Friday, June 5, 2009

Bruce All Righty

I’ve never been a big Bruce Springsteen fan. I do respect his songwriting and the passion and showmanship of his live performances, but his music never quite resonated with me. Some of this reaction is probably due to the fact that I grew up in the heart of Springsteen country (Central Jersey) and for a long time was inundated with all things Bruce – especially as his popularity soared in the late 1970s and 1980s. In much the same way that I found it hard to root for the home teams in sports (e.g., the Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Rangers) – instead finding favorites in teams from Boston to San Francisco – I couldn’t come to be a fan of The Boss either.

But I’ve had an interesting revelation over the last week or so. I’ve been listening to a series of Bruce’s demos (home recordings really) and rehearsal tapes. Despite my tepid response to Springsteen’s catalog, I was intrigued enough to download these “Lost Masters” because most of them were recorded at his home in the small town that I grew up in while Bruce was living there in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Remember that early ’80s Rolling Stone magazine cover of Bruce ice skating? That picture was taken there).

What I’ve found most fascinating – besides a few undiscovered (by me at least) gems among the repeated “working takes” of a few dozen tunes – is hearing this master songcrafter do exactly what I have done since I was a teenager. That is, perch myself, guitar and pen in hand, in front of a small cassette recorder and painstakingly work through verse and chorus structures, intricacies of guitar parts, vocal phrasings, etc. – starting, stopping and restarting the recorder throughout – in an often futile effort to capture and develop the germ of a musical idea.

While, unlike Bruce, I clearly am not a master songwriter, I find some semblance of satisfaction – collegiality, almost – in the fact that even great artists start in the same place we all do: persistently struggling and sifting through the rough stones until a few are polished enough to merit placement in some more ornately crafted setting.


  1. I challenge you to post your songs on your blog, mister.

  2. P.S. I JUST blogged about Bruce. Kind of. Check it at