When I think of America and it’s music, many things come to mind… The Beach Boys, Jazz, John Phillips Souza, The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, and of course Bruce Springsteen.
I think about the music of the working man, the Jersey Shore, the music of hope and freedom. I think of the controversy surrounding Reagan using “Born in the USA” during his 1984 campaign, and his misunderstanding of that song. It is, of course, an anthem, but on a very different level. That is what makes Bruce so special.
I think about the soldiers fighting for our freedoms, and how truly blessed we are to be Americans. I do not take that lightly. We are free, and we must make sure everyday, that in the face of all that is going on, all that the terrorists want to take away, that we do not deny ourselves that freedom.
Today, as I am already drenched in sweat from what is going to be a scorcher, I feel pride in our neighborhood’s parade… Cars and dogs and so many people showing their own pride and pleasure. So much thought and detail into decorations and costumes and gathering a group of people together in celebration. Good job, TJ! Here we can walk the streets without fears of government raids or attacks. We can speak out and protest and dare to dream. That is a lot. That is everything.
The song “Independence Day” is not at all about the 4th of July… It is an amazingly deep and dark story song about a father and son, and their failure to see eye to eye… It is about that same son, needing to break free and leave, about gaining physical and emotional independence. Knowing today was Independence Day put my brain on that song… and then on the whole, wonderful double album…
Bruce Springsteen – The River
The Sound, FM 100.3 is doing their album sides weekend. Listening to the gems they are pulling out, with all the snaps, crackles and pops makes me realize how alive music is and can make us feel… and especially the actual, physical album. I long for a real, old-fashioned stereo. I long to hold an album in my hand… Open it up like a book and read the liner notes… take in the art work… and let the platter slip out of its dust jacket and into my awaiting hands. I put it on the table and gingerly move the needle over, letting it down ever… so… slowly… And then… a crackle… a pop… and then the most glorious sounds take over my ears. This is the power of music. This is the power of Rock n’ Roll.
This is the power of The River.
If you are a regular reader, you know that I have some regrets in life. I guess we all do, and I am not afraid to look back at them, stare them in the face. Some try to beat me down, and at times do… One regret is not having seen Bruce on The River Tour. Why? I am not quite sure. I was invited to go, but I don’t know… For some stupid reason I cannot even recall, I did not go. Most people, most long time fans will say that The River Tour was Bruce at his absolute best. It makes me crazy that I cannot go back in time and fix this self-inflicted, musical injustice. But we move on… we listen and watch and try not to miss any more shows and tours… The thing is, you just never know, and Clarence passing is proof positive of this. Grab it while you can; always go for the glory; learn from the past, don’t live there.
These are all lessons one can also learn from the songs of Bruce Springsteen.
Hard to believe that tracks like “Independence Day,” “Point Blank,” “The Ties That Bind” and “Ramrod” were all “leftovers” from Darkness. You realize that Bruce’s cast offs are better than most people’s first lines, starting teams, etc.
According to Wikipedia, “Hungry Heart” was originally written for The Ramones… What???!!! The album came out in 1980, stormed the charts and is one of my all time favorites…
I’ll let Bruce from Wikipedia close out today…
“[The River] was a record that was sort of the gateway to a lot of my future writing. It was a record we made afterDarkness on the Edge of Town. It was a record made during a recession – hard times in the States. Its title song is a song I wrote for my brother-in-law and sister. My brother-in-law was in the construction industry, lost his job and had to struggle very hard back in the late 70s, like so many people are doing today. It was a record where I first started to tackle men and women and families and marriage. There were certain songs on it that lead to complete records later on: “The River” sorta went to the writing on Nebraska, “Stolen Car” went to the writing on Tunnel of Love. Originally it was a single record. I handed it in with just one record and I took it back because I didn’t feel it was big enough. Wanted to capture the themes I had been writing about on Darkness. I wanted to keep those characters with me and at the same time added music that made our live shows so much fun and joy for our audience. So, In the end, we’re gonna take you down to The River tonight.”