Monday, October 3, 2016

The Boss Of Me

I woke up from what was a pretty disturbing sleep to begin with at 3:15 A.M. I am pretty sure I sleepwalked for a few minutes, but when I realized I was conscious, the following just started to come out of me. Apologies if it's all over the place.

I finally started reading Peter Guralnick's "Last Train To Memphis," but after only 50 or so pages, I left the house and met a friend for drinks. He had a copy of "Trouble Boys," the story of The Replacements, which he just finished and let me borrow.  I put the Elvis book on hold, thinking I'd plow through "Trouble Boys" right away and get back to savoring Guralnick's purported masterpiece. About 75 pages into that so far unbelievable story, "Born To Run," Bruce Springsteen's memoir arrived in the mail, and that was that.

I didn't come here to review the book, at least not yet. I'm only 200 pages in. Yet those intitial 200 pages hit me like a whirlwind. With so many emotions fighting for attention, the two that seem to battle hardest for first place just happen to be recurring themes of my life and these pages:

Music and how it affects us

The almost impossible task of giving your all, unconditionally

(The latter, admittedly, not so prevalent as the former, at least on these pages.)

I've seen many use social media as a sort of an internet shrink, a virtual couch, so to speak. You get those people who only post cute pics of kittens, those who share photos of every food group, raw and cooked, that made it into their mouths, those born to rant about our POTUS and the upcoming election, those who share music and nothing but and those who like to spoil things, like sports scores and movie endings. But there are a few who feel very comfortable sharing some very personal information, such as illness and loss. I've never been able to expose too much, though I have been accused of wearing my heart on both sleeves.

A long time reader posted a comment a few months ago, which I refused to publish. I felt it was too personal, something that might have been better off in a private e-mail. He basically sized me up from my Songs Of The Day. He wasn't so wrong, but I thought he had some huge balls for even making that assessment, having no real knowledge of me or my life, aside from what I shared here.

But I digress.

It has been 50 years now, and The Beatles still play a major part in my life. I never tire of their music and I am still fascinated by any news, film or music that comes my way. There is no other artist that can stir things up the way the Fab Four can...except Bruce Springsteen. The strange thing is, while I have been a fan since hearing WNEW-FM simulcast an entire show from the Capitol Theatre in 1978, it has only been since 2009's live debut of "The River" in its entirety at Madison Square Garden, that Springsteen's songs have taken a completely new hold on me. Chalk it up to everything going right on that 2009 night. But since then, Bruce's words started speaking to me like never before and what I have so far taken out of the first 200 pages of "Born To Run" is that, you cannot be afraid to put yourself out there and you cannot be ashamed of your passion. It won't always work and it might not speak to everyone, but those who you do affect, will never forget.

Each chapter of the book...hell..each paragraph, is written like a song and each page feels like another piece of the setlist. Big rock and roll stories that help your commitment to the proceedings, and then once he's gained your trust, the slow painful stories of loss have both your attention and your empathy.  This book might not be a revelation for all, but just the first half alone, has affected me, much in the way the actual songs affect me.

I imagine we all have our Bruce's. For some it might be Dylan. Or, Van Morrison. It could simply be memories attached to a Ramones concert or a loud blast of The Who from the third row. Music speaks to us all. And right now, the words and music of Bruce Springsteen are speaking to me in volumes.

I won't apologize for that, or for wearing my heart on both sleeves, or for using these pages occasionally for self-therapy. I've made some friends here. I am confident you will accept this.


Bulletins From Mars Hill said...

Rock & Roll Never Forgets. And we never forget Rock & Roll, we spend our lives like some hopeless junkie trying to recreate the buzz, the rush, the unexplainable exhilaration and joy of that first time Rock & Roll Spoke to us, And occasionally we do recapture it, from opening lines of poetry that could be written about our lives or our situation, wrapped up in a rhythm that is hot-wired to our heart beat.
It should be no surprise that the writers and performers who shaped us can do it once more in long form prose.

Anonymous said...

"Music and how it affects us"
That is Burning Wood.
Brilliant forum for the times.
- Andy

Tumblingdice70 said...

Man, who doesn't want to be friends with someone who wears their heart on their sleeve? I'm at about the same place in the book, and it's so inspiring to see someone who didn't fit in, couldn't fit in, had nowhere to go, and was so inspired, and can articulate so clearly, why music changed their life and was the only way out. I was annoyed by the title when I first heard about the book, having read all the others, but you can't judge a book by it's title, or it's cover, or someone by their playlist. So many good lessons in this book, when my kids are old enough it will be required reading.

Thanks for the post, your forum gives me a place to get away from the daily bustle and think about music, and for that I owe you a debt of gratitude.

buzzbabyjesus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buzzbabyjesus said...

I re-read parts of "Careless Love", vol 2 of "Last Train To Memphis", when I made the Weekend Mix a few back (All Hail The King). His story is not uplifting, but it's a fascinating read.

I liked Keith a lot less after reading "Life".

I'm sure Bruce won't disappoint. He hasn't so far.

And neither have you.

On an unrelated note there will be a Weekend Mix on Friday.

Elroy said...

Halfway through the Elvis Costello book, and I am enjoying it very much, but the Bruce book just arrived - I may have to put this Elvis on the shelf for awhile. Can't wait to read it because Bruce is my "Bruce".

Anonymous said...

"Bruce is my Bruce?"

Concerned about you all.

Guess who Bruce is concerned about...


Not one of you.

big bad wolf said...

Bruce in his most ardent.insistent phase was, i would suggest, unlike anyone else. that doesn't mean he was better; it just means that, on the evidence i have seen, concerts and interviews from the time, no one ever took on so great a labor with so much ardor. Bruce, on the 78 tour and on darkness,and through the 80 tour, believed, as best as one can tell, that he and his band could affect, not radio, not the charts, not the music industry, but the shape and fairness of the world. absurd, of course, except, if you saw him then. if you were there, it seemed, if only for three hours, possible, no matter what your intellect said.

i have never, before or since, seen or heard anyone, in music or politics, who could make that idea of change appear so real.

i don't think Bruce is the best rock star or had the best band of all time. i think dylan is and was far more perceptive and far wiser. i think the stones, though mick can and has been off-puttingly mocking and cynical, are a better band and more worldly and sophisticated. i think many bands, if sometimes too didactictly have broached important political and social issues. all in all, i think there are ten or twelve rock artists who outdistance Bruce.

But no one is Bruce but Bruce. none of those artists have been able to express as much genuine connection to people, none able to express night after night genuine ardor. as someone wrote of the 80 tour, bruce was more intense than were people the critic had seen filling sandbags against a flood. likely, in some larger judgment, that made the bruce tours of 78 and 80 crazy. bruce, at least once in those times cited hazel motes from flannery o'connor's wise blood for the proposition that "they aint quit doing it till i quit doing it." of course, by most lights, hazel motes was crazy. bruce was too in 78 and 80. crazy in the best damn way we could hope for, but crazy. it was glorious and it was madness and it was nothing that could sustain. success and huge stadiums tested and tamed it in 84 and 87, lessening the sense that the ardor could exist outside the show. the springsteen who resurfaced with e street in 99 was great: capable, caring, thoughtful, and he was a person mimicking the ardor of 78 and 80. that's okay. no one could, or should,for long burn so hot as bruce did in 78 and 80, one whose set pieces sounded that way, not like they might overflow their banks and wash you clean. god bless him for giving us those miraculous years, and the many great, but less brilliantly intense years that followed. the later bruce was exemplary; the early one inspirational.