“Since you’re a Jersey boy now…”
Kim, my darling wife, didn’t just give me Bruce, the new Bruce Springsteen biography by Peter Carlin, for Christmas, she included a note inside. The note more or less said that seeing as how I’m a Jersey boy now, I’m ready for Bruce.
Giddy up, Mr. Springsteen.
The book is huge. I’m apparently ready for a lot of Bruce. Which is totally fine. It was about time- a long time coming from that time way back in the day when my cousin Kim gave me Born to Run on cassette. Did I listen to that a lot? I can’t remember and in all honesty, I really didn’t get into The Boss until about 2007, when I decided it was time to give him a shot. It’s similar to how I currently feel about the Rolling Stones- that there will come a time when I decide to get on board with them. With these bands that have such a mammoth catalog of material, I really feel that if you’re going to go in, you have to go all in. You have to fully commit and not just casually check out the train, but totally get on board. In 2007, I got on board with Springsteen, starting with The Rising, his answer to 9/11. It’s a great album and includes one of my all-time favorite songs, “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” a song that I’ve stated previously makes me feel completely bullet proof to life’s ups and downs.
But what about the older stuff?
That would come later when I started listening to Bruce’s early albums; falling especially hard for Born to Run and becoming a big fan of “Tenth Avenue freeze-out.” I got into Darkness on the Edge of Town after catching part of the HBO documentary about the making of it, which is coincidentally a sure fire way to get me into any album. I’m a sucker for musicians talking about their process. Unless it’s Kid Rock. I don’t give a flyin’ terd about his process, or lack thereof.
Looking past those two albums though, I wasn’t really familiar with any of Bruce’s earlier songs until I saw this awesome version of “The E Street Shuffle” he played with the E Street Band, Tom Morello and the Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Upon first seeing that clip, I was filled with that unmistakable & unbridled rush of excitement that only comes from seeing or hearing some music that hits every good time nerve in your body. There was more to this Bruce Springsteen character and I was only scratching the surface by starting at Born to Run.
Then Bruce came out and I knew what had to be done.*
Where I’m at with Bruce, he’s recording his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, just outside of New York City. Stevie Van Zandt wasn’t included in the sessions because Springsteen’s manager Mike Appel that Van Zandt was too free-wheeling with his opinions. Van Zandt stayed in Virginia.
I would start there, with Greetings from Asbury Park.
You hear a lot about worm holes- YouTube worm holes, Wikipedia worm holes, etc. I’ve recently discovered the Spotify worm hole, which is what I just came out of- having listened to Springsteen’s first three albums back to back and in chronological order.
It was educational, and especially with Greetings from Asbury Park, there is an intense rawness to it that is often solely reserved for the debut albums of exceptionally driven individuals. Wrecking Ball, Springsteen’s latest album is great, but I feel that to totally understand him, you need to go back to those first couple albums, when he was just a Jersey dude- nomadic, cutthroat, occasionally loyal but constantly driven.
So because I’m a Jersey boy now, I’m ready for Bruce.
And I’m totally cool with that.
Giddy up, Mr. Springsteen.
* I feel like that sentence could be a line from a Jason Statham movie, albeit a very bad Statham movie.