Monday, February 10, 2014


The two videos here, showing two sides of Bruce Springsteen, took up a lot of my time this weekend. Unfortunately, it wasn't all good.

Out of respect for the persons involved, I won't go into too much detail. But out of necessity for my sanity, I need to explain.

"Girls In Their Summer Clothes" could be my favorite Bruce song of the last 20 years. This gorgeous stripped down version pretty much sealed it for me.

The next night in Perth, the ESB opened the show with a tribute to the crowd, country and countrymen AC/DC and rocked through a version of "Highway To Hell."

The latter did not sit well with some people and comments on my Facebook page turned a bit ugly, until finally, an old, dear friend and myself were at each other's throats.

Bottom line: I saw this AC/DC cover as a positive thing, full of energy, warts and all, and felt it completely nitpicky to criticize things like "key" and "tempo," which is only a taste of the type of comments posted on my Facebook page.

"Really? A capo? You use a capo on an AC/DC song?"

Is that really the point here?

I'm all for opinions and criticism. It's basically the point of this blog.  But if you watch this version of "Highway To Hell" and can only point out what's wrong with it, or the fact that it doesn't sound like AC/DC or worse, voice your opinions about Bruce in general...

"Last good record was 'The River."

"Why is he doing covers?"

...I'd have to say, it is YOU who is missing the point.

Is this the greatest cover ever? Of course not. But the sentiment and balls behind it are terrific and comments like "his phrasing is horrible" and "why not do a Men At Work song next" seem unnecessarily bitter.

You not liking Bruce's politics may cloud your opinion of his music. But it does not make his music '"suck."

That's just my opinion.

Finally, good, solid discussions and debates are healthy, especially when something new can be taken from both sides. But, if one more person tells me to "calm down" if I get excited over a song or band, good or bad, I'll fucking throat-punch you.

I've been thriving on music for 50 years and I have no plans on stopping now.


Jim G said...

I've loved this song since it came out on Magic. Love how he temporarily returned to the Wall of Sound type production and smooth voice of old. The lyrics don't always scan for me but the melody, vocal and production make up, even solo acoustic, which is far from my favorite Bruce mode.
Very nice.

peabody nobis said...

Magnificent in it's simplicity. This song evokes wonderful memories of summers past.
This, folks, is what a living legend looks like. A true American original. Thanks, Sal.


The Girls In Their Summer Clothes is such a great song. I keep thinking I can't play it in the midst of this crappy (and unrelenting) winter. But maybe that is exactly what we need!

William Repsher said...

I got issues with Springsteen, mostly concerning the ways his image has been manipulated and handled by management (and him, by extension) since Born in the USA. But very few with his music or live performance abilities. Frankly, Girls in Summer Clothes didn't blow me away when I first heard it, but hearing it stripped down, I liked it A LOT more in that version. As for Highway to Hell, hats off to him, he took a chance, and the audience clearly loved it. I always love hearing major artists either play or talk about music one wouldn't think they would be into, but are. Favorite example being John Lennon's love for the Little River Band's "Reminiscing" ... maybe we should be glad the Boss didn't tackle that number instead?

I would have liked to hear him have a go at Angel City's Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again -- not a big hit, but a rock classic down under.

I think it's just the time of year ... dead of winter, a lot of harsh weather under our belts. I've felt myself slipping into Manson mode on occasion over the past few weeks. Been a rough winter.

kevin m said...

I saw the AC/DC clip and it put a big smile on my face! Mission accomplished!

buzzbabyjesus said...

Everything about "Highway To Hell" is cool. And I'm sorry, but sometimes you need a capo to sing a song in your key, while maintaining the "voicings" of the chords.
It's something professionals do.

FD13NYC said...

It was a swirling yay or nay, pro and con, like or not liking, love or hate debate. Fact is, Bruce and AC/DC, two of my faves, both great long standing artists. That's it!

Now, I'm going to pre-order The Dukes Of September DVD out in March. I'd love to hear what people think about this one.


Oh Man -- We Live In A Goofy World!

The merits of Bruce's take on Highway To Hell notwithstanding you gotta love that he pulls into Perth and throws it down.

Gene Oberto said...

I guess when he did his "London Calling" at Hyde Park that it wasn't authentic because he wasn't wearing Doc Martyn's.

Just the fact that he comes out and gives tribute to a band that is not only a national and international treasure in Australia but also one he obviously is a fan of seems the highest form of compliment he can give. To the audience, the use of the capo didn't seem to hamper them one bit.

