Bruce Springsteen – Racing in the Street

Bruce Springsteen knows rock’n'roll tells us lies – he loves the falsehoods, but he wants us to know the truth, too

When I was 19, I thought Paddy McAloon had been so clever. He had watched Bruce Springsteen’s kingdom become an empire through the mid-80s and responded with with an acerbic little song critiquing Springsteen’s lyrical preoccupations. “Look at us now, quit driving,” he sang on what became a hit single for Prefab Sprout, “some things hurt more, much more than cars and girls.” Yeah! You showed him! That big, bloated American with his will to rock power and his trite tunes about good ol’ boys in Cadillacs.

As you may have guessed, I didn’t actually know very much about Springsteen. If I did, I’d have realised that he, more than anyone, knows some things hurt more, much more than cars and girls. Those cars-and-girls songs we were pointing and laughing at? Most of them weren’t really about cars and girls. Even Racing in the Street, a song that talks explicitly and in great detail about cars, and about meeting a girl in a car, isn’t about cars and girls. Even Racing in the Street? Especially Racing in the Street.

One of rock’s commonest tricks is to pair triumphalist music with despairing lyrics. As it opens, Racing in the Street reverses that: it is sombrely paced, Roy Bittan’s piano picking out a phrase adapted from the Crystals’ Then He Kissed Me. That melody is dropped and Springsteen enters, telling us about his “69 Chevy with a 396/ Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor”. Read the lyrics to the first verse on the page, and you’d swear they’re from one of the Beach Boys’ hot rod albums – there’s no ambivalence or ambiguity here, and certainly not in the chorus: “Tonight, tonight the strip’s just right/ I wanna blow ‘em off in my first heat/ Summer’s here and the time is right/ For goin’ racin’ in the street.”

But it’s not a celebration. We know this from the music. And we wonder: why has he lifted a melody from the Crystals? Why does the title crib from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas? Why has Springsteen taken these anthems of youthful joy and turned them into laments?

Racing in the Street, I think, is about a self being torn apart. Our narrator’s at the age where he has seen his friends put their cars in the garage, forget their past, and – in his eyes – forget who they are. These are the guys who “just give up living/ And start dying little by little, piece by piece.” So why is he conflicted? Because he’s also at the age where he’s coming to realise that maybe there’s more to life than cars. That’s why we’ve got those musical steals: they are the songs of his youth, the songs before there was doubt. The songs from when racing in the street seemed like a worthy life ambition.

And so, in the third verse – think of it more like a film: this is the third act – he meets a girl (and isn’t it telling he encounters her “in a Camaro with this dude from LA”? The car, not the boyfriend, is what he notices first). He races the Camaro, he wins, and then he “drove that little girl away”.

And here the perspective shifts: our narrator stops telling us about his car, and we learn about the consequences of investing your hope in your youthful dreams. Because the girl has been driven away in both senses – his fecklessness, his insistence on defining himself through his own desires leaves no room for the compromise that is necessary in an adult life. Just three years after the couple met, “she stares off alone into the night/ With the eyes of one who hates for just being born.”

What Springsteen understands more than any other artist I can think of is that the transcendence of great rock’n'roll comes from it being built on lies. Rock’n'roll almost never tells you the truth: from Elvis to Oasis it has insisted you can live the moment; it writes the listener cheques that real life can’t cash. We’re gonna live forever, we’re gonna party til we puke, we’ll revel in girls, girls, girls. That is not real life, and Springsteen doesn’t want to pretend it is, even if he thrills to the idea of it.

And so we get this – forgive the pretension – dialectic. Springsteen wants us to celebrate, he wants us to have that moment of transcendence. On stage he works tirelessly, hamming it up shamelessly, cajoling the audience to that point where we embrace the deception – where for that moment all our worries and fears are forgotten – and we can be heroes, just for three hours. But all the time he is reminding us of what lies outside, and so – as another song puts it – “we’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood/ and these badlands start treating us good.” (I think the most telling exploration of this chasm at the heart of Springsteen’s music is heard on bootlegs of his 1978 tour, where he would often open with an old rock’n'roll cover – Oh Boy!, Rave On, Summertime Blues, Good Rockin’ Tonight – and then pile straight into Badlands. He told the lie, then he lifted back the veil and exposed the lie.)

Springsteen’s music resonates so powerfully for me because it enables me to be in two places at once: to be both the kid dancing and shouting and drinking and singing, and to be the adult worried how his kids will fare, whether there’ll still be a job this time next year, whether I’m being fair to my wife about this and that. I don’t think there’s anyone else who tells us that both these experiences are not just valid, but vital. Embrace contradiction, Springsteen tells us, it’s what makes us who we are.

