Welcome to Etc., the new dumping ground for everything not related to Alabama athletics, but on my mind and acceptable for public consumption. Enjoy.
Not all Springsteen sounds the same
Back in July, I was home in Louisville arguing with a friend about music. A statement was made. It stuck with me — festered a little. I was told all Bruce Springsteen music sounds the same which is of course insane.
This topic usually comes back to me in my many long, night time drives between Tuscaloosa and Decatur. Finally, my thesis can see the light of day.
So, to you Mike Galla, I dedicate my response. Bruce Springsteen has evolved and redefined rock music. Here’s how:
Springsteen started out signing a record deal as a Bob Dylan style singer/songwriter. From there, he put together what became the E Street Band that saw many incarnations, new sounds, additions and subtractions. He recorded acoustic albums (“Nebraska” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad”). He got caught up in the 1980s (:Born in the USA” and “Tunnel of Love”) then struck out of his own (“Human Touch/Lucky Town” and “Ghost of Tom Joad”) before reuniting with the band for “The Rising”, “Magic” and “Working on a Dream”.
Springsteen also did a whole tour and album with the Seegar Sessions band to bring a whole new sound to classics and record some old folk songs.
He got that contract singing the song Growing Up for the record company executives using just an acoustic guitar. Listen to the original and a live version with a story then another with the Seegar Sessions band.
Taking a step back, it’s not hard to hear the difference between the first two albums (“Greetings from Asbury Park” and “The Wild, Innocent and E Street Shuffle”) to the wall-of-sound-inspired “Born to Run.” Tell me “Sandy” sounds anything like “Kitty’s Back“or Rosalita.”
Within “Born to Run” you have all kinds of variations from “Thunder Road” to “Meeting Across the River” to “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” and “Jungleland” and the title track. As you can tell, the only way I think Springsteen should be heard is live. You’ll also notice the many different eras the videos come from showing just how strong the songs hold up over the years.
His next album “Darkness on the Edge of Town” was less of a production but still brought the heat with contrasting sounds of “Adam Raised a Cain” to “Racing in the Streets.” There’s no way those two songs could be confused for each other.
You’re losing this argument, Galla.
Then things got real interesting. Bruce left the entire band behind and recorded the entire “Nebraska” album in his bedroom with crude recording equipment. Listen to “Atlantic City” album version and Seegar Session version or “Reason to Believe.”
There’s no way any of that sounds like the pop-influenced “Born in the USA” that followed and represented my introduction to the Boss. There are synthesizers now like in “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark” (I like the acoustic version better)
There there was the 90s with his solo stuff that was most popular in the movies like “Philadelphia” and “Secret Garden” that had no E Street Band backing him. There was also the Nebraska-like “Ghost of Tom Joad” (covered by Rage Against the Machine).
Skipping ahead, “The Rising” was one of the best albums of the modern era for the symbolism and healing power it had after Sept. 11, 2001. The title track tells the story of firemen that morning, the powerful “You’re Missing” and “Empty Sky” and the hope-inspiring “Waiting on a Sunny Day.” It also must be said that “The Rising” was also performed with a full choir at President Obama’s inauguration ceremonies.
Then we can look at some of the other Seegar Session songs that was another complete departure from his previous sound. Try “Ramrod” or “When the Saints Go Marching In” or “We Shall Overcome” or “Froggie Went a Countin”
I could really go on all night, but here are a few of the amazing cover songs Springsteen did like “Chimes of Freedom” and “All Along the Watch Tower” w/ Neil Young and “Blowing in the Wind/Bad Moon Rising” and “Man on the Moon” and “Jersey Girl” (actually written by Tom Waits but one of Bruce’s signature songs).
Obviously, I’m not alone in my respect for the Boss. I believe Jon Stewart summed it up best at the Kennedy Center Honors. How many of your favorite signers sat next to the First Lady?
I leave you with one of Bruce’s best songs but one of the least known. Listen to the tale of growing up in a small central New Jersey town of “Freehold” close to where my parents grew up.
Now we can wait for a rebuttal from Mr. Galla who I must thank for inspiring this post — easily the most enjoyable of the 1,100-plus I’ve written in Bama Blog history.
|Led Zeppelin is the definition|
I apologize for this sudden turn, but this has been on my mind for about a week now and how better to spend a Friday evening? A coworker and I had a discussion/debate/argument about what constitutes a great rock song.
Quite frankly, I couldn’t have been more right.
It must pick you up and take you to a foreign place. You should forget where you are (unless driving) and occupy more than one of the senses. Journey need not apply. So I decided to compile a list for my misguided and nameless coworker who hasn’t a clue on the subject.
My objective here is simple: Compile a list of songs to be presented to the first flying saucer full of peaceful aliens that visits our green planet knowing nothing about electric guitars. And now, I present the list — the non-Bruce Springsteen edition because I’d got through at least 10 of the Boss’ songs before the little green men hear the rest of these.
Led Zeppelin: The Ocean, Black Dog and I guess Stairway to Heaven.
Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze and All Along the Watchtower
Mountain: Mississippi Queen
CCR: Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son and in the spirit of protest songs, Neil Young’s Ohio is a must.
Metallica might come from a different era, but I can’t over look Master of Puppets (the insane drumming), One, or Enter Sandman along with the San Francisco Symphony.
Bob Marley doesn’t fit in with most of the others, but his talent and influence is undeniable with No Woman No Cry and Stir it up
The Allman Brothers must represent with Midnight Rider and Melissa to satisfy the need for a ballad.
Back to Neil Young, Rocking in the Free World should serve notice to the little green men that we mean business.
The Who have a few like Baba O’Riley, My Generation and maybe another Woodstock favorite from Crosby, Stills and Nash.
I know I left a few big names off the list, but I don’t really want Mick Jagger representing the human race to
outsiders. I guess I could apologize for never getting into the Beatles, but this is my blog and my list!
Thanks for making it all the way through this audible of a blog post. Maybe my coworker and the aliens will have a better idea of their entertainment options when they aren’t watching Alabama football. If you’d like, leave your own list in the comments section.
And now, we take you back to regularly scheduled programing …