Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Born to Run

Last night I got quite the education into a realm I'd not explored, and did not know how much I would enjoy. Emboldened by my new friend, novelist Andrew Conn (author of the absolutely fantastic P: A Love Story--read it, but leave the kids at home for this naught odyssey, part James Joyce, Part Portnoy, all soul and heart) who, along with my girlfriend Elizabeth, persuaded me to listen to some Bruce Springsteen, I sat down with Born to Run. Knowing she was a fan, I got Eliz the new boxed set anniversary edition, for the holidays, but never had occasion to listen to it myself--until yesterday.

Allow me, then, to be the absolutely last person on earth to hail this record as a particular kind of masterpiece. It is emotionally resonant, musically tight, expressive without just being screamy, and Tolstoy-like in its stuck exuberebce. So exciting, so poetic, so sad, the great American record about the not-so-great American experience. And watching the documentary that accompanied the CD, hearing the uneducated educated Mr. Springsteen talk about his process with niether pomp nor pretenstion was really something. Knowing the record, uncannily raw as it sounds, was the product of measured, hurculean effort on the part of all involved (there's even a short scene of BS conducting with a drumstick that made me smile for an hour or so!) is nothing short of inspirational to me as a composer: we all have to labor for our ease, even Mozart, even Yo-Yo Ma...and even Bruce Springsteen.

Once, when on the Jersey Shore, I proclaimed "Now I understand Bruce Springsteen!" Now, hearing him--really hearing him--I now feel I understand the Jersey Shore.


Blogger Miss Smartee Pants said...

Oh Danny . . . you poor sheltered boy. At least someone has had the sense to finally sit you down for the Springstreen lecture. I got mine about six years ago after making a snide comment about Mr. Bruce and 'Born in the USA', which I assumed was some uber patriotic hoo hah I wanted nothing to do with. And then, boom! Someone gave me 'Nebraska' and 'Born to Run' and said listen close. And I did.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Quinn Skylark said...

I hate to be a detractor, but I just have to put in my two cents to say that I really dislike Bruce Springsteen's music in general, but I really hate his bombast on 'Born To Run.'

Color me punk rock, but to me, Bruce's bar band cum arena rock stylings were wearing thin on at least some parts of the population in 1975. The Stooge's 'Raw Power' album, had been released in 1973 and it contains much more of a visceral rock and roll punch than anything The Boss has ever been able to muster.

Also, At the same time BTR was released, The Ramones were just kicking out the speedy shit in the little clubs, stripping down rock and roll to its essence and indelibly stamping an influence on pop culture by influencing bands like The Damned and The Clash.

Plus, Springsteen for all his working class jollywoggle, has always seemed more like an elitist than a populist to me. His lyrics sound more like a white-gloved gloss of what it means to work in a factory and to fall in love with a barmaid named Marnie who ain't never gonna return your love, but ain't it nice to dream, cuz this America, shad-doo, shad-doo. And don't forget to join a union.

I am no rock historian, but I'd guess that the big 'composed' sound of stuff like BTR inevitably led to (or was part and parcel of) rock attrocities like Rush and Yes (Pink Floyd also had a lot to do with this gimpy, evicerated prog rock).

Maybe It's just my Black Flag-influenced youth, but I've always thought that rock should never take itself as seriously as Bruce took/takes it. Rock and roll is a simple form, rooted in the blues, that should be more about the guts than the brain.

Because you are a composer, and I am just an ex-punk rocker with a headache, I know that you think about music in an entirely different way than I do. I can respect your opinion, but I can't just let words of praise for Bruce Springsteen go by without comment. This is my comment.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous elaine said...

who is the sexy girl with only one eye? I don't like The Boss either. sorry. Isn't that what the kids are calling him these days?

2:46 PM  

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