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September 23, 2009 3:48 AM   Subscribe

Happy 60th birthday, Bruce!

Let's start the celebration with some live videos: Satisfaction, Jungleland, The River, Prove It All Night, This Land is Your Land, and an incredible rare performance of him busking.

Then it's off to Wolfgang's Concert Vault for some amazing streaming audio, including Berkeley 1973, San Francisco 1978, Stockholm 1988 (the last show with the E Street Band for a decade), and a King Biscuit interview from 1978. (You gotta pay if you want to download them, but they're free to stream.)

While all that is streaming, consider these 60 memories of Bruce and tick off how many of them you experienced (or just wish you had).

More Bruce: Lyrics | Setlists | Chords | Photos | NPR appearances
posted by jbickers (92 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
!
posted by R. Mutt at 4:13 AM on September 23, 2009


*sigh* Even though its not too loud, I still feel old

But now you're sad, your mama's mad
And your papa says he knows that I don't have any money
Tell him this is last chance to get his daughter feeling happy
Because they just put my picture on the cover of AARP

posted by ElvisJesus at 4:25 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


None of us are that young any more, but it's better than the alternative;
lovely post, jbickers!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:32 AM on September 23, 2009


I believe Metafilter just out-inanitied the CNN news ticker.
posted by cillit bang at 4:34 AM on September 23, 2009


He's fifteen years older than me and seems to have twice the energy that I have. Saw him this spring and he sang for two and half hours and never stopped moving the whole time. I was exhausted just watching him.
posted by octothorpe at 4:35 AM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hail to the king, baby.

Wait.. wrong Bruce.
posted by pyrex at 4:35 AM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


One of the really great songwriters of the 20th century, if I may say so.

60. Jesus holy fuck I'm old. But so is Bruce. So it's OK.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:41 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's his birthday, let's let HIM count out the years.
posted by inigo2 at 4:42 AM on September 23, 2009


Tribute to Joe Strummer with Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, and Steven Van Zandt: "London Calling."

At the Obama inaugural with Pete Seeger: "This Land Is Your Land" (different version than in the OP).
posted by ibmcginty at 4:47 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!
posted by mikelieman at 4:54 AM on September 23, 2009


Oh, and the Seeger Sessions show I caught was perhaps the best evening of music I've ever had the honour of being part of...
posted by mikelieman at 4:56 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It used to freak me out a little when my favorite musicians turned 60, but now so many of them have passed that mark that it doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:07 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read this and then my mind wandered to another Bruce. Bruce Lee would have been 70 next year.

Christ, I feel old.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:13 AM on September 23, 2009


All Bruce
All the time


Happy birthday my man
posted by caddis at 5:17 AM on September 23, 2009


BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!

I really resent that the fans have taken away my option of booing at a Springsteen concert. Not that I've ever wanted or needed to, but I'd still like to have the choice. I mean, I could boo, but it would sound like I was cheering for him so it would be kind of pointless. It also kind of sounds like there's a herd of heifers somewhere in the audience. Anyway, Happy Bruceday.
posted by Elmore at 5:20 AM on September 23, 2009


Holy crap, that Prove It All Night video really shows Bruce's guitar work! He mostly lets Steve and Nils do the heavy lifting these days but he can burn if he wants to.

Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce! I hope you're riding out tonight to case the promised land.
posted by tommasz at 5:32 AM on September 23, 2009


The making of "Born to Run"
posted by Joe Beese at 5:38 AM on September 23, 2009


No Nukes - 1979

"I can't keep this up! I'm 30 years old!"

goes to chase kids off lawn...
posted by Joe Beese at 5:42 AM on September 23, 2009


Saw a Springsteen concert at the height of his career. Man, did he ever put on a high-energy show. Wore the audience out. Encore after encore after encore. Groggy and blurry-eyed students were checking their watches, going: "Bruce ... we love you dearly, but we kinda got to get to class. You wanna maybe wrap this this up, babe?"
posted by RavinDave at 5:46 AM on September 23, 2009


Hey, little girl, is your daddy home?
Cause I've gotta tell him you won't keep off my lawn
I've got a riding mower
And oo-oo-oo a new leaf blower
posted by pracowity at 5:52 AM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wasn't an early adopter when it comes to Bruce. My mom bought Born in the USA (along with everyone else in the western hemisphere) but my easily annoyed adolescent self dismissed it in favor of Iron Maiden. It wasn't until after college that I started seriously checking out his music, and I've been a huge fan ever since hearing Darkness on the Edge of Town for the first time.

My wife and I saw him in Houston last year. He brought Joe Ely and Alejandro Escovedo up on stage and played for almost three hours. It was one of the two shows I saw in 2008 that immediately catapulted into my top five concert experiences of all time.

The other being...Iron Maiden.
posted by total warfare frown at 5:53 AM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Damn, was hoping for another Batman FPP.
posted by Eideteker at 5:56 AM on September 23, 2009


He made the cover of this month's AARP Magazine

(Don't ask me how I know that)
posted by mr vino at 5:57 AM on September 23, 2009


I've seen him live three times, and I never get over how amazing it is to see a true master doing what he does best and loving every minute.
posted by djb at 6:08 AM on September 23, 2009


If you were thinking of another Bruce, he is apparently only 51.

