American Lonesome

Lonesome BruceI just learned about Gavin Cologne-Brookes new study of Bruce Springsteen’s music, American Lonesome: The Work of Bruce Springsteen.  LSU Press will publish it in November.

Here is a description from the LSU Press website:

American Lonesome: The Work of Bruce Springsteen begins with a visit to the Jersey Shore and ends with a meditation on the international legacy of Springsteen’s writing, music, and performances. Gavin Cologne-Brookes’s innovative study of this popular musician and his position in American culture blends scholarship with personal reflection, providing both an academic examination of Springsteen’s work and a moving account of how it offers a way out of emotional solitude and the potential lonesomeness of modern life.

Cologne-Brookes proposes that the American philosophical tradition of pragmatism, which assesses the value of ideas and arguments based on their practical applications, provides a lens for understanding the diversity of perspectives and emotions encountered in Springsteen’s songs and performances. Drawing on pragmatist philosophy from William James to Richard Rorty, Cologne-Brookes examines Springsteen’s formative environment and outsider psychology, arguing that the artist’s confessed tendency toward a self-reliant isolation creates a tension in his work between lonesomeness and community. He considers Springsteen’s portrayals of solitude in relation to classic and contemporary American writers, from Frederick Doug-lass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emily Dickinson to Richard Wright, Flannery O’Connor, and Joyce Carol Oates. As part of this critique, he discusses the difference between escapist and pragmatic romanticism, the notion of multiple selves as played out both in Springsteen’s work and in our perception of him, and the impact of performances both recorded and live. By drawing on his own experiences seeing Springsteen perform—including on tours showcasing the album The River in 1981 and 2016—Cologne-Brookes creates a book about the intimate relationship between art and everyday life.

Blending research, cultural knowledge, and creative thinking, American Lonesome dissolves any imagined barriers between the study of a songwriter, literary criticism, and personal testimony.

Song of the Day #2

Can’t get through a day like this without listening to “The Rising.”  I’ve written a lot about this song (and the album by the same name) over the years.  I’ve always seen it as a song about vocation.

Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
Make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
I was wearin’ the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin’ down here

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li

There’s spirits above and behind me

Faces gone black, eyes burnin’ bright
May their precious blood bind me
Lord, as I stand before your fiery light

Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li

I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There’s holy pictures of our children
Dancin’ in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin’ on the end of my line

Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)
Your burnin’ wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li – li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li…

See all our 9-11 posts here.

 

Springsteen and the E Street Band in Chicago (September 1999)

Springsteen Chicago

Just released.  Get it here.

  • SET ONE

  • 1.TAKE ‘EM AS THEY COME

    • 05:18
  • 2.THE TIES THAT BIND

    • 03:52
  • 3.THE PROMISED LAND

    • 06:04
  • 4.ADAM RAISED A CAIN

    • 05:30
  • 5.TWO HEARTS

    • 03:44
  • 6.ATLANTIC CITY

    • 06:36
  • 7.MANSION ON THE HILL

    • 04:37
  • 8.INDEPENDENCE DAY

    • 06:03
  • 9.YOUNGSTOWN

    • 06:31
  • 10.MURDER INCORPORATED

    • 06:18
  • 11.BADLANDS

    • 06:55
  • 12.OUT IN THE STREET

    • 06:57
  • 13.TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT

    • 19:12
  • 14.JANEY DON’T YOU LOSE HEART

    • 04:14
  • 15.SHE’S THE ONE

    • 08:00
  • 16.THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD

    • 05:58
  • 17.NEW YORK CITY SERENADE

    • 10:47
  • 18.LIGHT OF DAY

    • 13:11
  • FIRST ENCORE

  • 1.HUNGRY HEART

    • 04:55
  • 2.BOBBY JEAN

    • 04:19
  • 3.BORN TO RUN

    • 07:56
  • SECOND ENCORE

  • 1.THUNDER ROAD

    • 06:40
  • 2.IF I SHOULD FALL BEHIND

    • 06:32
  • 3.LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS

    • 10:32
  • 4.RAMROD

What is Coming After *Springsteen on Broadway*?

Bruce at PSU

The rumors are circulating.  Here is Pete Chianca at Blogness on the Edge of Town:

But now, there are finally stirrings. First off, the very alert folks over at Greasy Lake yesterday made a monumental discovery on “Wrecking Ball” producer Ron Aniello’s Instagram story. (That’s like regular Instagram, but it’s more temporary, sort of like Snapchat, and … Oh, just ask your teenage daughter to explain it to you.)

Yes, that’s Mighty Max Weinberg in Bruce’s Colts Neck, N.J., studio, which would seem to be a strong clue that there’s new material that’s reached the recording stages — and that Springsteen Inc. is OK with Aniello advertising that fact. There’s even a snippet of Max playing. Of course, Patti is supposedly working on another solo album (it said so in the Playbill!), so these sessions could be associated with that project. And there’s also been buzz that it could concern material for an upcoming “Nebraska”/“Born in the USA” box set, which would be pretty cool in its own right. Regardless,we can dream.

