Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Beyond the bathroom reading

Ace Frehley played at our local Memorial Day weekend festival on Friday night. I didn’t go. Didn’t want to stand for a few hours on a staggeringly hot evening. Besides, I’ve seen him twice already. Each time I was pleasantly surprised.

When KISS played in Milwaukee in 2000, Ace was a much better guitarist than I expected. “Astonishingly good,” I told a friend.

Likewise when I saw him at another summer festival in 2012. “Ace Frehley still one of the best guitarists I’ve seen live,” I posted to Facebook back then. That also was the night when Ace urged fans not to drink and drive, then laughed and said “This next song’s about alcohol.” His encore was “Cold Gin.”

A year earlier, in 2011, Rolling Stone put out “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” a so-called “special collectors edition.” I picked it up, probably as vacation reading. It has long since made for excellent bathroom reading.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to see 14 of that group of 100 great guitarists. In order of their ranking on that Rolling Stone list, they are Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Derek Trucks, Neil Young, Buddy Guy, Angus Young, Brian May, Stephen Stills, Joe Walsh, Slash, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and Lindsey Buckingham.

Of that group of 14, Chuck Berry, Angus Young, Brian May, Bonnie Raitt and — believe it or not — Lindsey Buckingham wowed me most.

There are, of course, other guitarists I’ve really enjoyed seeing. Perhaps they’re among the next 100 greatest guitarists. Or not. Here are three.

Ace Frehley is one. David Lindley, who plays a bunch of stringed instruments in his world music-tinged shows, is another. Then there’s Steve Stevens, who’s best known as Billy Idol’s guitarist. But he also plays a mean Spanish and flamenco guitar. That was something to see and hear. Who’d have thought?

However, the only Steve Stevens cut I have is his 1998 version of “Do You Hear What I Hear,” the familiar holiday song. It starts out gently and pleasantly enough, but devolves into shredding. So we’ll pass on that.

We’ll leave you with something in Stevens’ adventurous spirit. I picked up this record at the wonderful Mill City Sound in Hopkins, Minnesota, last summer. It’s a highly recommended digging spot if you’re in the Minneapolis area.

“A Hard Day’s Night,” Sonny Curtis, from “Beatle Hits Flamenco Guitar Style,” 1964.

This is the same Sonny Curtis who was in the Crickets. The same Sonny Curtis who wrote “I Fought The Law.” The same Sonny Curtis who wrote “Love Is All Around,” the theme to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

He was 27 when this, his first LP, was released in 1964. It’s a fun listen.

 

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Filed under May 2018, Sounds

The visitors at church

“Oooh, how was it?” was the first thing everyone wanted to know after we saw our first Bruce Springsteen show on Thursday night in Milwaukee.

My friend Doug has preached to me about Springsteen since 1978. His email arrived late Friday morning. The subject line: “Bruce review?” His only question: “You gonna follow him around the country now — a groupie?”

“Ah, wouldn’t go that far,” I told Doug. “But gotta see one of the great performers of our time.”

Many of my friends are Springsteen fans, and I understand and appreciate their passion for The Boss. Doug saw Springsteen in St. Paul on Monday night, and were all of us younger, he’d almost certainly have been in Milwaukee with us on Thursday night. I’m delighted for my friend Rob, who again scored a great seat and got a high-five from Springsteen as he left the Bradley Center stage and waded into the crowd during the early part of the show.

But as I’ve written before, I don’t share their passion for Springsteen. I don’t have any Springsteen records, much to our son’s chagrin.

So, to everyone who asked me — a casual Springsteen fan — what I thought about my first Springsteen show, I said …

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It was like visiting church.

You’re among friendly people who know all the songs, all the words, all the chants, all the rituals. They know the drill. You, however, know only some of the songs, only some of the words, and have only a vague sense of what to expect.

My friend Doug, ever savvy when it comes to Springsteen, felt for us, saying: “This was not a good starter concert because of ‘The River.’ Limited the greatest hit segments.”

I’d hoped to hear more covers, but so it goes. Having to do all 20 songs on “The River” LP necessarily limits the rest of the show. Were I more savvy, I’d have realized that hearing “Jungleland,” apparently added to the set list on the fly, was a big deal.

No complaints, though. Delighted to have seen what was by all accounts a typical Springsteen show, lasting more than three hours with no breaks. Enjoyed hearing “Because The Night,” long one of Janet’s favorite songs.

Well, one complaint. Who goes to a Springsteen show, then talks throughout the entire thing? The two Illinois couples behind us, that’s who. Just random shit and running commentary all night long, in flatland voices that pierced through the noise. Would you just SHUT UP? You aren’t at home watching TV, folks.

Springsteen in Milwaukee was good. Paul McCartney in Milwaukee was better.

But we’d go see Springsteen again. Next time, though, we’ll go with Doug.

The set list from Milwaukee on March 3, 2016:

“Meet Me in the City,” “The Ties That Bind,” “Sherry Darling,” “Jackson Cage,” “Two Hearts,” “Independence Day,” “Hungry Heart,” “Out in the Street,” “Crush On You,” “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch),” “I Wanna Marry You,” “The River,” “Point Blank,” “Cadillac Ranch,” “I’m a Rocker,” “Fade Away,” “Stolen Car,” “Ramrod,” “The Price You Pay,” “Drive All Night,” “Wreck on the Highway,” “Badlands,” “No Surrender,” “Lonesome Day,” “Because the Night,” “Jungleland,” “The Rising,” “Thunder Road,” “Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” “Shout.”

