Wednesday 1 July 2009

Bruce Week Part 2: Secret Origins Of A Springsteen Fan

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going
Everybody's got a hungry heart

I think the first Springsteen song I was ever really aware of was Hungry Heart from The River. It stood out at the time when the big trends in UK pop music were the remnants of the New Wave, the Ska revival and the New Romantic scene. Hungry Heart was almost like a lost garage track from the '60s with its big chorus and keyboard motif, not to mention the full-throated roar of the singer. I thought this guy might be worth checking out in the future.
An older friend leant me a stack of old vinyl LPs ( Hawkwind, Eno, King Crimson, mostly hippy stuff ) amongst which was Greetings From Asbury Park NJ. But this Bruce Springsteen seemed like a totally different artist: the vocals seemed to be at the wrong speed, the songs were overly wordy and the band sounded half-hearted. Ho hum. So I moved on to the works of Adam Ant and forgot about Bruce.
A few years later Springsteen's popularity hit its mega-platinum sales peak with the Born In The USA album. I quite liked the songs but was turned off by the all-American, headband-wearing image. As a cocky, wannabe teen punk I had developed an irrational anti-American bias, regardless of the fact that most of my favourite films, authors and comics were American. ( Kids, eh?..... I got over it. )
Another few years later and I heard Jungleland from Born To Run on Radio One, late one night. It sent shivers down my spine: the drama, the doomed romanticism, the awesome sax solo. I tried my luck with a second-hand vinyl copy of BTR and was hooked. I went out and got all the Bruce albums I could get my hands on, even Greetings... which didn't turn out to be that bad after all. It took me about 12 years to become a card-carrying Bruce fanatic and, unlike some more instant but superficial musical obsessions, this is one that's here to stay.

Soundtrack: The River ( album ) by guess who?


Darius Whiteplume said...

"Greeting..." has some great songs, but is very Bob Dylan like lyrically. My favorite from that album is "The Flood." Some of his albums take a while to work on me. I have not really gotten into "The River" though I have had it for a while.

The box set has a DVD concert of BS&tESB at the Hammersmith Odeon. Very cool.

Simon B said...

The River does feature a lot of samey mid-tempo rockers that probably work better live. But you also get some of the most sensitive songs of Bruce's career like the title track, Fade Away and the haunting Stolen Car.

Yeah, that Hammersmith Odeon gig looked amazing. But what's up with that woolly hat The Boss was wearing?

Darius Whiteplume said...

He looks like a homeless guy hanging out with a bunch of pimps :-) I'll have to give The River a good listen soon.

Tony said...

You must be my long lost brother! Both of us fans of Springsteen and Steranko. I really enjoyed your review of the first time you saw him live and discovering his music. I can remember all the hype surrounding him in 1975, and it was too much, so whenever I would hear "Born to Run" I would tune-out. In those days we still had "album orientated" rock radio stations and they would play all these pre-BTR songs that I was starting to fall in love with, like Incident on 57th Street, Rosalita and New York City Serenade. I finally bought The Wild the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle and I was hooked! I was lucky enough to see him on his grand 1978 tour in Montreal.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Tony - E Street Shuffle is one of my favs.

Tony said...

The River is only half-great. For some reason he included a lot of lame "funny" rockers. The best songs are The River, Independence Day, Point Blank, Stolen Car, Wreck on the Highway and Drive All Night.

Simon B said...

Thanks for commenting, guys!

Tony, thanks for the kind words. It must have been amazing to see the E-Street Band back in the day! Was that the Darkness tour?

Tony said...

Yes, it was the Darkness tour. Tickets were $8.00 !


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