Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile

Advanced

Springsteen Agnostics?

Springsteen Agnostics?
March 08, 2021 06:18PM
First time reading Jack Hamilton. I thought he did a great job on this essay (It's been a while since I last ran across a good Rock think piece in the wild!)

Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 08, 2021 06:19PM
Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 09, 2021 10:22AM
Yeah, that certainly needed to be said. And it needs prominence in our political discussions. If pop culture mixes with politics, then it had better damn well have a solid foundation in politics. Al Franken got his BA in political science from Harvard in '73, cum laude; so I was fine with him actually using it later in life.

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

[postpunkmonk.com]
For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
zoo
Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 09, 2021 02:34PM
I agree 100% with the article. I've always been skeptical of Springsteen, even though I am a fan of some of his music. He's more effective lyrically, IMO, when he's dealing with characters in fictional settings...songs that amount to a positive "feel good" anthem (think "Rosalita" or "Glory Days" or "Born to Run"). When he gets serious, though, it can get a little dumb. It's interesting to compare his take on certain topics with those of other artists who tend not to romanticize the subject matter or the characters in the songs.

For example, compare Wall of Voodoo's "Factory" with Bruce's song of the same title. For Bruce, though the job has taken a toll on the characters, there's a dignity associated with it. The factory worker can hold his head high. For Stan Ridgway, it's a nightmarish, neverending cycle that carries over to dysfunctional home life. I can't even imagine Bruce writing a lyric like "Lately when my wife talks back to me I slap her around." How would that go down with his crowd?

Likewise, compare "Born in the USA" with Funkadelic's "March to the Witch's Castle." Talk about HEAVY lyrics, Funkadelic's song was written in 1973 and much closer to the subject, but with more depth than Springsteen had with 10 years of hindsight. Again, I can't see Bruce explicitly referencing mental disorders and drug abuse as long-term effects of Vietnam. Bruce presents his character as out of work and missing some dead buddies, and generally without much hope. Which sucks, yes. And while he is to be commended for addressing the subject, it was quite superficial, to the point that so many mistook the song for a flag-waving anthem. And he comes quite close to undermining the message by throwing in nonsensical lines like "I'm a cool rocking daddy in the USA" that seem silly and out of place.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but the word "pandering" comes to mind when I think of Bruce and his attempt to appeal to the "everyman." It's a schtick that's way past overcooked. Then again, it's worked for him and made him incredibly successful, so much so that he currently hosts a podcast with a former president. So, I what do I really know anyway.
Reply Quote
Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 09, 2021 03:09PM
Both Wall of Voodoo and Funkadelic came from the more weird fringe, in one way or another. You can say a lot about Springsteen, but one thing no one would ever say is that he's weird. Not even a little off. His music, his style, his viewpoint, his public image ... all of it says "regular guy" straight down the line.
Reply Quote
Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 09, 2021 03:23PM
Delvin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Both Wall of Voodoo and Funkadelic came from the
> more weird fringe, in one way or another. You can
> say a lot about Springsteen, but one thing no one
> would ever say is that he's weird. Not even a
> little off. His music, his style, his viewpoint,
> his public image ... all of it says "regular guy"
> straight down the line.

Which is why he never had any currency with me. At all.
Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 09, 2021 03:50PM
I don't even get why "regular guys" would relate to him. Brooce's near-operatic (in spirit, not sound) romanticizing is in quite the contrast to my go-to worker's anthem, The Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic," a song filled with all the genuine grease-under-the-fingernails authenticity of real "corndogs." But the 'men's frustration, bordering on rage, might be too authentic.
Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 10, 2021 09:58AM
Interesting to see the word "operatic." I found that hearing Springsteen's early radio tracks was a Broadway approximation of rock + roll music instead of the real thing. I found Fred Goodman's book "The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce" to be a fantastic deconstruction of the Springsteen mythos.

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

[postpunkmonk.com]
For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
Re: Springsteen Agnostics?
March 11, 2021 12:31PM
> I don't even get why "regular guys" would relate to him.

Like I said, Bruce isn't weird. And "regular guys" definitely don't want to be regarded as weird -- especially by other regular guys.

One particular song from The River was ubiquitous on the airwaves and around the dorm during my freshman year:

When I'm out in the street
Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh
I walk the way I wanna walk
When I'm out in the street
Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh
I talk the way I wanna talk


It's set to a rock 'n' roll groove that's nothing less than jolly -- all big major chords and bright glistening pianos, all harmony vocals and handclaps. "The street," in this song, sounds like one big carnival. Everyone who's hanging out on this street tonight is out there just to have a good time. Even when the cops cruise by, they don't stop to question anyone ... because, apparently, they don't have to. They can see that all the regular guys and their regular girls are behaving themselves; no one is getting out of line, no one is starting any trouble.

When I typed those lyrics just a couple minutes ago, I imagined those same lines as old-school rap. I could hear Eric B. & Rakim's groove in "I Know You Got Soul," and could hear Rakim rapping those lines. In that context, the lines set the protagonist off as a tough, rugged individual. He's not taking any shit from anyone, not even the cops who cruise by. The way he walks challenges everyone around him; the way he talks dares anyone to step up to him. He's such a badass that he doesn't even have to raise his voice when he talks that way.

But Bruce's walk, and his talk? They signify him as a regular guy. He's been working hard for five straight days this week -- an honest, actual job, you better believe it. Now it's Friday night, and he's here on the street to see all his friends and neighbors, all of them here for the fun and the big party. Everyone else -- the others on the street, the neighbors leaning out the windows, even the cops -- knows he fits in. Ask anyone, and they'll tell you. Hell, they don't even understand why you'd even ask about him. Look at him! He's a regular guy.
Reply Quote
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login