This thread is a huge tease.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:11 AM on September 23, 2009


Bruce Springsteen at 60 in 2009 = still kicking ass, taking names, rocking the house.

My Mom at 60 in 2009 = riding around the country in an RV.

/facepalm
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:29 AM on September 23, 2009


Mookie: And who's your favorite rock star? Prince.
Pino: Bruuuuuuuucccccee
posted by porn in the woods at 6:36 AM on September 23, 2009


My Mom at 60 in 2009 = riding around the country in an RV.

Hey, at least she's not sitting at home whining about getting old :)
posted by mahke at 6:43 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been a Springsteen fan for a long time, but the past few years have been troubling to me. Brendan O'Brien is not the guy he should be working with. He's sucking all the majesty and charm out of Bruce's music.
posted by davebush at 6:49 AM on September 23, 2009


I can remember him hitting the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week, and thinking, "Who is this scruffy hippie and why are they making such a big deal out of him?" That was when I was eleven. A couple of years later, I finally figured it out after puberty hit. Now I think of Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and The River as the Holy Trinity.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:02 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


He has devoted fans. He will do ten shows at Giant's Stadium and a huge number of people will attend most if not all of those shows. The tail gaiting in the parking lot before the shows is probably better than at any Giant's game. The last time I was there we had a professional DJ (yay BTX) and the food was incredible. We made lobster. It was one continuous party from noon to past midnight. Bruce's shows are no longer the four hour marathons of his youth, but they are still some of the best live shows around. Even if his music is not your cup of tea those shows are worth it. During the show most of the audience will sing along with almost every song. It's a little eerie, almost like a cult, but it is fun.

I can remember him hitting the covers of Time and Newsweek
and they called him the new Bob Dylan. It turns out he had even more to say than Bob, and that's a pretty good trick.
posted by caddis at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2009


davebush: "I've been a Springsteen fan for a long time, but the past few years have been troubling to me."

You know how Roger Waters realized that rock stardom had become bad for him when he spat on a fan?

I decided that rock stardom had become bad for Bruce when he wrote a song about how there was nothing to watch on television.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:11 AM on September 23, 2009


Nebraska is one of the greatest albums ever made. It's superlative. It's a genuine masterpiece of American songwriter, and yet it's only influence seems to be one little-seen Sean Penn movie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


It turns out he had even more to say than Bob

I loves me some Boss, but what?

HBD Bruce!
posted by ericost at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2009


Red Headed Woman.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:42 AM on September 23, 2009


> It's a little eerie, almost like a cult, but it is fun.

I like me some Bruce just fine, but the cult of personality that has sprung up around him can be a bit annoying. Just a few nights ago I got in an argument with a huge fan of his when I scoffed at the idea that he's some sort of common-man-of-the-people. My friend seems to think he's a farmer or, at best, a feed store manager who takes time off from plowing his fields every couple of years to record an album and go on tour. He's an extremely wealthy entertainer (and a damn good one) with an angle he's pretty much cornered the market on, but the idea that he's actually, at heart, the Everyman character in his songs is ludicrous. Rock and roll is all about fantasy and suspension of disbelief, but c'mon.

"It's not the band I hate, it's their fans..."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:07 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


My best friend is an utterly enormous Springsteen fan, and has been from the time we were in Junior High. She owns and runs a day care center, and on her watch, the alphabet she teaches the kids goes, "'A' is for 'apple,' 'B' is for 'Bruce,' 'C' is for 'Clarence'...."

Similarly, she made a concerted effort to have "Bruce" be one of her daughter's first words. Her daughter's 3-1/2, and I'm not sure whether it was the FIRST word, but at the age of 2 she was able to holler "Ba-ROOOOO!" and run to the stereo to turn it up when she heard "Born to Run."

This has backfired on my friend, however: "Thunder Road" is her daughter's favorite song -- to the point that she refuses to let my friend sing along: "No, Mommy, this is Bruce's song, I want to hear HIM sing it!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 AM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Listening to a New Years Eve show from '75 in Philly right now. It just kills. Covers of "Pretty Flamingo", "It's My Life", and "Mountain of Love".
posted by Ber at 8:13 AM on September 23, 2009


I'm so excited! I'm going to see him play in two weeks in NJ. A friend (who turned 60 last week) just happens to have an extra ticket for the concert which just happens to coincide with a trip I'm making up there. I rarely go to concerts. I haven't seen him (except for vids) since the early eighties.

I'm going to be 60 in a few months and I'm glad that my generation is changing the way we think about age.
posted by mareli at 8:20 AM on September 23, 2009


I imagine he'll celebrate Like a Boss.
posted by clearly at 8:23 AM on September 23, 2009


!
posted by Think_Long at 8:30 AM on September 23, 2009


I can still remember taking Nebraska out of the public library and not returning it for months. I eventually just bought it from them rather than pay the fine; it's really a perfect album.

