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"Got the Guts to Budge" -- The case for "Iceman" as one of Bruce's most powerful, beautiful songs ever


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1 hour ago, Floom2 said:

There probably IS.  a better collection of songs made between ‘82 and ‘83 that would have made a more powerful record than BITUSA.   Add Murder inc and This Hard Land and get rid of Dancing in the Dark, for example.  But Bruce wanted to make BITUSA, and thus we got Dancing. 

So we have to ask: why did he make it the way he did?

I think the reason was this:

During the work with Nebraska Springsteen found out, that he was caught by a rock´n roll-world

in which he was alienated from the real world; perhaps he, by creating the heroes of the record saw

that their alienation (that is, the missing of real, living relations to other people) was also his own.

He himself was one of his heroes. Now he wanted to escape from his cage. At this turning point he

alienated himself from his heroes. That is why Dancing in the dark sounds like it do, and thats why

he made that, at least for me,  ridiculous video. His ambition to make himself free from the heroes and

start a new life as a real human being in the real world, is, i think, a way to explain the difference between

Nebraska and BITUSA. In my opinion, the latter just that artistic failure, that Springsteen at that time

perhaps not wanted, but surely needed.

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13 minutes ago, ulfhpersson said:

So we have to ask: why did he make it the way he did?

I think the reason was this:

During the work with Nebraska Springsteen found out, that he was caught by a rock´n roll-world

in which he was alienated from the real world; perhaps he, by creating the heroes of the record saw

that their alienation (that is, the missing of real, living relations to other people) was also his own.

He himself was one of his heroes. Now he wanted to escape from his cage. At this turning point he

alienated himself from his heroes. That is why Dancing in the dark sounds like it do, and thats why

he made that, at least for me,  ridiculous video. His ambition to make himself free from the heroes and

start a new life as a real human being in the real world, is, i think, a way to explain the difference between

Nebraska and BITUSA. In my opinion, the latter just that artistic failure, that Springsteen at that time

perhaps not wanted, but surely needed.

Well maybe.  

The truth as outlined in the Marsh book is that Springsteen had a record ready without DITD. Landau told Springsteen he needed a single, go write one, and so he did.  That hit was DITD.   BITUSA was Springsteen’s bid for superstardom.  He brought in Annie Leibovitz for the cover, he made slick expensive videos and he pimped the hell out of the record.  

As for Springsteen wanting to live in the ‘real’ world:   Probably not    Springsteen wanted to be Elvis, and he got his wish   The challenge after reaching that level of success was to live with it, which he has managed to do pretty well   

In short: he made it (BITUSA) the way he did to maximize sales    

His plan worked   

 

 

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9 hours ago, Floom2 said:

In short: he made it (BITUSA) the way he did to maximize sales    

His plan worked 

Springsteens work up to Nebraska is an expression for his quest to find out what he (we) and

the world really is. In Nebraska he found the truth: he was a man he did not want to be. In his

autobiography he recall very beautifully and moving, how he in the living life of a small town

way our west recognized all that, that his quest had forced him to forsake. He was Elvis (alas

without the money) alienated in Graceland (the quest of Rock´n Roll). He had via Rock´n Roll

escaped New Jersey only to end up in his own Graceland; now he must escape this Graceland.

He does not want a real life inside Graceland; he wants a ”Graceland” inside a real life.

   All his life, he had lived for the quest of Rock´n Roll.

   Never had he compromised his artistic integrity for money.

And this is what he now uses to escape Graceland.

   His quest is now for a family life with children.

   He ostentatiously work for money and not for artistic integrity.

So, I do not think that money was his goal, it was one of his means to escape Rock´n Roll.

This, I think, is the difference between Springsteens albums up to and including Nebraska, and the

albums following them: Nebraska was the last of his albums made inside Rock´n Roll.

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I will have to read your post more carefully once I have more time, but I absolutely agree with you that 'The Iceman' is a beautiful song. It makes my top 15 as well. Probably even my top 10, among the greats of Lost in the flood, Incident, NYCS, stray bullet. 

 

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I thought The Iceman was a good song when I first heard it on bootleg many years ago.

Now I think the song is very overrated with pretentious lyrics; Bruce trying to sound like Dylan.

On the other hand I now really like songs like Ramrod and Crush On You; funny how things change over the years.

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1 hour ago, Lampi said:

I thought The Iceman was a good song when I first heard it on bootleg many years ago.

Now I think the song is very overrated with pretentious lyrics; Bruce trying to sound like Dylan.

On the other hand I now really like songs like Ramrod and Crush On You; funny how things change over the years.

