Bossy
January 9, 2014 11:04 PM   Subscribe


 
Before reading the Grantland article: Born to Run is overrated, Tunnel of Love underrated, Darkness on the Edge of Town is just right.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:40 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Before reading the article: BRUUUUUUUUUUUCE!
posted by chavenet at 1:23 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


p.s. the RS review of "High Hopes" is a rave.
posted by chavenet at 1:31 AM on January 10, 2014


Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973) Springsteen historians regard this record as a rough draft or prequel for Bruce's second LP, released later the same year, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. This is not entirely wrong, as Greetings does indeed bear many of the hallmarks of a preliminary sketch — there are too many words, the instrumentation is unpolished, and the energy of the performances far outpaces the craft of the songwriting.

Actually, it's the other way around. Greetings from Asbury Park contained Blinded by the Light which Mannfred Mann's Earth Band turned into a huge hit. Sprinsteen's "craft of songwriting" is always underrated and "energy in the performance" I think has always been a bit overrated. I mean just compare Springsteen and the E-Street Band's rendition of "Because the Night" and Patti Smith's version of the same song. The lack of energy in Springsteen's version is what stands out.
posted by three blind mice at 2:05 AM on January 10, 2014


"energy in the performance" I think has always been a bit overrated.

For me the *energy* falls flat because a Springsteen show is one of the most, if not THE most carefully scripted and choreographed shows in all of rock music. Nary a shred of improvisation or spur-of-the-moment occurrence.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:35 AM on January 10, 2014


For me the *energy* falls flat because a Springsteen show is one of the most, if not THE most carefully scripted and choreographed shows in all of rock music. Nary a shred of improvisation or spur-of-the-moment occurrence.

I've been to my share of rodeos, and hands down, no qualification, the Seeger Sessions Band show I saw in Holmdel in 2006 was the most *satisfying* musical experience I've ever had. Yeah, they rehearsed the shit out of that show. And it was the end of the tour. And it was wonderful.
posted by mikelieman at 2:45 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


yeah, my point. I don't know about "energy", Jerry just pretty much stood there. But I do know a great fucking band when I see one. And "energy" isn't just about swinging around on cables... ( Though Jerry flying around like spider-man would have been cool... )
posted by mikelieman at 2:47 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


For me the *energy* falls flat because a Springsteen show is one of the most, if not THE most carefully scripted and choreographed shows in all of rock music. Nary a shred of improvisation or spur-of-the-moment occurrence.

The first time I saw Springsteen was at one of the Human Rights Now! concerts in 1988. It was, without question, the highest crowd energy I have ever experienced - - he blew the roof off the joint in his short set.

However, I went to see a standard Springsteen concert in the early 90's, and in that regard I agree with your points entirely.
posted by fairmettle at 3:33 AM on January 10, 2014


the highest crowd energy I have ever experienced

Until now, I haven't considered them distinctly. The performer's energy vs. the crowd's energy. And the values we would accord each factor. There goes TODAY'S productivity!
posted by mikelieman at 4:04 AM on January 10, 2014


flapjax at midnite: For me the *energy* falls flat because a Springsteen show is one of the most, if not THE most carefully scripted and choreographed shows in all of rock music. Nary a shred of improvisation or spur-of-the-moment occurrence.

I felt the same way when I saw Justin Timberlake on his first solo tour. The show was technically great (he still had a lot to prove, back then), but I couldn't get into it because every single moment seemed to have been planned, practiced and perfected in advance. I became a little obsessed about it, actually. One of my friends had seen the show a few days earlier in another city, and afterwards, I ran through the entire thing and questioned her: "Did that happen in Melbourne? How about that? Or that?" Pretty much all of it had.

Good performers can find the space between well-rehearsed and spontaneous, I think.
posted by Georgina at 4:58 AM on January 10, 2014


Rolling Stone has given Bruce five stars each for his previous three albums, but "High Hopes" could only muster four and a half. Maybe he's losing his edge? Or maybe they're just fickle? The Boss makes this uplifting Jersey rock with his huge band and Rolling Stone loves him, then the next day, forty years later, they only give him four and a half stars. It's like, welcome to the industry, kid.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 5:13 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


One Week One Band devoted an entire fortnight to the music of Bruce Springsteen. Fans of my contributions to Bruce threads on the Blue can skip to this here post and read about my dad.)
posted by pxe2000 at 6:48 AM on January 10, 2014


three blind mice: "I mean just compare Springsteen and the E-Street Band's rendition of "Because the Night" and Patti Smith's version of the same song. The lack of energy in Springsteen's version is what stands out."

