemistry with Lady Gaga than anyone could have ever realistically expected, especially when you take into account the fact that they are separated on stage by Elton John and Shirley Bassey.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:32 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The article starts with the writer speaking of growing up with "Born to Run". Sorry, that just blew credibility out of the water for me. I'm not from New Jersey and neither was the Texan that introduced me to Bruce, before Born to Run. I vastly prefer Greetings from Ashbury Park. There's your definitive Springsteen.
posted by Goofyy at 12:18 AM on June 13, 2013


Born to Run is fantastic, but I think the best album is Darkness at the Edge of Town.

I saw Springsteen twice this year, and it was sorta odd seeing this outflowing of female lust on my Facebook wall. People groping his ass while he crowdsurfed at every show. It was honestly pretty neat.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:21 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's your definitive Springsteen.

There's your definitive Springsteen.

Mine is the end of Incident on 57th Street into the beginning of Rosalita. Greatest transition in rock 'n' roll history.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:35 AM on June 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I used to be a huge fan of "the boss." Back in the walkman days, Born in the USA was a staple in my lawnmowing mix tape. I got his 3 disc live box set, and on the third disc there was a live version of "The River." Earlier stuff than I cared for, but it had a really heartwarming introduction to it.

Now not as much. But I have more respect him than I do any other musician (he's pushing up against the John Lennon walls here). He is responsible for my first concert with my parents in which we both enjoyed ourselves. He routinely tours with Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine) fame. He was taught by one of the, arguably, top 10 (if not top 5) best guitarists ever.

He's a grown man that can make me cry at the drop of a lyric. This clip of him, Nils, Tom, his wife, and the late big man, is almost hard to watch.
posted by chemoboy at 12:58 AM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I know what she means about not "getting" the sex element when I first heard him as a little girl. But I was about 9 when "I'm on Fire" came out and I knew I felt...something. I just didn't know what.

I love the working class man aspect, the sweat, the lyrics, the soundtrack to my youth and lots more. But the voice... Oh the voice.
posted by billiebee at 1:43 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Born to Run is fantastic, but I think the best album is Darkness at the Edge of Town.

This! A thousand times this!

Darkness on the Edge of Town was Springsteen's comeback album. Born to Run had made him a proper rock star where the first two albums had been the culmination of the years he and the E-Street Band had put working the Jersey circuit. He was poised to takeover the world, but then got into a legal fight with his then manager and had to put all that on hold for three years.

But in those years they honed their craft, Springsteen lost some of the optimism that still defined Born to Run, the larger than life, mythical songs that defined that album not coming back on Darkness. Instead it's people being beat down by life, tired of seeing their dreams slip away from them, yet still occasionally having the energy to want to fight, or at least escape for a little while in a lover's arms.

It's not his only dark album of course, but something like Nebraska is far more impersonal than Darkness. The only other album of his that comes close is Tunnel of Love, which came out after his unfortunate marriage to and subsequent divorce from that supermodel.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:08 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


This clip of him, Nils, Tom, his wife, and the late big man, is almost hard to watch.

Ahh, you fucker, I should've known it was that song. I had to stop listening to it after my wife died because it always, always left me in a flood of tears. Judging from the Youtube comments, I wasn't the only one.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:14 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, man-- Tunnel of Love. One of those "secret classics.". It takes a lot of crap because of all the synths, but man, the sheer emotional complexity of the song writing on that album. I still listen to it today and find that there always seems to be something new that resonates with me.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:25 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


In an essay in Listen to This ("I Saw The Light") Alex Ross mentions a comment from Daniel Cavicchi [I think from Tramps Like Us] that perfectly encapsulates my transformative Springsteen moment: "Daniel Cavicchi, in a book on Bruce Springsteen, divides fans into categories of William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience, noting that one kind of fan undergoes a sudden conversion, or "self-surrender", often in a state of isolation or in a foreign land."

That's me, in the UK in 1988, in the university library, listening to "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and ... suddenly converting.

I had heard plenty of Springsteen, it was part of my imaginarium growing up, but this was different.
posted by chavenet at 4:36 AM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Towards the end of my dad's life, he and I would get into the kinds of petty squabbles that kids get into with their parents when the kids are at the cusp of adulthood. One evening, he and I had another stupid argument and I went to bed angry.

Dad was in the habit of staying up late watching TV, and at some point I woke up to the sound of him flipping channels. He stopped on one of the cable networks and I could hear Tori Amos's voice through the wall. At the time, I was a most enthusiastic Toriphile/EWF/"person who went to the shows"...I think she is to women of my generation what Springsteen was to men of his, and I identified with her the way my dad did with Springsteen. And my dad knew this.