I've never liked anything that has the E Street Band on it though, just a production style I can't stand (those synth tones, that sax, ugh, it's everything cheesy and wrong about American music and sounds horribly dated). I keep meaning to go through and relisten to some of his early stuff and see if I'll like it, because I know he's a great songwriter—hell, he can make Manfred Mann sound tough and cool.
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]



The early stuff with the E street band combines both the richness of orchestral textures and the honesty of a bruce springsteen solo performance. And it's like opening a photo album with pictures from the seventies.
posted by nicolin at 8:44 AM on September 23, 2009


Your favorite senior citizen sucks.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2009


Cool Papa Bell: Bruce Springsteen at 60 in 2009 = still kicking ass, taking names, rocking the house.

Same with 'our' Bruce, and he'll be 65 next May.
posted by hangashore at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2009


For a long time, I thought that Born to Run was just about a perfect rock and roll song, but was too put off by the Born in the USA stuff to really listen to much more. I was finally convinced by another big music fan that Bruce's stuff was worth listening to again...I went back to the early records and he was right. I was blown away...and am, at the age of 39, a two year old Springsteen fan. One day, I hope to see him play. With the energy he displays still...I like to think I've got some time left to make sure I see Bruce...but all the same, I'm not gonna mess around too long I hope.

Happy birthday Bruce...hope it's a good one.
posted by Richat at 8:57 AM on September 23, 2009


Is this something I would need to have wasted my life to understand?
posted by felix betachat at 9:06 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It turns out he had even more to say than Bob

No he didn't, even if it his birthday.

I was a comparatively early Springsteen adapter. That is, I'd actually heard of him before Born to Run. But that album inspired all manner of fandom, as did Darkness At The Edge Of Town, a tour which I was lucky enough to experience up close in a comparatively small hall (a 3000 seater). It was a mind (and soul) blower, 3.5 hours of full-on everything that makes American rock and roll great ...

And ever since then I've been kind of disappointed. The River was too long (although the title song itself may just be his masterpiece), and by the time Born In The USA came along, I was in a different (punk rock infused) place. All the U-S-A jingoism just grated in the most annoying way, coming as it did at the peak of Ronald Reagan's ascendancy. I know it wasn't Springsteen's intention but that album really served the wrong side: from the all too evident red white + blue on the cover to the title track in particular (yes, I know its lyrics took a critical position but who listens to lyrics other than critics and people who read metafilter?) it really became a focus for the worst kind of DUMB patriotism. "Born in a STUPID place!" a friend of mine used to shout whenever it came on, and it came on all the time even up here in Canada.

Then came Nebraska. No arguments there but you couldn't really take it to a party. And ever since, well let's just say I haven't bought anything. But that song The Rising sure is a powerhouse.
posted by philip-random at 9:24 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It turns out he had even more to say than Bob

No he didn't, even if it his birthday.



yes, I know its lyrics took a critical position but who listens to lyrics other than critics and people who read metafilter?

You're ripping on someone for saying he didn't have as much to say as Bob Dylan, but then turn around and admit you're not even paying attention to the lyrics? Does not compute.
posted by shen1138 at 9:54 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't Bring Me Down, Bruuuuce!
posted by not_on_display at 9:56 AM on September 23, 2009


yes, I know its lyrics took a critical position but who listens to lyrics other than critics and people who read metafilter?

I'm pretty sure that the lyrics to "Born in the USA" were meant as a bit of a sly subversive joke by Bruce. It's a test to see if you're paying attention. Obviously, you failed.
posted by octothorpe at 10:03 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Richat: "For a long time, I thought that Born to Run was just about a perfect rock and roll song"

To paraphrase what was once said of an epic poem: "Born To Run" is not the greatest rock song ever written only because it was not the first.

I've wondered what it must be like for an artist to create something that good. It must be bittersweet, I think. Having painted one's masterpiece, it's all downhill from there.

And in the case of a popular musician, there's the added Sisyphean ordeal of having to play the damned song at every concert they perform for the rest of their careers.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:11 AM on September 23, 2009


philip-random was describing how the lyrics were (widely) understood, not the intent. Yes, we get it around here, but we're bean-plate-overthinkers and lyrics-memorizers.

They play "Glory Days" in Foxboro when the Pats win, and "I Love L.A." when the Lakers are on TV, for gosh sakes. Plenty of people love to pump their fists in the air and misunderstand the point.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:13 AM on September 23, 2009


ME: (yes, I know its lyrics took a critical position but who listens to lyrics other than critics and people who read metafilter?)

shen1138: You're ripping on someone for saying he didn't have as much to say as Bob Dylan, but then turn around and admit you're not even paying attention to the lyrics? Does not compute.

Actually, I read metafilter. Therefore, I listen to lyrics.
posted by philip-random at 10:23 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


... and what ibmcginty said ....
posted by philip-random at 10:24 AM on September 23, 2009


I once worked on a documentary about Bruce working on the creation of his Pete Seeger tribute album. I believe it was packaged with the album as a sort of special edition dvd set or something like that.

For 30 straight hours, I did nothing but watch him (as I loaded the footage for the editor) rehearse with the folk band he'd had backing him up for the album as they prepared for the opening concert of the album's tour.

