I was the guest of music historian (some say ‘guru’ and aren’t that far off) Scott Hudson on his podcast “The Ledge” this week. We talked about the new book and I programmed a list of 22 live songs from the European tour as part of the broadcast. Check out the tracklist, listen or download now.
“Steven is the part of my brain that always wants more.. More…louder…”
— Backstreets Magazine (@backstreetsmag) October 17, 2012
Many words will be written about this night in its entirety, but right now I just want to talk about the highlights for me, personally. I was up in the balcony, which had to be 80% die-hard Southside fans, if not more, reminding me of the old adage that you can tell a Southside fan because they hope that Steve (not Bruce) will show up.
I was never a Southside diehard, I owned the records and loved seeing the Jukes live, but it was just not my thing as much as it was for some of my friends. But I loved the songs — who wouldn’t love those songs? — and one of my favorite parts of E Street history is the story about Steve singing the parts to the horn section and Bruce saying, “He’s hired.” (When I got to watch him conduct the horn section at the Carousel House, it was about as close as I would ever get to witnessing that live.)
Pete Townshend with Jann Wenner, Barnes & Noble Union Square, 10/9/12
As part of the promotional go-round for Townshend’s biography, Who I Am, he made a stop at Barnes & Noble this evening for a Q&A, with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner in the interrogator’s seat. Pete could have been crabby or it could have been the two of them congratulating each other on how great they are, but it was a genuinely thoughtful, solid 45 minutes of conversation–followed by two songs performed solo acoustic, and then Pete sat and signed books for everyone (including the people who didn’t get into the Q&A and were standing outside for hours. I would not have done that).
Based on questions I have answered over the years, I decided to put together this list of important Springsteen-related sites in New York City. You could do this in a couple of hours. You also don’t have to do all of them. These are the top highlights I can think of as well as things I have been asked about over the years.
I know everyone loves traipsing around Asbury Park with organized tours. You might think that it is complicated or difficult or even a little scary to visit Asbury Park on your own, but nothing could be further than the truth. You do not need a car, you just need time, since the train (which leaves from Penn Station on 33rd Street in Manhattan) takes a little while. It’s not a bad train ride, but not particularly interesting or scenic. You’ll change at Long Branch. Once you get to Asbury Park, everything is walkable and it’s perfectly safe.
Bruce walked onstage all by himself and began the show with a solo acoustic “Factory” (dedicated for Labor Day), and I started to get goosebumps. Every show I have been to recently where he has begun the night in this fashion has always been off the charts. Bringing the band on next and pushing these dirty, snarling noises out of the guitar could only have been “Adam Raised A Cain,” and the flame was lit here for real. I am somewhat of a connoisseur of this particular number (some might say obsessed) and I am personally not sure he could ever play “Adam” unless he meant it; it would feel hollow, empty, forced. You have to imbue it with the tension and heat that was there when it was written. The horns were in on this, too, as well as Curtis and Cindy, and although if you’d asked me in advance how I felt about that, I would have told you that I would have preferred “Adam” straight up, it just added to the texture, gave the song additional depth.
No matter what else changes in the world, Philly remains Philly in the Springsteen pantheon. The day started with the GA line cordoned off directly next to the field, where we could hear “None But The Brave,” “The Twist,” and “Love Train.” Then we were lined up along the concourse inside the ballpark while Bruce and the band completed their soundcheck. (The lateness of the soundcheck probably prompted the likely record-breaking 4 profanities uttered on either side of the words “New Jersey Turnpike” later in the show.) We heard the now-trademark Nils’ whirring that opens “We Take Care of Our Own” which is about what I expect to hear in a soundcheck. But what I didn’t expect to hear in a soundcheck was — I’m sorry — mother-effing COUNTY FAIR. Or “TV Movie” which I didn’t tweet at first because I was sure I had the title wrong – this couldn’t be – no, it was – “TV Movie.” (Bruce saying, “You’ve just witnessed the only performance of this song by the E Street Band” and he was right.)
The edit of the song RUINS the song completely. It chops it up and ruins the momentum and grace. Plus the need to literally put trains in the beginning of the song… well, it’s typical MLB to do something so lowest common denominator, but I can’t believe that Bruce approved it.
It is one way to get your music in front of a new audience.
The worst part is seeing a MLB logo superimposed on Roy Bittan’s piano and a Springsteen song turned into a commercial for the Yankees.
The girls in the front row at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are gazing up at Brian Fallon, singing every word back at him.
There were no men in the audience doing the same thing? Because at most Gaslight shows I go to, the entire audience is singing every single word back at the band.
And what were the men in the audience looking at? Were they reading their email or something?