Archive for the ‘Bruce Springsteen’ Category

>Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

23 February, 2010 Leave a comment


After two critically acclaimed, but relatively poorly-selling, albums, Springsteen felt it was make or break with this, his third release.  Famously, he wanted it to sound “…like Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan, produced by [Phil] Spector.”

Well he didn’t sound like Roy Orbison.  But then no-one sounds like Roy Orbison.

As for the rest – certainly the production was decidedly ‘widescreen’, in keeping with the cinematic nature of the songs, and the layering and complexity of the production certainly brought to mind Phil Spector.  Ironically, the Dylan comparisons that Springsteen had been saddled with in the past were less evident on this album than they had been previously, as he tightened up on the wordplay and allegory, producing a suite of songs that had a clear and consistent lyrical theme.

And that theme?  Well to these ears, it was all about breaking free of ties and constraints – leaving behind the mundane and the everyday – the “town full of losers”.  Of course breaking free is a risky business – and some of Springsteen’s characters were taking more – or at least different – risks than others.  In Meeting Across The River, the risk comes from dabbling in petty crime and perhaps biting off more than you can chew.  Elsewhere though, the risk is more about failure and disappointment – of learning that your dreams and aspirations are just that, and of being sucked back into the life you were hoping to escape.

But that’s the risk you have to take.  The genius of the album is Springsteen’s confrontation of those risks – his willingness to do what it takes and the optimism that suffuses the whole album.  He’s got his guitar and he’s learned how to make it talk – he’s gonna get to that place where they really wanna go – and walk in the sun.

Even for those characters left behind on the Backstreets – Springsteen talks of people taking their stand, working all day to blow them away in the night.

On later albums – as he grew older and perhaps wiser – Springsteen speaks of disillusionment and regret at failed dreams.  But on Born to Run, he’s at the start of the journey – getting out while he’s young – pulling out of here to win.

Here’s Thunder Road, performed on VH1 Storytellers.  And what a story it tells.  Possibly my favourite lyric ever.

Categories: Bruce Springsteen

>Back on the Interview Trail

17 February, 2010 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Bruce Springsteen – The River

Back on the interview trail last night, up in Preston (again) – when did Preston become the epicentre of the internal audit universe?  Too early for proper feedback, but I managed to stretch my 30-45 minute interview into an hour and a quarter, which may or may not be a good sign.  If nothing else, the poor bloke following me was restricted to half an hour as the building had to close at seven!


All of which meant I had to sacrifice the Everton-Sporting game, which kicked off at the ludicrous time of 5:45.  Had to listen on Radio Merseyside on the way home.  And but for ten seconds of madness with four minutes to go, it was all looking pretty good.  A 2-0 lead, with no away goals, taken to the second leg would have been fine.  As it was, 2-1, late penalty, sending off and things don’t look so clear cut – making a victory feel a bit like a defeat.  Still, we do take a lead into the second leg and so (just) have the upper hand.  Just.  Coupled with the news that Fellaini is out for the rest of the season following the horror tackle in the Derby and the Everton glass is looking more half empty than full at the moment.

Still, ManYoo at the weekend to look forward to.  No pressure there then.

Speaking of ManYoo, they managed to pull off a slightly fortuitous away win at Milan last night – after being battered for the bulk of the first half, they went in at the interval level thanks to a goal that bounced of Paul Scholes’ standing leg.  Second half they did come out fighting, and thanks to the brilliance of The Boy, took a 3-1 lead before Milan clawed a late goal back.

Advantage United for the second leg then.  Or rather advantage Rooney.  Interesting to see that Siralex is claiming The Boy as one of United’s ‘homegrown’ stars now, in the week before the game against the club that nurtured him and brought him on from the age of 9, and turned him into an England international before selling him for the best part of £25 million quid.

Think again, Alex.

Bit of Springsteen on the soundtrack today, actually the second disc of The River, Bruce’s 1980 double album.  I find The River to be a bit of a mixed bag.  Most of the slower songs and ballads are amongst Bruce’s best and most moving.  Unfortunately they are accompanied by some of the most lumpen rockers he (or anyone) ever committed to vinyl.  Cadillac Ranch, I’m a Rocker and Ramrod – I’m looking at you.

But when the album is good, it is very, very good indeed.

Here’s one of the best – Stolen Car, filmed live in 1985.

>Day 207: Anniversaries old and (relatively) new

8 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

Out and about today – I needed to go and visit the aged parents, to pick up a birthday card for Son No 2, who turns twenty tomorrow (Twenty!  Where did all that time go?).  Oh, and to swap soup – I took some of my ham and lentil down for them, only to be given some of her broccoli soup in exchange…which Mrs W immediately earmarked for her lunch at work tomorrow!

Mum and Dad are in the middle of celebrating some remarkable milestones amongst their friends and relatives at the moment – they were at an 80th birthday party over the weekend (at which my dad, like a naughty schoolboy at a wedding, gorged himself on all the food on offer and ended up awake all night with chronic indigestion) – and, more impressively, they are going to a 70th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks.  Married seventy years!  It doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?  My Aunty Edna and Uncle Teddy – must both be in their nineties by now, unless Edna was a child bride.  Married before the outbreak of the Second World War, and still both sharp as a new pin.  God bless them.

