Happy 61st!

Published 2010-09-23
By Karsten S. Andersen

As everybody who reads this page is probably well aware, Bruce Springsteen turns 61 today. So here's the official Greasy Lake wish for a Happy Birthday and many more! We and your millions of fans continue to be incredibly grateful for your music and for making our lives better. A new Springsteen release is still one of the greatest thrills we know, and your shows are still our drug and inspiration. We can't wait for your present to us in the shape of that amazing Darkness box, and we can't wait to hear what's on your mind right now through some new music. And most of all, we can't wait to be in the same room with you again when you're ready to return to the stage. But right now, we'll let  you enjoy your special day with your loving family, and then we'll continue our obsessed fan bugging tomorrow!

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Bruce does "Better Things"

Published 2010-09-22
By Karsten S. Andersen

It's been known for a long time that Bruce would appear on an upcoming duets album by former Kinks front man Ray Davies, and it has also been rumored that the song would be "Better Things". But now it has been confirmed that it will indeed be the Kinks' 1981 UK hit that will feature our man. Other artists involved in the project are Metallica, Jon Bon Jovi, Lucinda Williams, Jackson Browne and more. Should be an interesting release, but you have to wait until November 1 to hear it.

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Bruce at the movies

Published 2010-09-15
By Karsten S. Andersen

As announced a few weeks ago, Bruce himself showed up at the Toronto International Film Festival last night to introduce the gala screening of the new Darkness documentary, The Promise. Before that, the press got a few comments out of him, including how Bruce had forgotten all about the footage that had been shot during the Darkness sessions, and he praised Thom Zimny for putting it together. Reactions to the movie from those lucky enough to have watched it are very favorable. Whether you're a die-hard fanatic or have a slightly more relaxed attitude to Bruce, the movie will be a revelation, seems to be the consensus. The rest of us can just kick ourselves for not being there and turn up our expectations even more.

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Bruce rocked the Pony for another school benefit

Published 2010-09-12
By Karsten S. Andersen

As has been tradition for several years now, Bruce got on stage last night at the Stone Pony to do what he could to raise funds for one of his kid's school - this time, as a first, the Boston College where Bruce's oldest, Evan, is a sophomore.

Anyway, as we all know, the only way Bruce knows how to raise funds, is to play some rock 'n' roll and hope people - primarly other parents - will pay the $1000+ ticket price. Apparently, they will, because the place is usually packed. That was no doubt also the case last night when Bruce, backed by Bobbie Bandiera's band (featuring Max Weinberg on drums) and Southside Johnny - but without the usual appearance by Patti Scialfa - played for almost three hours. Over the years, a standard core setlist for these events has emerged that include cover songs like "634-5789" and "Seven Nights to Rock" and  Bruce originals like "Pink Cadillac" and "The Fever", but last night did seem to have several new additions, including "Sandy", "Growin' Up", "My Lucky Day", and "Working on a Dream". Overall, however, the concept was the same as always: full speed ahead. Check out the complete setlist.

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Poll of the week: Janey is tougher than the rest

Published 2010-08-31
By Karsten S. Andersen

Always the icon of masculinity, Bruce is not exactly known for his portraits of women. But over the years his song canon has grown to include several interesting and convincing descriptions of female characters. Our question in last week's poll was which of those women is strongest. We left it up to you to define the word "strong", but that didn't keep you from voting. And while none of the candidates took off and left the rest in the dust, Janey from "Spare Parts" still achieved a fairly comfortable victory with 23.7% of the votes, with runner-up "Ma" from "The Wish" gaining 18.9%. Janey of course earned her victory by pawning a few spare items and deciding that life as a single mom was worth it after all.

Here's the final result:

Janey in "Spare Parts"     23.7%
"Ma" in "The Wish"     18.9%
"She" in "She's the One"     16.6%
Mary in "The River"     11.4%
Janey in "Incident"     8.9%
"She" in "Secret Garden     8.5%
"She" in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"     4.4%
"She" in "From Small Things..."     3.9%
Catherine LeFevre in "Car Wash"     1.9%
Cynthia in "Cynthia"     1.0%
Ricky in "Ricky Wants a Man...."

On a related note, soon you will be able to study all the old polls and see how they turned out. We've been polling you for a couple of years now on a regular basis, so there will be lots to look at.

