Dare Your Face #7! Adrian Rants about the Boss!
Hey everyone, This week's "Dare your Face" comes from Adrian Glynn in the form of a blog post. Why no video? Because we're into multi-media, yo! And also because the written word is the bomb. Besides, if you want to check other "Dare Your Face" vids there's tons out there.
See, for instance, "DYF #3", our song about health care cuts to refugees
Anywho, welcome to "Dare Your Face" 7, where Adrian waxes poetic about the Boss. Enjoy:
How and why I love the Boss, in 5 easy steps (songs)-by A. Glynn "Reno"- An extremely strange song to start this with. As a song it's not even that great. But it is the one that got my attention. A guy in a hotel room with a hooker dreaming of the love he used to know. The bleakness of the situation and a character who clearly used to be a more pure person. This is ballsy and vivid writing and it made me go "what the fuck..? This is Springsteen??" (Incidentally, this song got "Devils & Dust" banned in Wal-Mart). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjNHMU4kY8s "Highway Patrolman"- So I was working at A&B Sound when I heard Reno. My manager, Ernie, was a huge Boss fan and couldn't believe I wasn't a fan. He knew I was into pretty moody singer-songwriter stuff so he gave me the record Nebraska and said, Listen to this. Nebraska was a bunch of home demos Bruce had made in the early 80s for what was supposed to be the next big studio record. There's tape hiss, mistakes. But some very forward-thinking exec heard it and said, Leave it- release it like this. Genius! Because this record is a masterpiece, warts and all. Springsteen has a strong voice as a writer. He speaks honestly through very average-Joe type characters with their foibles and imperfections and dreams. So the rusty style of the recording suits the songs perfectly. This song, Highway Patrolman, always stood out to me. It's a tragic and beautiful story. (On a personal note, I will always remember looking out the window of a cheap hotel room in Wadi Musa, Jordan, listening to this on headphones and missing home). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH3q3DyGGNg "American Skin (41 Shots)"- So I was content for several years to listen to Nebraska and Devils & Dust (2 of Bruce's more singer-songwriter albums). Then a couple years ago my good friend (and Boss aficionado) Dan Vertlieb showed me a song that doesn't appear on any albums. It was a protest song written in response to a terrible police shooting in the Bronx. Police mistook a young black guy for a convicted criminal. In a poorly lit vestibule all 4 cops told him to put his hands up and mistook his wallet for a gun and opened fire and shot him... 41 times. So Springsteen wrote this song. It caused a huge stir and a bunch of NYPD officers called for a boycott of Springsteen's shows. Anyway- i find this song endlessly inspiring because he was able to take an important current event and turn it into an anthem with so much heart and passion. This is still one of my favourite Boss songs. (The 2nd verse really gets me- the thought of a young black mother having to teach her son to keep his "hands in sight"..) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQMqWAiWPMs Dancing in the Dark- So I'd gotten into this more fringe Boss stuff. But I'd still never connected with the hits. Songs like Glory Days, Born in the USA, Dancing in the Dark- everyone knows these songs just from hearing them around but I'd never gotten into them. But we went on a tour a year and a half ago and I got a Boss Greatest Hits out of the library. It was a cool anthology because each song had a small paragraph about it written by Bruce. As we drove I read his thoughts on the songs and also read along with the words. And I gained a whole new appreciation for his hits. Born In the USA- not a rabble-rousing, flag-waving anthem but a cutting satire on conscription and the Vietnam War. Glory Days- not some airhead classic rock hit but a bitter and sad look at aging. And Dancing in the Dark- which in many ways was his first REAL hit. Chart-topping, a video hit, the teens loved it. When you look at the lyrics to this song (which I think has a simple genius as a melodic pop-rock tune) you see again Springsteen's familiar stamp. A sad character. A desperate character. He works a night shift. He wants to change everything about himself because he's sick to death of himself. He wants to get the hell out of his life but he's stuck and going nowhere and probably will wind up being not much of anything. Bleak and middle-American. I had no idea such bleakness pervaded even a Boss radio hit like this. It really made me realize the genius of Springsteen (if I hadn't already). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftMMU2CGgLg The River- This was another tune I got into listening to the anthology on that tour and now it's a favourite that I often come back to. He's such a great storyteller and this song is a perfect example. I especially love how he can weave a yarn in such simple, everyday language (suitable to his characters) and then surprise you with a gem of simple poetry. Like in this song- "is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse?" He's always throwing out lines like this which leave a lot of room to wonder and chew. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLCBGeWXrDc Anyway. There's 5. There's many more I could've included-like Streets of Philadelphia, for example- what a heart-wrenching song about a man dying of AIDS. Or a few off his new record, Wrecking Ball, which is all about the financial collapse (one especially called Death to my Hometown which is about underhanded bankers destroying a town without bombs or guns but nevertheless bringing death). But this is a good start. Oh, and by the way- me and Boss have the same birthday. Boom!