And back to the song, where the contradiction is indeed embraced. It ends with man and woman together, somehow. “Tonight my baby and me, we’re gonna ride to the sea/ And wash these sins off our hands.” One more chorus, and we enter a coda that washes up again and again, like that sea, unending, fading slowly, letting us know there was no cataclysm, that there is hope, somewhere, no matter how hard it might seem to believe that.

Michael Hann

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain. A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour. Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping During the Wrecking Ball Tour2013: The Light in Darkness
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Tom Morello on Bruce Springsteen Tour: ‘It’s Been a Really Fun Challenge’

An inside look at what it’s like to step into the E Street Band

Patrick Doyle

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello perform in Los Angeles, California. Rick Diamond/WireImage

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello perform in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage

Three months ago, Bruce Springsteen asked Tom Morello to join the E Street Band on their current Australian leg of the Wrecking Ball tour while Steven Van Zandt films his show Lilyhammer. The morning after playing their fourth show, in Sydney, Morello wasn’t regretting taking the job.

“It’s been great. It’s been really an honor being onstage with one of my favorite bands – one of the greatest live bands of all time,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of Bruce Springsteen shows, but I’ve never been to four consecutive ones. And every show isn’t just a different show – a completely different experience.”

The tour has been one of Sprinsteen’s most ambitious ever: shows stretching to four hours with his biggest E Street lineup ever, Springsteen breaking out mega-rarities like “High Hopes,” “Bishop Danced” and “Be True.”

“Our band plays very differently night to night. It’s not a repetition, it’s a renewal,” Springsteen told reporters of the tour in Australia. “If you’re doing it right, that’s how it feels.”

Morello faced a challenge stepping into a band that’s been playing together for decades. “I learned about 50 songs in three months for the tour, and every night, 90 minutes til soundcheck, Bruce will text me with seven or eight songs we’ve never played before,” he said with a laugh. “And then during the show, he’ll call up songs we’ve never even discussed – some I’ve never even heard!

“Every night, there’s six to eight songs I have literally about a nanosecond to prepare for. But it’s fun. Now that I know that’s the gig I’m like, ‘Lets go!’ Make it clear: I’m not asking Bruce to stump me. I would love to play ‘Thunder Road.’ But it’s been a really fun challenge.”

Van Zandt recently admitted he was hesitant to take time off the road. “It’s a little uncomfortable, because I’ve never missed a show, as long as I’ve been in the band,” he said. “I’m very happy they got Tom Morello, ’cause it helps a great deal to know that Bruce is not there up front on his own. I think Tommy, to some extent, will fulfill that function of interacting with the audience a bit, and interacting with Bruce a little bit.”

How did Morello learn the songs so quickly? “I’m pretty good at test-taking. I have pretty good guessing skills.”

Then Morello cut the interview short to head to the hotel lobby. “I actually have to go downstairs to do a thing with Mr. Springsteen right now,” he said.

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping During the Wrecking Ball Tour2013: The Light in Darkness

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For You: Original Stories and Photographs by Bruce Springsteen’s Legendary Fans

 

Front Cover of For You - The Book

 

Bruce Springsteen represents a great deal to his fans, not only as a world-renowned artist, but as a giving and caring person, someone who stands out by helping and donating to many charitable organizations over the years. Today I am asking for your help to raise money for the Montreal General Hospital. We are collecting funds to benefit two MGH departments, the Emergency/Trauma, and the Colorectal Department.

You can play an essential role in efforts for 2013 by donating to this worthy cause. Suggested donation, $10 CDN or $15 CDN. All monies collected will be donated to the Montreal General Hospital.

Give today and Help Us Make a Difference.

 


Back Cover of For You - The Book“If I had to sum up this book in one word it would be ‘beautiful.’ This book is without a doubt for ‘real fans.’ I have quite a collection of books about Bruce but this one is different to the rest by the fact that it’s brim full from front to back with stories from fans. It has given fans the opportunity to tell their stories of themselves and Bruce. The stories are short, long, happy, sad, joyous, excited, funny and, above all, heartfelt. Every one excited to share their story or little piece of Bruce with everyone else. The book is beautifully produced and presented and takes you through Bruce’s musical life in the form of stunning photos throughout.”

