There's More to Life Than Knitting!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #4: Bruce Springsteen

Yeah, I know, I picked someone who has a new album out, so it's predictable. Well, sure, but I started this to write about whoever was causing wonder in my life each Wednesday. To remind myself weekly that there IS wonder in my life, every danged week. And folks, he's it this week.

(Yeah, yeah, I know he has a funny do lot of my faves...I like Dylan, too...and I know that he's no longer "mainstream" if he ever was. Everyone's taste is different, which is why there are so many artists to choose from!)

It was a rare privilege to listen to Working on a Dream for the first time as I drove Beccano to guitar practice yesterday. We both enjoyed listening to all the "stuff" that goes on in an E Street Band CD (wow, what a bass line...hey, that's a supermarket checkout beep...goodness, there's a chorus hiding in the background...Mom, are those bells?). Then we talked to Dan the guitar shop owner, who agreed that a Springsteen concert IS a religious experience. I got to hear the rest of the CD at home with Lee, and that was good, too. Sharing the love...

Bruce Springsteen has been an important part of my life since I was 17 years old, so I've had a lot of chances to feel wonder--why not honor it today when I just listened to some music in a style that never grows old with me?

The first time I saw him live was my first real "date" with my High School Boyfriend. He'd introduced me to the album, which blew us both away. We spent many hours memorizing it as we did our hormonal teen activities. But, that evening...I remember so much of it. We ate at the Lov'n Oven pizza place. I spilled sauce on my white pants. We drove to Miami, me hoping Bruce wouldn't see my pants in the audience (it was dark, no problem). We listened. At that point, in 1975, you could SEE performers at rock concerts. We weren't all that far from the band. And it was loud. And in between he talked. Mesmerizing. I remember the smells (mmm, pot and cigarettes, INDOORS...not a highlight for this nonparticipant). And I remember driving home and getting rear-ended at a stop sign, 'cause the kids in the car behind us were high and didn't see it. The car was OK, so we kept going, but no doubt some of my adult neck issues stemmed from that little case of whiplash!

We saw him a few more times over the years. Every time was wonderful. I am sure he has memories as good as mine--we both loved rock so much, and this was our pinnacle (OK, I share it with the Who--which we saw twice, once after we broke up, even). I didn't need drugs when listening to that music. The densely layered sound with those deep grumbling bass and sax sounds and those tinkling piano and guitars...that took me to my happy space all on its own. Still does.

When I was a college freshman, The River came out. I sure was glad. I slept in a bunk bed above a girl who coughed and spit all night (when she wasn't out doing every fraternity member at the school). I am a light sleeper. I listened to side 2 of The River every night to get to sleep. The song "Drive All Night," which was long, loving and repetitive, put me to sleep. "I would drive all night again, just to buy you some shoes..." Thanks, Bruce. I still cry when I hear that song...not a greatest hit, just something that impacted me.

As Bruce moved into his "dry" period, I mean, the solo years, the music didn't put me into that trance like the wall-of-sound E Street Band stuff did, but I learned a lot about song structure, politics and conviction from the music. More important, I saw how Springsteen did not make a big deal out of his political and social beliefs. He just LIVED them. Later, when he finally started talking more, I was really touched to learn how much we have in common in how we feel about issues, family, love and life. Heck, I just saw a photo of the warm, comfortable and slightly cluttered room he writes in. It looks like a room I'd decorate, and in it is my favorite Stickley chair, too!

Have you ever been disappointed to learn a favorite artist had beliefs that you disagree with, or that a favorite actor/politician made a lot of bad choices (can you say Clinton, Edwards...? I can.)Bruce has not disappointed me. Even when he married the starlet and they got divorced, I understood. It has to be so hard to be suddenly THAT famous. You do things you are expected to starlets, hang out with the rich and famous, turn on your old friends...but Springsteen didn't stick with that stuff. He still has his friends from his youth (where would he be without Miami Steve?), he values his family and prioritizes them over so much, even with his incredible touring schedule. And he is true to himself. He makes the music that's in him, not what a label says to make.

There's a nice article on him in the current Rolling Stone, the one with him on the cover. It's worth reading, especially reading how he treats his band members. He treats people like they'd want to be treated. And you know, that right there is enough to instill wonder in me.

Who are your musical wonders? Who takes you to your happy space? Beccano says Radiohead does it for him: "They have all those layers, too, Mom." I'm glad he has that music, and hope it stays with him always, like Thunder Road does for me. Want me to sing it for you right now? No? OK. Go read something else now.


Rolling Stone issue 1071

Bio on Wikipedia
Backstreets Magazine: All Bruce, all the time!
Fairly Balanced Review of Working on a Dream (as usual, people either love it or hate it)


Tina said...

Ben Folds (his solo stuff more than with Ben Folds Five, but all of it is amazing) and The Mountain Goats.

Suna said...

I know Tuba Boy has some Ben Folds. I will go listen.