Suitably humbled, I headed off to the shops to get my own birthday card for The Boy and to get some stuff in for tonight.  Steak, chips, mushrooms and onion rings tonight, watching The Shield and Professional Masterchef – which appears to have more rounds than an old school bare knuckle fight.  Which is a good thing, in my opinion.

Otherwise, it was a quiet day all told – no more news on the job front, although none was really expected today.  Still waiting for a date for my London trip, and the competition for the Northern job was being interviewed late this afternoon, apparently.  Might hear something tomorrow, although Friday might be more likely, I guess.  Was it so bad of me to be beaming bad thoughts up the M6 this afternoon?  On Mrs W’s advice, I stopped beaming bad thoughts, and switched to ‘positive’ thoughts about myself instead.  Let’s hope it does the trick!

Listening to The Boss as I type – The Boss, Jim, but not as we know him!  The Seeger Sessions see Bruce leaving the E Street Band at home, and performing a batch of ‘Trad. Arr.’ tunes (and a couple of originals) associated with or written by Pete Seeger, the aged folkie.  So no saxophones (Matt) but plenty of accordions and banjos instead.

‘American Land’ is the one track from the album that seems to have found its way into Bruce’s regular setlist – currently as his final encore – and it’s easy to see why.  It’s a great tune, performed with Pogueish punkiness by Bruce and his cohorts and a great way to end a night out with The Boss.  See that crowd bounce!

>Day 187: It’s all Greek to me…

18 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Bruce Springsteen – Hammersmith Odeon London ’75

Two bits of ‘all Greek’ today – later on it was the Europa League game against AEK Athens, but firstly I had some IT fiddling to do. Well, I didn’t have to do it, but I had a bee in my bonnet that needed scratching. Or something.

Basically, home networking stuff. Wait, don’t go, this is interesting. Honest.

It’s been puzzling me for some time why I can use my home wireless network to access the internet from both desktop and netbook, but can’t access files from each computer on the other, or share printers, like you can on any other network. Or perhaps I could, but had never worked out how to do it.

So I had a play. A looong play, that took most of the day. But at the end of the day, I ended up with a networked printer that I can use wirelessly, and two computers that can ‘see’ each other on the network. Oh, and a single iTunes library that is accessible by two separate computers.

I’m not quite sure how I did it, and there is still some tweaking required to get all my main computer files visible on the netbook (at present it’s only ‘Public’ directories that are visible, which might be for best anyway) but the key change seemed to be giving the main computer and the netbook different names – originally they’d both been assigned the same ‘identifier’, if that makes sense.

So there you go. Told you it was interesting, didn’t I? What? Oh.

Anyway, the football. Difficult to know what to expect at home to AEK – they have a long European pedigree, and we have been playing like dogs all season. With an injury list as long as a very long arm, coupled with suspensions and ineligibilities, it had the potential to be a difficult night.

No father or nephew with me tonight, so I could make my own way there, and pick up a cheeky chippy tea on the way in as well. I wore my snide Barbour tonight (£5 at Glastonbury) and was delighted to discover that the pockets are huge, big enough to accommodate Savoury and Chips, as well as a bottle of pop. I’m sure ‘proper’ Barbour pockets are designed to hold a brace of pheasants or something – but not many of them on the mean streets of Walton.

Chippys are ace, aren’t they? And one of the few places where regional variations still exist and, indeed, flourish. For instance, I’ll bet no-one outside of the Merseyside conurbation has a clue what I’m talking about when I talk about the ‘Savoury’ – I’ve never seen them anywhere outside of Merseyside. Anyway, a Savoury is basically mashed potato, flavoured with some fish (not much) and herbs, circular, around 5-6 inches in diameter and an inch deep, battered and deep fried. It’s not a fishcake by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s its nearest culinary relative, I guess.

Anyway, the footy. First start on the left wing for Diniyar Biliyanetdinov (hereafter ‘Billy’), and Danny Gosling as an emergency right back. And a stroll in the park. Two quick goals from Billy corners – my, this lad knows how to put a cross in! and a phenomenal strike from Stephen Pienaar put us 3-0 up inside about half an hour, and thereafter it was training match stuff. Cahill substituted at half time after a daft booking, Billy worryingly limping off with what looked like a groin strain, and two sendings off (one each) – Saha walking in injury time for a daft flick at the shoulder of one of their defenders who went down clutching his face as if shot. A fourth goal from Jo gave us a comfortable win but really, AEK didn’t turn up. Will be much tougher against Blackburn on Sunday.

Lucas Neill, signed on a free, introduced to the crowd at half time. Some mutterings on the message boards, but I think it’s a good piece of business – a proven Premiership defender, no fee, one year contract, a bit more strength in depth. Wages will be obscene, no doubt, but that’s a given anyway.

Oh, and top entertainment from the AEK fans, who didn’t stop singing, dancing and showing off all game. Choreographed waving, bowing and jigging all match. Half of them probably won’t know what the final score was, but probably don’t care either. Top notch fannage.

