Bruce Springsteen -The Candid Discussion

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Dr. Zoom, Apr 29, 2018.

  1. Dr. Zoom

    Dr. Zoom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Monmouth County NJ
    Couldn't have said it any better myself. They're both great. However...
    Tom Petty was a master songwriter, always came up with that great line or great hook (When George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash cite you as a "great" songwriter, you're in pretty rare company). Bruce too. Bruce hit higher highs early on, but over the course of their entire careers, Tom was better IMHO. Tom just aged a little more gracefully than Bruce. And as you point out, Pettys versatility was unparalleled. To me, nothing about Petty felt forced (a fair amount of Bruce's recent stuff has felt forced to me, esp wrecking ball). I can't recall a Tom Petty song or stage performance ever making me cringe or turning me off. He was just so natural. Still can't fathom that he's gone...
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  2. windfall

    windfall Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I think there is a lot of truth in what you say here - especially about Petty - but I do think you sell Springsteen a little short. Though I still have a fondness for some of rock mode Springsteen, more and more often I find myself seeking out solo acoustic shows, especially the Christic shows. I listen far more often to live recordings than I do the studio albums, but the LPs I keep coming back to are Nebraska, Tunnel of Love, Joad and even Devils and Dust. I think Springsteen has been a terrific songwriter. I do quite a few of his songs at gigs and open mics, and have reconstructed Thunder Road, Darkness, Incident on 57th St and Something in the Night as finger-picked ballads. I know his reputation stands largely on his marathon live shows, and those exhaustive and exhausting rocking encores, but I do hope that when all is said and done, his songs will be remembered above all.
     
  3. plynthe

    plynthe Forum Resident

    Location:
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    For me, he is a great composite of Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Van Morrison, but he never rose to the height of their best moments. On what I consider his best stuff, those influences are truly at the fore. I like the first album the best. I think Born to Run is pretty overrated. I don't find (what would be considered the solidified) E Street band to be quite worthy of their reputation (I find Vini Lopez way more interesting than Max, for example, and no saxophonist will ever endear a band to me, sorry Big Man). Most of the stuff after those albums lives on a spectrum of boring and shamelessly trendy to completely embarrassing- yeah, everything from Born in the USA to Outlaw Pete (a great textbook case of when you're too "respected" to have people tell you no).

    Nebraska is an album I almost love. I certainly think it's worthy of the hype it gets, as it's so different from the stuff he had been doing and it represents if not an extremely pioneering effort, at least a bold one. It's no surprise that he sort of accidentally made what might just be his best album.

    That said, studio albums aside, the Live at the Main Point recording is tremendous. It's an amazing document of the best bar band that will ever be. I get the impression that he's extremely hard working, but IMO, he's a talented craftsman.
     
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  4. plynthe

    plynthe Forum Resident

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    May I never deserve a hell so depraved and harrowing as hearing a Tom Petty lullaby.

    And you're right, Nebraska does feature too much vein popping screaming.
     
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  5. Bill

    Bill Senior Member

    Location:
    Eastern Shore
    If it's irony you want, watch The Searcher, the recent HBO two-part documentary on Elvis' career, which makes the obvious point that Colonel Parker prevented The King from reaching his artistic potential by making self-serving safe management decisions for a trusting Elvis that not coincidentally made Tom, a closeted illegal alien, a very wealthy man. Then realize that the film was produced by Jon Landau, and directed by Thom Zimny, with extensive learned observations by Landau and by Bruce. Substitute an endless series of largely empty, horrible sounding post-Tunnel of Love albums for Harem Scarum, Clambake and the like, and it hits you smack in the face. I'll take the first two Springsteen albums and early live performances over a $650 a ticket, never-ending run of a Broadway show or songs like Queen of the Supermarket or Cowboy Pete (now also available as a children's book "written" by the Boss) any day. I used to drive for hours to trade cassettes for one of a lost studio treasure or live show, often capturing lightning in a bottle, like an nth generation dub of Roulette, the Fever, or Murder Incorporated or a Steel Mill or 1975 Bottom Line show. In contrast, I've passed on the last few albums and DVDs. Maybe I just got old. I don't know, but enjoy the pool, Jon. Somewhere Mike Appel is reflecting over what might have been. Me too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  6. windfall

    windfall Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I dunno, they're not that bad



    Tom Petty ~ Square One (live) ♥
     
  7. Picca

    Picca Forum Resident

    Location:
    Modena, Italy
    Springsteen calls 'losers' his audience, and they love him. Very strange. If I was one of his roadies I'd say 'bring your amplifier on stage by yourself, winner' and I'd quit.
     