Read Chianca’s entire post here.

“Springsteen on Broadway” is Coming to Netflix

Springsteen on Broadway

Playbill reports:

Springsteen on Broadway, which earned music icon Bruce Springsteen a 2018 Special Tony Award, will be filmed and released as a Netflix special. The show will land on the streaming service December 15—the day of the extended engagement’s final show.

The show, part concert and part storytelling event, was captured during two added invite-only performances July 17 and 18.

Springsteen on Broadway opened in October at the Walter Kerr Theatre, which, at less than 1,000 seats, is one of the most intimate venues the musician has played. The show received acclaim from critics and theatregoers alike and routinely earns a spot as a box-office frontrunner.

Built around Springsteen’s 2016 memoir Born to Run, the engagement is billed as a solo show but frequently features a guest appearance by Springsteen’s wife and fellow musician Patti Scialfa.

“The purpose of the film is to bring this incredibly intimate show to Bruce’s entire audience intact and complete,” said Jon Landau, manager to Springsteen, in a statement. “In addition to its many other virtues, Netflix has provided for a simultaneous worldwide release which is particularly important for our massive international audience. Ted Sarandos and the entire company’s support has been a perfect match for Bruce’s personal commitment to the filmed version of Springsteen on Broadway.”

Springsteen at the Tony Awards: My Hometown

I heard this live when I saw “Springsteen on Broadway,” but for some reason it hit me a lot harder this time.  Springsteen describes so much of my childhood growing up in northern New Jersey as part of a working-class immigrant family–Italian Catholic on my father’s side, Slovakian Catholic on the other side.

This makes me want to sit down with Bruce and ask him how he raised kids who experienced none of this history.

Catch Bruce on Sunday Night at the Tony Awards

Springsteen on Broadway

He will be a headliner.  CBS at 8pm on Sunday night.   Here is the Associated Press:

New York — The Boss will be among the headliners at the Tony Awards telecast on Sunday.

Producers of the show said on Wednesday that Bruce Springsteen will perform at Radio City Music Hall in addition to receiving a special Tony for his ongoing show Springsteen on Broadway.

Read the entire piece here.

I Keep Coming Back to this Song

I think this song is actually more relevant today than it was twelve years ago.

Here is a taste of A.O. Scott’s 2007 review:

But the night does not end there. Onstage, “Last to Die” is followed, as it is on the album, by a song called “Long Walk Home.” In the first verse, the speaker travels to some familiar hometown spots and experiences an alienation made especially haunting by the language in which he describes it: “I looked into their faces/They were all rank strangers to me.” That curious, archaic turn of phrase — rank strangers — evokes an eerie old mountain lament of the same title, recorded by the Stanley Brothers.

“In that particular song a guy comes back to his town and recognizes nothing and is recognized by nothing,” Mr. Springsteen said. “The singer in ‘Long Walk Home,’ that’s his experience. His world has changed. The things that he thought he knew, the people who he thought he knew, whose ideals he had something in common with, are like strangers. The world that he knew feels totally alien. I think that’s what’s happened in this country in the past six years.”

And so the song’s images of a vanished small town life (“The diner was shuttered and boarded/With a sign that just said ‘gone’ “) turn into metaphors, the last of which is delivered with the clarity and force that has distinguished Mr. Springsteen’s best writing:

My father said “Son, we’re

lucky in this town

It’s a beautiful place to be born.

It just wraps its arms around you

Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone.

You know that flag

flying over the courthouse

Means certain things are set in stone

Who we are, and what we’ll do

And what we won’t”

It’s gonna be a long walk home.

“That’s the end of the story we’re telling on a nightly basis,” Mr. Springsteen said. “Because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And that’s not the way it is right now.”

“The Voice” Contestant Covers “The Rising”

I don’t watch “The Voice,” but someone recently brought this performance to my attention.  Contestant Britton Buchanan covers Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising.”  Nice job:

Little Steven liked it too:

 

Springsteen Will Get a Tony Award for *Springsteen on Broadway* 

Springsteen on Broadway

One of these days I am going to get around to writing a review of the show.  I saw it in February 2018.

Here is a taste of Rolling Stone’s coverage:

The Tony Awards will honor Bruce Springsteen in June for his “once-in-a-life” production of Springsteen on Broadway

In a live-streamed ceremony on Tuesday announcing this year’s nominations, the Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. called Springsteen on Broadway a “theatergoing experience of extraordinary dimensions.” In addition to Springsteen, the Tonys will also present John Leguizamo with a special award to celebrate his commitment to telling stories that shine a light on racial and socioeconomic injustice.

