Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guest Blogger Gene Oberto on "Springsteen & I"

Back in June or July when the announcement reached me of a movie called “Springsteen and I,” I mailed a friend of mine, another Springsteen believer, if Bruce had finally jumped the shark.

The movie was a collection of hardcore fans who videoed themselves telling the viewer about their Bruce experiences or what his music means to them.  It seemed, sight unseen, that it would be very unnecessary indulgence by his PR people to try to heighten the legend and keep his name out in the public as his latest tour was winding down. I prepared myself for the backlash and disappointment that all my heroes have given me, from Ali to DeNiro (you saw the Fockers?)

Just now I finished watching the movie and I want to tell you I was completely wrong. "Springsteen and I" was like reading a book you couldn’t put down. The love and commitment that these fans have is very moving. It’s not just Americans that have this devotion. The movie goes around the USA and Europe showing that Bruce Springsteen has the same affect on them all. You could shuffle any one of these featured and disperse them in different locations and the words would be the same.

This small celebratory movie will not magically change a non or lukewarm fan into suddenly a true believer. I’m sure that it will have the opposite outcome. I can hear “Ohhh, pul-eeze this is just too much!” It’s probably right, for them.

I, on the other hand, have my share of Springsteen adventures, and I won’t go into them at this writing. Let’s just say that this little movie is a like being in the crowd at one of Bruce’s concerts. Each, and every person is just like you, a member of the same brotherhood. We all have our stories and interpret his music and lyrics as if Springsteen wrote the song exclusively for “me.”

I guess if your a fan, I mean a real fan, you’ll be drawn into this movie no matter how skeptical you think you may be. “Springsteen and I” is one letter of love to your best friend though you have never met him. That, however, does not mean that you don’t know him.

“Springsteen and I” Running time: 1:17:30


buzzbabyjesus said...

No offense to believers, but I can't imagine sitting through this.
However, if forced, I'd probably get sucked in.

Chris Collins said...

I agree. I put this off because it just sounded self-indulgant. I don't want Bruce to be a saint. I don't go for propaganda. I want him to be a human and an artist.

That said, I was incredibly touched when I did see the movie. I was especially touched by the European fans. There are some real human stories being told here. It's very well done.

William Repsher said...

Just watched this ... mixed results. Some of the fan stories are very interesting, while some just seem rote and interchangeable with what you'd find with any rock icon. I particularly like the Elvis imitator, the English factory worker who was bestowed a front row seat at MSG and particularly the truck driving Asian girl.

What she said was profound in that she recognized herself in his songs, how she lived, a simple person trying to get by. Anyone who's done factory work or other grunt labor like that and listened to his music has grasped the same thought along the way.

But ... she seemed a little befuddled in that she was a young girl, in her early 20s, not so much at loose ends but wondering, is this all there is? It isn't that hard. I can do this ... I'm doing this.

That sense of drama his songs impart ... tends not to be part of your life when you're driving a truck, or working in a factory, or what have you. It's not really part of your every-day, working life. She can't seem to verbalize it, but she senses the mythology built around his songs, this image, his aura ... and how little it has to do with her hauling a load from Los Angeles to Dallas on time.

That's been the problem I've had with Bruce for a long time, particularly when Born in the USA exploded, the loaded iconography and image-building. Totally unnecessary for a guy who was already established with a sizable fan base. There was just no need to hype him like this.

This doc at least tries to place the music in every-day people's lives, which makes much more sense to me than the image mongering and rock-star mythology that has been part of the deal over the course of decades, not just with him, but with any rock star. There just seems to be a real disconnect to me between that level of hype and myth-making and the simple day-to-day act of trying to get by that we all do ... where in my case at least, music plays such an important role.