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MassCommons

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  1. I was at this show, too. It was a remarkable setlist, in part because it bore so little relationship to the setlist Bruce wrote before the show:
  2. I'll leave the pandemic epidemiology and public health policies to my betters. I'll just make an updated version of a point I made in the past on another thread: Springsteen is in a great position to tour with the E Street Band. Not only does he have enough good songs *from this century* to fill an entire setlist (not to mention his substantial 20th century catalog), he has two new albums (WS and LTY) which, conservatively speaking, have at least a half dozen songs that could "stick" as regulars in a 2022 concert tour. (E.g., Tucson Train, Sleepy Joe's Cafe, Letter to You, Janey Needs a Shooter, The Power of Prayer, If I Was the Priest, Ghosts) And that doesn't include the possibility of a new release (most likely a Nebraska or BITUSA boxed set) later this year.
  3. Welcome and yes, a terrific first post. One aspect of "every old trick in the book" is arranging songs for maximum impact on the audience. Take, for example, "Ghosts". ("Mary's Place" is an older example, as are songs like "Rosalita" and "Thundercrack". "Ghosts" starts with just the pounding drum beat, then a break as Bruce starts singing ("I hear the sound of your guitar...") followed by ringing guitar chords leading the band in. There's a guitar riff in the bridge (after "spirit filled with light" in the chorus) that echoes "Two Hearts"). There's the modulation up at the end of "your love and I'm alive". There's a space at the end of the chorus (after "and I'm coming home") where there could be more words (a hint of foreshadowing). At the end of the third verse the band cuts out again as Bruce and Steve sing "by the end of the set we'd leave no one alive". At the end of the third chorus everyone cuts out except for Roy on piano, playing arpeggios behind Bruce's voice leading into the fourth verse, which then builds---first with Bruce's guitar (punctuating "I make my vows to those who've come before"), then crescendoing with backing vocals, Max's drums, Gary's bass. Now into the chorus again, but this time filling that empty space with words of resolution "Yeah, I'm coming home". Back down to just the basic drumbeat, followed by Bruce counting the band in ("1, 2; 1, 2, 3, 4"). Again it builds with another instrument added every four bars: drums, guitars, piano, organ, then Jake's sax soaring high, followed by Gary's bass thrumming down low and all the voices singing "La-la-la-la, la-la, la, la, la" (wordless ecstasy that practically demands the audience join in). Everything in that arrangement has been done before, not just by the E Street Band in its thousands of performances, but by thousands of other rock and soul and country and blues and gospel and funk bands and performers, and done to elicit a particular set of emotions and reactions from the audience. It's what good performers do---master the tricks of the trade and put them in service to the audience.
  4. I don't know if Taylor Swift is the millennial Bruce Springsteen but I've got a theory that the girl in Swift's 2007 hit, "Our Song"* and the guy in "Thunder Road" are singing about each other. *"Our song is a slamming screen door..."
  5. Who else hears the first six notes of John Prine's 1979 cover of Elvis' 1955 version of Arthur Gunter's 1954 song, "Baby, Let's Play House" from Prine's Pink Cadillac album and thinks, "Aha! So that's where Bruce got the inspiration for "Pink Cadillac"? <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P6qN38m-q_I" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  6. And another one with JLo's knee slide into the camera! The "Born in the USA" quote was brilliant stagecraft too, with JLo's reversible USA/Puerto Rican flag cape, the shoutout to Latinos, the mix with "Let's Get Loud", and all the children---both those wearing American flag t-shirts and those in the cages.
  7. I don't know about Catherine, but the chords on the verse of "Car Wash" showed up---inverted---a few years later on "The Rising". Game recognizes game. One working-class hero to another.
  8. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. With BITUSA he's found multiple ways over the years to "talk back" to those who misunderstand or attempt to misuse the song---from his 1st concert after Reagan namechecked him at a 1984 campaign rally in NJ, to the 12 string bottleneck slide guitar solo version on Live in New York City, to prefacing it as a "prayer for peace" on Live in Barcelona.
