Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Few More Words About Heart & Soul

"You wear your heart on both sleeves, which is never good."

A very close friend said this to me recently.

Someone else, a person who I still haven't made a decision about after 20 years, once said, "Okay! Relax," when I got a little emotional after he asked me what I thought about a new Elvis Costello tune. I loved the tune and I said so. Apparently, I used too many words for this person, and I tried his patience when I went beyond, "Good tune. Me like."

"You talk too much." "You're too intense." "Calm down."

These are phrases I've heard daily since I uttered my very first words. (Which I believe were, "The Beatles!")  I can't say I ever enjoy hearing words that are intended to stop me from expressing myself. I certainly don't think I embarrass anyone. I don't get loud in restaurants. I'm respectful. Maybe I do pull a John Boehner occasionally and turn on the water works, but I'm not about to apologize for letting beauty move me, even if it makes a few people uncomfortable.

"Nothing satisfies you."

I heard that one this weekend.

Have you ever been deeply excited by something, only to get a lukewarm response from the people you wanted to share with the most? Sucks like a Hoover.  As my friend once said, "There is nothing worse than indifference."  It's not easy to create a balance between honesty and sensitivity, but I think it's definitely worth the effort for the people you want to stick around.

A month and more ago, I had "Joy Week" on these pages. What a miserable fucking week that was.

"Hey, you know that song that makes you happy? It stinks."

 I realize when you put yourself out there in any field, it's open season. But the practice of finding the time to share lousy comments about someone else's opinions, as opposed to saying nothing at all, never ceases to amaze me.

"Green is my favorite color." "NO! I don't think it is." That was "Joy Week."

As for putting my "heart on both sleeves," I can only say, it feels better than saying nothing at all. Remember, everyone missed R.P. McMurphy once he got the lobotomy.

I've always been about the ballads. The sadder, the better. Minor chords, sweeping strings, layers of harmony. And especially, "heart on both sleeves" lyrics. It's the perfect yin to the yang of"Kick Out The Jams, motherfuckers!"

There is a video at the top of the page. It is a live version of "Drive All Night" by Bruce Springsteen. If you don't like Bruce Springsteen, don't bother watching it and more importantly, find something else to do right now.

"Drive All Night" tears me up. Every time. It is a song that puts Bruce's heart on both sleeves. Live, he gives until there is nothing left to give, and somehow, still gives more. He cares about one thing and doesn't care who knows it. He is telling you, "It will all be okay," but with a twist. He makes sure you believe it. "Heart and soul. Heart and soul. Heart and soul. Heart and soul." Enough? No. Never enough. "Heart and soul. Heart and soul. Heart and soul." They are words, but not just words. This is the very definition of intense. "Drive All Night" is full of love, hope and above all, truth. Those things work for me. Those things will satisfy me every damn time.


buzzbabyjesus said...

Jeez he had me on the first couplet. I don't think I've ever listened closely to this one, or with headphones. What a vocal. Here come the waterworks.

I don't think I made any comments during Joy week. I remember not thinking of anything to add worth typing. But I know exactly how you feel, and why you get fed up from time to time.

Thanks for sticking your neck out.

Dr Wu said...

Over the years, I've found your views on a variety of topics to be expressed articulately, passionately, humorously, and above all with great tolerance for others. Good blog. Me like!

Anonymous said...

The Boss can do this because he provides a soundtrack for so many lives. Choking up on this song happens every time. On a related note, did you ever read Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks? A great swing through music and its importance to life.

Heather Taylor said...

"Heart and soul ." That's rock and roll. It's an incantation. It's a meditation. It's a prayer. It's a catharsis; a practical primal scream. To take from another of his songs, give it all or nothing at all. As Greil Marcus puts it, it's the "ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!" in Van Morrison's best works. What makes Bruce, and all good music, great, is the "why." We know why Bruce sings as he does and that is what makes it real and that is what makes it true. That's why it tears us up as it does.


cmealha said...

If you can't tear up on this one you're dead inside

William Repsher said...

Sometimes indifference is a real cool hand. Sometimes it's the only appropriate response ... frankly, A LOT of times with music or any other kind of art that, for whatever reason, just doesn't register. Of course, when you respond passionately, that's something that tends to make a much deeper impression on other people, for better or worse. I think the problem is the internet has turned indifference into an art form ... people who feign boredom as a passive aggressive insult of your taste. There's an easy way to deal with people who feign boredom: punch them square in the face. Figuratively, one would hope, but sometimes literally wouldn't be such a bad idea.