The Boss on the soundtrack – for the first time? Can’t remember. Anyway, this from the famously hyped London concert in 1975 where ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Future’ was introduced to a sceptical UK. With the benefit of hindsight, Bruce delivered big style on the night – this is a rollicking set with some great tracks from the recently released Born To Run album and his earlier stuff, including a great (aren’t they all?) ‘Rosalita’.

After missing the Boss for years (I queued up for tickets at Manchester Belle Vue – or was it the Apollo? – in 1978 without success) I finally saw him for the first time at Old Trafford last year, when he didn’t disappoint, than of course at Glastonbury earlier this year. A performance that might just have begun to remove Son No 2’s ‘Brucie Blind Spot’ – even though he was too drunk to remember most of the set!

Bruce was, and is, an international treasure and should be cherished.

Rosalita – live in Phoenix 1978 – as one You Tube poster says, ‘This nine minutes is more cool than my whole life’.

>Day 104: Glastonbury Saturday

2 July, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s highlight: The Gaslight Anthem

Oh dear. Mobile phone problems this morning. The ‘doss everything in your sleeping bag’ solution to tent theft is fine, until you fall asleep on top of your phone, fully draining the battery in the process. The degree of charge loss was so great it proved impossible to kick-start back into action for the rest of the festival!

Never mind. Raging thirst this morning soon put right by a pint of orange juice and a coffee, followed by some kedgeree from the Goan Fish curry stall. Stomach suitably lined, it was back to the campsite to prepare for the day’s activities.

First off, it was down to the front of the Pyramid for a trio of fun bands.

Firstly, Tinariwen. This group of nomadic Touaregs play a smooth blend of desert-infused rock, played on a mix of traditional and Western instruments. Their natural home is the Jazz World stage, and they looked a bit lost on the Pyramid, although the blazing hot early afternoon sun fitted perfectly with the origins of their music. The rain of Friday morning seemed a distant memory as we frazzled in the heat. Two years ago, I’d missed Tinariwen through a combination of fatigue and bad timing, so it was good to see them this year.

So from the sublime to the (deliberately) ridiculous. The Eagles of Death Metal are a real good-time band, with a touch of the cartoon and with tongue firmly wedged in cheek. We’d seen them a couple of years ago supporting Foo Fighters in Manchester, and they didn’t disappoint today, working the crowd well, striking all the right poses and playing a succession of rockin’ good numbers. They’re not The Eagles, and they don’t play Death Metal, but my, they are good fun.

Up next – Spinal Tap. Not a real group (but you knew that, didn’t you?), they still came on and rocked the house. All the ‘hits’, special guests (Jamie Cullum and Jarvis Cocker), audience members shaking their booty during ‘Big Bottom’ (“your body fits me like a flesh tuxedo, I’d like to sink you with my pink torpedo”) and an inflatable triptych (and dancing dwarves!) during Stonehenge. What’s not to like?

Off next to the John Peel tent, stopping off only for posh hot dogs (regular hot dog for The Boy, Polish gourmet shit for me) on the way. Off to see The Gaslight Anthem, possibly the highlight of the whole festival for me. I was aware of the group, having downloaded their album from eMusic a couple of months ago on the back of some rave reviews, and a fine band they are in the studio. Live though, they were a completely different proposition – and in a good way. Tight as a gnat’s chuff, all the stage presence you could want and some rattlin’ good tunes to boot. Brilliant. And to cap it all, a special guest. On one of the smaller stages at the festival, accompanying his fellow New Jerseyites, we got Bruce Springsteen playing along to The ’59 Sound. Cue absolute mayhem! A great ‘Glastonbury Moment’ and great to see The Boss enjoying the occasion as much as the band (and the crowd). Could Bruce himself top the moment later?

Back to the campsite, listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash in the distance. Very pleasant, but I was still buzzing from The Gaslight Anthem to pay too much attention. The kids all disappeared to watch Kasabian close up, whilst I decided to recharge before going to see The Boss.

And fell asleep.

Woke up having missed the bulk of Kasabian, but in plenty of time to get down close for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Found a reasonable spot and waited for the fun to start. And it was…..good, probably better than good, but not transcendental – not a real Glastonbury moment for me. Firstly, where I was stood, the sound was awful – far too much bass, far too little guitar. Secondly, Bruce misjudged the crowd. This was a festival crowd, not a ‘Bruce’ crowd, and it needed more crowdpleasers, earlier in the set. Now that’s not to say there weren’t some wonderful moments, and Bruce worked as hard as he always does, but there’s no doubt he got the pacing wrong. Still, great versions of Thunder Road, The River and No Surrender (this time with The Gaslight Anthem guesting with Bruce) meant there were still plenty of memorable moments to cherish.

But it could have been sooo much better…..

Back at the campsite, the kids were back, and just a trifle giddy. Now I could have left them to it and quietly gone to bed (as every fibre in my body was crying out for me to do) or I could stay up and join them in a drink or two.

What was it to be?