  9. Great topic, great thread. Thanks, all. I've come to think of "Working on the Highway" as part of a Domestic Violence Suite hidden in plain sight on that album. *Wayne gets arrested for unspecified crimes in "Darlington County", but it's clear he and the narrator came into town looking for "young and pretty" girls. *The guy in "Working on the Highway" gets arrested, convicted and jailed for unspecified crimes that likely include statutory rape and transporting a minor across state lines. *The narrator of "Downbound Train" can't get over his wife leaving him, chases her down and apparently kills her in a fit of rage. *The singer of "I'm on Fire" has "got a bad desire" and wants a woman to satisfy it (and that's apparently the only reason he wants to be with her). In many of his songs, Bruce wants to bring a character (or characters) alive for his listeners, so that the rest of us can say, "I know that guy!" or "I knew a girl like that in high school!" or "That's just how I felt when...(she left me, we got married, I had that job, we lost the house, etc.)". As for the music going in the opposite direction from the lyrics (e.g., sad story with upbeat melody), Bruce is one of many songwriters who consciously does that, playing the music off of the lyrics so as to heighten the emotional impact of the song. It works, too. Someone like me likes the beat, or is drawn in by the hook, or loves the chorus...and then 5 minutes later when looking at the lyric sheet, or 5 months later singing along at a concert, or 50 years later listening to an old record for the first time in ages, has a reckoning with the full (or at least, fuller) meaning/story of the song, and how it affected me then...and affects me now.
  10. Thanks for your comment, and for kicking off this thread. I'll respond to this line, since it's something I've been thinking about, too: So, what has Bruce been doing the last several years? Well, it depends partly on what follows in the next few years. It's certainly possible that we (or others) will look back from, say, 2029 and agree that he was winding down, that the 2020 album was one of (if not) the weakest ESB albums, and that both Bruce and the band showed their age as shows got shorter, mistakes became more frequent, and audiences got smaller and quieter, resulting in a shorter-than-expected tour, followed by several years of boxed set releases of old music and increasingly sporadic performances. (And, if that happens, he (imho) owes us nothing. It's been a great ride and we've all gotten to enjoy decades of great music and performances.) But there are other possibilities, including this one: the 2020 album doesn't reach the heights of BTR or Darkness, but it's a worthy and hard-rocking addition to the ESB canon. Having spent the past several years taking stock of his life and experimenting with different ways of performing, Springsteen returns with a bang, in some ways reminiscent of the Reunion tour which similarly followed a period of personal introspection (figuring out how to be a husband and father) and musical experimentation (recording with different musicians, touring with a different band, TGOTJ album and solo acoustic tour). There are other possibilities as well, but I'm hoping for some version of this one. I think one reason Springsteen has remained a vital and creative and productive artist all these years is precisely because he's done so much of the hard internal/psychological work to wrestle with, tame, and come to terms with his own demons, and to create a personal life for himself that's as rich and fulfilling as his public career. Like any hard work, that take time. But it appears to be necessary to keep the wells of creativity from running dry.
  11. Good question. There's no need for a post-Reunion setlist to be heavily political. I'm one who thinks Bruce has written some of his finest and most underrated love songs in this century; and Western Stars is a terrific song cycle on loneliness. But Springsteen has said in the past (IIRC) that he (and the band?) enjoys touring during election years; and he's written a lot of strong, small "p" political songs lately that explore and articulate a particular vision of the American dream. Some of them might have added resonance in concert next year.
  12. Browsing through Springsteen's albums, it's kind of amazing to realize he's written enough good/great music over the past 20 years that he and the band could tour just on the strength of their post-reunion catalog. (Not that they would.) That may be especially true for touring in a (US) election year. For example, and in no particular order: *Land of Hope & Dreams *American Skin (41 Shots) *Lonesome Day *Waitin' on a Sunny Day *Worlds Apart *Further On (Up the Road) *Mary's Place *The Rising *My City of Ruins *Devils & Dust *Long Time Comin' *Radio Nowhere *Gypsy Biker *Last to Die *Long Walk Home *I'll Work for Your Love *My Lucky Day *Working on a Dream *Kingdom of Days *We Take Care of Our Own *Shackled and Drawn *Death to my Hometown *Wrecking Ball *You've Got It *Rocky Ground *American Land *Tucson Train That's 27 songs and it doesn't include non-Bruce, post-Reunion songs like "O Mary Don't You Weep", "Jacob's Ladder", "High Hopes", and "Dream Baby Dream" (or other Springsteen songs that you might prefer). Part of the fun, and the power, of E Street Band shows now is hearing the new songs in the context of the old ones (and vice versa). There's an added resonance to hearing, for example, "My Hometown" and "Death to my Hometown" in the same show. Or to hearing almost anything from The Rising or Wrecking Ball in the context of standards from Darkness on the Edge of Town. It's just remarkable and gratifying that Springsteen has been able to sustain such a high quality of writing over the past two decades. It's a pretty rare gift.
