With a great new album of both romantic and political import sitting near the top of the charts and a tour that
is comparing with the best of his career, I cannot get enough of Bruce Springsteen. I’m on what Howi Vinni describes
as a “kick.” It’s when nothing by anyone else will satisfy and you’re in deep, you’re
drowning and you’re glad to be.
I just watched the London Hammersmith Odeon 1975 show included with the Born To Run 30th Anniversary Deluxe
and here are my thoughts:
When you and I were just babies, this guy and his INCREDIBLE band were playing the greatest ROCK shows
The English rockers must have been literally eating their hearts out at the ascendance of this guy,
He was handsomer than they could ever be, he was the direct AMERICAN descendent of both ELVIS and DYLAN,
He had a better band than any of them, he could sing and play both the guitar and the piano better than
any of them, and he was writing songs more real, more heartfelt, more VITAL than any of them.
Poor Pete Townshend. First Hendrix, then this kid. Bruce Springsteen must have gotten under Pete Townshend's
skin so bad, that's why he got so fucked up with the drink and the drugs. This band in '75 was so great, even The Who paled
This is why Peter Gabriel left Genesis.
This is why Prince had two keyboard players in all his bands.
This is why Bono and The Edge went into the desert to find The Joshua Tree.
This is why Bowie is irrelevant.
This is where Rickie Lee Jones and Rush intersect on The Boardwalk in Asbury, that’s how all-encompassing
his vision is.
This is why Elvis Costello, an obvious first disciple, got the best band he could find and didn't settle
for anything less.
This is why Punk Rock never touched Springsteen. He was so ABOVE it, so real, and so much better than all
of them, even the punks couldn't take a shot at him the way they did at Townshend and the rest of the English rock upper class.
Bruce was impervious to it all. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones only dreamed of being in the same league as The Boss. It wasn't
something to rebel against the way Floyd and Zeppelin and Yes and all that stuff was. It was something to aspire to. That’s
why Patti Smith wrote her best song with him.
He completely set the bar for EVERYONE else.
This is also why Billy Joel is looked at unfavorably in comparison. While Billy is great and also had a
great band, there was never any chemistry that could approach what is happening on stage between this group of men. The deep
sense of commitment and camaradarie is awe-inspiring, emotionally overwhelming. They love each other with a singular
sense of purpose: To communicate community to anyone within earshot. And while Billy's songs are also as great, they
don't have the unbridled passion and romance contained in the first three Bruce albums. There's no ECSTACY in what Billy Joel
does. There's just genius.
There's both in Bruce. And nothing but heart.
Looking deeper, the importance of Steve Van Zant and Roy Bittan in this equation cannot be overstated,
especially when viewing the '73 footage of Bruce with just Mad Dog, Big Man, Garry and Danny, playing "Spirit In The Night,"
"Wild Bill’s Circus Story," and "Thundercrack." It's not even half of what is happening by '75.
Only Steve Van Zant could look COOLER than Bruce Springsteen on stage holding a guitar. It's mind-boggling.
And when they share a mic, only Lennon and McCartney come close to capturing the same effect, the same power.
And, perhaps most significantly, the piano of Roy Bittan is so brilliant, it single-handedly elevates Bruce's
music to the very TOP level of genius. Without it, things would be different. Just like what Steve Nieve did for EC.
This is undoubtedly some of the greatest music ever, and probably the most ECSTATIC music I've ever known.
When I hear it and watch him and his band, I feel a myriad of emotions, and not all love and kisses either.
I feel a lot of rage too. It's an indescribable urge to break shit. It summons a great beast inside, something that wants
to get out, explode out, and yet there's nowhere for it to go but INTO the music.
I've never seen a man perform who makes me cry more. It ain't no lie when he says "grown men cry and pretty
This guy's a marvel. He makes you wanna DO SOMETHING.