Just to bring this all full circle, Tori was singing "I'm On Fire".

I argued with myself for a minute, and then decided that since I hadn't seen this special I should suck it up and go out there. Plus, Dad was keeping this on for me, and besides, didn't I want to know what he thought of Tori's rendition? So I skulked out to the living room and sat next to him for a minute.

"Didn't mean to wake you up," he said when he realized I was sitting next to him. I shushed him and we watched her together.

The show went to a commercial and I realized it was a full Unplugged-style special. We watched the next 20 minutes in silence, even through the commercials.

"She's good," he said after the credits rolled.

"The best." I got up and stood by my bedroom door. I knew I should apologize, but being the prideful teen I was I couldn't bring myself. He looked at me standing in the doorway and nodded.

"G'night."

He tipped his scotch-and-soda at me. "'Night, kid."
posted by pxe2000 at 5:12 AM on June 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


I used to be a huge fan of "the boss." Back in the walkman days, Born in the USA was a staple in my lawnmowing mix tape. I got his 3 disc live box set, and on the third disc there was a live version of "The River."

That was me too. I remember when that box set came out. Cassettes!
posted by KokuRyu at 6:35 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!!!!!!!!

that is all
posted by caddis at 7:21 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Springsteen is authentic.
posted by theora55 at 7:40 AM on June 13, 2013


Wow, this article spoke to me.

Growing up with Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper, the Boss got pushed down as an "Old Man" with no sex appeal whatsoever. Don't get me wrong - liked his music, but I was too much into Michael Hutchence to notice the Boss's looks.

About 5 years back, I found a used CD of Springsteen hits and started listening to him more regularly. Then, one quiet afternoon of YouTubing, I looked up his videos. I came upon Tunnel of Love; a song that was heavy overplayed on the radio, but that I really like now. And in this video (which, imho, still holds up quite well today), I found something stir in me about Springsteen that I never felt before. The guy was about 36 here (around my age), and oh yeah, the man was sexy. He shows no muscles, and is basically hiding behind his guitar. But he just looks into the camera, sings and smiles, showing his beautiful white teeth.

Oh yeah, he was sexy.
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 7:56 AM on June 13, 2013


This is such a great post. Ok. Have you guys seen the video for Brilliant Disguise? IT IS INTENSE AS SHIT. Also - he's not lip synching, he's playing guitar and singing in the video. in. tense.
posted by capnsue at 8:50 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also - he's not lip synching, he's playing guitar and singing in the video.

I think he does that in most, if not all, of his videos after a certain point.
posted by bongo_x at 10:25 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was me too. I remember when that box set came out. Cassettes!

Me too. I still have it. Remember being a bit miffed that the cassette version missed a song that the cd version had. But cds were for rich people.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2013


I liked that essay a lot more than I actually like Bruce Springsteen. I think it's especially interesting in tying abstracted, imagined authenticity to sexual desire.
posted by klangklangston at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2013


Born to Run is fantastic, but I think the best album is Darkness at the Edge of Town.

I think so too, but it's a close call. I also love The Rising.

Thanks for posting this, this was really good.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:07 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ahh, you fucker, I should've known it was that song.

Sorry MartinWisse, I should have put a warning on that link. If it was any consolation, I made myself cry by watching it too.

That was me too. I remember when that box set came out. Cassettes!

Oh wow, I remember now. I got the box set of cassettes for hanukah or something, and when I made the transition to CDs, I bought it again myself. I think this was the only purchase I made in both media.
posted by chemoboy at 2:58 PM on June 13, 2013


I think that I've already mentioned this on the blue, more than once, but I refer to Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and The River as my Holy Trinity, wholly unironically and without exaggeration. And every year the lyric from "Thunder Road" gains more relevance: "So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young any more."

As does, of course, the follow-up: "Show a little faith, there's magic in the night."
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:38 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone somewhere has probably already had a run at this, but I'd be curious to see how people think Springsteen's four studio album run of Born to Run through Nebraska stacks up against other artists. It puts him in seriously elite company in my book, up there with the Stones (Beggars Banquet--Exile on Main Street), Led Zeppelin (self titled debut pretty much through Physical Graffiti, wow), and not sure who else (don't really know how to put the Beatles in there). Anyway, totally subjective, obviously, but fun to think about that.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:52 PM on June 13, 2013


I think it's especially interesting in tying abstracted, imagined authenticity to sexual desire.

