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I’ve probably been a music fan since birth. A fan of actual bands
beginning around age 5, with the Beatles, and then a real fan of music,
seeking out new sounds and stories, from about 11 years old on.
For argument’s sake, let’s peg my active music fandom as being 13 years old. In the past 13 years I’ve
embraced and renounced bands, spent far too much on concert tickets, sought out rare records and have yet to
turn down a free CD from anyone who is willing to offer.
Through all this — the Beatles, Pearl Jam, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Clash, the
Replacements, Miles Davis, Husker Du, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Charles Mingus, Nirvana, the Strokes, B.B. King,
the White Stripes, oh and it just goes on and on — I never understood the Boss.
Bruce Springsteen somehow eluded me.
|This is Bruce Springsteen, and as you already knew, he's awesome.
It’s almost embarrassing. This guy sold out a
15-night run in the Meadowlands Arena in
New Jersey in 1999. He was the next Dylan.
Just about every artist and band I enjoy who
debuted after 1975 list him as a tremendous
influence. I mean, the world stops for Bruce
Springsteen. How was I missing this?
However it was happening, it happened. I had
a vinyl copy of Nebraska that I enjoyed, but I
also had a copy of Born in the U.S.A. that didn’
t do much for me. I imagine it was the latter
that pushed me the wrong way, but from there
on out I never made an effort to see what was
so special about him. The radio songs were
cool, and I really dug “Atlantic City,” but the
greatness flew past unabated.
Well, that’s all over. During the past two
weeks, I have fallen hard on Springsteen. It
came suddenly and without warning, but in
what feels like a flash I’m dying to have every
album the guy’s ever recorded. I want
bootlegs from his days in the early 70s to his
shows with the Seeger Sessions band last week. I am hooked as I could be. And it started by accident.
For the trip down to the madness that was Bonnaroo, Rachel Hodges loaded up her iPod with choice listening
material — Beck, the Hold Steady, the Flaming Lips … and Springsteen’s The Rising, interestingly enough.
For someone with just a passing interest in Springsteen, The Rising really caught my ear, “Nothing Man” and
“Countin’ on a Miracle” in particular. And with that, my interest was finally piqued.
Arriving home, I did my best to secure a couple of his albums — Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town.
As each song unfolded, be it “Backstreets,” “Jungleland,” “Badlands” or “Adam Raised a Cain,” I couldn’t help
This man is a damn genius.
Where have I been? It didn’t matter what song played, which album — I later moved on to Greetings From Asbury
Park, N.J. and The Wild, The Innocent, The E-Street Shuffle — every single song revealed a singer with brutal
and honest emotion, a songwriter with a gift for imagery and a band as tight and wild as any I’ve ever heard. The
obvious, blatant influence he’s had on nearly everyone who’s come after him was crystal clear, as was the
reason he’s able to hold residence in an arena for two weeks and watch the crowds flock.
I was stunned how he seems to move seamlessly between the epic and the subtle. For example, the same guy
that sings “Adam Raised a Cain,” an obvious arena-charger with biblical lyrics dealing with his father, also
touched on the soft ballad “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” which features the narrative, detailed lyrical touch
that caused so many of those Bob Dylan comparisons early on.
Now, plenty of people, then and now, would like to think of themselves as the next Dylan. But Springsteen just
sounds so earnest that it’s impossible to hold it against him.
And few, if anyone, did. How could they? The guy is amazing.
I’m late to the game, yes. But, after a few weeks immersed in the man’s catalog, there’s only really one more
Is there any room left on the Bruce Bandwagon?