Now, I'm a Bruce fan, thanks to an old friend (and mefite!). I think he took the kind of honest approach to telling stories about "the working man" that we typically see as pandering and trite, and rendered them with the kind of pure simplicity we associate with Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. Only he did it at one of the most commercial times in musical history, long after everyone had scoffed at writing songs about precisely what he decided to write songs about. While John Cougar Mellencamp was writing saccharine fairy tales that whitewashed the midwest, Bruce was writing hard fucking songs about the depression of losing your youth to an unplanned pregnancy.

So here I am, body weary from being up for over a full day straight, desperate for sleep. There's a couch in the room that's long enough to lay out on and everything. And I can't do it. I can't fucking sleep, because there's Bruce (surprisingly built like a weightlifter. I wouldn't say he was ever scrawny, but there's the bruce that plays guitar, and the boss who breaks them in half for fun.) in hours of footage talking about music with the backup band. I mean, they're playing songs like Jesse James 4 times in a row, and Bruce can hear the difference each time and I can't. But mostly I'm watching him talking to them in between songs.

So, something to understand about Bruce, and this is all hearsay: He's one of the biggest acts in the world, bar none. I don't have the list on me or anything, but let's be clear he's been packing stadiums with sold out shows for consecutive decades. His fans number in the tens if not hundreds of millions, and they have for almost 30 years. But he'll go to the Stone Pony (where he got his start) and play a secret surprise show there for free sometimes. The story goes that when Quincy Jones got all the world's top selling artists together to sing We Are The World, parking around the studio was impossible because of all the limos that lined the streets. Bruce drove himself there in his pickup and parked it at the gas station across the street. He had no entourage, no agent or manager with him. He showed up, sang, and drove himself home. After 9/11, Bruce wrote Empty Sky, a song about seeing the towers being gone from the nyc skyline from jersey looking toward the city. He wrote it because, after the towers collapsed, he drove to a famous spot in north jersey for looking at the skyline, and saw the crowds of people there crying and laying out shrines and memorials. he didn't get out of his car or draw attention to himself, but someone there saw him driving slowly by and yelled out "Bruce, you have to write something for us about this, man! You have to tell them how we feel!" So he did. The bullet point of these stories: Bruce is a chill, down to earth dude.

So here he is, on stage, playing his ass off to an audience of 2 or 3 camera men, and doing it over and over again for 8+hours each day. And in between songs he's talking to the band members, shooting the shit or talking about what he wants from them for the next song or whatever. Now, there's this kid on stage, who's the banjo player for the show. Go back in your mind to your high school or college days. If you knew a banjo player, picture him or her in your mind. If you didn't, picture which person you knew would most likely pick up the banjo if it had to be one of them. Are you imagining a big nerd? Ok, then you've got this kid in your mind. Huge nerd, clearly intimidated to be on stage with The Mother Fuckin' Boss. And Bruce sees this. And at one point he goes up to the kid and says "in this next song, you've got that part that highlights your banjo playing, yeah?" the kid sort of just nods and mumbles something unintelligible. "well, man, I want you to have fun with it. Really just go all out. Let loose, and wail on it." and the kid's like "ok, mr. springsteen, sir." bruce: "now, let me hear you play that bit. don't worry. just relax and play it and have fun." the kid plays it, not with any special energy, though. "alright, that's good. you definitely know where to put your fingers at what time. that's good. now, do it again, but don't worry about your fingers so much. just play it like crazy." the kid does it again. "well, alright, we'll work on that. LET'S PLAY THE SONG, FOLKS!" he rounds 'em all up, they take their places, they play the song, and when the kid's part comes on Bruce is like "GO! KID! GO!"

and for whatever reason, the kid just fucking loses it. he's god damn Prince up on stage, during a rehearsal, all acting a fool and wailing away like he doesn't give a damn. and when it's over, Bruce is like "THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!" and high fives the kid, who looks like if he died right then, he'd feel satisfied with his life's accomplishments.

it's funny. I think Bruce's lyrics are great. I don't tend to like lyrics at all, and even lyrics I do like I don't think of as rivalling poetry or anything. But I like Bruce's lyrics. they're honest and competently written, and for lyrics that's saying a lot. But for all his lyrical ability, he didn't come off as a particularly silver-tongued dude. Maybe he doesn't feel like a chatty, word smithy kind of guy. I don't know. But I know he got that kid grooving during the song, when it wasn't happening by talking to him. it was a weird sort of magic. 3 words during the song, and the kid goes off like a rocket.

I never did get to see the footage from the actual show, believe it or not. anyway, that's my big Bruce story. Happy birthday, Mr. Springsteen.
posted by shmegegge at 10:42 AM on September 23, 2009 [131 favorites]


Springsteen makes me sad. Not the man himself, he's cool; nor his music, it's fine; just the whole thing he's come to represent. The whole $200-ticket, $50 T-shirt, 3-hour show Epic Rock Experience thing. The whole You Must Attend a Springsteen Show Once In Your Life thing. You know, Bruce, instead of pricing people out of your epic shows, you could maybe do two 90-minute shows for twice as many folks. I got kinda tired of hearing you bellow around hour two anyway. And your slide from "rock" to "adult contemporary" is distressing, though maybe that's the audience changing, and not you. Eh. I went to a show. It was good. It wasn't the best show ever, and it was remarkable chiefly for it's interminable length. I'm glad I went, but I sure as hell didn't buy a t-shirt. Man, I'll bet I'll catch hell for this comment. Disclaimer: "The River" is one of the greatest albums ever. There. Fair and balanced.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:49 AM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


When I was in high school in New Jersey (1976 - 1980), you couldn't graduate unless you could recite all the words to "Born to Run."



