Monday, August 13, 2007

On Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen Springs Eternal




















...I've had cuts from this LP on me for years on cassette and burned on CDS, when I got my shite digitized I scooped some of it's tunage in that Greatest Hits joint but it was just until a couple of days ago that I realized the import of what this, Bruce Springsteen's 7th LP at that point, meant when it dropped back in the summer of 1984...hard to believe it's been 23 years...



...this was the joint that made me double back and take another look at the earlier stuff with a clearer lens, er, ear... it was hard for me to grasp a lot of what was being written between the lines of the lyrics on tunes like "Downbound Train" and "Working on the Highway" and "Darlington County"...I wasn't stupid, either and there was a palpable shift in the way earthly things were going, obvious even to a kid...I hadn't been anywhere yet and if I'd started believing what people were telling me (stop writing in your journal, listening to that "jungle music", rock, and learn a shop trade), I'd probably still be there doing something less than fulfilling, creatively or otherwise...but I'm not...this was back when you sat down with an album and read all the lyrics/ credits in the jacket as you listened and learned...ain't music grand?...















...I was still wet behind the ears, to be certain, but I had a bit of pre-internet savvy while watching the bands perform in video on the (then) new MTV network (which was still in the throes of learning what it wanted to be..kinda like my teenaged self back then)...No, I wasn't what the Spaniards would call "mundial" by any stretch but I was tuned in enough to tap into the verbiage on tunes like "Working on the Highway", "Cover Me" and "Dancing in the Dark" (which would become an MTV staple; help launch Courtney Coxx' acting career...who knew "Friends" would become the monstrosity that it got to be?...it just dawned on me that I always liked that the protagonist was giving the middle finger to his troubles and was still trying to write some shite down anyway)...so THATS when it started for the young "Crash"....




















...at any rate, I clearly recall that it was a time when, Grecian Formula'd Bald Eagles swooped back and forth across the Cold War skies, as Michael Franti, formerly the front man of the Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy might've put it) and times were a trifle tough for a grip of us in America...people like my folks who worked hard for their pay doing jobs that required uniforms and name tags...kinda like right now...yeah, I was too young to tap into the pain that my parents were going through but, hindsight 20/20, I now understand why, when my mom got her brand new Columbia House subscription, this was one of the first LP's that she ordered...as soon as she got home it was this album and then some David Bowie (Let's Dance)...people weren't crankin' that kinda shite in my sepia-toned neighborhood (at least not at the Tufnel-esque levels that she would when she was getting her post-work swerve on)...she played Born in the USA a lot, it seemed while she kicked it out on our balcony figuring out how she was going to rob Peter to pay Paul.....she'd crank tunes like "I'm Going Down", "Cover Me" or "I'm on Fire" and sometimes (especially on Fridays) she'd bump "Glory Days" like it was going out of style...it took me a minute to figure out how she could program the turntable arm to jump to that cut without getting up to do so herself...



...in my travels I've met people who could never get into "The Boss' " sound and sometimes, even when they could check an LP like Nebraska, they just didn't cotton to Born in the USA for some reason...a grip of European friends think that Springsteen's Jersey Bard stance can get a trifle sappy but to that I say, this is one of dude's best offerings, his word smithing is in top form and I especially liked that he got salty and took issue with Ronnie Ray-Gun's administration and other conservative corporate shills who tried to utilize "Born in the USA" as a campaign theme song...Too, there's a lot of lesser known tracks like "Bobby Jean" and "No Surrender" that are evocative of that quintessential, individualist spirit that was once thought of an influenza that only certain people were born with... I don't think so, I just think dude was in the right place at the right time doing what he'd always done...when I lived in New York, I had a friend from university who lived in Red Bank, NJ (Bruce's stomping grounds)...


















...Listen, Mister back in the early 90s, sometimes I'd escape Gotham and all that that would entail and take the NJT PATH train over to the Garden State for a weekend to visit Jennifer and her husband perform in their Blues outfit, Terraplane Blues , we'd suck down shots and pitchers at Jersey clubs with tiny stages in 'em...the same stages that people like Bruce, Stevie Van Zandt and a grip of others who have "made it out" used to perform on when they needed a place to sharpen their chops while keeping the rain off their heads...this was many years before The Sopranos hit the airwaves and skewed everyone's perspectives on how it really is; you could still feel that "rock-n-roll" elan coursing in the fiber of the dark hardwood that the interior of these places are lined with(probably still can but I haven't been there in a minute, so I'm spitballing)...it smacked of visiting Colonial Williamsburg, VA as a kid growing up down in the mid-Atlantic South...seafood, caught hours beforehand, fresh out of the Chesapeake Bay...hearing the cicadas' loud trills in the treetops every couple of years...you couldn't forget it if you wanted to...the timber's so old and has been used for so long that all of the lies have been worn out of 'em...on the music tip, in East Jersey's case...

























...I haven't seen 'em in about five years but I know that my friends are still rockin' out there, holding down day gigs and keeping it real by night... I launch my love out into the cosmos at 'em every chance I get...and every time I do so, like I'm doing right now as I type this, I feel like one of those characters in a Springsteen tune who "when they feel like crying, [they] start laughing, thinking 'bout -- Glory Days"...there's a reason that this is one of my favorite rock albums from my teenage years on up to the now, aught seven...it has always spoken to the inner working-class guy buried inside me somehow and these last seven years his voice has gotten louder and louder...more poignant, as it were..."on Main Street, whitewashed windows and vacant stores...seems like there ain't nobody want to come down here no more"...having traveled through some of those forgotten hamlets that people like to talk about passing through but never stopping at, when I was on the road playing all over the East Coast, I know that there's a truth in the things that this LP covers that isn't sexy but remains relevant, especially now which is part of why I still like it so much...dude's saying something, here...rarely do I admit this because she'd never let me live it down but: my mom was onto something back in the day that she knew I'd understand decades later...and now I do...man, those years sure pass right on by you, don't they?...like "in the wink of a young girl's eye"...it's all good, though...Been "Working on the Highway" all day?...Well, pull up a chair, son and sit a spell... take a listen...I got this round...



...an extra pat of butter to the Pimp (once again) for reminding me of an LP that I slipped on...you can check a couple more tunes from this LP on my music blog...

Labels: , , , , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home