Rumble Doll
UK


“Je l’ai reçu et je peux vous assurer que la qualité du bouquin est vraiment à la hauteur de mes attentes. Près de 500 photos réalisées par plus de 70 photographes différents et s’étalant sur une période allant de 1971 à mars 2007 contribuent à ranger ‘For You‘ dans la catégorie des poids lourds en terme d’images.”

Un livre recommandé par:
brucespringsteen.fr


“What’s most striking about For You is its almost palpable passion. You’ve got the fans, who write with an almost religious fervor about seeing, hearing and occasionally touching the New Jersey native, from his emergence in the 1970s right up through his Seeger Sessions tour in 2006.”
Ross Raihala
Pioneer Press Twin Cities, Minnesota

 


“We have seen several new Bruce books in the last few years, including another long-awaited book by official Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh and a lavish book about the E Street Band. I bought them all, because as a librarian by profession, I see it as my holy duty. But if you are going to buy just one of the current Bruce books, I won’t hesitate to recommend getting For You. For You is a much-needed fresh breath in the Bruce bibliography and essential to any serious fan.”
Karsten S. Andersen
Denmark
Greasylake.org

 


“If you are any kind of a Springsteen fan, you need this book! The first story brought me to tears it was so moving and so well written. I am not a big reader, but I sat there in my den last night with the TV on and must have spent almost 2 hours just reading the stories and looking over the great photos from the early years, and thinking back to my younger days.

Steven Delmar
Edison New Jersey


“For You is one of the most important books ever to trace the career of Bruce Springsteen. Compiled by Lawrence Kirsch, the book features the words and photos of Springsteen fans from all over the world. The majority of the photos have never been published before, and are nothing short of amazing.”

Tom Cunningham
The Bruce Brunch
105.7 The Hawk


“Bruce Springsteen fans have submitted their memories and photos for inclusion in a new book, For You, by Lawrence Kirsch. The stories chronicle Springsteen’s career from its conception, and incorporate images from all eras (including shots of Springsteen with the E Street Band, Bono, Neil Young and more).”

Rolling Stone: Rock and Roll Daily


“In reading For You, at first it’s hard to believe that one performer could possibly have touched this many people this deeply – lifted them from depression, kept them from suicide, helped them through divorce or the death of a parent, or worse, a child. But story after story reveals just how much Springsteen’s music and his almost superhuman presence on the concert stage have penetrated people’s lives and, in as much as it is possible for music to do so, made them whole.

In fact, there’s a running theme of these reminiscences, one that is sure to warm any Bruce fan’s heart: that you are not crazy. Not crazy for seeing dozens or even hundreds of concerts; not crazy for feeling that Springsteen’s songs and lyrics have actually helped carry you through some of life’s toughest moments; not crazy to think that this man whom you’ve never met has and continues to fill some kind of void in your life.”

Peter Chianca
Excerpt from Blogness on the Edge of Town


 

Please help spread the news on your Facebook page and Twitter. Thanks!

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He’s the Boss, and He Keeps His Promises

Andrew Tate
March 17, 2013

Well they’re still racing out at the trestles / But that blood it never burned in her veins. / Now I hear she’s got a house up in Fairview / And a style she’s trying to maintain. / Well if she wants to see me / You can tell her that I’m easily found. / Tell her there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge / And tell her there’s a darkness on the edge of town.

Lost loves never want to see you again, of course, but even as a callow youth with heart intact it was clear that was actually the point of Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 masterpiece Darkness on the Edge of Town. Thankfully, it’s a lot harder to fall out with the Boss.

In the early 1980s – a time when Duran Duran inexplicably held sway and Bob Dylan had retreated into born-again preaching – I first stumbled across Springsteen’s working-class anthems on a battered vinyl record stuffed at the back of a crate.

It is now legend that the album that became Darkness on the Edge of Town was originally a different set of recordings that Springsteen only released in 2010 under the title The Promise. Fresh from the breakout success of Born to Run the man feted as ”the future of rock’n'roll” was labouring on his new album when he heard the punk explosion and realised that his work was already outdated.

”I culled my music to the toughest collection of songs I had, songs that still form the philosophical core of what we do today, swept the rest away and headed on,” Springsteen wrote in the liner notes for The Promise. ”At 27, that is what I’d hoped for, that I’d written something that would continue to fill me with purpose and meaning in the years to come, that would continue to mean something to me and to you … I owe the choices we made then and that young man their respect.”

Recognising when everything has changed and acting accordingly is a rare skill for young men. It’s all too clear that we blokes often stumble around trying to fix things way beyond the point of no return – be it a failing relationship or dead-end job. Springsteen populates his music with good men rising above adversity and bad men trying to put things right – a blessed relief in a world where spivs and high-flyers seem ascendant.