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DARKNESS BOX IS OFFICIAL!!!!!!!!!

Published 2010-08-26
By Karsten S. Andersen

There are no headlilnes big enough for this one. Finally, finally, finally.... after years of rumors and speculations, the reissue of the Darkness on the Edge of Town album is official. No, this is not a dream, it's not a joke, it's the real deal. November 16 is the date (probably November 15 in most of Europe) and Bruce's largest release in terms of number of discs is the result. No less than three audio CD's and three DVD's/Blu-ray discs did it take to pay tribute to that, to most fans and Bruce himself, absolutely monster album. We'll get it all: a remastered version of the original album, studio outtakes, live recordings, you name it. Most speculation has centered around which complete Darkness Tour show might be included on DVD, if any. The answer is, as has been rumored, but by no means confirmed, Houston from December 8, 1978. A show that has not circulated among fans on bootlegs as other than a bad audience tape recording.

Well, I'll stop rambling. Go check out all the details in the official press release. And go to brucespringsteen.net to listen to a hitherto unknown outtake, "Save My Love For You", and watch a clip of the documentary.

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The Bruce Librarian, part 2: Big Man � Real Life & Tall Tales

Published 2010-08-19
By Karsten S. Andersen

The fan world was really excited when the first autobiography by an E Street Band member was announced. Finally we would get to hear all the inside stories and gossip by someone who was there. Finally we would get answers to all our questions.

BThe Bruce Librarianut no, Big Man – Real Life & Tall Tales is not that kind of book. You don’t get to hear juicy details from life on the road. You don’t hear about the reunion sessions in 1995, you don’t hear about Clarence’s opinion of the band that replaced the E Street Band in 1992, you don’t hear about what he thought of being replaced as Bruce’s primary onstage foil by Patti in 1988. You don’t hear about groupies in Bruce’s dressing room or bitter arguments in the recording studio. Altogether, Clarence probably didn’t get loaded with court summons after he published his book.

So what do you hear about in the book? First and foremost, this is a book about Clarence. Not Bruce. Not the E Street Band. Although, of course, both play big parts, it’s not their story we hear. It’s Clarence’s. And as such, the book is definitely worthwhile. Because what did we really know about Clarence before this book? We knew his onstage character, his saxophone playing, his facial expressions, his goofing with Bruce. We knew he’d been married a bunch of times. He released a few solo albums. That’s about all. But now we get excellent insight into Clarence Clemons, the person behind the character, and who he is when he’s not the Big Man, member of the E Street Band.

So what do we learn? Who is he? Well, for one thing, he is in pain. Or has been. A lot. Probably more than we ever imagined. His knees, his hips, his back. If you think Clarence’s playing has been slightly off on the last few tours, after reading this book, you’ll be wondering how he was able to play at all. Apparently, the Magic Tour in particular was a difficult experience, and the fact that he was able to perform at the Superbowl in the beginning of 2009 was nothing short of a miracle.

Other than that, one of the main impressions you get is that Clarence is a man who is completely committed to music and who was born to please. He has trouble saying no to anything. Over the years that hasn’t always worked to his advantage. Too much booze, food and smoke have been contributing factors to later health problems.

A large part of the book consists of stories from Clarence’s life that are only partly true, or not true at all. Or several true stories merged into a made-up one. You can distinguish those stories from the rest of the book because they are printed on gray paper, and Clarence makes no secret of the fact that you should take them with a large grain of salt. Sometimes truth is better understood when explained with a lie, seems to be the philosophy behind these tall tales. Often, these stories involve other celebrities. We meet Norman Mailer, Bob Dylan, Bruce of course, and several others. The stories may not be true, but there’s no doubt Clarence has crossed paths with an enormous amount of people over the years. Quite often, this has apparently resulted in interesting, quite intellectual exchanges that show an unknown, to me at least, side of Clarence. The well-read and cultured Clarence.

One of the people we meet is his friend and co-writer of the book, Don Reo. Several of the regular chapters and the “tall tales”, too, are written by Reo. It is actually he who offers some of the most interesting insight into Bruce and the E Street Band. A declared fan of the band and with all the backstage access he wants, his observations are the kind of stuff that fans were probably hoping to get more of from Clarence himself.

