Toward a Sociedade Alternativa (Alternative Society) (Song of the Week, 1/31/14)

Freedom

Last September, Bruce Springsteen played here in Brazil for the first time in twenty-five years (!), opening his shows with a cover of Brazilian star Raul Seixas’s song “Sociedade Alternativa,” a paean to progressivism, freedom, and the counter-culture. To celebrate my own Brazilian experience, that’s our Song of the Week. If you’re curious to see an English translation of the lyrics, go here; if you want to hear Bruce’s full two hours and forty-three minute show from Rock in Rio 2013 (an awesome set in which, among other things, Bruce and the E Streeters play the entirety of the Born in the USA album from start to finish), go here.

Long Distance Dedication

Dear Casey,

A couple of days ago, Barack Obama won his second term as President of the United States, bringing a welcome end to an interminable campaign season, allowing those of us who supported him to relax and breathe easy for a while.

I’m happy things turned out as they did, because overall Obama has been a good president. He might already be a great one had he not been constantly, stupidly obstructed by the most disloyal opposition in American history, had he aimed higher on the things he did manage like healthcare reform, and had he the spine and integrity to actually disavow the more fascistic tendencies of the Bush administration rather than embracing and exceeding them.

I hope now, with the need to worry about the next election out of the way, President Obama will step us his game and act boldly and decisively to make the changes we need as a country. I don’t doubt his ability to do so, only his resolve. He has greatness in him, now he must cultivate it.

After winning like this, it’s easy to gloat. Schadenfreude is a wickedly tasty treat, especially when the other side has relentlessly attacked your freedoms, your patriotism, even your value as a human being. I have literally seen some folks turn on a dime, going from “You are a stupid, ungodly, un-American, traitorous abomination” to “It’s not classy to gloat like that.” So if my relief at winning over people like that is a bit high-handed at times, I can forgive myself.

But my thoughts turn to my many friends, and even my enemies, on the right. I’m glad they lost, certainly, but it’s not entirely for my own benefit. I’m glad they lost for their benefit as well, though they won’t agree, and many of them won’t even be able to see through their grotty filters well enough to understand that I wish them well and hope for the best for all of us. I care about them. I respect them, or at least those who haven’t thrown away any right to respect (like any of them who calls Barack Obama a nigger, for example). And I, and most of us progressives, actually want to work with them towards the common good. Obama wants to, and last time they turned his sincere desire to reach across the aisle into a tactical failing. I hope, after the message they were  just sent by the American people, the conservatives in congress accept a working relationship with the president this time instead of holding their breath until, as it turns out, the country turns blue.

So, Casey, could you please play “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for my friends on the right? I hope they’ll leave behind their sorrows, let this day be the last, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past…big wheels roll through fields, where sunlight streams, and we can all meet in a land of hope and dreams…

Sincerely,

Tim in Decatur

Tim, here’s your song. I hope your friends take this opportunity to reevaluate things, and that for the next four years and beyond, all of us can start actually working together toward solutions that help us all. And remember, we all need to keep our feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars…

We Take Care Of Our Own (Song of the Week, Election Day 2012)

There’s a sickness creeping up on us. Grab your brain, your heart, your soul, and help us beat it back.

Vote Obama. Vote Democrat. Give in to your higher angels, not your petty demons.

When I Leave Berlin (Song of the Week, 8/23/2012)

Bruce Springsteen recently played to a crowd of 55,000 in Berlin, which was his second biggest crowd there ever. The biggest was in 1998, with the largest crowd the band has ever played for, and it had historic import beyond its size:

Berlin, largely a working class city, has been a special place for Springsteen since his July 1988 concert behind the old Iron Curtain in East Berlin.

Watched by 160,000 people, or about 1 percent of then Communist East Germany’s population, it was the biggest rock show in East German history, and The Boss boldly spoke out against the ‘barriers’ keeping East Germans in their portion of the city.

Some historians have said the concert fed into a movement gaining moment at the time that contributed to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall 16 months later in November 1989.

‘Once in a while you play a place, a show that ends up staying inside of you, living with you for the rest of your life,’ he told the crowd on Wednesday after being handed a poster from a fan thanking him for the 1988 concert. ‘East Berlin in 1988 was certainly one of them.‘” (REUTERS)

As a special treat for the Berliners this time, Bruce and the E Streeters debuted a rousing cover of the song “When I Leave Berlin” by British folk musician Wizz Jones, and that is our song of the week. Enjoy.