The thing is I don't think Springsteen's authenticity is manufactured. He is one of the most sincere and effortful people you will ever meet. Yes, his work is songwriting and performance, but he works extremely hard at it, much harder than most, as is commonly attested by his coworkers and others who have done projects with him. And he continues to hew to and represent the entire cultural context in which he grew up. He remains recognizable, knowable, and real, even when he wanders into the intellectual zones he inhabits these days. It's well known that I am a serious fan. I have had the kind of conversion experience chavenet mentions, even though I had grown up with him and already thought I was a fan. There was no going back from my first live concert. I have seen as many as I can afford to ever since.

I enjoyed the piece for the gestures it made to link Springsteen to a working-class tradition and defiition of masculinity. I wish that had gone farther.

I can't speak much to whether YouTube will 'reactivate' Bruce as a sex object. I don't know that he needed reactivation; he just needs investigation. The videos aren't necessary entirely, though they represent a small sense of the concert experience, which is everything she writes about here. The most conventionally sexy thing about Bruce is his absolute frank confrontation and easy embrace of sexual desire, sexual negotiation, relationships involving sex, not in a one-note commodified sort of way, but as a participant who is present, honest, needy, hungry, and giving all at once. (I mean, I just read the recent biography and there's a great story in it about him telling a long pre-song story about how much he loved cunnilingus. In a homecoming concert he gave in his hometown for people who used to kind of hate him. At his own former Catholic school. In front of his mother.)

But the most unconventionally sexy thing is the towering talent and the relentless drive to work, work, work, all taking final form in the relationship he forges with his audience. On that note, I can't wait to see this documentary this summer.
posted by Miko at 6:57 PM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, that Lady Gaga video is a great case study. They're sparking off each other not least because they're the only two bothering to perform. The only two at all invested on a stage full of warmed-over egos.
posted by Miko at 7:00 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The thing is I don't think Springsteen's authenticity is manufactured. He is one of the most sincere and effortful people you will ever meet."

That's not what I was trying to get across, though I could meander into a long derail about contrasting authenticity with manufacturing (even as the blue collar professions he corresponds to often include manufacturing). I was talking more about the writer's subjectivity in regarding Springsteen and placing him as legitimately sexual because he is, to her, authentic.

"(I mean, I just read the recent biography and there's a great story in it about him telling a long pre-song story about how much he loved cunnilingus. In a homecoming concert he gave in his hometown for people who used to kind of hate him. At his own former Catholic school. In front of his mother.)"

As for authenticity and sex, it's interesting to me that authentic can be represented by making something intimate about oneself public like that. I mean, sure, it's a classic humblebrag (Ladies, I Sure Do Love Cunnilingus), but in terms of how it relates to an audience — I think that one of the qualities that makes a good rock star is the ability to convey simultaneous intimacy like that.

I guess, ultimately, I think that "authenticity" is subject to so many different definitions (was Bowie any less authentic than Springsteen?) that appealing to it as a justification seems kind of empty. But what I liked about the essay was more how she was seeing Springsteen's authenticity as rooted in a working class tradition that, even she concedes, he no longer participates in as a laboring member, but as a cultural one. It's rare for me to enjoy reading someone dissecting their own desires; it's usually tedious or narcissistic, but I think she touched on a bunch of interesting ways to think about Springsteen while giving a sincere reading of her feelings.

"I enjoyed the piece for the gestures it made to link Springsteen to a working-class tradition and defiition of masculinity. I wish that had gone farther."

Me too.
posted by klangklangston at 7:18 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


[with apologies for dominating this portion of your thread - I'm headed to bed and just wanted to get this out too]

There's a comment below the FPP post I find really interesting, maybe gets at that embrace-of-sexuality thing I was trying to talk about above:

Going back to Brando for a moment, though, I’d also like to argue how the Boss’s rugged masculinity potentially feminizes itself. Again, I think this takes place onstage, where Bruce is famous for objectifying his body and sacrificing himself for his grateful audience during performance (note: this also suggests a commonality between Bruce and Iggy Pop, punk’s pioneer power bottom). The Boss’s objectification also asserts itself in a more obvious way, via the iconic ass shot cover for Born in the USA.

I don’t mean to suggest that objectification is exclusively the domain of the feminine, but as women and girls’ bodies are traditionally treated as sites of spectacle in media culture, I think the Boss’s performative masculinity, which relies much on the fetishization and offering of his body to fans, complicates matters.

I think this is spot on. And that's what sets him apart, for me, from other male stars in regards to projection of sexuality. He's not distant, rejecting, superior - he volunteers for sexual attention, indulges in it, invites it. He's vulnerable and yet he's completely comfortable with it and in control of the entire process. Every time I watch him stage dive I'm in awe of the trust he places in his fans, and the incredibly intimate contact he's giving them. There's something to all that. I think you could say that his sexuality is expressed using some tropes that are often considered "feminine," but I also think there's a certain bias there, as it's not really just feminine but also draws a lot on performance styles and tropes that are familiar in Latin or Mediterranean men. In short, it's not a rugged, cold, removed masculinity.

