Movie: Springsteen & I

Last night TS1 and I saw this new Ridley Scott-produced Springsteen fan documentary and I was blown away. Maybe my expectations were on the low side, I was sort of expecting repetitive yammering, but director Baillie Walsh did a superb job of mixing up touching home videos and career-spanning concert videos.

If you haven’t heard about Springsteen & I, this is the basic story: A bit more than a year ago the call was put out for Springsteen fans to make short videos talking about what Bruce meant to them, with the best submissions to be used in this film. Phone cams, web cams, whatever, the important thing was what the person said.

I wanted to make one but nerves got the better of me and I punked out 😦 Who’s sorry now, right?

If there was one negative about the choices Walsh and the producers made it was the almost complete lack of mention of any of the E Street band members. I find it hard to believe no one sent in a video that included a sentimental bit about Clarence, for instance.

Some of the stories were great, more than one had me tearing up, a bunch were funny (Philly Elvis, I’m looking at you, dude!), and only one or two were mawkish (e.g., the couple dancing).

There was even one from a long-suffering husband of a huge Bruce fan whose main request to Springsteen manager Jon Landau when the couple met him and Bruce was could he maybe shorten the epic shows. As if! I empathized with that guy since I think TS1, who probably enjoys Bruce and the band somewhat more than him, generally puts up with my devotion.

What I would have said

In three words: power, connection, endurance. (Fans were asked to include this)

Bruce came into my life in 1975 when Mike Appel, his first manager/producer, snuck an early release of Born to Run out of the studio to a few key radio stations with DJs who were already supporters. One of them was WNEW-FM, the main rock radio station in the New York City area in the ’70s, and they played the heck out of it. For me it was a revelation, even after 40 years I’m hard put to say just why. When the album was finally released and Bruce was on the cover of Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone the same week I was already ruining the vinyl by playing it constantly. For three months nothing else was on my turntable!

The second event, the one I think sealed my fandom, was a radio concert (also broadcast on WNEW-FM) from the beginning of the 1978 Darkness on the Edge of Town tour. In those days three years between releases was an eternity but Bruce lost two years to a brutal court case to get free from Appel and then, well, he never thinks a record is done.

Anyway I remember sleeping over a buddy’s house to listen to the concert together, was a big deal since this was a Wednesday night during the school year. Springsteen still told long stories as part of the intro to songs–which I wish he still did–and the way he drew me in to his world with the stories in top of the band’s amazing rock and roll and soul music was just what my 17 year old self wanted.

Or needed. Suburban New Jersey teenage life was privileged and easy, to be sure, but not necessarily filled with excitement. The closest I guess I got was an episode three months before the concert in Asbury Park of all places.

That was it. Bill was hooked, then and forever. I remember bugging the guys at the off-campus record store two years later every week after the posters announcing The River went up. Is it here? Do you have it yet? 52 year old me remembers the excitement and passion, and seeing five of the 10 concerts they played in LA at the start and end of the tour.

That’s my story, I guess. And no mention of any E Streeters, so I guess that explains why the film was the same.

Thanks Bruce, Danny, Clarence, Roy, Steve, Garry, Max, Nils, Soozy, Patti, Vinny, David, Boom and Jon!

The Race

I’m running a race between a bullet and the carcinoma
Telling ugly truths from the pulpit of a concert stage
Won’t have to face the aftermath of my derision
No time, there’s no time left, no time left to waste.

I hardly believed what I heard from the doctor
Can’t be my time yet to go away
Guess all those years of livin’ hard
Had a price after all to pay, a mighty price to pay.

So let me tell you child, what knowledge I have gleaned
There’s no one worth your pity and no one worth your hate
No one who needs your bullet, no one who needs your fist
Everyone needs your hand, everyone needs your love.

I’m running a race between a bullet and the carcinoma
Telling ugly truths from the pulpit of a concert stage
Won’t have to face the aftermath of my derision
No time, there’s no time left, no time left to waste.

The talking heads on your screen sure love their voice
Sayin’ what they will to get attention, all the hard emotions
Crank up the volume on their spittle, the volume on their rage
I cry to see the crowds they gather round.

Look closely at what they’re pitching and find the meat inside
Don’t stop on your first reaction, keep thinking for yourself
Is he asking you out of greed, appealing to your fear
Or is she asking you out of optimism, hope and love?

Tribes don’t matter
Clans don’t matter
States don’t matter
Countries don’t matter
Religions don’t matter

People… people… people matter

Now I’m running a race between a bullet and the carcinoma
Telling ugly truths from the pulpit of a concert stage
Won’t have to face the aftermath of my derision
No time, there’s no time left, no time left to waste.

Remember, you’re what matters and you’ve got no time to waste.

Zoo Station rocked Mountain View Arts & Wine

Mountain View is home to the Shoreline Amphitheater and so hosts many, many concerts. Living just the other side of 101 from it we can often stand in the yard and listen to washed-out, blurry music. Going to a show with 20,000 or so folks, though, is something I’m rarely interested in doing and so I’ve never gone there. If Springsteen or U2 ever changed their location strategy away from arenas and stadiums, that’d be another story.

Mountain View also hosts an annual Arts & Wine Festival on Castro St. and we went to this year’s over the weekend. The Festival has three or four bands on the ‘main’ stage by City Hall each day and this year we went to see Zoo Station, a U2 tribute band–TS1 is a huge U2 fan.

Zoo Station at Mountain View Arts and Wine Festival 2010

These guys were great! The lead singer, Bonalmost, has charisma to spare and, arguably, the hardest task in singing like Bono. The Sledge has his original’s enigmatic presence down pat.

Zoo Station's guitarist, singer and drummer

This year was definitely a comeback year for the Festival overall. The booth count was way up from the last couple of years, stretching all the way from El Camino Real to Evelyn, and while I don’t have an attendance number for sure the crowds were much thicker (we actually went both days). Had some tasty fried calamari for lunch Saturday and a wonderful sweet, light southern style pulled pork sandwich Sunday.

Falling in love with Springsteen’s music

One of my favorite memories from when I was a teenager comes from 1975, when I was just turning 14. Bruce Springsteen at that time was very popular with rock critics but he was hardly known at all to most people even though he had already released two records. But his manager slipped a tape of a new Bruce song called Born to Run to a few important radio stations, including the one to which I listened in New York, WNEW-FM.

The song was huge! The radio stations started playing it all the time, even though you couldn’t buy the record yet. In particular, my station started to play the song every Friday at 6 p.m. to kick off the weekend. I remember running to turn on the radio every week to hear it, I was so in love with the song. Finally on August 25, 1975 the album with the song was released and I ran to the store that very day to buy it.

I was so excited, I would be able to hear the song and all the others on the record all the time, whenever I wanted, and not just when I was lucky enough to catch Springsteen on the radio. I wonder if my parents remember that I didn’t play any other album but this one for months. That was when I fell in love with Bruce’s music!

Stones to be rolled into Sopranos

After hearing that Rolling Stones members Keith Richards and Charlie Watts are fans of The Sopranos, Warner Brothers has cast them for acting roles in the mobster drama, reports the Sun. An unnamed source at the show says the legendary guitarist and drummer ”might appear as themselves, but we would like to have them play a pair of old-school British gangsters…We know they love the show just like we love the Stones, so it’s really a match made in heaven.”