Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The magic is back


My friend Dan introduced me to Bruce Springsteen's music in college in the late '70s and I grew to love it. I can't quite explain it, but somehow lyrics like "Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny" really spoke to me.

This was the Bruce of "Born to Run," "The River," "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Born in the U.S.A." In fact, I even had a poster in my dorm room of Bruce in t-shirt and jeans, guitar in hand, against an American flag backdrop. And I saw him in concert twice - in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y.

(Contrary to the totally exaggerated story some of my friends tell, I did not rush the stage in Syracuse. We were seated on the floor, about midway back, and I merely walked up several rows toward the front at one point to get a better view. Honest.)

One of the things I've always liked about Springsteen is the storytelling aspect of his songs, the specific images they evoke. Listen to "Glory Days," or "The River" or "Badlands"and you get a sense that he's writing about real working people, their lives and their frustrations.

But over the years, my passion dissipated and while I still dutifully bought every album, and then CD, as it came out, I did it more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. Somehow, the music stopped meaning what it meant to me in my twenties. It just didn't excite me as much anymore.

So, when Bruce's latest, "Magic," was released earlier this month, I didn't rush out to buy it. But with an older, pensive, somewhat mournful and weathered face staring out at me from the cover, I knew I wouldn't be able to resist for long. And I'm glad I didn't.

I love hearing Bruce rockin' again with The E Street Band. Many of the songs, like "Long Walk Home," sound as if they could have come from those earlier albums that I loved. I'll still have to take this CD out for a few more spins. Maybe it's simply an exercise in nostalgia. But right now, I'm inclined to say that "Magic" reminds me of those glory days.

6 comments:

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, I still have my 45 of "Born to Run." Wonder how much it's worth these days? I finally had a chance to see the Boss during his 1985 concert tour stop in Washington DC. The man gave the audience what it wanted and then some.

Esther said...

Steve, I'm envious that you have a 45 of "Born to Run." I've got a small collection of Springsteen 45s from "Born in the USA." I bought them because the songs on the flip side weren't on the album. (Boy do I feel old talking about 45s and albums!)

And you're right, Bruce certainly gives a terrific live performance. Plus, he actually talk to the audience, unlike some musicians. I think we saw him during the same tour!

Man of Plastic said...

Esther, I hate to say it but I think that boat has sailed. The Boss is great, his early stuff is the best working-man rock around, the release of the "Born to Run" anniversary CD and DVDs was a true treat. But I don't think I can get into "Magic." A gave it a quick listen at the music store -- ok, B&N. There are no more music stores, really -- and it did nothing for. Sounded over-produced and uninspired. Better to throw on "The River" or "Greetings from Ashbury Park" for a true Boss feel. But hey, he's still great in person -- unfortunately I did not see him until his "Rising" tour.

Esther said...

MoP, sorry you didn't feel the magic with "Magic." I'll admit it's not as great as listening to vintage Bruce, but for a minute, it did bring back the memories of those earlier albums.

Dan Kennedy said...

Hi, Esther: I loathed "The Rising," was bored by "Devils & Dust," and held out little hope for "Magic" when the generic "Radio Nowhere" hit iTunes. But guess what? You're right. The rest of the album is terrific -- his best since "Tom Joad" or "Tunnel of Love," depending on how you feel about "Tom Joad."

Esther said...

Hi Dan, thanks for the comment! I have to admit, my favorite Springsteen is still from the late '70s, early '80s. I haven't felt as passionate about his music since then. But whatever he comes out with, I still buy it and listen to it. To a certain extent, it's an exercise in nostalgia. But part of me still hopes Bruce will move me the same way he did when you first introduced me to his music all those years ago.