My Tires Were Slashed And I Almost Crashed But The Lord Had Mercy
My Machine She's A Dud, I'm Stuck In The Mud Somewhere In The Swamps Of Jersey
Bruce Springsteen (1593 Points, 26 Votes, 1 #1 Vote)
Years Active: 1972-present
: Do you remember when your love of music started?
Being the youngest of seven kids, and having parents that always enjoyed music, I heard a lot of different stuff growing up. From Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra to Petula Clark, The Association and The Mamas & the Papas; from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Gordon Lightfoot, to Barbara Streisand and Bette Midler; from Motown and Memphis to Tin Pan Alley and Haight Ashbury -- it was all there for my consumption. But it wasn’t until October of 1975 that I heard something that stopped me in my tracks. Something that I could call my own.
I walked into the kitchen and my brother was looking at a magazine. I asked him what he was reading and he held up an issue of Time and said, “An article about this guy,” pointing toward our living room. In that instant, hearing “Born to Run” blasting from our old Magnavox home entertainment center, I realized what music was supposed to sound like. It was huge, but intimate. It was raw, but refined. It spoke of isolation and unity. Escape and surrender. It was intended to be Bob Dylan sung by Roy Orbison produced by Phil Spector, and it was (although I had no idea who two of those people were at the time).
A lot of time has passed since then – nearly 33 years – and I’ve gone from being a somewhat dorky 8th grader to a thoroughly dorky oldster. Between then and now, there have been a lot of good times and a few bad ones, but virtually every step of the way, music has been there to mark those times, and the music of Bruce Springsteen has been there more than any other.
It was there with songs like “Rosalita” and “Jungleland” as I came out of my shell in high school. It was there on countless nights as me and my buddies blasted around the northwest suburbs to “Sherry Darling” and The Detroit Medley, doing our best to get into and then out of trouble. It was there with a song called “Wreck on the Highway” when my brother was killed by a drunk driver. It was there 5 weeks later when I met my future bride. It was there a week after that when we first kissed to “Born to Run” (another story). “The River” was there when a good friend got a girl pregnant, and there was a lot of Springsteen played at their wedding reception, the night my wife and I got engaged. It was there with “Living Proof” when we discovered the wonders of raising our children. Songs like “If I Should Fall Behind” have been there when our marriage has flowed smoothly, and others like “One Step Up” have been there when it hasn’t. At times, Bruce’s music has caused me to examine who I am and it’s inspired me to work at who I want to be. And lest I forget, all along the way it’s entertained the hell out me.
Now, I’m not here to argue whether or not Bruce is the best musician or songwriter of all time, and I acknowledged that others have perhaps been more influential than him. But the thing of it is, for a lot of us, that stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is the connection we have with the man and his music.
So, 33 years ago, I fell in love with the music of Bruce Springsteen, and through him I came to discover and love the music of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Mitch Ryder, Patti Smith, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and James Brown, along with Frat Rock, Rockabilly and Memphis Soul. And now, as a new generation of Springsteen fans emerge, it’s fun to hear his music seep into songs by such bands as Arcade Fire, The National, The Hold Steady and The Killers. Critics say he’s no longer relevant. It’s good to see these guys disagree. I know I do. - norton
: The songs on Born to Run sent shivers up my spine the first time I heard them, and despite the fact I’ve heard the album thousands of times, they still do. What truly amazes me is the fact that after all these years, I can still notice things in these songs I’ve never noticed before. I remember listening to the broadcast of the first Sound Opinions night out; the night Eric Maloney read his essay on why “Born to Run” was the greatest song of all-time. I had crappy ear buds plugged into a cheap clock radio, and when Greg and Jim played the tune, out came a guitar layer I had never heard before. Shivers.
So, if I have to recommend a single Springsteen album over all others, it would have to be where it all started for me; with a screen door slamming and a summer dress dancing in the breeze. If you don’t have Born to Run, buy it.
: Now, since you already own Born to Run, you have the title track and “Thunder Road,” so I won’t include either of those in my 3 song list, which helps a lot. How do you pick three songs to represent a catalog like Bruce’s? Well, here goes. … wait … is Kessler still around? Shit!
In no particular order:
Song #1: “Kitty’s Back”
You’ve all probably heard “Rosalita” on the radio. Well “Kitty’s Back” is the other rocker on Bruce’s The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle album. The album is loaded with gems, but I think this one really represents the soul and jazz influences on a lot of Bruce’s earlier stuff. David Sancious absolutely kills on this thing.
Song #2: “Reason To Believe”
I would be negligent if I didn’t include a tune off Nebraska, and I suppose “Atlantic City” would have been the obvious choice, but again, I figure you’ve probably heard that one on the radio at some point, so I picked “Reason to Believe” instead. One of the things I love about the song is its ultimate optimism. At the end of an album about death and murder and betrayal, Bruce sings “At the end of every hard earned day, people find some reason to believe.” Ah, the human spirit. Selfishly, I also get a kick out of the fact that one of the character’s names is Kyle William. My name is Jude William, and my mother told me if she and my dad hadn’t named me Jude, they would have named me Kyle. So there you go. Bruce clearly he wrote the song for me.
Song #3: “Shenandoah”
Taken from Bruce’s Seeger Sessions album, this tune is simply gorgeous. The biggest complaint I’ve had with Bruce recently is my belief that his music has been over-produced. I blame Jon Landau, but who knows. I do know that this album was a real breath of fresh air, and “Shenandoah” was the highlight for me. Stripped down to its essence, the song is still as vibrant and lush as you could imagine. One of Bruce’s strengths has always been his ability to paint a picture with his music, and this is a great example as you imagine yourself easing down the river as the captain sings his song of lament.
Ranked Highest By
: norton (#1)
Also Ranked By
: Paul, Ramona (#2), Campaigner, tweed (#3), elcorazon (#4)