As Promised, Springsteen…

In my post about the Springsteen show last Sunday (on my birthday), I said I was waiting for some decent videos to appear online, and I’d share some when they did. Well, I just dug around a bit in some of the stuff that’s been posted, and nothing I’ve seen so far has really captured the show well enough. I had much better luck the last time I saw him, when some of the smartphone footage posted was good enough to share (here and here).

I did find some good footage from the SXSW show three days earlier, and in order to give you a better sense of what the concerts are like, I’m going to share those, as well as Bruce’s live debut of the song “Wrecking Ball” at Giant’s Stadium, which was about to be torn down (and which is the subject of the song). I’d like to show actual performances from the show I saw, but whatcha gonna do?

After the songs, though, check out the keynote speech Bruce gave at SXSW. It’s brilliant. Funny, engaging, informative, musical, and awesome. If you haven’t seen it, you really, really should. Especially if you’re a musician. Or a writer.

Happy Birthday, Les Paul…Have Some Springsteen…

Les Paul

In honor of the birthday of Les Paul, I want to share this singularly fucking incredible video of Bruce Springsteen with Tom Morello, performing “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Not only is it an awesome song and an incredible performance, but there is some ungodly guitar work in this video, especially by Morello.

You’ll want to watch the whole thing, because OH MY GOD.

Then, a vid of the man himself (at 93!!!)…

Tunnel of Love (Song of the Week, 4/18/2011)

Fat man sitting on a little stool
Takes the money from my hand while his eyes take a walk all over you
Hands me the ticket smiles and whispers good luck
Cuddle up angel cuddle up my little dove
We’ll ride down baby into this tunnel of love

I can feel the soft silk of your blouse
And them soft thrills in our little fun house
Then the lights go out and it’s just the three of us
You me and all that stuff were so scared of
Gotta ride down baby into this tunnel of love

There’s a crazy mirror showing us both in 5-d
I’m laughing at you you’re laughing at me
There’s a room of shadows that gets so dark brother
Its easy for two people to lose each other in this tunnel of love

It ought to be easy ought to be simple enough
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above if you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love…

Good Memories of 2009, Day 9: Springsteen

I already blogged about this (with multiple videos), but in April I saw the best concert I’ve ever seen, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Phillips Arena. This wasn’t my first Springsteen show (and hopefully won’t be the last), but it was the best.

As Jon Stewart said a couple of years ago, “If you like joy, go see Bruce Springsteen.”

Springsteen: Tunnel Of Love Tour 1988

Here are a couple of videos from Springsteen’s 1988 Tunnel of Love tour, which was the first time I saw him. Tunnel of Love is notable for being his last studio album with the E Street Band (until 2002’s The Rising, a 16 year gap), and it was during this tour that Bruce (who was married to Julianne Phillips) fell for his backup singer, Patti Scialfa.

In the first video, Bruce and Patti look like they’re on the verge of tearing each other’s clothes off on the spot, and in the second, Bruce explores a theme that clearly was very much on his mind at the time: wanting something you’re not supposed to have.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

While we’re on the topic of Patti Scialfa, here’s a treat for those unfamiliar with her solo work:

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band = Pure Unadulterated JOY

Sunday night, my ex, mother of my child, treated me to Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at Phillips Arena. Pretty damn cool considering we’re still in the middle of a custody fight, but we still get along very well, overall…even though we’re still in the middle of a custody fight.

We were standing on the floor, about sixty feet in front of Bruce, and the show was phenomenal. I’ve seen him four times with the E Streeters, once with the Seeger Sessions Band a couple years ago (we actually drove up to Jersey for that one), and once solo acoustic on the Ghost of Tom Joad tour, and there is simply no one who puts on a better show.

Aside from being a volcano of energy and charisma, Bruce gives you a hell of a lot of rock and roll for your money. Back in the day, he would sometimes play over four hours a night (as he did the first time I saw him, on the Tunnel of Love tour), and Sunday he played for right around three hours. That’s with no intermission, too. The man clearly loves his job, and every minute is turbo-charged.

Also, no Springsteen show is ever the same. He changes the set list every night, and you never know what he’s going to play next. This tour, he’s taken this a step further: at one point in the show, he paced around the stage, reaching into the crowd and taking the signs people had made requesting songs, and he played those requests. Not only is the set-list ever-changing, it’s now dynamic. Even Bruce and the band don’t know everything they’re going to play in a show. Continue reading