Song of the Day

“My City’s In Ruins”

There is a blood red circle
On the cold dark ground
And the rain is falling down
The church door’s thrown open
I can hear the organ’s song
But the congregation’s gone
My city of ruins
My city of ruins

Now the sweet bells of mercy
Drift through the evening trees
Young men on the corner
Like scattered leaves,
The boarded up windows,
The empty streets
While my brother’s down on his knees
My city of ruins
My city of ruins

Come on, rise up! Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up! Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up! Come on, rise up!

Now’s there’s tears on the pillow
Darlin’ where we slept
And you took my heart when you left
Without your sweet kiss
My soul is lost, my friend
Tell me how do I begin again?
My city’s in ruins
My city’s in ruins

Now with these hands,
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray Lord
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray for the strength, Lord
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray for the faith, Lord
We pray for your love, Lord
We pray for the lost, Lord
We pray for this world, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord

Come on
Come on
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up

Four Hours and One Minute

BostonSpringsteen crossed the four-hour threshold for the first time on U.S. soil last night.  And he did in the “swamps of Jersey.”  For those of you unfamiliar with Springsteen’s concerts,  it is worth nothing that he does not take breaks or intermissions.

Wow, what a setlist. I can’t wait for Pittsburgh on September 11th!

1. New York City Serenade
2. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
3. DOES THIS BUS STOP ON 82ND STREET?
4. It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City
5. Spirit in the Night
6. SUMMERTIME BLUES
7. 4TH OF JULY, ASBURY PARK (SANDY)
8. Kitty’s Back
9. Incident on 57th Street
10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
11. PRETTY FLAMINGO
12. Atlantic City
13. I’m Goin’ Down
14. Darlington County
15. Working On The Highway
16. Downbound Train
17. I’m On Fire
18. Hungry Heart
19. Out In The Street
20. LIVING PROOF (dedicated to Evan)
21. Candy’s Room
22. She’s The One
23. Because The Night
24. The Rising
25. Badlands
26. SECRET GARDEN
27. Jungleland
28. Born To Run
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
31. Twist And Shout
32. Glory Days
33. Shout
34. Jersey Girl

Three Hours and Fifty-Two Minutes

Boston

In case you missed it, Bruce Springsteen played for three hours and 52 minutes last Thursday night at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  It was the longest Springsteen show on American soil. (Bruce and the band played for 4 hours and 16 minutes in Helsinki, Finland in 2012).  After spending most of the summer in Europe, Bruce and the E Street band are back in the United States to close out the River Tour with shows in seven cities.

I saw Bruce on this tour back in April at State College and I will be in Pittsburgh with my daughter on September 11th. Ever since The Rising was released in 2002 I have wanted to see Bruce perform on a 9-11 anniversary.  I will get that chance a week from Sunday. I am sure it will be an emotional concert.

Expect a full report from Pittsburgh here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.

Prince on Bruce

Perhaps you have seen this:

But have you seen this?:

And this quote:

Prince, while not a big fan of Springsteen’s music, did admire him as a performer. He once told Rolling Stone, “I admire the way he holds his audience — there’s one man whose fans I could never take away.” And Bruce was also a fan. “He is incredible live. He is one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen in my whole life. His show was funny; it had a lot of humor in it.”

A Tale of Two Progressives in State College, Pennsylvania

Bruce at PSU

As I type this, Bernie Sanders is giving his stump speech to a packed house at Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State University.

Sanders draws very large crowds at his rallies.  But there was another progressive in State College this week who draws even larger crowds.  Rec Hall holds just under 7000 people, but it is not the largest indoor space at Penn State.  Bryce Jordan Center, home of the Nittany Lions basketball teams, holds over 15,000 people.  Bruce Springsteen filled it last night.

I don’t know who Springsteen is supporting in November, but I would not be surprised if he is backing Sanders. It seems as if their politics are identical.  Both men are angry about inequality and the control that special interests have over the democratic process.  They both blast the fat cats.

Right now, as I watch on C-SPAN, Sanders is railing on the “greed” and “illegal behavior” of Wall Street that “seriously hurts the lives of our fellow Americans.”  He just said that the “business philosophy of the major financial organizations in the United States is fraud.”

And here is the Boss from his song “Shackled and Drawn“:

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

Shackled and drawn, shackled and drawn
Pick up the rock, son, and carry it on
Trudging through the dark in a world gone wrong
Woke up this morning shackled and drawn

On social issues, Sanders is adamantly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.  Recently Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in Greensboro, NC in protest against the state’s law requiring trans-gendered people to use the public restroom that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificates.

But last night in the Bryce Jordan Center, Springsteen did not talk politics.  He did not mention the Greensboro cancellation.  Instead, he played an old-fashioned rock and roll show.  I was there.  And it was incredible.

During this tour Springsteen is playing his entire 1980 double album  The River. Bruce describes The River as an album he wrote as he was trying to figure out “where he fit in” in a world of  fun, dancing, laughter, jokes, good comradeship, love, sex, faith, lonely nights, and teardrops.”  He defines it as a “big record that felt like life.”

This was the third Springsteen concert I have attended with my entire family.  My wife and daughters are casual Springsteen fans, so I prepared everyone by playing the entire album on the 90-minute drive up to State College. For the first time I can remember, everyone listened intently.

