Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Springsteen’

I can handle a lot of things. Clarence Clemons death is not one of them.

No one had a tone like that. No one did more with 8 measures than he did. Rest in peace.

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This slays me.

The way Bruce performs this Suicide cover on the Devils and Dust Tour, it’s an incantation, a humble spell.

The song kind of circles you, and when you think it’s gonna give up, it doesn’t. A really nice moment when he rises, walks to the foot of the stage, and unabashedly, kindly, asks you to rise again, wipe your bloody mouth and tears, and smile. Keep your day-to-day bravery.

Quite frequently, I am in awe of Bruce Springsteen.

At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap / We gotta get out while were young…

Coincidence? In one song? Not possible, man.

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Well, he’s done it again.

I’d be hard pressed to think of an artist who has released as many great albums as Matthew Ryan has in the past 12 years. His latest, Dear Lover, is no different. Written from an emergency room (hopefully everything is ok now, either with Matthew’s family or himself), it’s yet another album of hopeful heartbreak, of people with bloody grins after they’ve been kicked in the teeth, of people with no Reason to Believe waiting on Amazing Grace.

Matthew’s a hard sell, I realize; he’s raw, he’s unvarnished, he’s true. Whenever I suggest him to people (which I do less than I should), I always add a warning: “Well, he’s kinda dark.” And he is. Yet I find his music endlessly uplifting, in the same way I find Shane McGowan, or Tom Waits, or The Ghost of Tom Joad uplifting. They don’t bullshit you. They don’t have time for false hope and bravado.

In Matthew’s songs, people keep going, man, they persevere. There’s a beauty in that, a humble majesty. I think one of the reasons it’s tough to spread the gospel of Mr. Ryan, of just how good he really is, is that I really feel you have to suggest him to people who look deeper, who have somewhat of a refined pallette, someone who’s not going to go, “Wow, his voice is rough.”

Yep. Sure is. Ain’t it grand?

I used to work at a record store in Minneapolis, and when we were closing, we would either put on the Flaming Lips or Tom Waits, generally ’cause they’d shake the hockey moms on out the door. One night, a woman came up late night, and asked, “Who IS this?” We were playing Rain Dogs. “It’s hideous,” she hissed. Oh, how the record store snobs laughed. I would not suggest Matthew Ryan to that woman.

And yet, I suggest Dear Lover to everyone. It’s got a Kraftwork meets early U2 meets Springsteen vibe to it. It’s raw like a journal entry, brave like a rejected first kiss. My favorites at this point are City Life, We Are Snowmen, The World Is…, and The End of a Ghost Story. I’m delighted to have a version of Some Streets Lead Nowhere, which is one of my favorites of his, ever. Spark reminds me of what it was like to hear Missing by Everything But The Girl in wintertime London.  Your Museum is a stark stained-glass piece that evokes The Waterboys; a sublime waltz in an abandoned church, decaying and crumbling buttresses open to the night sky.

The World Is… really floors me. It’s just a gorgeous piece of work. Like a man getting up to go to work in a town like Detroit, kissing his sleeping daughter, grabbing his coffee, and going to work, hoping against hope that he won’t get laid off today. The fight is fixed, but he’s lacing up his gloves regardless.

I could go on and on, really.

In the liner notes, in Matthew’s dedication, he writes:

I would suggest that you rail against the things or events that daunt you and/or your dreams with every consonant, vowel, sentence, idea and muscle in your mind and body.

Or, as Winston Churchill said,

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Thanks again, Matthew. Keep ’em coming.

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A lil’ tribute to Saint Joe Strummer at Glastonbury 2009:

One of the YouTube comments is priceless:

fooking brill

Here he is with the Gaslight Anthem:

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Springsteen had Tom Morello play on “Tom Joad” and Mike Ness from Social D play “Bad Luck” on Tax Day. I missed it. But, thanks to the power of the InterWeb, I feel like I was THERE!!!

Or at least, experiencing a choppy, compressed, notepad-sized version of it. They’re super-comparable.

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David Wild has a space-filling little post over at Huffpo entitled “Back Off the Boss,” in which he suggests a ton of “Springsteen Bashing.”  Now, I love Bruce. LOVE him. But for David Wild to suggest people are bashing Bruce because he a. didn’t get an Oscar nomination for “The Wrestler” theme, and b. because they’re lukewarm on the new album and Magic, well, that’s just silly and wrong.


Magic is, well, just alright. “Radio Nowhere” rips pretty good. “You’ll Be Coming Down” is a great indictment to the transitory nature of youth. “Living in the future” is sloganeering, and it needs to swing (it doesn’t). I would contend that the E Street Band hasn’t really swung since “Mad Dog” Lopez left. Max is great, but there’s just something loose about those first coupla albums that I can’t put my finger on. That being said, Max’s playing on the Hammersmith Odeon Live ’75 disc is fantastic.

As for the rest, it’s a pretty spare bunch: “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” is a great “River”-era, girl-group gem that coulda been written in the 50’s; “I’ll Work For Your Love” has a great verse, boring chorus; “Devil’s Arcade” I’ll bet was a great demo, it’s a bit ponderous with the band; and of course, “Terry’s Song” is a crushingly great odeto a friend who’s passed. Can’t say enough good things about that song.


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