  8. windfall

    windfall Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    ??
     
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  9. Olompali

    Olompali Forum Resident

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! Neither Springsteen or the (latter day w/Garcia) Grateful Dead deserve comparison or come close to what The Beach Boys devolved into....
     
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  10. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    I agree with what you say - he did give up the road for nearly eight years to raise kids and later he took his sons to shows they were interested in as did Bruce. One of the stories from Bruce’s book I liked was when one of the musicians in a band his son wanted to see had lyrics from “Badlands” tattooed on him. Similarly, Jakob Dylan told the story on Spectacle of seeing The Clash in 1982 and going backstage, telling Joe Strummer he dug his jacket and Strummer giving it to him only for Sara to later throw it out not knowing its significance. But my point would be this. Bruce has kept his family together partly due to sacrifices he made in terms of his art. When he made Darkness, he and the band worked on it constantly because no one had a significant other but those days are long gone. I think when Bob’s marriage to Sara failed he dedicated himself more towards his career and I can respect that but it doesn’t work as a role model for me personally - my family always comes before my career but, then again, my career ain’t that great.
     
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  11. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    No, Tunnel of Love received rapturous reviews across the board, at least from serious critics. I can see the likes of People magazine not liking it because it wasn’t BIUSA Part 2, but I don’t recall any negative reviews.
     
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  12. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I can think of several high points in Springsteen’s work over the past 15 or so years. I wish there were more of them, but I will take what I can get.
     
  13. Duke Fame

    Duke Fame Sold out the Enormodome

    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    You're both taking what I said literally. Some people got it, some didn't.
     
  14. twistandshout

    twistandshout Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Thanks Windfall for posting that Petty song link "Alright for Now" - one of the most beautiful songs (lullaby) - and shows the versatility of Petty.
     
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  15. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I love them both, and can’t deny Petty’s talents as a vocalist and a conjurer of melodies, but I would never place him on the same plane as Springsteen as a lyricist. Bruce’s songs - the best of them - have a literary quality that has given him a prestigious standing in American letters, which isn’t something that many other songwriters with his level of commercial success have achieved. There’s an intellectual and sociological heft to his work that elevates him above Petty and most of his other peers (not Dylan, obviously). He also appeals to a different audience, I think, at least in part.
     
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  16. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I think Springsteen is one of the best songwriters rock music has ever produced and he's had a great late career period. Late career album Magic is wonderful. Wrecking Ball is wonderful. There are mid career albums that are wonderful -- The Ghost of Tom Joad probably is the album that features the best greatest storytelling writing of his career. The collection of songs that comprise Lucky Town are as good as the songs on any Springsteen album. And there are individual songs scattered on other projects in the second half of Springsteen's career that are as good as or better than anything done in his classic period -- I'm thinking of things like "Hunter of Invisible Game," and "Secret Garden" and "Blood Brothers," all of which would make a list of my favorite Springsteen songs.

    I think the idea that some how Springsteen made a bunch of great music and stopped is completely wrong.

    That said, I do think for performing artist in pop genres, it's pretty typical for a performer to have a period of peak popularity, usually in his or her early or mid '20s through his or her early 30s, when that person is establishing a personal style, and is lucky enough to have caught some kind of zeitgeist and road the crest of that to popularity, success and influence. And that becomes the period thought of as that artist's classic period and everything else they do gets compared to that.

    Typically after that they have career after that where they're no longer as popular, where they're working in their personal style but the zeitgeist has moved on from it, and because the new music is not made or received with the same sense of discovery, it's evaluated by some in some kind of context. For whatever reason, that seems to be the arc of popular opinion about pop music performers.