Here are the highlights:

  • Meet Me in the City,” an outtake from The River, is quickly becoming one of my favorite (top 25) Springsteen songs.  He has opened every concert on this tour with the song.  (Although I thought he might break with tradition and open with his lesser-known “Lion’s Den” in the way that he did in his 2012 show at Penn State).
  • Penn State students love Springsteen, even when they don’t know the words to the songs.  We had a pack of them around us in the pit.  The whole night felt like a college show.  A lot of 18-22 year-old kids were wearing red, white, and blue bandannas.   (You don’t usually see this at 21st century Springsteen shows).  During the encores Springsteen played “Born in the USA” for them.  When Max Weinburg hit the drums on this song it felt like the entire arena shook..
  • A Springsteen concert is very white and very middle class, but the age diversity is striking.  From our spot on the floor I saw several elementary school-aged kids as well as people who were probably, by my best guess, in their 70s.  Yet it was the college students who led the way.  Bruce was energized by them and on several occasions praised the crowd.
  • As is often the case, the 66-year-old rocker did a little crowd-surfing on “Hungry Heart.”
  • The River is not my favorite Springsteen album, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the songs in the order that they originally appeared on the album.  In an age of ITunes, I worry that no one listens to albums anymore.  Springsteen albums tell stories.  And he told one last night.
  • After finishing The River, Springsteen played hit after hit: Badlands, Promised Land, Because the Night, and The Rising.  Then it got even better.  In response to a sign in the audience, the Boss and the E Street Band played the epic ballad Jungleland. This was the moment that my daughters were hoping for.  They love Jungleland and until last night they had never seen it performed live.  Jake Clemons has a long way to go before he plays the sax solo as well as his uncle Clarence, but it was still very good. Jungleland was followed by Thunder Road, Born in the USA, Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, Rosalita, and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.  What a run!

Springsteen did not play any songs from his last few social-justice oriented albums. Instead he turned to his old song book–songs about girls and boys, cars, love, ambition, brokenness and fun.  Sometimes this is all we need.

Bernie is still speaking.

A Quick Comment on Springsteen and North Carolina

bruce-springsteen1

A lot of people are asking me about Bruce Springsteen’s decision to cancel his North Carolina concert in the wake of the new law that requires trans-gendered people to use the public restroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.

I feel bad for the Springsteen fans who have been waiting for this Greensboro concert.  I am guessing that there are Springsteen fans on both sides of this debate. Springsteen’s politics are liberal.  His music–especially some of his recent stuff– is driven by progressive ideals and democratic inclusiveness.  But his music also appeals very strongly to traditional gender roles. When you listen to Springsteen it is clear that men are men and women are women.

I am looking forward to seeing the Boss next Monday night in State College.

Providence to Harrisburg Playlist

95Here was the playlist for the ride home from the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians in Providence:

Outtakes from Springsteen, The Ties That Bind Box Set

Podcast:  In the Past Lane.  Episode on political primaries

Podcast: Ben Franklin’s World.  Episode with Andrew Schocket on memory and the founding.

Podcast: Ben Franklin’s World. Episode with John D. Wilsey on American exceptionalism

Podcast: Ben Franklin’s World. Episode with Kathleen DuVal

Album: The Very Best of the Doobie Brothers 

Album: Bruce Springsteen, High Hopes

The River Tour: Cleveland Setlist

bruce-springsteen-160223-660x380v2

Last night Bruce and the band played in the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

From Blogness on the Edge of Town.  Looks like “Growin’Up and “Youngstown” made their tour debuts:

1. Meet Me In The City

2. The Ties That Bind

3. Sherry Darling

4. Jackson Cage

5. Two Hearts

6. Independence Day

7. Hungry Heart

8. Out in the Street

9. Crush on You

10. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)

11. I Wanna Marry You

12. The River

13. Point Blank

14. Cadillac Ranch

15. I’m a Rocker

16. Fade Away

17. Stolen Car

18. Ramrod

19. The Price You Pay

20. Drive All Night

21. Wreck on the Highway

22. Prove It All Night (Bruce solo)

23. Lonesome Day

24. Candy’s Room

25. Because The Night

26. YOUNGSTOWN

27. The Rising

28. Thunder Road

29. GROWIN’ UP

30. Born To Run (w/ Joe Grushecky)

31. Dancing In The Dark

32. Rosalita

33. Bobby Jean

34. Shout

The River Tour: Atlanta Setlist

bruce-springsteen-160223-660x380v2

Here is what Bruce and the E Street Band played on Thursday night in Atlanta. Looks like Bobby Jean got thrown into the encore.

1. Meet Me In The City
2. The Ties That Bind
3. Sherry Darling
4. Jackson Cage
5. Two Hearts
6. Independence Day
7. Hungry Heart
8. Out In The Street
9. Crush On You
10. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
11. I Wanna Marry You
12. The River
13. Point Blank
14. Cadillac Ranch
15. I’m A Rocker
16. Fade Away
17. Stolen Car
18. Ramrod
19. The Price You Pay
20. Drive All Night
21. Wreck On The Highway
22. Prove It All Night
23. Badlands
24. Lonesome Day
25. Wrecking Ball
26. Because The Night
27. Brilliant Disguise
28. The Rising
29. Thunder Road
30. Born To Run
31. Dancing In The Dark
32. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
33. Bobby Jean
34. Shout

The River Tour: Albany Setlist

SpringsteenBoston_Feb4-4544_372

In case you missed the Springsteen show in Albany last night.  From Backstreets:

Meet Me in the City
The Ties That Bind
Sherry Darling
Jackson Cage
Two Hearts
Independence Day
Hungry Heart
Out in the Street
Crush On You
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
I Wanna Marry You
The River
Point Blank
Cadillac Ranch
I’m a Rocker
Fade Away
Stolen Car
Ramrod
The Price You Pay
Drive All Night
Wreck on the Highway
Badlands
Wrecking Ball
Backstreets
Be True
Because the Night
The Rising
Thunder Road
* * *
Born to Run
Detroit Medley
Dancing in the Dark
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Bobby Jean
Shout