True story.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:54 AM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Let's note forget the great Bruce Springstone. I did not know that Tommy Keene played on that one.

In high school I had friends who saw Springsteen play in Lewiston, Maine, before Born to Run came out. They raved and raved about it. I got to see him in 1978 (Augusta, ME) and 1980 (LA Coliseum). Both shows were incredible, but the LA show blew the Springsteen fuse in my brain. Once the excitement dissipated I lost all interest. I like the older stuff just fine when I hear it, although I cringe every time I hear the lines "Just wrap your legs around these velvet rims/And strap your hands cross my engines" in "Born to Run."
posted by Man-Thing at 11:02 AM on September 23, 2009


I was at one of those christmas benefits Bruce does on the Shore each year, I think this one was at the Asbury Park Convention Center. Dude GETS YOU IN THE HOLIDAY MOOD. And how do you get that big and have no perceptible ego? He was MC'ing what was basically a variety show, a dozen or so artists doing a song or two, sometimes with him, sometimes solo, and he NEVER took over the stage from any of them, just super supportive and genial. 100% focused on trying to make sure everyone's having fun, and giving a boost to a few people's careers.

So, live, yeah: Springsteen, forever. But what was up with his production? Up until The River all his albums had this horrible muddy sound, the only thing really cutting through was that goddamn glockenspiel.

If you like Nebraska, look on the torrent sites for the original four track recordings he did in his home studio in Colts Neck. I had no idea Pink Cadillac came out of those sessions, but sure enough, it's there, and it gets the full Starkweather treatment. Revelatory.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:05 AM on September 23, 2009


The whole $200-ticket, $50 T-shirt, 3-hour show Epic Rock Experience thing.

More like $70 to $100 ticket, $25 T-shirt.....
The only $200 Bruce tickets I have ever seen were for charity events.
posted by caddis at 11:20 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really resent that the fans have taken away my option of booing at a Springsteen concert.

I believe if you *needed* to express derision, "YOU SUCK!" is perfectly acceptable in Jersey.

It also kind of sounds like there's a herd of heifers somewhere in the audience.

Section 219, Rows J-M.

Or --

"They're not all Cougers"
posted by mikelieman at 11:22 AM on September 23, 2009


Metafilter: I'm glad I went, but I sure as hell didn't buy a t-shirt.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:24 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was at one of those christmas benefits Bruce does on the Shore each year, I think this one was at the Asbury Park Convention Center. Dude GETS YOU IN THE HOLIDAY MOOD.

It just ain't Christmas until your see/hear Bruce and the band perform their rendition of Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town. Ahhh, pure joy!
posted by amyms at 11:32 AM on September 23, 2009


Amen, amyms.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2009


After 9/11, Bruce wrote Empty Sky, a song about seeing the towers being gone from the nyc skyline from jersey looking toward the city.

Loved that whole comment, shmegegge.

But I do recall being deeply startled the first time I read My City of Ruins was written about Asbury Park (natch!) well before 9/11.

There was absolutely no deception intended by Bruce. But I was a bit flattened to think I'd been responding so emotionally to lyrics about standard urban blight in the garden state!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:57 AM on September 23, 2009


Bruce 60
Michael 51
Madonna 50

Shit! I'm getting old!
posted by stormpooper at 12:40 PM on September 23, 2009


1. The Rising from the We Are One inauguration concert. What a kickoff.

2. The Prove it All Night performance in the OP induces chills every single time and right from the beginning. Oh that guitar!

3. BTX Mp3 Index. Every bootleg you will ever want and then about 600 more.

4. Wings For Wheels, early Thunder Road version from 1975.

5. Early singer-songwriter Bruce: Henry Boy and Growing Up, The Gaslight Club, 1972

6. Cover Bruce: Not Fade Away, Capitol Theatre, 1978; I Want You, The Main Point, 1975; Trapped, Meadowlands, 1984

7. Late singer-songwriter Bruce: When You're Alone, July 24, 2005, Charlotte, NC

8. AARP! Gramps like us, amirite?
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:20 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Racing In The Street from the Passaic '78 Capitol Theater show, one of his all time classics and a favorite of Bruce bootleggers everywhere.
posted by caddis at 5:34 PM on September 23, 2009


1978 WMMS Tenth Anniversary concert at the Cleveland Agora. That show made an indelible impression on any rock listener in Cleveland in the late 70's. Shit, we didn't have much else going for us as a city then.

This show consistently makes the top of the Bruce Bootleg lists.

That show's version of Backstreets works just as good as xanax for moi, and if you listen closely after Backstreets and before they start Rosalita, you can hear someone yelling for "Freebird."

