• Hi, guys! I’m finally getting around the continuing the Record Club. I was hoping to read Springsteen’s autobio from last year before starting this, but that doesn’t look like it’ll happen any time soon, so here we go!

    I’ll try to be a little more timely with getting out these posts, at least as long as we’re within Bruce’s discography (I’m pretty familiar with it, so there’s not a lot of new listening to do). Looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts!

    • Son of Griff

      Glad you’re bringing it back!!. Springsteen was the rock star that defined the tastes of my friends and I from our families’ and peers, so these albums hold a big place in my heart.

      In the autobiography, it’s interesting to note that Springsteen now relishes his role as a band leader. His take on the relationship between himself and the E-Streeters in the book often comes from the perspective of a creative producer having to keep the project in line by having to be “the Boss”. It’s definitely not a depiction of a free ranging band of buddies.

      • I bought the book months ago with money I got for Christmas, and it’s been sitting there by my bed waiting for me ever since. I’ll get to it soon, I think, but I’ve been reading so much nonfiction recently that I kind of want to take a break and read a novel or something first.

    • Klep

      Excited for the Record Club’s return, though I can’t guarantee I’ll write something for every album like I used to.

  • Springsteen is one of the artists, no matter how hard I try, I can’t get into. Something about his music strikes me as incredibly cheesy, and I can’t get past that. I hate “Born in the USA,” but the first time I heard the acoustic version, it was a where-have-you-been-all-my-life moment. Just a fantastic rendition. I’m sure he’s a blast live, because he clearly loves what he does, but I don’t know if I’ll ever come around to it. I keep meaning to listen to The River & Nebraska, but I’ve never made the time to. Perhaps start now?

    In college, I took a class on lit theory, and the prof made us write about Springsteen’s lyrics (it was a crappy class). So my entire essay was about how much I dislike his music. He was noticeably unhappy I spent 6 pages trashing his favorite band (& I was incredibly dickish about it), but still gave me an A for being well-argued.

    • Son of Griff

      If you ever want to expose the sentimental underside of 50 something white 20th Century American Historians, mock Springsteen.

      • GodDAMMIT @sonofgriff:disqus, you best just take yourself down to a Gold Star Station and make an appointment for a smog check (unless of course you were manufactured before January 1, 1975 or have a gross vehicle weight rating of over 14,000 lbs.; one of these things strikes me as likely) ‘cuz you just well exceeded an NO₂ content of over 110 ppm with that BURN.

        • Belated Comebacker

          That sounds like a very distinct L.A.-style burn.

          • For Californians, the biennial smog check is a kind of ritual, yes. It’s your car’s birthday party when it passes.

        • Son of Griff

          I saw a student make fun of Springsteen in a seminar once once and you could feel the temperature in the room drop 50 degrees just by watching the professor’s face.

        • Son of Griff

          Of course, I kind of “burn” myself in this post as well. I don’t get offended though. I grew up expecting that most people don’t share my taste in anything, and that my freinds will be the ones that do. That’s why I hang out here with all you lovable band of misfits.

          • What is the point of having taste if no one can make fun of you for it? sez I.

      • The weird part here is my teacher was an early-30s grad student, <5y older than me.

        • Springsteen creates a mythic vision of America that’s gonna appeal to some people, no matter the age. That’s gonna cut at least both ways. It’s to his credit that he has kept developing and challenging that vision.

    • Son of Griff

      As Cornelius Thoroughgood states, the first albums have a jazzy quality that becomes sanded off to something a little more Detroit-ish by “Born to Run”. A lot of performers and critics never found much authenticity in that sound, and if I had come to rock music appreciating the blues influence, as opposed to a singer-songwriter basis, I might have not liked it either.

      • This is a cool point of discussion, because it gets into what’s meant by authenticity. Authenticity usually means the truth of the past–think of how often we associate the word “roots” with “authentic.” What I hear in Springsteen (Chuck Berry too) is an authenticity of desire, which is to say an authenticity based on the future. That it’s a future of fame and driving fast, based on the commercials he grew up with doesn’t make it any less authentic. (See also: J. J. Abrams.)

        For me, one of the most moving things in the Springsteen catalog in Live 1975-1985, because you hear the transition between his roots and his desires, and how he can face both. You can hear the older concert where he gently mocks his parents, and the more recent one where he introduces “War” with the story of what happened when he was up for the draft in Vietnam. I won’t spoil it, because there’s a sucker-punch to it and it may be the single most powerful thing he’s ever done.

        • Son of Griff

          Absolutely!! Springsteen seems criticized from a musical perspective, for failing to adhere to a standard that most modern musicians aren’t even judged by in the era of postmodernism. Springsteen’s authenticity seems to be following a path carved by time–from a vision built on the future to about persevering in the present. It’s a chronicle marked by the aging of his original fan base that feels contemporary, not nostalgic.

          • There’s also the issue of how heightened the musical world of Springsteen is–he plays so heavily in myth and archetype that it’s a significant complication for any discussions of authenticity.

      • My earliest rock influences were my dad playing his classic rock LPs for me as a kid. Middle school, I starting hanging out with the metalheads. So I had no significant exposure to him in my more formative years.

    • Oh, Springsteen can absolutely be cheesy. There’s a nice line in Christgau’s review of a Meatloaf album that basically says that Springsteen’s music is just one degree of intensity away from parody of the likes of Bat Out of Hell.

      I don’t think The River will convince you to love the music (it’s not too much different from his ’70s output), but Nebraska is DEFINITELY worth checking out. It sounds way different.

      • thesplitsaber

        ‘Springsteen’s music is just one degree of intensity away from parody of the likes of Bat Out of Hell.’

        Steinman’s music apes Springsteen pretty hard. Its not that surprising that when Springsteen bowed out of actually having his music in Streets of Fire they used Steinman written songs instead.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Nebraska is my favorite. “Born in the USA” is a song I like because I tend to fight for songs which are commonly misinterpreted by the rabble (see also “Born in the USA”‘s cousin, John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses.”)

      • “Born in the USA” and even “Born to Run” are both despairing songs that are given the most driving, fist-pumping treatment, and it’s amazing stuff. (I think Springsteen also does a stripped-down, melancholy cover of “Born to Run.”) I’ve often described Reaganism as based on a deep misreading of two of the darkest and most fundamental American texts: “Born in the USA” and John Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity.”

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Didn’t Reagan actually use “Born in the USA” for a campaign? (Or tried to, until Springsteen told him to stop?)

          I’m just amazed at how many people don’t look at the lyrics beyond the anthemic chorus. It’s all about how America broke so many of its men in that generation by sending them to war for no good reason and then hanging them out to dry when they came back home. (A story that hasn’t gotten any better in America with time, sadly.)

        • Mr.Plow

          I’ve always called “Hungry Heart” the peppiest song about deadbeat dads ever.

  • At this point, the Dylan influence was strong with this young man (“SO. MANY. LYRICS.” indeed); it would take a few albums to develop the sparer, more Chuck Berry-derived style, probably culminating in Nebraska. Back in the day, Orwell said that when the first great proletarian novel appeared, it would be on the radio, and Springsteen lives up to that. So do the Clash.

    • Honestly, I think his great proletarian “novel” is actually Born in the USA.

      • I was gonna say that or Nebraska, but it’s probably best to think of his albums as a series, like Steinbeck’s.

        • Nebraska and Born in the USA are his most thematically cohesive albums, so either of them work, I’d say.