Books · Music

Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography


Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen's autobiography

Like many aging men, I got a copy of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run for Christmas, which I’ve just finished.

A tremendous read and one of the best ever rock biographies or autobiographies.

The terse, pared-down detail evinced in Springsteen’s music and lyrics is also present in his prose style, which is modern and vibrant..he DOES THAT a lot, but it is all acceptable in context.

He is uniquely impressive in having a sober and accurate impression of the depth and breadth of his talent as a musician (as well as his shortcomings in that field…not for Bruce any of the “gee, shucks, I got lucky” shruggings all too present in artists’ autobiographies;) he spells out in great detail how hard he worked to hone the talents he realised early on were his, the nights and nights of watching the lead guitar player in visiting touring bands then going home and practising what he had seen until falling asleep with the  guitar on his chest; the realisation on first hearing a recording of his singing that he would have to make some other efforts in the presentation of his vocals.  There is no false modesty, either in this or in his portrayal of the benevolent dictatorship which was the E Street Band.

Plenty detail on all periods of his career, which is great given that most people in his position would have concentrated on the years of extreme fame.  For those of us who believe he was never as good as the first few albums, this is a boon – there’s lots of stories of the times and circumstances when he was writing and performing as well as this;

Particularly good are his descriptions of people’s entries and exits to and from the world – his childrens’ births and developments, the deaths of Danny Federici, Clarence Clemons, his father…unromantic, but deeply felt and effectively communicated vignettes.

Also uniquely, one does not anticipate a follow up volume in years to come.  There is the distinct impression that he has said all he wants to say and is satisfied with how he has said it.

The clip below was the first thing that most people in the UK saw of the exotic legend that was the early Bruce Springsteen, screened on The Old Grey Whistle Test – I remember watching it a lot in Bruce’s in Rose Street Edinburgh on the brand new video tape machine…

He was at least as good a few years later in 1981 on The River tour at The Edinburgh Playhouse, but that is another story…


Surprised buskers

Steven Tyler in Moscow, September 2015.


Bruce Springsteen busking ‘Dancing in the Dark’, Copenhagen 1988. surprises street performer.

“I Don’t Want to Miss  a Thing” was written by Dianne Warren, the untouchable queen of the power ballad.  She has also written this with Lady Gaga, who performs this in a style known as “just showing off…”

“Till It Happens to You.”


Gigs · Music

Bruce Springsteen is 63. I am not. And yet…

Bob Dylan In Show and Concert

The other day I was sort of relieved not to be able to get very good tickets to see Bob Dylan “In Show & Concert!” (he’s had so much fun with variations on that ridiculous phrase over the years) in November.
Why relieved? Well if I had succeeded in getting anything in the first ten rows, I would have had to have gone on what has become the incredibly wearing schlepp to the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow. It’s a nice venue, but it takes ages to get there (and back) from Edinburgh, a city which sadly has nothing in the 4,000 and up concert venue line, although for trams, we will be fine.  Three nights of Dylan in Edinburgh would have been a no-brainer if travelling time was less than four hours (as would, recently, Rush, Neil Young, maybe even The Who…)
As for the Laura Marling shows in London…despite the kind offer of a place to stay in Tonbridge, I just couldn’t get the energy together for what will probably be the greatest shows ever. Even though you know this, sometimes you just have to let it go.

Grand Eagle Hotel

Age encroaches. We’ve lost a lot of good people too early recently so I wouldn’t make light of preferring ageing to its alternative while I still carry only one life threatening condition. Still, it’s rushing by…let me illustrate with a few examples.Yellow satchel Bruce Springsteen

I really like these reproduction school satchels in brightly coloured leathers that are out just now; I doubt if a male with even as developed a sense of style as I have could get away with one in Gorgie, Edinburgh, so it’s probably a no-go for me.  However my eye was caught the other night by one getting on a bus, attached to a woman has been a friend of mine for a long time. I noticed how old she looked, then realised this was not unsurprising given that I am only about three years older than her.
She didn’t come upstairs, so we didn’t make conversation. At the level of gallantry my brain was on, that’s probably just as well, and I was listening to Laura Marling’s new album. A lovely woman nonetheless.
Yesterday, I was speaking with another old friend on the phone, who came out with a sentence I had not yet come across in life, viz, “I need to buy a dinner suit.”
When I asked him why, he said he was fed up with hiring dinner suits. This was taking a weird twist, I felt.
“Why do you hire dinner suits? For business things?”
“No, for parties. You know how it is…”
“Well, people invite you to these things and expect you to dress in a certain way…”
I had to point out that no party I had ever been invited to had required the penguin suit; a dinner suit to me is a combination of one’s clothes and slovenly eating.
We were clearly on different planets at this point. What have I lost here? Or what have I gained? I will never wear a dinner suit…I will never play The Dane…

Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball Tour

Finally, going to see Bruce Springsteen in Glasgow tomorrow evening needs two days off work; one to make sure I have descended on Hampden in time for the show and a second because we’re staying over to have a relaxed journey back. I remember the days I would have been driving my orange Mini to Hampden and back, overtaking BMWs on the M8.
So for the second consecutive set of shows in Glasgow, I’ll be missing Bob again. At least we’ll always have Barrowlands.