In Darkness, the protagonist’s ”Trestles” were the surfing spots on the coast of California, mine was (believe it or not) an old trestle railway bridge tucked into a hidden river valley. Just as there always seems to be a ”Mary”, so it is most have a quiet place where possibility can still trump reality.

When Springsteen came to the Melbourne Showgrounds in 1985, my younger self – complete with long-departed mop of blond hair – was immortalised as a smudge in The Age’s picture of the crowd. Bruce sang 30 songs that April night – Darkness was not one of them, but in a seemingly endless set-list he knocked off Twist and Shout as a finale.

The twists were only just beginning and life was never again so simple. Soon I was working a long way from home and within five years, aged just 23, became a father. That’s when you truly land yourself in a Springsteen song.

The man himself wasn’t immune from personal failings, and a short-lived marriage spawned 1987′s Tunnel of Love album. Like Dylan before him, the blood on the tracks were there for all to see, particularly in Cautious Man, a tale about a drifter trying to honour his marriage vows even as the road calls him back.

Melbourne has only called Bruce back twice since 1985, a three-night solo stand at the Palais Theatre in 1997 during the Ghost of Tom Joad tour, and one night of The Rising at Docklands in 2003. As it happened, those two concerts book-ended my own journey from small-town galoot to settled city father and (yikes!) grandfather. In 1997 I was on the run and camped out in a Dublin studio apartment behind Croke Park Stadium – where the best the locals could manage was three interminably long nights of country singer Garth Brooks. By 2003, I was back in Melbourne and whingeing about the acoustics to the sweet soul who would become my wife – Wendy.

So thanks is due to the evergreen Mr Springsteen. His latest album Wrecking Ball is as strong a statement on fairness and yearning as Darkness was 35 years ago. The Boss may now dine with presidents, but the promise has been kept …

Tonight I’ll be on that hill ’cause I can’t stop. / I’ll be on that hill with everything I’ve got. / Where lives are on the line, where dreams are found and lost. / I’ll be there on time and I’ll pay the cost / For wanting things that can only be found / In the darkness on the edge of town.

The album ends with those words and Springsteen’s fading voice humming the chorus into infinity. We’ll probably never know why the girl with the house in Fairview turned so hard, but when the darkness turns to grey perhaps straining to hear the echo goes with the territory.

■ Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform at Rod Laver Arena on March 24, 26 and 27, and at Hanging Rock on March 30.

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping During the Wrecking Ball Tour2013: The Light in Darkness

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Bruce Springsteen In Australia: ‘I’m Not Sure How Good I Am With My Money’

Bruce Springsteen Australia 2013

Bruce Springsteen Australia 2013

ROD McGUIRK

Bruce Springsteen is in Australia to support “Wrecking Ball.”

CANBERRA, Australia — Bruce Springsteen is playing a note of caution about his political influence over Australian economic policies.

Springsteen and his E Street Band opened their Wrecking Ball Tour to enthusiastic reviews in Brisbane, the hometown of Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan, who revealed in a speech last year that The Boss had long been his political inspiration.

Swan said the New Jersey-born working-class hero’s musical railings against inequality echoed his own public battle against Australian billionaire mining tycoons who oppose his tax reforms.

When told at a news conference Thursday that Swan had cited his musical idol as an influence on his center-left government’s economic policies, Springsteen urged caution.

“Really? You better watch out there,” Springsteen joked. “I’m not sure how good I am with my money.”

He added, “I hope it’s been a positive influence, that’s all I can say.”

Swan was named by banking magazine Euromoney as the world’s finance minister of the year for 2011 for helping steer Australia clear of recession during the global economic meltdown. He is attending the final two-week session of Parliament in Canberra before he releases his annual budget blueprint on May 14 and has revealed that the annual ritual involves him playing Springsteen’s hit single “Born to Run.”

Swan said Springsteen’s 1975 breakthrough album “Born to Run,” as well as subsequent albums “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A” and “Nebraska,” talked about the shifting foundations of the U.S. economy before the subject became topical.

“If I could distill the relevance of Bruce Springsteen’s music to Australia, it would be this: Don’t let what has happened to the American economy happen here,” Swan said.

Swan said Springsteen is also the favorite musician of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

He has concerts in Sydney, Melbourne and rural Victoria state before heading to Europe in late April.

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping During the Wrecking Ball Tour2013: The Light in Darkness

Link to this post | Leave a comment