Sunday, June 19, 2011

CLARENCE CLEMONS, RIP

I have never  been a Bruce Springsteen fan, but neither have I  been one of  the over stating haters who've seen the last three decades decrying the man and his music. Although I think The Boss's music, overall,  hyperventilates  to the extent that the version of rock and roll passion seems appropriate for a musical than a bar band with roots in a working class community, I never thought there was a phony nor malicious bone in Springsteen's body. I approached him with a grudging yet growing respect--for all the promiscuous use of cadenzas, the solemn and unsubtle lethargy of his message tunes, the crazy blending of Dylan lyrics, Van Morrison vocals and  the greased pulse of urban rhythm and blues  that never, never really moved to do anything other than change the channel or to look elsewhere in the record bins for a more spurious excitement, I simply had to resign from the debating team and admit that  I didn't get it. Not that I rescind my former criticisms--Bruce almighty was and remains more rock and roll spirit and drive than I will ever be, even if I don't care for his accent.Springsteen sang about the things all writers of songs marketed to teens talk about, the desire to get away from the parents and find a place of their own; this runs through Elvis and Chuck Berry through the Ramones and upwards to the Foo Fighters and Tool and their moody ilk. It's not that I resisted "getting it", as it were, it's more that I wasn't convinced by the songs he wrote and sang , in large part. It's just as likely that I had turned toward literature , steep reading in American and European traditions, as a means of examining the further reaches of a bad mood and that intractable sensation of feeling apart from, set aside, and put upon by forces one could not control--love?hate?politics? vanity?cruel gods? Songs are a snapshot of the mood, which is fine, but Springsteen over packed 
them like he were going on a long trip with only a split-seamed carry on. I do respect him for trying, and cheer him on the occasional successes --"Tunnel of Love" is an especially taut, pared down exploration of the aforementioned bad moods. At the time , though, I wasn't in the mood for pop tunes: I wanted the dense fugues given me by Mailer, DeLillo, Pynchon, Burroughs, et al. To quote 
Danny Glover, I was too old for the shit that came before hand. Not that I didn't think of it fondly and at times sneak back in through a bedroom window.
6:37 AM PDT

4 comments:

  1. I respectful beg to disagree that you didn’t get it, Ted – you didn’t WANT to get it, and for reasons that are justifiable. I think your skepticism was/reasonable and bears further discussion. At the height of his critical adulation, Springsteen the Cause could be overbearing and insufferable. There are solid historical reasons why he was praised to the skies in those days, of course – in an era of singer/songwriter navel-gazing, Springsteen’s vision was wide and his empathy appeared to be deep. His songs acknowledged more than the unstoppable libido of Youth Culture; towns and families and responsibilities existed in his world. The fact that he could make the stuff of West Side Story-style opera out of these elements was his great glory and his enduring flaw. Everything on Born to Run sounded like A Big Deal, which ennobled his working class heroes but also undercut the inherent goofy charm that lies at the heart of real rock ‘n’ roll. The fact that people beyond Springsteen’s band mates wanted to call him The Boss always bothered me. But of course, his admirers pumped themselves up by pumping him up. That’s populism, which can be noble and stupid simultaneously.

    As for Clemons, his saxophone articulated as much – if not more –of what the songs were about as Bruce’s lyrics did. No mean feat.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Springsteen sang about the things all writers of songs marketed to teens talk about, the desire to get away from the parents and find a place of their own; this runs through Elvis and Chuck Berry through the Ramones and upwards to the Foo Fighters and Tool and their moody ilk. It's not that I resisted "getting it", as it were, it's more that I wasn't convinced by the songs he wrote and sang , in large part. It's just as likely that I had turned toward literature , steep reading in American and European traditions, as a means of examining the further reaches of a bad mood and that intractable sensation of feeling apart from, set aside, and put upon by forces one could not control--love?hate?politics? vanity?cruel gods? Songs are a snapshot of the mood, which is fine, but Springsteen overpacked
    them like he were going on a long trip with only a split-seamed carryon. I do respect him for trying, and cheer him on the occasional successes --"Tunnel of Love" is an especially taut, pared down exploration of the aforementioned bad moods. At the time , though, I wasn't in the mood for pop tunes: I wanted the dense fugues given me by Mailer, DeLillo, Pynchon, Burroughs, et al. To quote
    Danny Glover, I was too old for the shit that came before hand. Not that I didn't think of it fondly and at times sneak back in through a bedroom window.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Patrick Castaneda12:57 PM PDT

    Say what you will about Springsteen...whether his band was highly pedestrian,didastic in the songs, over commercialized, boring, great, legendary, or just plain rock and roll... bruce and the band could entertain in concert. Whew! Bruce never fails to give his all to his audience. I have never walked away from an E Street concert without being totaly exhausted. I always feel entertained, never cheated, and feel that he never only relied on the "hits" but gave more. I'll always believe Bruce, along with or in addition to the E Street Band deserve his and their rightful place in rock and roll history.

    ReplyDelete
  4. uhhh... bad typing the word i meant to say was didactic

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated due to spam. But commentaries, opinions and other remarks about the posts are always welcome! I apologize for the inconvenience.