Bruce Springsteen

The Saints Invented Rocket From the Crypt

The SaintsI’ve pretty much stopped using Facebook 1If you’re reading this on Facebook, it’s because it was auto-posted there by WordPress. I don’t really miss it, except for times like right now when I discover a morsel that gets me excited but is of such focused interest that the only way I can share that excitement is if I post it to Facebook so it can snake its way through the network to find the one other person I know, whomever it may be, with a compatible mental input port.

Today’s obscure morsel is that Rocket From the Crypt’s distinctive sound was invented two decades earlier by the Australian punk band the Saints.

Continue Reading →

   [ + ]

1. If you’re reading this on Facebook, it’s because it was auto-posted there by WordPress.

Bruce’s Brain

Born to Run by Bruce SpringsteenI can’t possibly judge the reaction to Born to Run of a person who doesn’t consider Bruce Springsteen to be their personal, artistic, and political hero. But someone who does will react by doubling down on their devotion, thanks to his memoir’s deep introspection and focus on art, ideas, responsibility, friendships, and family. Anyone looking for a debauched rock n’ roll tell-all needs to find another book and another performer to write it.

Bruce and his work have always managed to find a place in my life to nest into and from which to inspire, motivate, and support me despite how I change over the years. Now, as I’ve found a new passion for mental health and helping others to achieve it, in steps Bruce devoting many pages of his autobiography to intimately recounting his history of mental illness. Mental illness fueled his self-examination that outputted into his lyrics; his obsession with perfection that made his best records THE best records; and his need for acceptance and escape that drove him to three-hour concerts. In short, mental illness made Bruce Bruce. It also nearly unmade him more than once, and he lays out his struggle with his brain not as a triumph over tragedy but merely as an upfront description of facing one of the troubles with being human. Whether he intends to or not, he scrapes away the stigma and opens a door to help for any readers unwilling or unable to do so themselves. My hero.

Read all of my book reviews on GoodReads

A Bunch of Good Songs About Being a Good Person

Update, 11/10/2014: I’m reposting this today because, for some reason or another, it continues to be one of the most popular posts on this site three years after I wrote it. More importantly, I’ve modified it to replace the Kirsty MacColl track at #5 with a much more appropriate song that I should’ve included originally. You can also now listen to this playlist without leaving the page.

Mr. Ted LeoJanuary 18, 2012 – Maybe it’s just been my spending a couple of years unemployed, but I’ve noticed a subtle, glacial shift in the assholism of our culture. It feels like sometime not too long ago we crossed an invisible line on this side of which it’s ever so slightly more probable that people will act like assholes than not.

We choose to just be a tiny bit lazier and not return that email. We decide to spend just a little bit more time on our own stuff instead of doing that thing we promised to do for someone else. We quickly jump on Twitter to badmouth other people instead of spending just one moment to stop and think about whether or not we should, let alone an additional moment to judge ourselves. And we all seem to have finally agreed that it’s probably okay to screw someone else over a little bit if it’s not personal, just business.

Continue Reading →

Think George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are War Criminals? Bruce Springsteen Has a Song for You

Bruce Springsteen has releases a special vinyl EP every year for Record Store Day. Despite my massive Springsteen fandom and bruceosexualism, I usually ignore them, because I don’t own a record player and can only rub discs of black plastic all over my oiled body so many times. I aggressively ignored this year’s EP American Beauty because it’s largely composed of songs that didn’t make Springsteen’s latest album High Hopes, which itself is largely composed of songs that shouldn’t have made the album. But American Beauty eventually hit Spotify, and last week I gave it a cursory listen.

The fourth and final track “Hey Blue Eyes,” as I half paid attention sounded like a sleepy summer love song with a dreamy come-on of a chorus, “Hey blue eyes, what’cha doin’ tonight?” It seemed like it could’ve been pulled from Bruce’s mostly forgotten Devils & Dust or Working on a Dream, and I was about to forget it too, when the last line caught my attention: “Don’t worry, they’ll have their bags packed and be long gone / Before the real fucking begins.”

That made me hit repeat and go find the lyrics. It turns out that “Hey Blue Eyes” is only masquerading as a love song. The seducer whispering that chorus to us the American government, luring us to lay back and close our eyes as it sells us out for greed and power. Written as a furious indictment of the Bush administration while Dick and W were still in power, it now plays as much as an indictment of us for letting them get away with what they did.

In this house the guilty go unpunished, blood and silence prevail
Here the dead remain nameless, the nameless remain jailed

Continue Reading →

Bruce Springsteen Clearly Never Got My Change of Address Card

The trifecta hit, and I missed it. Bruce Springsteen opened his show in Pittsburgh Tuesday night with my favorite Clash song, 1And therefore one of my favorite songs, period. “Clampdown.” He must have thought I was still in town.

While Bruce’s love of The Clash is no secret, it’s a special moment for me to see him perform this anthem against living as you’re told, because I’ve always maintained that it’s a song he could’ve written. That idea inspired my surprisingly popular and particularly didactic quiz “Bruce Springsteen Lyric or The Clash Lyric?”  A couple of lines from “Clampdown” are in there, and they could just as easily have come from Darkness on the Edge of Town as London Calling.

   [ + ]

1. And therefore one of my favorite songs, period.

The Prison of Entertainment

Bruce Springsteen said that, for everyone, “there’s some kind of life you have in your mind that you are afraid you’re going to be forced to live.” I lived mine for decades before realizing I was trying to escape it. Michael Ventura, as quoted in Lipstick Traces, perfectly describes it:

Michael Ventura, Shadow Dancing in the USA

Hold Tight to Your Anger

Wrecking Ball Happy Bruce Day! Every couple of years on a Tuesday a new Bruce Springsteen album comes out, and I gleefully race from the house at lunchtime to buy an actual physical copy. My excitement’s tempered somewhat this time because the tracks from Wrecking Ball have poured from the web for a couple of weeks now, 1You can listen to the entire album for free on Springsteen’s official site until the end of the day today. and because the $12.99 special edition CD is my one luxury purchase for the quarter. Nevertheless Bruce Day always brings a little joy to my world.

Today the joy’s mixed with anger. Actually, it’s joy sprung from anger: that primal elation that comes when you find someone else who’s angry about all the same things you are. The exuberance you only feel from someone singing loudly against everything that’s wrong. Wrecking Ball is Bruce’s angry album, and it makes me happy to hear him writing the most vital, pissed-off protest songs out there today.

Continue Reading →

   [ + ]

1. You can listen to the entire album for free on Springsteen’s official site until the end of the day today.