1978 was definitely Bruce's year. That version of Prove It All Night is just a stellar as the WMMS show.
posted by xena at 5:44 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was doing college radio and heard rumors about this new kid coming to town that had to be seen to be believed. This was October 19, 1974.

Did it change my life? Well, I wound up marrying the girl I took to that show.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


No Bruce thread would be complete without including a link to Bruce Sent Me, a fan initiated charity program. Bruce has devoted numerous shows to charity and has encouraged his fans to donate to many causes. This site encourages fans to donate and add the tag line that "Bruce sent me." It sounds perhaps a little cheesy, but it has generated tons of donations and their hearts are in the right place on this. I think this all got started on BTX which is the real Bruce fan site. They are the ones who throw the parties at the shows, put up fans who travel from Europe to NJ etc. It's the home of very much Bruce goodness and the people here are fun to party and hang out with as well.
posted by caddis at 6:16 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some more performances to add! Inpsired by a link from the "60 best memories of Bruce" link. Let's call this collection "Bruce Plays Well With Others."

1. In 1988, Bruce Springsteen was part of an international tour to support Amnesty International; he, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour, and Tracy Champan going all around the world -- Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and then South America. HBO broadcast clips of their final night in Argentina. The set usually featured Sting and his band second-to-last; often, Bruce and Clarence Clemons would come out to join Sting on Every Breath You Take. (Yes, that's Branford Marsalis also on sax next to Clarence.)

2. Later in the night, Sting would return the favor -- coming out to join Bruce on The River.

3. The Amnesty tour usually closed with Bruce doing "Twist And Shout," and on the last night, all the other bands came out to join him -- and the last night in Argentina was a ten-minute performance of "Twist And Shout," with a little bit of "La Bamba" thrown in. (Plus, if you ever want to see 60,000 people doing the pogo simultaneously, this is your chance.) They'd just been all around the world, and were probably exhausted, but Bruce still looks like he is having AN ABSOLUTE BLAST.

4. Bruce and U2 also seem to be pals -- Bono inducted Bruce into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Bruce returned the favor when U2 was inducted. And thus, during the jam they do at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, when U2 did one of their songs they invited Bruce out with them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Riffing off of the EmpressCallipygos' post: I present the following:

1978: Bruce and Southside Johnny singing "The Fever". Bruce was in town that night playing earlier. It was a "surprise appearance", but not really that surprising since Little Steven (fuck I'm old, I almost called him "Miami Steve" - does he even go by that anymore?) played in both bands.

Later that night, they collaborated on one of Johnny's songs too: I Don't Wanna Go Home.

And lastly, something more recent and more dear to my heart: Bruce and Mike Ness playing Social D's Bad Luck at one of Bruce's shows this April.
posted by xena at 7:09 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


While we're commenting on links:

Tribute to Joe Strummer with Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, and Steven Van Zandt: "London Calling."

I saw this when it was first broadcast; I think my jaw was on the floor by the end of the number from the sheer power of WHOAHOLYGODAWESOME, and I actually made a point of watching the Grammies for the "what ELSE do they do during the in memoriam section?" after that. Nothing else ever measured up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nice songs.

Show is too long.

I have to go home now.
posted by ovvl at 8:00 PM on September 23, 2009


In college I bonded with a guy over our mutual appreciation for Joe Grushecky and the Iron City Houserockers. (We also both loved Springsteen and saw him numerous times on The River, Born in the USA and Tunnel of Love tours.) Years later we saw that Grushecky was coming to Chicago, and my buddy called to buy tickets to the show at the Park West, only to find that they'd sold out in five minutes. Why? he asked, and the ticket person said, "Everyone found out it was a Springsteen concert." It was true. Bruce, a longtime friend of Joe's, had produced Grushecky's album American Babylon, and when the band went on tour to support the record, Springsteen went along, playing lead guitar.

We ended up buying tickets from a scalper (who was touting "Springsteen tickets!"). The Park West was packed, and my friend and were two of about a dozen people there who'd ever heard of Joe Grushecky before that night. Joe tore through his first couple of songs, and then introduced his new lead guitarist, whereupon Bruce came out. The band ripped through a two-hour set which included a Springsteen medley but was otherwise a typical houserocking Grushecky show. Bruce seemed totally in his element, just playing leads and singing backup vocals. By the end of the night I think everybody in there knew who Grushecky was. What a great night.

Bruce and Joe still regularly turn up at each others shows. If you're at a Springsteen show in Pittsburgh, most likely you'll see Joe on stage at some point.

Never Be Enough Time
Code of Silence
Glory Days
posted by stargell at 8:44 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nebraska is one of the greatest albums ever made.

Amen, and I'm not even a huge Springsteen fan.