  13. Great poll question, great thread. Not that I think it will happen---or even that it's feasible---but I'd love to see a Springsteen "residency" tour. By that I mean that Bruce & company spend a week or two in each city, playing different gigs at different sites: a solo acoustic show at a theater, a stripped-down/mostly acoustic small band show (lots of duos, trios, quartets on different numbers) in an arena, a "core" E Street Band show, a "Big Band" show in a stadium, etc. This could also be paired with themed set lists: 2020 is an election year in the States, so a "political" show could be built around some of the "Darkness" staples along with songs like "The Rising", "My City of Ruins", "Eyes on the Prize", "Mrs. McGrath", "Gypsy Biker", "Long Walk Home", "We Take Care of Our Own", "American Land", "Land of Hope & Dreams", "American Skin (41 Shots)", while a more "personal" show could have newer songs like "Maria's Bed", "Long Time Comin'", "My Lucky Day", "Kingdom of Days", and "Tucson Train" mixed with songs like "Rosalita", "Two Hearts", "Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)", "Tunnel of Love", "Tougher Than the Rest", "Human Touch", "Better Days", "If I Should Fall Behind". There's such a large catalog of Springsteen songs---not to mention hundreds of cover songs at their fingertips---that there are many more "themes" to be explored (as Springsteen, Inc. has started to do with some of the Nugs releases on hope, love, friendship, the road, etc. Bruce is a masterful constructor of set lists. It'd be interesting to see what he'd do given a format other than 1-2 shows/city.
  14. Very cool stuff! Thanks. As SteveJhb said, Stanley Clarke is a terrific bassist, composer, bandleader, etc., and he's played with everyone from Art Blakey and Pharoah Sanders, to Chick Corea and Steve Gadd, to Jeff Beck and Keith Richards, to Stewart Copeland and Bela Fleck. (I could go on.) Personally, I like the jazz-funk-rap mix. The vocals have an edgy, defiant, paranoid feel that both goes with BITUSA, and echoes the sound of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "The Message" (which came out a couple of years before this).
  15. Is there any talk of additions to "The Live Series"? With Springsteen's lengthy and prolific writing and performing career, it seems he could keep adding to releases like "Songs of the Road", "Songs of Friendship", and "Songs of Hope". For example, how about a "Songs of War" digital download that looks something like this: War (Edwin Starr cover) Lost in the Flood Highway Patrolman A Good Man is Hard to Find (Pittsburgh) Born in the USA Shut Out the Light Fortunate Son (CCR cover) Brothers Under the Bridge Souls of the Departed Worlds Apart Devils and Dust Mrs. McGrath (traditional) Gypsy Biker Last to Die Devil's Arcade Long Walk Home With some of the proceeds going to Stand Up for Heroes/Bob Woodruff Foundation?
  16. Sold! Maybe we can plan the tour right here. Anyone else?
  17. Or a variation on KevTam's suggestion: put together (or hire someone to write) arrangements for a concert's worth of songs (in addition to what folks have already mentioned, several of the love songs on WOAD would work) and then do a Springsteen tour of orchestras---the Pops in Boston, the Philharmonic or the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in LA, etc. Bruce goes town to town, performing with each city's local "band". It's a change-of-pace from the usual E Street Band traveling road show, and it's a different (though related) kind of artistic stretch. Plus, all these orchestras are highly professional bands used to learning new material on the fly and backing up guest artists on short notice. If the artistic and/or marketing directors of several of these orchestras haven't already tried to get in touch with Springsteen, Inc. to pitch the idea of, say, a 2021 "tour", they aren't doing it right.
  18. Thanks for your reply. I guess "terrifying power" is highly subjective, so I wouldn't argue with you (or anyone) who disagrees on that. As for "domestic violence", it may not be the best way to summarize those four songs (other suggestions welcome!), but: *the guy in "Darlington County" drives off with a (young) prostitute(?) while his buddy is getting arrested; *the guy in "Working on the HIghway" ends up on the chain gang for (at least) transporting a minor across state lines; *the guy in "Downbound Train" ends up on a "railroad gang" after a home invasion that ends when "...I heard that long whistle whine; And I dropped to my knees, hung my head and cried"; *and the guy in "I'm on Fire" has a "bad desire...like someone took a knife baby edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my soul". None of these relationships end well (to say the least).
  19. Thanks for this. Watching I'm reminded again of the stark, seductive, and horrific nature of what I've come to call the Domestic Violence Suite that closes side one of the album: "Darlington County", "Working on the Highway", "Downbound Train", and "I'm on Fire". Off the top of my head, that's as scary a quartet of characters as Springsteen has packed onto an album side; the catchiness of the songs just adds to their terrifying power.
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