Reading Mr. Springsteen

6 thoughts on “Reading Mr. Springsteen”

  1. A good read, Gerry. I remember buying his first two albums, second hand, from Probe Records when it was in Clarence Street. 1973? The same day I bought ‘On the road’ from Atticus Books, upstairs from Probe then. Went home, put the headphones on. And by 5 the next morning had finished the book and already thought Bruce Springsteen was the future of rock’,n’roll

  2. Oh, I loved that incarnation of Probe. I worked in the college next door and haunted that space – so small – presided over by Geoff and another guy whose name I can’t now recall. Maybe we stood shoulder to shoulder one lunchtime, flicking through the vinyl (my fingertips still retain the tactile memory of those plastic sleeves, somewhat grimy, and grappling with the albums, tightly-packed into Probe’s home-made racks. I discovered Little Feat, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker there. Heady days!

  3. The other guy was Dave, who I still see sometimes at Africa Oyé. I see Geoff too, having lunch in Greendays in Lark Lane. I’m sure we will have crushed in there together sometimes. Trying to judge whether a second hand LP was worth buying on the strength of what the sleeve looked like and one track half remembered from ages ago on John Peel.

    Mind you, Geoff and Dave were always free with their advice, whether you asked for it or not. Once tried to lampoon me out of buying ‘Talking Book’ by laughing at ‘that Tamla shit.’ ‘Why do you sell it then?’ I retorted. ‘So we can laugh at prats like you who come in and try to buy it!’ Gloriously happy days.

  4. Thanks for that, Ronnie. I see Geoff quite regularly – he lives in our street (and I caught his dulcet tones on the radio the other week – contributing to a documentary about Roger Eagle of Eric’s fame).

  5. I would be intruiged to know whether the book tackles the issue that is perhaps at the heart of the Springsteen conundrum, and one you allude to yourself, that of integrity.
    Like yourself I have admired Springsteen’s music for a long time. However I have to say I find it increasingly problematic listening to a multi-millionaire singing about poverty. Add to this Springsteen’s penchant for stadium rock where Bruce delivers his sermons on these ‘new hard times’ to tens of thousands of people, all of whom have paid £50-£60, to see him and it is hard to ignore the stench of hypocrisy. I’m guessing there’s not many people on the breadline in a Springsteen audience.
    Springsteen may well sing:
    ‘Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bills
    It’s still fat and easy up on bankers hill
    Up on bankers hill the party’s going strong –
    Down here below we’re shackled and drawn’,
    but the fact is it is a long time since Bruce has been, ‘Down here below’…(It’s still a great song by the way).
    While Springsteen may be lauded for at least attempting to stay true to his roots, an almost impossible task as you mention, and while it may not be necessary to actually live in financial hardship to sing about it I do find Springsteens preoccupation with the subject a little hypocritical. His, ‘We like to live high around here’ quote from a recent Rolling Stone article springs to mind. Maybe this is another case of ‘love the art, not the artist’…

  6. Thanks for commenting, Tony. Carlin does foreground the issue of integrity – several times, though mainly with reference to the early stage of Springsteen’s career, when he was dirt poor and had little to his name apart from ambition and a desire to preserve his integrity. Carlin has Springsteen somewhere (I can’t locate it now) quoting the old adage to which you refer, ‘never trust the artist, trust the tale’. Carlin says that Springsteen held out against stadium shows for quite a while (preferring to be intimate with his audience), only accepting them when he realised that, with a good sound system and careful preparation he could get close emotionally, if not physically, to his audience. And there was the Tom Joad tour, which was restricted to theatre venues. ‘Problematic listening to a multi-millionaire singing about poverty’ – what would we feel if, rich beyond imagining, he’d abandoned the commitment and perspective of the first four albums and turned into a ‘Rock-a-day Johnny singin’, “Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa
    Our Love’s A-gonna Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah”?

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