In this age of MP3s on random shuffle, Nebraska is one of the few albums I always listen to in order and completely.
posted by rokusan at 9:03 PM on September 23, 2009


Exacty one week ago, I took my best friend (and massive Bruce fan) to show in South Carolina for her birthday. We sat in the mid-priced seats (the most expensive tickets were under $100 dollars, by the way), which were not bad--though a ways from the stage. The set was exhausting, amazing and occasionally a little hokey, but never saccharine. I don't think I've ever seen anyone work a stage like Bruce Springsteen. For three+ hours, he sang through an impressive sampling of his discography, pausing for crowd requests (including, oddly, "Satisfaction"). My favorite of these arrived on stage on the side of a cardboard sign, reading "Skipped class and drove seven hours just to hear "This Hard Land." He played it with a smile, and I'll admit to getting a little sentimental by the end, just as I'll admit to goosebumps at the opening bars of "Born to Run." Yeah, I've heard it about a million times. Grew up on it, in fact (Thanks Mom!). Still great.

Happy (late) birthday, Bruce.
posted by thivaia at 9:09 PM on September 23, 2009


Just noticed the title of the post. Good work. I'm working on a "Stay Hard Stay Hungry Stay Alive" shirt. Last show I wore my THIS TRAIN shirt. He played the song, though I don't think I had anything to do with it. Still: magical.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:56 PM on September 23, 2009


xena - I grew up listening to clips of that concert on WMMS in the 80s, and also their weekly tradition of playing Born To Run every Friday at precisely 6:00pm. There are no words to express my gratitude for your post.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:10 AM on September 24, 2009


The bullet point of these stories: Bruce is a chill, down to earth dude.

A couple friends of mine runs the annual BRUCEFEST up here in Portland, Maine. A bunch of different local bands take over a small club and do a tribute concert (they each play two or three Bruce songs). They've been doing it for several years now. I've secretly been hoping that one day the Boss will show up and play a couple, but I know he's a busy guy.

My first concert was a Bruce show. Born in the USA tour. In case you're reading, Bruce.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:27 AM on September 24, 2009


(the most expensive tickets were under $100 dollars, by the way)

Which isn't bad at all. Unfortunately, and to no fault of Bruce, it's before you add on probably $18 ticketmaster fees, plus $5 convenience charge, and if you want to print the tickets out yourself, another $2.50. Fucking ticketmaster.
posted by inigo2 at 4:34 AM on September 24, 2009


Scmheggege, I have that cd, and that story made me tear up. Springsteen's authenticity shines through like a lighthouse in that cd. The Boss, indeed.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 AM on September 24, 2009


While John Cougar Mellencamp was writing saccharine fairy tales that whitewashed the midwest

Dude, have you actually listened to Mellencamp's lyrics? I'm not saying he's as good a lyricist as Springsteen by a long shot. But I don't think he was writing saccharine fairy tales that whitewashed anything.

For decades I never understood why anyone liked Springsteen - especially musicians and songwriters. But then a folk singer friend of mine started doing covers of Springsteen songs in a stripped-down way and with a voice where you could really get what was happening lyrically and musically. And then I heard Nebraska. And then I started listening to Bruce differently. I still cannot stand the E Street Band - I think they basically ruin Bruce's songs by drowning out the brilliance with noise and over-arrangement. I would love to actually be able to hear what Bruce and Nils are playing on their guitars sometime. That would be nice.

But I now realize that Springsteen, notwithstanding all of the hype, the corporate machine, the massive concerts, etc, is one of the greatest songwriters and lyricists of the modern age. And he's really, really cool (which helps a lot).

The E Street Band is really what ruins Springsteen for me. He just needs a four-piece band. Bruce, Nils, Max, Garry. That would do just fine. Not an acoustic, storytellers sort of thing. A real rock show with a real rock band, instead of an entourage of tambourines, bells, too many 12-string guitars, organs, and who-knows-what-else.

This is a strange thing to say, but I really believe it: Bruce Springsteen is underrated.
posted by The World Famous at 9:31 AM on September 24, 2009


The World Famous: "Dude, have you actually listened to Mellencamp's lyrics?"

I have, and I hate to do this, but I'm not gonna argue about it. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons to like mellencamp, and more power to anyone who does. I'm not interested in changing my mind or anyone else's. I know it's a cowardly thing to do, to make a claim like that and not back it up or defend it. But hopefully we're all friends anyway, huh?
posted by shmegegge at 11:31 AM on September 24, 2009


No biggie. I wasn't trying to argue, and I don't want a derail about it or for you to back up or defend the claim. I respect your opinion in that regard, and I'm not really a Mellencamp fan. I just don't think of his lyrics as being saccharine fairy tales. Compared to Springsteen's lyrics, yeah, I can see your point. No argument necessary, though. In fact, the thread will be better if we don't argue about it (particularly since I suspect neither of us care enough about it to argue). I don't think there's anything cowardly about it.
posted by The World Famous at 11:34 AM on September 24, 2009


HUGS!
posted by shmegegge at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2009


The E Street Band is really what ruins Springsteen for me. He just needs a four-piece band. Bruce, Nils, Max, Garry. That would do just fine. Not an acoustic, storytellers sort of thing.

Ironically, when Bruce is introducing The Band, Clarence gets the biggest cheers.

I personally love his more rockings stuff. The River. Born in the USA. Thunder Road. Glory Days. Etc. It's some of his later stuff where the E-street band is lacking like Tunnel of Love and Devils & Dust I loose interest. Great lyricist, yes, but I still need to rock out to enjoy the music. That's one of the great things about Bruce: His musical style over the years & decades have varied quite a bit for people's different tastes to maybe find something they like.