I'm with you on this. Once the novelty of finding all those weird and wonderful outtakes all those years ago had died down and after finally hearing some of them in incredible sound quality on Tracks, some of them lost a bit of their 'legendary' status for me. Iceman was one of them. I still like it but it's not a classic. Hats off to the amazing intricate analysis, though!   

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On 8/14/2018 at 6:56 PM, Outlaw Darin said:

Holy shit! This is great! You should do more of these “CrushOnOutlawPete”

Thanks so much! I very well may. This post did take me a good couple hours... so I can't promise when... but it'd be nice to give more love to some of the obscure songs out there. In another thread, I did start a ranking of every song that he hasn't performed live; I really do need to go back to and finish that. I have a lot of thoughts on some of them!

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  • 1 year later...

I'm just going to shamelessly bump this thread, because I'm listening to the song for the umpteenth time,and "Baby, this emptiness has already been judged" is one of the all-time great Springsteen lines. Paints a beautiful, tragic picture of someone judged for the symptoms of mental illness by those who don't understand, or choose not to.

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On 8/13/2018 at 7:15 PM, Demos said:

I think if making music is someone's daily bread and butter then not remembering every last thing written and  recorded might not be that unusual. It was probably just another day in work for Springsteen. Who remembers every single day at work?

I dabble in music myself and have on more than one  occasion have come across stuff on my  digital recorder that I'd simply forgotten about, or left unfinished

 

Me too! It's usually self-evident why I'd abandoned it but I cannot apply this to Iceman, which is an absolute gem of a song. I particularly like the backing 'oohs' and 'ahhs' in the final verses. In fact, I often think that the E street backing vocals are a real area of strength that is rarely commented on.   

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I normally love these kind of songs, but The Iceman is definitely not my cup of tea. Too wordy and musically depressing, with too many different images/clichés (some of them rather creepy, IMHO) in it. I’ve always found it artificial, as if Bruce of was trying too hard to sound deep or meaningful.  But hey, that just my opinion. 

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4 hours ago, Frank said:

I normally love these kind of songs, but The Iceman is definitely not my cup of tea. Too wordy and musically depressing, with too many different images/clichés (some of them rather creepy, IMHO) in it. I’ve always found it artificial, as if Bruce of was trying too hard to sound deep or meaningful.  But hey, that just my opinion. 

I agree. Lyrics are just patched together, and they don't flow.

This always bothers me, was it intentional, or a lapsus?

Once they tried to steal my heart, beat it right out of my head

 

 

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3 hours ago, Silvia said:

I agree. Lyrics are just patched together, and they don't flow.

This always bothers me, was it intentional, or a lapsus?

Once they tried to steal my heart, beat it right out of my head

 

 

I don’t think it was intentional.
Rather, I see “Iceman” as a sort of “fossil”, the missing link between the writing style of BTR and the true Darkness’ one. It’s Bruce trying to find an adult, serious voice without having shed (yet) the lyrical imagery of his first three albums. That’s why “Iceman” sounds forced or artificial, it lacks of focus. To some extent, it shares the same “problem” of the early live version of “Something the night” included in The Promise box set. Not bad at all, but far from “the down-to-earth-no-bullshit” style which makes Darkness remarkable. Remember the passage on the “Wings for Wheels” documentary where Bruce “thanks” Landau for making him cut “clichés, clichés, clichés”? With “Darkness”  Bruce continued in exactly the same way, and he found his adult, authentic voice. That’s why a song like “Iceman” never stood a snowball chance in hell to make the final cut on the album. 

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I think Iceman is one of these out-takes that you get over excited about when you hear them first time. Then after repeated listening the excitement fades away pretty quickly and you realize why it's an out-take. These songs were not built to last like the songs Bruce includes on his albums and become classics.

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1 hour ago, Frank said:

I don’t think it was intentional.
Rather, I see “Iceman” as a sort of “fossil”, the missing link between the writing style of BTR and the true Darkness’ one. It’s Bruce trying to find an adult, serious voice without having shed (yet) the lyrical imagery of his first three albums. That’s why “Iceman” sounds forced or artificial, it lacks of focus. To some extent, it shares the same “problem” of the early live version of “Something the night” included in The Promise box set. Not bad at all, but far from “the down-to-earth-no-bullshit” style which makes Darkness remarkable. Remember the passage on the “Wings for Wheels” documentary where Bruce “thanks” Landau for making him cut “clichés, clichés, clichés”? With “Darkness”  Bruce continued in exactly the same way, and he found his adult, authentic voice. That’s why a song like “Iceman” never stood a snowball chance in hell to make the final cut on the album. 

I like your idea - this song representing the in between period. Makes sense.

To an extent, I like the apocalyptic vibe, but it doesn't persuade me. It feels like having a bad dream, and not being able to wake up. The way the song drags monotonously.

 

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