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 changing 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 was going on a long trip with only a split-seamed carry-on. I respect him for trying and cheer him on the occasional successes --"Tunnel of Love" is an incredibly 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 beforehand. Not that I didn't think of it fondly and at times sneak back in through a bedroom window.
6:37 AM PDT