That said, "Drive All Night" doesn't work for me! Bruce sounds like a bull moose in heat. It's too much! To buy some f'n shoes?! Bruce, there's a Payless in the strip mall down the road from Great Adventure in Freehold! Why you gotta' drive all night just to buy her some shoes?!

Then again, "Point Blank"? "Independence Day"? "The Price You Pay"? That's more my emotional speed. He gets it right for me far more than he gets it wrong. And I'd hardly consider "Drive All Night" wrong, just not for me.

I guess I'm dead inside ... welcome to the afterlife!

ag said...

Wear your heart all over your clothes as far as I am concerned, Sal.
Nobody tells it like you do and that is why we love you, man.

Bill said...

Slightly off topic: Mentioning your heart on your sleeve and Elvis called to mind one of my favorite Elvis Costello lines:
Don't put your heart out on your sleeve
When your remarks are off the cuff

Thanks for the great blog, Sal. Always enjoy the discussions.

Troy said...

Great post, great topic, great responses. I had seen your earlier post but didn't have my thoughts organized to post a comment at the time. The River tour 2016 has been a great opportunity for me to revisit and be blown away once again by an epic record, one of my favorites. Maybe it's just that I have listened to it so many times that it is likely part of my DNA by now, but I think it really succeeds as a whole album that is greater than the sum of its parts. Heart and soul, indeed.

I do love Bruce's music and Drive All Night is a longtime favorite. I have many of the same reactions that you do. My favorite version is actually from the Winterland bootleg from 78, when he performed a WIP version during the middle section of Backstreets. Over just a simple but stunning piano bit from Roy Bittan he sings "and I remember way back then, you promised you'd never leave without me...and like everything else from those days, you". Talk about waterworks, that one just kills me every time. If you haven't heard it before, go here:

Also, the comments here about there being nothing worse than indifference hit a note with me. In the past few years, I have had several friends decide they want to go see a certain concert with me and say that it will be so great, but when we get there, they don't know anything about the artist or their music and just sit there or even worse, want to leave early (hell no, no effin way). I can't stand that I'm so into the show and they're checking their damn phones. I am now down to about 2-3 friends plus my wife that I will even consider going to a show with.

Sal, as I read your revised post, the chorus of Ricky Nelson's Garden Party popped into my head: "But it's all right now/ I learned my lesson well/ You see, ya can't please everyone/ So ya got to please yourself". So there ya go.

P.S. I'm with you that love, hope, and truth works every damn time.

steve simels said...

Good one, Sal.

And re: "Drive All Night" -- seeing Springsteen do that at (I think) the Palladium well before the album version came out was the first and only time I ever cried at a concert.

Sal Nunziato said...

@William Repsher

I've been thinking about how to reply to your comments on and off now, for two days. Your commnents are always welcome and usually get a terrific response from all the readers. But this is my place, so I need to address this:

"That said, "Drive All Night" doesn't work for me! Bruce sounds like a bull moose in heat. It's too much! To buy some f'n shoes?! Bruce, there's a Payless in the strip mall down the road from Great Adventure in Freehold! Why you gotta' drive all night just to buy her some shoes?!"

Considering the sentiment behind my post, and the fact that I actually point out how unnecessary it is to shit on people's opinions, I am really surprised and disappointed by what you had to say. It's quite obvious how I feel about the song and the performance, and while I don't expect everyone to feel the same, I think saying it doesn't work for you would have sufficed. Going the extra mile to mock Bruce's performance and words seems like a cruel wind-up in light of my words.

William Repsher said...

Sorry, man, but I formulated that take on "Drive All Night" in October 1980 and it hasn't changed since then (although it was probably Fayva as opposed to Payless back then). Actually, I've softened my stance since then! I'm shitting on the song, not your opinion, nor you. Why you would take it that way, I don't quite understand. We are in radical disagreement over this song ... and "Sherry Darling" too. I've seen you be just as vociferous and direct in your opinion many times over with various artists and songs that hit that button with you, and it's fine with me, even if you rail on something I may love. Surely sorry if you were offended. But in this case, no, Sal, my disdain for this track is just as passionate as your love for it. It's all about the passion, right?