That crotch Tumblr? Fun idea, but it's kind of weak sauce. For those interested in such things, the message boards on BTX (Backstreets Ticket Exchange, the big fan site) boast a thread titled "For the Ladies" that is in its third or fourth incarnation since the advent of the board. This one started in 2010 and is up to 350 pages or so. It's what it sounds like: super hot pictures of Bruce. Pardon the heternormatism.

posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think that "authenticity" is subject to so many different definitions (was Bowie any less authentic than Springsteen?) that appealing to it as a justification seems kind of empty.

I totally agree. I think the whole notion is super problematic, not just in this context but almost anywhere it appears as a value critique.

But what I liked about the essay was more how she was seeing Springsteen's authenticity as rooted in a working class tradition that, even she concedes, he no longer participates in as a laboring member, but as a cultural one

Yeah, I liked that. And there's no question that Springsteen's economic class is no longer the working class and hasn't been since at least the early 80s. But I think it provokes some thinking (which is where I wish she had gone) about whether that cultural membership should somehow not be legitimate as a laboring membership as well - why his form of work is not just creative work but is also work in the labor sense.

Sure, It's difficult to separate the income levels and opportunities it comes with from the other aspects of his work. He's a 1%er, income wise. But there's still a real sense in which he's a guy that goes to work every day, and does something difficult earnestly, and in which he spends a fair amount of his free time around other people who, similarly, go to work every day, but do different jobs we might more easily recognize as "work." Today, some of those people are in finance and such, and make a bundle, and yet they also belong to a cultural milieu which accepts these working-class values, standards, and expressions as appropriate. And they mix easily with people who clean pools or sell cars or work in IT. There's a certain cultural membership all these people have, to some extent, because of their upbringing and because of their orientation to making a living, however they make it, that's not especially stratified by income levels. I dunno, maybe that's a Jersey thing.
posted by Miko at 7:29 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Going back to Brando for a moment, though, I’d also like to argue how the Boss’s rugged masculinity potentially feminizes itself. Again, I think this takes place onstage, where Bruce is famous for objectifying his body and sacrificing himself for his grateful audience during performance (note: this also suggests a commonality between Bruce and Iggy Pop, punk’s pioneer power bottom). The Boss’s objectification also asserts itself in a more obvious way, via the iconic ass shot cover for Born in the USA.

One of the shots he always showed in his Clarence Clemons tribute montage is him kissing Clemons full on the mouth, and there's an interview with a gay magazine where Springsteen talks about gently turning down guys who've made passes at him.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:40 PM on June 13, 2013


They did the kiss a lot. Yeah, his sort of dabbling in homoeroticism is well known, but I don't think that's the same thing as "feminization."
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The winning move for me in the best-of-Springsteen game is not to play. I have a deep riverine current of love for a lot of his work, but the Born/Darkness/River trio are the apex for me (throwing in Nebraska, I think, as a chaser), and (in changing and often deeper ways as I revisit them 30 years and more after first having them totally take me over each in their turn) all three evoke different sets of feelings. Feelings that echo backwards off older echoes which again... well you get my point.

I could say Born To Run is the whiskeysoaked sex, Darkness on The Edge of Town is the postcoital comedown, and The River is the rueful rumination about it all the next morning. Or adolescence, young adult disillusionment, and the kerouackian forlorn rags of growing old. Or whatever. Doesn't matter, really.

But each of those albums were enormously important to me, and listening to them still (along, as I mentioned, with Nebraska and a few others from him) mean new things, or shine new light on old things, decades later. Music has always gripped me this way, and by no means are these albums the only landmarks for me, but they are among the first rank. I am actually slightly surprised and grateful indeed that music is still important to me after all these years; not just the stuff I listened to 30 or 35 years ago, but new stuff I'm discovering all the time, too. Yay and also hooray!

Whether Springsteen's persona is charged with sexual iconography is not a thing that I care much about, to be honest, but I'm totally fine if others find the question interesting.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:35 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]



Whether Springsteen's persona is charged with sexual iconography is not a thing that I care much about, to be honest, but I'm totally fine if others find the question interesting.



yeah in years of being a fan i barely considered it
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:59 PM on June 13, 2013


He's a grown man that can make me cry at the drop of a lyric. This clip of him, Nils, Tom, his wife, and the late big man, is almost hard to watch.


.
posted by waxbanks at 7:33 AM on June 14, 2013


« Older Is There Snowboarding on Mars?   |   "I've worn the same outfit as... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post