I actually like the MTV Unplugged version by 10,000 Maniacs best.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:58 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought the Grantland article was a little long-winded, but it did make me smile in a number of places, and perhaps more importantly made me want to crank up some Springsteen tunes when I get off work later. PROPERLY RATED
posted by TedW at 7:11 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I got thrown out of my first band because they told me my guitar was too cheap.

This might be the stupidest reason I've ever heard of for kicking someone out of a band.
1. Plenty of cheap guitars sound great.
2. If it was an electric guitar, as long as it played okay the sound quality wouldn't matter as much as the amp
3. Everyone is allowed to have more than one and/or get a different one

In summary, teenagers are morons.
posted by VTX at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nary a shred of improvisation or spur-of-the-moment occurrence.

Really? His setlist varies quite a lot from night to night and he often changes it mid-show based on signs fans bring to the concerts. His shows might have been more controlled earlier in his career, but things seem pretty loose now.
posted by davebush at 8:13 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wasn't aware of that, davebush. I'm glad to hear that I might be wrong.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:15 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


backstreets.com does a lengthy review of every show - take a look at a few here and you'll see what I mean. The band is aware that any song in his catalog could be called for at any moment. Springsteen knows every audience he plays for will contain seriously devoted fans who crave the rare stuff, along with casual fans.
posted by davebush at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


He rehearses as much as he does so that there is room for great flexibility. I met a woman who toured with him briefly, and the musicians are expected to know hundreds of songs before they even start rehearsing.

He has his beats, such as his long-winded, mythic introduction to saxophonist Clarence Clemons when he was still alive, but even then, if you watch YouTube videos, they vary quite a bit from night to night as he just plays with the form.

It's the advantage of being as rehearsed as his band is -- there's enormous room for improvisation and spontaneity, because nothing can throw the band. And this might be why it all feels rehearsed -- because it seems impossible that Bruce could, say, just start sliding across the stage, back and forth, over and over again, on his knees, on a whim, and not have his band seem surprised and have to find their places and just sort of confusedly vamp for a while. But no. Springsteen could pull a bomb out of his ass, detonate half the stage, and start taking hostages, and his band would continue like this is something he does every single night. Hell, I think Bruce could die onstage and it would be a few hours before anyone realized he wasn't planning to do that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Fully agreed that Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. is underrated.

I was born in the early '80s, so basically all I knew of Bruce Springsteen for the longest time was the hits that get endlessly repeated (Born to Run to Born in the USA, basically), and it all just seemed so bombastic and overproduced and overhyped and oversaxed and full of itself. Billy Joel songwriting, Cyndi Lauper presentation. It just never struck me as particularly worth going bananas over. I dug into the albums to see if the secret was in the parts I never heard on the radio, and sure, there's better stuff in there, but not enough to warrant the Boss's legend status.

And then (entirely too recently, I must admit) I listened to Greetings... and it all just clicked. It's full of life. And from the first strains of "Blinded by the Light," it became immediately clear what I've never liked about later Springsteen: Not the bombast, not the saxophone solos, not any of that other stuff, but the soulless, robotic rhythms that cast all those other things in stark contrast. It's not Bruce Springsteen I can't stand; it's Max Weinberg.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:24 AM on January 10, 2014


Bruce Springsteen is the only live show I've ever been to where this happened:

1. I had to sprint to the men's room in case he played something I wanted to hear. Fastest piss of my life.

2. He played longer than I could keep up with in the audience. 3 hour show.

I could care less how scripted it is; you leave knowing he left nothing backstage except the catering.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 12:31 PM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


This post made me think back to the first time I ever heard of Bruce Springsteen, a profile in Playboy in the 1970s (yes, I am such a dweeb that even as a teenager I read the articles in Playboy). Lo and behold, here it is (SFW copy of the original). A good writeup of the musician on the cusp of superstardom. The same site is a treasure trove of other articles if anyone is interested.
posted by TedW at 12:41 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I could care less how scripted it is; you leave knowing he left nothing backstage except the catering.

Pretty much, yeah. I heard somewhere he loses five pounds during every show: god knows he sweats a lot off.

Rehearsal is fine by me: Springsteen is a professional, takes the music and the performance seriously, and knows how to get an audience up off their seats and dancing, jumping, and shouting along with him. And he does it without getting repetitive or boring--every show is different. For that they need to practice, over and over, so they can change it up, the way a good jazz saxophonist can jump into a solo.

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen Springsteen live, starting in 1984. More than a dozen, certainly. And regardless of the quality of a given album he's touring in support of, the shows are always worth the money and the hassle. They no longer play for over four hours anymore (seriously: they used to come on at 8 and leave at midnight, it was insane), but by the end, by god you know you've been to a concert. You know you've participated in a concert, because half of a Springsteen concert is the audience participation.

Thanks for the links to the One Week One Band tumblr: this looks like great reading!
posted by suelac at 6:16 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


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