August 25, 2015

I wanna know if love is wild, I wanna know if love is real

ceccola springsteen

Forty years ago, Bruce Springsteen released Born To Run. It took me thirty more years or so to discover the album for myself, and I came to love it first through hearing stripped-down versions of the songs that I grew up saturated with as radio hits. When I think about my earliest experiences with songs that I first dismissed, I’m reminded of the wonderful Josh Ritter lyrics: “Radio waves are coming miles and miles, bringing only empty boats / whatever feeling they had when they sailed somehow slipped out between the notes.” Because Springsteen’s songs and videos were everywhere when I was a kid, singing about things I hadn’t felt yet, I dismissed them as someone else’s songs from someone else’s more bombastic narrative and not mine.

And then maybe ten years ago, I accidentally (yup) downloaded this kismet-laced acoustic version of “Born To Run” that for the first time in my life made me stop and really listen, really hear all of the beautiful dusty sadness in the song that I’d always missed. That cracked open his entire oeuvre for me; you can hear the heart of the song so much better when it’s stripped down to its aching ribs.

I don’t care what you think you think about Springsteen;

Born to Run (best. live. version. ever.) – Bruce Springsteen
From Chimes of Freedom EP

Eight years ago as part of a series for WXPN in Philly, I posted one of my favorite (young, hungry) live recordings from Springsteen, the iconic Main Point show from 1975, along with Jon Landau’s equally epic piece of music writing about the show, Growing Young With Rock and Roll, which starts with the lines:

“It’s four in the morning and raining. I’m 27 today, feeling old, listening to my records, and remembering that things were diffferent a decade ago.”

Here is a re-up of that show, from right around the time that Born To Run was being recorded (including an early version of what would become “Thunder Road,” with one of the starkest, prettiest bridges I’ve heard in that song). It’s a show that my friend Bruce Warren of WXPN, who was there, calls “one of [Springsteen's] greatest shows ever,” and I concur.

It’s one of the truest I’ve heard, still.
“Tonight’s busting open and I’m alive.”

Incident on 57th Street
Mountain of Love
Born To Run
Intro to E Street Shuffle
E Street Shuffle
“Wings For Wheels”
(Thunder Road, first performance)
I Want You (Dylan cover)
Spirit In The Night
She’s The One
Growin’ Up
Saint In The City
Kitty’s Back
New York City Serenade
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
A Love So Fine
For You
Back In The U.S.A. (Chuck Berry cover)


[top photo by the legendary everyman photo hero, Phil Ceccola]

Tagged with .
January 16, 2012

I told myself it was all something in her / but as we drove I knew it was something in me

This happened tonight not far from my home in Colorado. Gregory Alan Isakov is a state treasure, and I am a sucker for Springsteen covers that make me take in my breath sharply when I really should be sleeping.

January 22, 2010

The Swell Season covers Bruce

A reader who was at Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night to see The Swell Season sent me this stunning link. Amidst the sweet, sad saxophone, it once again becomes a singalong. Holy heck.

…Lying in the heat of the night like prisoners all our lives
I get shivers down my spine and all I wanna do is hold you tight

September 22, 2009

Philly covers the Boss for his 60th

My friends over at WXPN in Philly are always in the process of doing something cool. Case in point — this week they’ve assembled 29 of their best local artists to cover Bruce Springsteen in honor of his SIXTIETH (yes) birthday tomorrow.

There’s a sold-out tribute show tomorrow night in Philly. Springsteen covers always sound good, yeah?

Tagged with , .
July 9, 2009

We’d go down to the river and into the river we’d dive


I’ve been falling into Crooked Fingers with a vengeance lately. Despite their Denver connections, I’d never listened to them before The National and St. Vincent teamed up to cover their glorious “Sleep All Summer” for the Merge Records SCORE! compilation several months back.

Since then, a friend put together a few of their tracks I needed to start with, and this was (wonderfully) one of them. The quiet plucking variation here makes me think of rain falling on the trees over our heads as we quietly inhabit the shore.

The River (Springsteen) – Crooked Fingers

That cover is from the Reservoir Songs EP (Merge Records 2002), and the current album from last year is called Forfeit/Fortune.

June 29, 2009

If you’ve ever wondered what pure, unfettered joy looks like….

…it’s the look on Brian Fallon‘s face this weekend as he sings his song of youth and music into a microphone with Bruce Springsteen.

The ’59 Sound, live at Glastonbury (June 27, 2009) – The Gaslight Anthem with Bruce Springsteen

The ’59 Sound (with Bruce Springsteen) – Gaslight Anthem

(And yeah, hey my right side feels warmer just by association)

February 25, 2009

The glory days of the Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers contributed recently to the marvelous series Hangin’ On E Street, where young rockers discuss Bruce’s influence on them and their music, and cover one of his songs. Wherever they piled all four of them to do this harmonica-laced cover (looks like backstage, or a warehouse), I want to be sitting right in the middle.

Glory Days (Springsteen cover) – The Avett Brothers

In addition to the current panorama of artists whose contributions are already live on the site (Gaslight Anthem, Ted Leo, Juliana Hatfield, etc), we can look forward to clips coming from Josh Ritter (maybe this one?), Pete Yorn (maybe this one?), and Birdmonster.

You know, I always thought this was a really sad song, and wondered how that gets overlooked.

August 22, 2008

Matt Nathanson has a big ole man crush on Springsteen

Greetings from San Francisco! Here I am nestled under the fog, bravely going to cover the Outside Lands Festival for you all (take one for the team, I know). Things get underway in just a few hours and I will be heading over once I can figure out what to do with my car. I think I’m walking 26 blocks. Awesome.