In the end, a lot of readers will be disappointed in the lack of focus on Bruce and the band, although the book certainly isn’t completely devoid of it. But if you start reading with the right expectations and an interest in Clarence Clemons, human being, you are rewarded with plenty of entertaining snapshots of and interesting insight into a man whom most of us perhaps take a little bit for granted up there on the stage next to Bruce, but whose personal life has probably been at least as complex and eventful as his boss’.

 

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Darkness documentary to premiere on September 14

Published 2010-08-04
By Karsten S. Andersen

The Darkness reissue box is now officially official.... Well, sort of. We did get a press release today, but it wasn't for the box itself. Instead it was for the accompanying documentary, which, the announcements says, will be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14. It's called The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town and it was put together by Thom Zimny over the course of the last two years. It will supposedly include lots of hitherto unknown footage from the studio sessions and home rehearsals. In other words, this sets the scene for the actual reissue in a big way. Still no news about the release date for the box, but there should be no doubt now that it will happen this year, most likelly well in time for the Christmas shoppers.

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Poll of the week: Bootleg trading is almost dead

Published 2010-08-02
By Karsten S. Andersen

If last week's poll is any indication, bootleg trading as we know it is almost a thing of the past. Only about 6% of the people who voted named "Trading" as their primary method of obtaining bootlegs. That doesn't mean more people don't do it once in a while, but I don't think you need to go back more than 3-4 years before it would have ranked near the top. Of course, there's not really anything surprising about this development. More and more people get broadband connections, and more and more bootlegs become available for download, so the fact that almost 50% use bittorrent, binary newsgroups or other download sources to get their hands on Bruce live recordings, shouldn't come as a shock.

If there is a surprise in the poll it may be that a total of 25% still choose to pay money for bootlegs to online stores or old-fashioned record stores. There is of course something to be said for professionally produced discs with artwork that didn't come from your own $30 inkjet printer, but considering that all of this music is readibly available for free, the number seems high, at least to this observer.

If you collect Springsteen bootlegs, how do you usually obtain them?

I download them myself 49.4%
I buy them from online sellers 14.1%
I buy them in CD stores or at record fairs 11.8%
People give them to me for free or for the cost of the discs 10.3%
I trade with other fans 5.9%
Something else 5.7%
I use trees and vines on online communities 2.8%

Total votes: 389

This week the poll is about Bruce's political songs. I've made a selection that you can choose from, but defining a political song is difficult, and there may be several other songs you would have liked to vote for instead. That's how it is. Happy voting!

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Poll of the week: The Nineties were wasted

Published 2010-07-25
By Karsten S. Andersen

Surprisingly, to me at least, the most popular option in our Nineties poll was that Bruce should never have broken up the E Street Band and that the Nineties was a wasted decade. The Nineties may not be Bruce's most popular decade, but I still would have thought more people would have gone with the somewhat more forgiving option: It was ok to break up the band, but he could have done better than what he did. Granted, it was a close race, as you can see below, but still.

Oh, and before the "wasted decade" voters start gloating too much, let's not forget that a majority of the voters actually thought breaking up the band was the right thing to do. They are just divided in those who think he could have done better and those who thought he did just fine in the Nineties. And then of course the 1.5% who thought he shouldn't have reunited the E Street Band again.

My question to those of you who think it was a mistake to break up the band is, what would have happened if he hadn't done it? Obviously, he would have continued touring with the band, but if he had done so, where would we have been today? Would the band still have that special aura or would we just be taking it so much for granted that we would be sick and tired of it? Wouldn't we at this point have been begging him to try something different? I think the 10 year period where we didn't know if we'd ever see another E Street Band show was incredibly healthy. It taught us all, including Bruce, how special they are and how much we should appreciate them.

That to me more than made the Nineties worth it, regardless of what we think of "the other band" or his "shut up and listen" acoustic shows that dominated those years. Oh, and I for one enjoyed both of those tours, but I'm still in the "he could have done better" fraction.

11 years after the E Street Band Reunion, how do you feel about Bruce breaking up the band?

He should never have done it. Those 10 years were wasted. 38.2%
It was the right thing to do, but he could have made better use of those 10 years 34.7%
It was the right thing to do and he made good use of the time 25.5%
It was the right thing to do. It was reuniting the band again that was a mistake. 1.5%

Total votes: 599
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