    But I don't think it always leads to a fair or accurate assessment of the artist's works. Like, for me, Lucky Town and The Ghost of Tom Joad and Magic and Wrecking Ball are all at least as good as The River or Tunnel of Love -- both of which have some of Springsteen's best writing on them but which are spotty on the whole -- or Greetings from Asbury Park -- which is a good album but has an awkward sounding quality. I listen to all four of those second-half albums more than I return to anything other than BTR or The Wild & the Innocent from Springsteen's "classic" period.
     
  17. adm62

    adm62 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Petty was very good, but nowhere near Springsteen's class as a songwriter or performer. For those of you dismissing his post Tunnel of Love career completely I will say he has remained a compelling live performer for the last 20 years and the released albums are generally decent if somewhat uneven. Here is your cut out and keep guide to them. Marks out of 5:

    Human Touch **
    Lucky Town ***1/2
    Greatest Hits ***** (includes new material)
    The Ghost of Tom Joad ***1/2
    Tracks **** (includes unreleased 90s material)
    The Rising ****
    Devils and Dust ****
    The Seeger Sessions ***
    Magic ***** (in his top 5 ever)
    Working on a Dream **
    Wrecking Ball ***1/2
    High Hopes **

    Also in that time a number of archive releases that are pretty excellent. Effectively including complete new albums that were never released at the time. We also have a monthly archive live release that has included many wonderful shows and there are quite a few from this century that stand up to the classic E St Band era.

    Those expecting him to equal the 73-87 era. It was never going to happen for many reasons already stated in this thread.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  18. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I'd argue the opposite. I hated the book. And I'm an enormous Springsteen fan. It's funny to call a memoir too self-involved, but that's the way that book felt to me -- like spending hours with a self-obsessed guy obsessing about himself, like sitting in on a guy's therapy sessions. It had nothing really to say to the outside world, unlike, say Keith Richard's memoir which placed his personal life in the context of his times; or Dylan's memoir which may have been a work of fiction but was full of brilliant language and insight. Springsteen's memoir was a ponderous, self-obsessed bore.
     
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  19. Jack o' the Shadows

    Jack o' the Shadows Live and Dubious

    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    Cohen, Waits and Pollard are the only ones who imediatly spring to mind.
     
  20. OptimisticGoat

    OptimisticGoat Everybody's escapegoat....

    I agree. I love the “classic period” but I am over reading these “dropped the ball” assessments of the later catalogue. There is only one Darkness. Only one Nebraska. Etc. If Bruce did not stop writing about loners in cars on highways with difficult lives and move on to broader themes (as he has) he would have been a nostalgia act 20 years ago. As it is he is one of the few rock artists who has continued to produce relevant and new material for a mass audience and to improve and expand his catalogue throughout. Even the detractors acknowledge this but say “it’s not as consistent”. I agree but it is great. Ghost is possibly his best album. Magic is right up there. His live shows are unbelievable. It took me 20 years to see a redeeming feature in Factory. I still can’t see any redeeming feature in about 25% of The River. I admire him for the movement and for the persistence still throwing up diamonds.
     
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  21. OptimisticGoat

    OptimisticGoat Everybody's escapegoat....

    You would be in the minority with that view. I have not read a better rock biography and the voice screamed authenticity (although I will concede it was a careful and selective memoir). It sits very well against the other books about Springsteen.
     
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  22. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Yes, my opinion is a minority one, but I feel it quite strongly, and I've read a lot of rock memoirs. I also don't have any interest in or concern with "authenticity," in fact, I don't think authenticity exists in performing arts. It's all an act. I pay no attention to questions of authenticity. I just thought it was a trying grind of a read, regardless of genre.
     
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  23. OptimisticGoat

    OptimisticGoat Everybody's escapegoat....

    I hear you but I look for authenticity in artists and am pleased when I find it. Perhaps good acting pleases me. It’s ok either way. I think reducing it all to an act makes it meaningless IMHO.
     
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  24. Dr. Zoom

    Dr. Zoom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Monmouth County NJ
    I loved the book, but this Broadway thing strikes me as one giant exercise in self-involved navel-gazing. Hes grown very fond of his own "story", which he now recites five nights a week. Too bad, there's some pretty important stuff going on in the outside world right now.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
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  25. Dr. Zoom

    Dr. Zoom Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Monmouth County NJ
    I loved the book, but I see your points, esp compared to Keith and bobs books
     

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