It’s funny. We don’t agree on much. That seems to extend on to music and something occurred to me while listening to Bruce Springsteen’s address to the Austin SXSW Music Conference last week. He quoted Lester Bangs‘ writing about how Elvis might have been the last thing for rock fans to agree on as things splintered. This came to mind as a college radio colleague of mine posted some thoughts on “Wrecking Ball,” the latest Springsteen record and thoughtfully spoke on the great moments on the album, but the album wasn’t an “album” in the sense we old farts are used to seeing.
Now, longtime readers, all both of you, might notice Bruce is a favorite of mine. With the ipod being a standard home appliance, I wonder if the album has been replaced by the collection. I have to temper this thought with the idea that artists change. It’s not realistic to expect a 62 year old Springsteen to create a Born to Run once more. That moment of capturing light in a bottle is what makes those records so special in the first place. It’s great that he and the E Streeters play so well, but things get different with time. I didn’t particularly care for his last record and it was sort of a collection of songs. That isn’t a bad thing, but it felt like a bad snack. There were a couple of moments, a few songs I liked and a few, I flipping hated. “Queen of the Supermarket,” Boss? Really?
Anyway, the truimphs trump the flops and that’s about all you can ask for. I don’t know how I feel about his new album as a whole. I agree with my friend Dave in that I’ve found some nice moments, don’t know if they are part of a larger context. Through the generousity of a friend, I took my son to hear the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra tackle the music of Pink Floyd. That show opened with a complete retelling of the Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon.” That was telling because I think given how many of us have record collections that fit in our pockets now, I wonder how many performances like that are out there waiting to happen. The more Ipods we’ve got, the more we listen like we’re still collecting 45s
Anyway, here’s the master class:
“So rumble, young musicians, rumble. Open your ears and open your hearts. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and take yourself as seriously as death itself. Don’t worry. Worry your ass off. Have unclad confidence, but doubt. It keeps you awake and alert. Believe you are the baddest ass in town — and you suck! It keeps you honest. Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideals alive and well inside of your heart and head at all times. If it doesn’t drive you crazy, it will make you strong. And stay hard, stay hungry and stay alive. And when you walk on stage tonight to bring the noise, treat it like it’s all we have — and then remember it’s only rock ‘n’ roll.”