Then again, Meatloaf being my second favorite band of all time maybe says something about my taste in music so carry on.
posted by jmd82 at 5:39 PM on September 24, 2009


Oh, I think he should rock more, not less. I just wish he would rock more with fewer extra noises on stage with him. Just getting rid of the keyboards and the saxophone would be a huge improvement.

Then again, Meatloaf being my second favorite band of all time maybe says something about my taste in music so carry on.

See, I don't think it says anything negative about your taste in music. I think there's a certain aesthetic with lots of extra instrumentation, keyboards, horns, etc. that a lot of people really dig. I just like the stripped-down sound more. It's a matter of preference, and not an absolute.

I'm just glad I eventually got past my arrangement preference so that I could realize how great Springsteen really is.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on September 24, 2009


I saw him once eating at this diner when I was a teenager. I wanted to leave him alone (I didn't even like him at that point, being very into industrial in those stupid years), but a girl I was with had a desperate crush on Mike Ness, whose solo album he had just appeared on.

So she went up to him and said, "Mr. Springsteen, what is Mike Ness like??"

And he said, "Oh Mikey! He's great!" and the two of them had a little conversation about his album. For being basically one of the biggest music stars in the world he was just an extremely nice and gracious guy, willing to indulge a teenager girl in her crush for a few minutes.

Years later I found out that Nebraska is an incredible album.
posted by deafmute at 8:10 PM on September 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


TWF, I understand where you're coming from, though I don't feel the same. For some people, rock means simple, means two guitars, bass and drums and anything beyond is too ... baroque? My cousin is convinced that Born to Run would be improved by getting rid of the glockenspiel ... For me it's the additions, though, that take Bruce to a higher plane, the way Clarence's sax is soul (music), Roy's piano, rockabilly, and the glockenspiel church bells. It's how his music feels pregnant with possibility, how his songs can encompass so much.

A friend of mine dismisses Springsteen, saying he's nothing but a bar band. I think Bruce would be happy with that. He started in bars and I think that's still where his heart is. He wants to throw the best party you've ever been to; he wants you to move. Without the sax or the organ the music wouldn't have the swing, the full sound, the points and the counterpoints. Shoot, I dunno. Let's just say Thundercrack and leave it at that?

For good measure, here he is going Jerry Lee: From Small Things. And, why not, Thundercrack acoustic.

Here are my two favorite quotes about the man and the music. These do a fair job of conveying why he is so remarkable to me:
America was staggering when Springsteen appeared. The president just resigned in disgrace, the U.S. had lost its first war. There was going to be no more oil in the ground. The days of cruising and big cars were supposed to be over. But Bruce Springsteen’s vision was bigger than a Honda, it was bigger than a Subaru. Bruce made you believe that dreams were still out there, but after loss and defeat, they had to be braver, not just bigger. He was singing ‘Now you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore,’ because it took guts to be romantic now. Knowing you could lose didn’t mean you still didn’t take the ride. In fact, it made taking the ride all the more important.

- Bono, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 1999
“Rock ‘n’ roll is, today, too big for any center. It is so big, in fact, that no single event—be it Springsteen’s tour, Sid Vicious’s overdose or John Lennon’s first album in five years—can be much more than peripheral. Writing in August 1977, Lester Bangs may have gotten it right: “We will never again agree on anything as we agreed on Elvis.”

“Rock ‘n’ roll now has less an audience than a series of increasingly discrete audiences, and those various audiences ignore each other…. In one sense, this is salutary and inevitable. The lack of a center means the lack of a conventional definition of what rock ‘n’ roll is, and that fosters novelty. Rules about what can go into a performance and, ultimately, about how and what it can communicate are not only unenforced, they’re often invisible, both to performer and audience. That rock ‘n’ roll has persisted for so long, and spread to such diverse places, precludes its possession by any single generation or society—and this leads not only to fragmentation but to a vital, renewing clash of values. We agreed on Elvis, after all, because he was the founder, because he represented the thing itself; if we will never agree on anyone as we agreed on Elvis, it’s equally true that Americans have never agreed on anyone as they agreed on George Washington.

“But this state of affairs is also debilitating and dispiriting. The fact that the most adventurous music of the day seems to have taken up residence in the darker corners of the marketplace contradicts rock ‘n’ roll as aggressively popular culture that tears up boundaries of race, class, geography and (oh yes) music; the belief that the mass audience can be reached and changed has been the deepest source of the music’s magic and power.

“The music does not now provide much evidence that this belief is based on anything like reality, and on a day to day basis this means there is no longer common ground for good rock ‘n’ roll conversation.

“To find an analogy one must imagine that many Americans who care passionately about baseball would be unfamiliar with George Brett. Bands with very broad—or at least very big—audiences continue to exist, of course, but they don’t destroy boundaries; they disguise them, purveying music characterized principally by emotional vapidity and social vagueness….

“A concert by Bruce Springsteen offers many thrills, and one is that he performs as if none of the above is true.”

- Greil Marcus, “The Great Pretender,” 1980
Thanks everybody for a great thread.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:30 AM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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