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Filed under March 2016, Sounds

Asbury Park, 854 miles that way

It’s all over Facebook and Twitter today. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” LP was released 40 years ago today, on Aug. 25, 1975.

Many of my friends are Springsteen fans, and I understand and appreciate their passion for The Boss. I just don’t share it, at least not with that intensity.

I vividly remember when Springsteen was the hottest thing in music, making the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week. That came in late October 1975, a couple of months after “Born To Run” came out.

That was during the first semester of my freshman year of college, when I was stepping out into the world on my own for the first time. Into that new world came that new sound. I remember thinking: So this is what music is like now.

springsteen born to run lp

But at 18, I just wasn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate it all.

As you might imagine, Springsteen sounded like nothing else we’d heard in central Wisconsin. The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, was 854 miles from where I lived. It might as well have been halfway around the world.

At the time, I still viewed music largely through the prism of the radio. In the Midwest, Springsteen’s R&B-influenced Jersey Shore rock seemingly wasn’t suited for anything but free-form FM radio, which by late 1975 was starting to fade from the scene. So we didn’t hear a lot of Springsteen, save for the occasional album cut.

Wanting to be sure I wasn’t remembering it wrong, I checked some of the Wisconsin radio charts from that time. There’s no sign of “Born To Run,” the album or the single.

It wasn’t until after those Time and Newsweek covers came out that Springsteen even registered on the charts at Chicago’s WLS, whose playlist often influenced what other Midwest stations played. Even then, “Born To Run” lasted only two weeks on the WLS album charts. At year’s end, “Born To Run” wasn’t among WLS’ Big 89 songs of 1975.

None of my friends were Springsteen fans. Until I met my friend Doug in 1978, that is. He tried to get me to dig Springsteen in the late ’70s. He tried hard. We met halfway, on another member of the extended Springsteen family. I’ve long enjoyed Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. But I’ve never seen Springsteen live, nor do I have any of his records, much to my son’s chagrin.

Over time, though, I started digging covers, first by others doing Springsteen songs, then by Springsteen doing others’ songs. Here are a couple of those.

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“From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come),” Dave Edmunds, from “D.E. 7th,” 1982. It’s out of print but is available digitally. This song, an outtake from “The River” sessions, was given to Edmunds by Springsteen in 1981. Springsteen’s version wasn’t released until 2003.

Springsteen covered “War,” the Motown classic that’s one of my all-time favorites, during his Born in the U.S.A. Tour in 1985.

 

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Filed under August 2015, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 26

As promised, we’ve put three under the tree to fulfill some of your requests.

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“Santa Baby,” Eartha Kitt, 1953, available on the “Elf” soundtrack, 2003. As are a bunch of other swell Christmas tunes by Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Brian Setzer, Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel. A delightful collection. “Santa Baby” also is available on “Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits: 1935-1954.”

We got more than one request for this naughty Christmas tune, including one from the lovely Janet. We’re celebrating our 30th Christmas together.

Update, three days later: Eartha Kitt died on Christmas Day. She was 81. Here is a wonderful story about lunch with Miss Kitt from the Washington Post, an appreciation of her life from the Chicago Tribune and a photo gallery from the Los Angeles Times.

rnrxmascd

“I Believe In Father Christmas,” Emerson, Lake and Palmer, 1974, from “A Rock ‘N” Roll Christmas,” 1995. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

Our old pal Hose asked for this one. I’m not sure whether this is Greg Lake’s original solo version or a subsequent version with the band. It’s billed this way on the CD, so there you go.

The Hose also asked for “Deck The Halls With Boston Charlie,” a jazz spoof done by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross in the late ’50s or early ’60s. I don’t have it, but our friends over at Star Maker Machine posted that last week.

veryspecialxmascd

“Merry Christmas Baby,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, 1980, from “A Very Special Christmas,” 1987. Recorded live on Dec. 31, 1980, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Our old pal Doug earlier requested “Christmas In Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. from this album, which we delivered on Day 19. He also requested “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by U2 from this album. Doug explains:

“You probably are aware that all of these songs are found on Vol. 1 of ‘A Very Special Christmas,’ the first in the series (benefitting) Special Olympics. It is played each and every Christmas morning in (our) household when opening presents.”

Well, for a tradition like that, I think we can grant Doug a second request.

Speaking of “A Very Special Christmas” — an album I got from my sister-in-law, who teaches physical education for special education kids — it’s become the standard aganst which all contemporary Christmas rock compilations are judged. Few measure up. Certainly not any in the rest of the “Very Special Christmas” series, even though they have their moments.

This is the fourth time this year we’ve hit up “A Very Special Christmas” for a tune. We easily could have grabbed three or four more tunes. Yeah, you hear it a lot, but it’s that good.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Halloween with the Jersey Devil

If you were here last Halloween, you know Halloween is not my thing.

But I don’t want you coming to my door and going away empty-handed.

I received this note this morning:

So please knock on Mr. Bruce Springsteen’s door and download “A Night With The Jersey Devil” into your trick-or-treat bag.

It’s a blues dirge appropriate for the day.

The tune and its video will be posted there until late Sunday night.

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Filed under October 2008, Sounds