Springsteen first announced his “personal and intimate” five-nights-a-week residency in August 2017. He decided to set up shop at the Walter Kerr theater, which he acknowledged “is probably the smallest venue I’ve played in the last 40 years.”

“My idea was really just to present the work that I’ve done for the past 40 years or so and let it speak for itself,” the singer added in September. “I didn’t feel like I needed to get on a soapbox or be real ideological about it. I wanted the night to play very naturally, and be broad enough to be about all the things I’ve written about over the years. And in that way, in the contrast, it would comment.”

Read the rest here.

Who Did You Thank in Your Ph.D Dissertation Acknowledgments?

b36d2-bruce-springsteen-pyramid-001

The Boss has yet to make it into the acknowledgments section of one of my books, although he is mentioned in *Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump*

This does not come close to the greatest acknowledgments section of all time (a story we broke here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home), but it is interesting.  Jennifer Polk, a history Ph.D who now runs the website Beyond the Professoriate, thanked her favorite band in her doctoral dissertation. She is now asking others to share any unusual words of gratitude from the acknowledgment page(s) of their dissertations.

Inside Higher Ed has the story here.  See the Twitter response to Polk’s request here.

I should also come clean here.  (This is not the first time I have written about this at the blog).  I thanked a fictional character in the acknowledgements of my first book.  His name was Jayber Crow.

Someone Stole Nils Lofgren’s Guitars

nils

Lofgren is the famed guitarist with Bruce Springsteen’ E Street Band.   From CBS news:

Dallas police are looking for the person who stole several guitars from Nils Lofgren, the longtime guitarist with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Investigators say somebody broke into Lofgren’s van, which had been parked outside a Holiday Inn, between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Four guitars and a harp which Lofgren was set to use during a concert Friday night in Dallas were stolen.

“I played it for so many years and it’s travelled the world, so I’m wearing a hole in it. I don’t have quite the hole through it, but it’s about to break. So that was a dear guitar for me,” he told CBS DFW.

Lofgren said he would go forward with his concert and planned on “taking the roof off.” He was able to rent or borrow equipment for the show.

Police say detectives have been assigned to investigate and are working to gather any video evidence related to the case. Lofgren told CBS DFW a thief was caught on surveillance cameras breaking into his van overnight, as it sat parked across from the lobby of a Holiday Inn Express on 4300 block of Communications Drive in Dallas.

Read the rest here.

 

“Springsteen on Broadway” Extended Through December 2018

Springsteen on Broadway

This is great.  I now have more time to finish that review of the show I attended on February 3, 2018.

From Springsteen.net:

Bruce Springsteen’s historic sold-out series of performances of his one man show “Springsteen On Broadway” at Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre will be extended through a final New York City show December 15th, 2018. Eighty-one additional shows will go on sale for performances July 10th through December 15th, 2018, marking the third time “Springsteen on Broadway” has been extended since its initial eights-week run.

Tickets for the newly-announced “Springsteen on Broadway” shows will go on sale Wednesday, March 28th at 11am ET – exclusively through Ticketmaster Verified Fan®.

“Springsteen on Broadway” has drawn exceptional demand since its first announcement. In order to recognize the tremendous number of fans who previously participated but have not had the opportunity to shop for tickets, for this onsale, only fans who previously registered, and have not purchased tickets, will be eligible to receive an invitation to the onsale. Eligible fans will receive additional information on Monday, March 26 to prepare in advance.

“Five months after debuting, ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ stands as one of the most fascinating, invigorating and emotionally nuanced entries in his creative catalog.” – Billboard, 3/15/18

“After decades of arena-sized body language, he’s scaled himself down without losing any of his enormous presence… He’s figured out how to be gigantic in a small place” – Variety, 3/15/18

“As portraits of artists go, there may never have been anything as real — and beautiful — on Broadway.” – New York Times

“An intimate triumph… one of the most compelling and profound shows by a rock musician in recent memory.” – Rolling Stone

Learn more here.

It’s Gonna Be a Long Walk Home

When I saw Springsteen on Broadway last month “Long Walk Home” was on the set list.  Here is a snippet from the Wikipedia page for the song:

Springsteen had said that it was a song about how he felt in the times of George W. Bush. “In that particular song a guy comes back to his town and recognizes nothing and is recognized by nothing,” Springsteen told The New York Times‘ A. O. Scott. “The singer in ‘Long Walk Home,’ that’s his experience. His world has changed. The things that he thought he knew, the people who he thought he knew, whose ideals he had something in common with, are like strangers. The world that he knew feels totally alien. I think that’s what’s happened in this country in the past six years.” 

I can understand why Springsteen is still playing this song in the age of Trump.  Lately this tune has been resonating with me on many fronts.

Here is “Long Walk Home”: