Wednesday, November 19, 2008

53. Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town

Yes, I own Bruce Springsteen albums. Quite a few of them. They are relics from another time in my life, a time when I actually liked the Boss. I was never quite as rabid a fan as my friends, who wanted to have his babies, nor I was quite a fan like my first husband, who also would have had Springsteen's babies, given the chance. I think he still would.

While I will admit that I did enjoy his music at some point, and I really did enjoy seeing him live, somewhere along the line I developed an outright disdain for the man and his music.

I'll be more honest than that: I have a personal, visceral hatred for Springsteen that goes beyond the usual "oh, he sucks" kind of hate.

I can't stand his strained voice. I can't stand his underbite and the way he grimaces when he sings. I can't stand the oh so meaningful lyrics about life as a down and out Jersey cowboy (wait, I think that's Bon Jovi).

Every song reads like the same Joyce Carol Oats short story. "Me and Janie went down to the boardwalk to talk about our lives and well, the boardwalk was kinda empty because this town is just dyin', man and me and Janie said like, yea, we gotta get out of here. This town is just gonna kill us man. We can't spend all our lives drag racin' and fuckin' and takin' long walks on the beach contemplatin' shit. And Janie's pregnant, man and her old man is gonna kick her out of the house for not lovin' Jesus enough and her momma done spent all the milk money gamblin' in Atlantic City and we just work hard, you know? We work hard, man. We put on our blue jeans and work boots and go to the factories and mills and we work our fingers to the bone and we got nuthin' to show for it 'cept teenage pregnancy and drug overdoses and depressed kids with nothin' to do and the streets are on fire baby. Let's make out."

That's not to say that Candy's Room isn't a decent song. Just that I wish it wasn't sung by him.

Favorite song: Frankie Goes to Hollywood doing Born to Run
I won't suck up to the Boss


J-Money said...

I wanted my senior yearbook quote to be "It's a town full of losers and I'm pullin' outta here to win" but for some reason the administration didn't go for it.

Carin said...

You've articulated just about perfectly how I feel about Bruce.

Except, I never liked him.

Timmer said...

Once I was a rabid Springsteen fan. Got to see him live twice, once in a small theater after The River and once in '84 in a huge outdoor amphitheater. Amazing shows. The man knows how to give you your money's worth.

I don't know when it happened, but at some point the Bono-Like self-importance began to annoy the living shit out of me. When he came out for John Kerry, that really put the nail in the coffin for me.

I own almost everything he's ever published with the exception of Nebraska...if I want Bob Dylan or Woodie Guthrie, I'll buy one of there albums. But about the only thing I ever listen to by him anymore is the live recordings from Hammersmith Odeon in London, 1975.

Candy's Room is good, but I still prefer the first album, Greetings from Asbury Park.

I've never seen Frankie perform Thunder Road before...that was great. I have friends who are going to hate me for sending them that link. Love Holly's jacket btw.

badkitty_ said...

I have only his early albums to comment on, as I don't own anything later.

When I was in college, I couldn't stand Bruce Springsteen. Just couldn't listen to a single vowel out of the man's mouth. It made my stomach churn.

That was before I started dating this guy who was in the marching band with me. He drove a classic yellow Mustang from the 60s. He had an 8-track and played Springsteen constantly.

At first, I was horrified, repulsed. It was just noise blaring from speakers. It made no sense, nor did I want it to. I looked for opportunities to escape, but then, we really did seem to spend a lot of time in that car, and no, I don't mean that kind of time.

At some point, after a few months; I don't know when, but one day as the 8-track was blaring, a light bulb came on. Suddenly the music made sense, the strained, tortured vocals made sense; Hell, it all made sense.

I listened to Springsteen with fresh ears. Suddenly I couldn't get enough of him. I wanted to hear more, and I began collecting some of his early works.

Perhaps because I stopped there and didn't continue is why I have fond memories of that time. Yes, Springsteen was a niche, but I was from a small town, and I could relate to the quiet desperation behind those songs. And I did think Springsteen could rock it.

Years later, I met the man at a Grammy's rehearsal, and tried to introduce myself. It went badly. It was clear I had violated Grammy rehearsal protocol, which was all fans check your groupie baggage at the door. I felt self-conscious for feeling like a fawning idiot. And a little resentful of Bruce for making me feel that way. On the other hand, what do I know about life as a public figure, having to deal with incessant fans? Nothing.

That was in the 90s. I still have my old Springsteen albums. I'm sure I'll play them again one day when the time is right.

My memories of Bruce involve a yellow mustard '69 Mustang convertible, and a great first year at college. Good memories, and they'll come flooding back when I play Springsteen again. And I will welcome them.

Mike said...

I love Springsteen, and this album.

I think I love his songs so much because most of them are stories.

They are like a part of American history (but on a more personal level) immortalized in song.

courtney said...

I get more excited about hearing songs from this album live than any other album of his.
And, you're so spot on about the Boss in that description; it made me laugh, and I LIKE Springsteen. I have friends who would string you up for that, and it still made me laugh. Sometimes it's funny because it's true.

I love this project, by the way.

Oh, and Timmer, I've now seen him seven times.

Timmer said...

Ya know, I'd probably take my wife and son to see him once just so they could say they saw him.

FRANKIE SAY: Born to Run you twit, not Thunder Road. And it's their not there. Michele must be torturing me in her own private grammar hell for that one.

Theodore said...

Saw Bruce touring the promotion of this album. One of my favorite concerts, and I wasn't much of a fan until then. I still don't much get into the neo-Woody Guthrie stuff (Ghost of Tom Joad et al) but when he rocks, shut up! Old or new (The Rising has simply great cuts). "Self-important?" You're projecting, man.

RR Ryan said...

The review captured my revulsion, humorously. There was the occasional pop gem: Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, Hungry Heart. Just don't pay any attention to the godawful, sophomoric lyrics. He started out as Huey Lewis and transformed himself into J.D. Salinger. At least when I hear Huey, I still smile.