Sal Nunziato said...

William, this is certainly not something we can't work through. But as I said in the previous comment, if you read my post and what I mentioned about "Joy Week," and balancing honesty and sensitivity, it should be obvious why your comment would not have been taken lightly. OF COURSE, it is all about the passion. But if someone just mentions loving something and being completely moved by something, maybe it isn't the most opportune time to exhibit that passion. Look, I don't care how much you hate "Sherry" and Drive." Just thought you might have reeled it in a bit, you know, since I just fucking wrote about people who don't. My friend just texted me about how much he loves the new Radiohead. There are probably a dozen ways to tell him I don't without taking a cheap shot at the band, or mocking the tunes, especially while he's enjoying it. You owe me nothing, William and I will never censor you. I love your comments. I think alot of us do. This time, it bothered me. That's all.

Sal Nunziato said...

Okay that "censor" comment sounded dooshy. I only meant, I will always publish anything you write. It's rare that I come back like this.

Anonymous said...

One song that always gets my waterworks going is Paul Simon's "American Tune." There's something about the way that it sums up that exhausted, pessimistic moment in history--Watergate, Vietnam, etc etc--and makes it universal, even finds truth and beauty in it, even if it's just truth and beauty in confronting despair, and then the melody is just so ineffably, transcendently gorgeous, and the whole thing ending on a note of... perseverance? Acceptance? The last stanza slays me:

Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune
Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right
It’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

So anyway, I walk into a memorial service yesterday for someone who died WAY too young, and a youth choir was singing that song. Agony and comfort, beauty and sorrow. Catharsis. Music is so amazing.

Bruce H

Sal Nunziato said...

Bruce H.,

I've always felt like you do regarding "American Tune," but it really took on a new life for me when I saw Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello perform it live in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Hearing Toussaint's voice crack on that last line spoke volumes.

kevinpat said...

Without sounding elitist or obnoxious, I believe sympathy and especially empathy are the highest levels of thought and consciousness. When we can empathy we are able to put ourselves in that space/event and realize ourselves in that position. We can actually feel as the other. Folks used to say (and still do) "Oh you're too sensitive." Nah, I'm too empathetic. When Paul Simon sings "American Tune" I am there, hitch-hiking with Cathy. This feeling of nostalgia builds and can almost feel overwhelming. Men aren't supposed to reach that level of consciousness or they are considered "weak". Look how John Boehner was treated for showing emotion.I say, Sal it's okay to cry. True strong men are able to feel someone else's pain and respond in more deeper meaning ways. Okay, I'll stop now.

I love the Springsteen track. I got vakelpt (I can never get that Hebrew word right!!) not only because the song is real, and touching, but also because it was shared on personal level. Your comment Sal made me hear it a different way this time. I like that he's driving for shoes! A man that would drive all night just to find shoes to please his woman shows how much he loves her. I HATE shoe stores. I could never appreciate shoes the way some folks do, so to me, a guy that would do this must love that woman. Not flowers, not dinner, not a diamond ring...fucking shoes. That's brilliant.

I couldn't list all the songs that touch me in the same way. Right off the bat I think of Tom Waits, who manages to slay me, especially "Ruby's Arms". But I can't go there now. Hahahahahaha.....

Great comments. A great post. Thank you for letting me blow off.

neal t said...

well said Sal. fuck those that don't dig us talkers. the folks that do, make it worth it to be expressive. the first river show I saw was in Louisville and by the time Drive all night came I had been astounded how much I was enjoying his rendition of it. it seemed like a play. then DAN which reduced me to a sobbing fool. it may not be a highlight on the record but it sure is in the concert.

jeff said...

For me the interesting thing going into the River shows was to see what Bruce would do with Point Blank, Drive all Night and Stolen Car, the quieter songs on the record and the ones that he referred to as the "goodbye" songs in the documentary, where Bruce just with his acoustic guitar in front of a garage gives what I think was a performance for the ages with "Independence Day."

"Drive All Night" for me has always been a special one on the River; it has a personal history. That side, that song capped a few moments that I'll never forget one night in 1980, so to hear it again, live, who knew what it was going to be. Leave it to Bruce to make it one of the real highlights of a show with a lot of musical highlights.

Anonymous said...

Best blog out there Sal!


stivseed said...

I`m with you, Sal.