Tuesday, January 21, 2014

you get your kicks from just driving me down

Goddamn you, Bruce Springsteen. You broke my heart.

Yeah, yeah, I know I was a bit skeptical when my brother, upon returning from that intimate show at the Widener University Field House in 1975, gushed about your incredible marathon performance. Sure, my brother called you "Springstein," but he was thoroughly taken by your energy and exuberance. Later, when my brother brought home a copy of Born to Run, I still wasn't sold.

But I was intrigued and I listened again. This time something suddenly clicked... and I was hooked.

I bought Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ and The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle and I was blown away. There were lyrics that rose above the bubble gum pop I was accustomed to. There was music that transcended the basic guitar and drums of other current bands. You sang with heartfelt compassion, speaking as a voice of the "everyman." Your jubilation was exhibited in rockers like "Rosalita," evoking vivid visions of street gangs and young love. The gentle poetry of "Sandy" was both chilling and earnest. I revisited Born to Run with a new outlook. I rediscovered epics like "Jungleland" as mini-masterpieces of combined story and melody. I had become a rabid and loyal fan.

I saw your show at Philadelphia's Spectrum with my friend Sam the night that John Lennon was murdered. Sam and I had slept out all night for tickets. We were unaware of the terrible event unfolding outside The Dakota in New York City. You were giving your all onstage for the fist-pumping faithful... and you had them in the palm of your hand. You had a difficult time performing the next evening after finding out about the death of one of your heroes and inspirations. But you went on, even paid tribute with "Twist and Shout" as the evening's encore.

Then came Born in the USA and nothing would ever be the same.You were rocketed to super-stardom. The album yielded an unprecedented seven singles. But gone were the gritty, introspective compositions. Instead, you presented a boastful, flag-waving bravado that departed from everything I had come to love about you and your music. The next victim of the "New and Improved Bruce," was the spontaneity. Everything seemed calculated and rehearsed, gearing toward the biggest possible commercial impact, the most "bang for the buck." I saw two, non-consecutive shows on the Born in the USA tour. They were stiff, over-rehearsed and identical, right down to the stories and dramatic pauses — all performed as though it was a play.

And then you did the unthinkable! You brought your wife into the band! Didn't you learn anything from Paul McCartney or your idol, John Lennon?

Then came Lucky Town and Human Touch, the forgettable simultaneous releases, followed by twenty years of some of the sorriest shit I have ever heard put to record. Uninspired, cookie-cutter compositions all carefully groomed to fit to the rockstar character that "Bruce Springsteen" had become. You're telling me that the same guy who wrote the tender "Incident on 57th Street" also wrote the novelty bullshit "57 Channels and Nothin' On"? You were believing your own press and fancying yourself the elder statesman of American rock music.You became a brand, like McDonald's or Coca-Cola. You became what you rebelled against. And you were quite convincing to your blind followers.

And now, you dare release the dreadful High Hopes, a throwaway compilation of covers and outtakes featuring phoned-in guitar work by an out-of-place Tom Morello and exploitative appearances by the late Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici. This is easily your laziest effort to date.

Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.... I gave you six years of unwavering adoration and how to you repay such loyalty? You shit all over it on your way to the bank.


1 comment:

  1. I don't care what Bruce does. He has a special place in my heart :)