Happy 66th birthday to Mr. Bruce Springsteen, the second most googled Bruce in the world (try yourself and see!).
I hope they don’t come and take away my passport but I have to admit I’m not a Bruce Springsteen fan.
I don’t even remember hearing about Bruce Springsteen before I went into the Air Force. Then, in the dormitories, with people from all corners of the USA, I noticed there was a strong affection for this rock and roller from New Jersey.
Shortly after, the album Born In The USA came out and Bruce Springsteen was everywhere! Then, the horrible 1975 – 1985 five album live monstrosity came out and you couldn’t escape Bruce Springsteen.
My east coast friends had all his records… and they played them all. the. time. My friend from Philadelphia extolled Springsteen’s virtue as a live act… “he would play for 4 hours straight!” My friend would say…
“That just sounds awful to me” I would think to myself.
I don’t know what it was. He writes poetic lyrics that are played by a rock and roll band. It sounds like something that would be right down my alley! Many of his records oscillate between “hell yeah” party rock songs and downright downer songs about some of the hardest parts of life.
It just didn’t connect with me, a middle-class kid from north Idaho.
Then, I bumped into a compilation album called Badlands: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska:
This album had tracks recorded by some of my favorite artists of the time; Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Los Lobos, Dar Williams and especially Ani DiFranco*.
The themes of this album really connected with me… so, I relented and went out and bought the Nebraska record.
This was not a New Jersey centric record! This was an American anthem! It was a dark and brooding and hopeless… but made you realize that you were NOT alone in this world. That your struggles and their struggles were similar… that YOUR USA and THEIR USA were the same place. It made me think back to the early to middle 1980s and the beginning of my black and white world shifting into the world of grey. It reminded me of the U2: Joshua Tree record.
Listening to it post 9/11, as I was, it seemed to take on even more significance.
This evening I’m listening to all my Bruce Springsteen records, some for only the second or third time. I can’t say my opinion has really changed all that much, his records just don’t speak to me like they do some people.
Maybe it will take others interpretations of the Springsteen songs to bring them into focus for me; Joan Jett doing Light Of Day, Patti Smith doing Because The Night, Manfred Mann doing Blinded By The Light or Ani DiFranco doing Used Cars.
Now that I can get behind!
*Happy birthday to you too, Ani!