Is there anyone who can quiet a full arena of rambunctious fans to sing an acoustic version of his song like Bruce Springsteen can?

Steve Van Sandt has said that if he wanted to Springsteen could be a great pop songwriter. Summer Clothes is one of the few in which he croons. Could you imagine any of his peers coming out to do an acoustic version solo?

pattirules said...

love men at work...:)

Anonymous said...

Love every fucking thing you said here, Sal.
And BOTH of these stand as easy, unnecessary proof of the range and stature of Bruce's talent. Name another artist who could convincingly attempt BOTH of these tones in the same show.
Sal, I hope you never temper your enthusiasm. You are always respectful of the views that differ, yet, always willing to defend your own views, alongside a rare willingness to actually listen to opposing views , consider them, and in my personal experience of you, actually change your mind when convinced. Who does THAT ?

cmealha said...

I hate who every came up with the phrase "everyone is entitled to their own opinion" as it seems to have given most people the idea that they can say any dumb shit that they want and they're covered by that so simple phrase without the burden of a well thought out argument

A walk in the woods said...

Huh? I don't get it when anyone would watch that Highway clip and get much more than a big smile from it (my comment notwithstanding - that he may have at least 1 too many guitarists now). But I mean, a musical critique of it? Life's too short and rock & roll's s'posed to be fun.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

I loved both videos. I know the Men At Work comment was supposed to be insulting, but "Overkill" was one of the best pop-rock songs of the 80's.
Doubters, listen and reconsider...

Bookmonkey said...

Girls In Their Summer Clothes was truly awesome...watched it many times and it kept getting better.
Highway To hell was meant as a tribute to Bon Scott as they were in his backyard....and I think they pulled it off..warts and all. when was Rock'n'Roll supposed to be perfect? And for those who haven't been paying attention...he's been opening the shows in South America,South Africa and Australia with some local flavour....and I loved the wall of guitars in Highway To Hell.

JPerth said...

Wow! indeed…

I've never left a comment anywhere online before - but I often check in on Burning Wood and was amazed to see those clips up, because i was THERE for 2 of Bruce's 3 shows in Perth. My friends & I discovered The River when we were 17, and became rabid fans of that record and everything he'd released previously. Remember, these are the days before YouTube & instant gratification, and he'd never toured Australia - so you'd have to search for months to hopefully find a bootleg LP or be lucky enough to catch a short film clip on TV someplace if you wanted a Bruce fix between albums. The No Nukes movie was a revelation to us, and we spent weeks dissecting every moment of what we'd seen, minds blown. This year, we're all turning 50 - so it was an absolute no-brainer that we should reunite to attend Bruce's first ever shows in the town we grew up in - especially considering the fact that, even though I've lived in NYC for the last 11 years, I'd NEVER seen The Boss in concert with the E-Street Band!..
The shows were amazing. The experience, unforgettable. The highlights too numerous to mention. If you're a fanatic - there's no doubt countless forums online for a more detailed rundown. I must admit that I fall into the 'everything after Nebraska is kinda meh' school, but I'll always give every new release a few listens, and have cherry-picked my way through the rest of his career. In fact, Girls in Their Summer Clothes is one of the few tracks that stuck with me from what I'd call "recent' releases - and the acoustic version in Perth left me speechless. I was front & centre for that show, and the fact that Bruce kept repeating "it's one of my favorite songs" as he sent the band from the stage and waited for an acoustic guitar, seemed to re-affirm my opinion. On-stage he revealed the gorgeous, heart-breaking song at the core of all that muddled, fussy over-production on Magic.
As for Highway to Hell.. well, let's not forget that Fremantle, in Perth, is where Bon Scott is buried, and AC/DC is simply embedded in every Australians DNA. I thought it was a master-stroke (and hilarious)..unfortunately, that was the show I didn't catch - but I know from friends who did, that the crowd went bat-shit crazy, and to kvetch about technicalities is to miss the point entirely. It was one of those purely Springsteenian moments - givin' the people what they want, and no matter how shambolic, it was the equivalent of playing our national anthem. It's all about context, of course..basically, you had to be there.
As Australians like to put it, "Fuck 'em, if they can't take a joke!"
Thanks, and keep rockin', Sal. Keep fightin' the good fight.

soundsource said...

I Brake For Capos

stivseed said...

Hear, hear!!