One of the artists I am really looking forward to seeing this weekend (there are many) is the always-enjoyable Matt Nathanson, who plays a hometown show tomorrow at 7pm on the Avenues Stage. I’ve recently been listening a lot to this stellar cover he performed not long ago on Sirius radio:

Thunder Road (live on Sirius) – Matt Nathanson

In related news, this second Springsteen cover features Charlie Gillingham of the Counting Crows and David Immerglück of the Crows and Camper Van Beethoven. Both of those guys played on Matt’s record Still Waiting For Spring back in the day.

Atlantic City – Matt Nathanson w/ Immerglück and Gillingham

Both covers are lovely. Maybe everything that dies someday comes back. Ah, I hope.

April 10, 2008

I just wanna feel your rhythm :: Bruce Springsteen in my hometown

I’ve been talking about trying this idea for a long time, finding a way to see Bruce Springsteen on the Magic tour that everyone –from indie hipsters to old rock codgers alike, and all shades in between– kept raving to me about. Because he didn’t put Colorado into this tour, I was left searching airfares for far-flung cities (Buffalo, anyone?). And then Vedder announced his Berkeley show in the same weekend and suddenly the chips fell into place. I was headed to San Jose to see Bruce Springsteen for the first time in my hometown.

This was my first Springsteen concert experience, and I am out of practice at spending over a hundred dollars to see these stadium shows. With what I could afford, I found myself in the nosebleed seats, far from the tightly packed action and the wristband lotteries of the floor. I hear this is not the best way to see my first Springsteen show, but I don’t work for Google, Oracle, or Yahoo so what can ya do. Bruce took the stage promptly at 8:15 to deafening screams, waving signs, and the opening notes of “Out In The Street.”

Bruce’s voice was in strong and vibrant form, and the band was tight — some would say orchestral — all dressed in matching black. “Fire” saw its tour debut as voted on by the listeners of KFOG, and “Trapped,” “Incident on 57th Street” and “Devil’s Arcade” (one of my favorite songs on Magic) were all highlights for me. I was naive enough to try and bring in a camera, which got taken at the door, so all I managed was this cell phone snap during “Born to Run” with the house lights up and thousands of voices singing along. That was a pretty cool moment.

Bruce played many requests taken from signs from the audience – the traditional posterboard variety or this guy‘s head request. I wonder if he used a Sharpie? Bruce pulled him on stage and then launched into “Glory Days” for him, much to the delight of the crowd. It’s odd what a heartbreakingly stark and sad song that really is, but everyone was pogoing like it was the party anthem of the year (and I guess the music does sound like it). But the lyrics still get me.

On the plane ride back home to Colorado, I was reading a book review in the May 2008 Paste magazine for Like A Rolling Stone by Steven Kurutz. It’s an examination of a guy named Glen Carroll who plays the role of Mick Jagger in a small Stones tribute band called Sticky Fingers. A paragraph of the review probed at some of the strain and pull that I felt after the Springsteen show when it mused the following:

Kurutz has a revelation at a ‘real’ Stones concert at Fenway Park. He buys a $163 ticket “in the nosebleeds” and witnesses the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on the biggest, most expensive stage set ever built … but can only see it on a JumboTron screen. The Stones are isolated from fans and press. Kurutz is watching a franchise, not a rock show. Success for Glen Carroll, on the other hand, means playing with reckless abandon to a basement full of drunken, sweaty kids. Which is the ‘real’ rock ‘n’ roll?

Seeing Bruce felt intensely rich for me, to actually experience for myself this amazing artist with lyrics that incise deeper than almost any other, and songs that lay out an epic alternate world for me where the roads are always open and the engine is always running. But so much of me wanted to see him in a small venue, hot and sweaty and immediate, without all the schtick and $95 seats and corporate rock feel.

Sure, he can do the huge huge stage spectacle so why not, and sure he connects better with a gigantic audience than many other artists of his scale. But still – I was in Section 210, and most everyone sat for the whole show. As my companion predicted, folks stood for Born To Run and there was some fist pumping, making sure not to spill their $10 beers. Maybe I am just too idealistic and starry-eyed about my live music, but I felt distant and cold from an artist that is relatable and warm and I wish it could have been different. Ah well. I shouldn’t be allowed to go to these things, and feel like apologizing for unrealistic expectations. I guess subconsciously I wanted Main Point, but in a plausible world, what I got was very good.

SAN JOSE 4/5/08
Out in the Street
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Something in the Night
Reason to Believe
Prove It All Night
She’s the One
Livin’ in the Future
The Promised Land
Incident on 57th Street
Devil’s Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Glory Days
Bobby Jean
American Land

[photographs by Joseph Quever]

April 5, 2008

The National cover Springsteen

This seems exceptionally fitting to post today, as I have a date with Bruce Springsteen this very evening. The National does a gorgeously arresting cover here. The rich, round tones of the plucking of strings sound for all the world like rain on the roof of a wooden cabin I stayed in once, deep in a redwood forest.

Mansion On The Hill (Springsteen cover) – The National

I think my heart stops at a few points during that song — the way the strings stretch and hover, pause and swell.

Pitchfork wrote yesterday that The National is including this cover on a new CD called The Virginia EP (a 12-track “EP”) which will also contain unreleased demos, b-sides, live recordings, and a song from last year’s Daytrotter session.

It’s part of a package that will also include the excellent Vincent Moon documentary A Skin, A Night: watch clips here.

[song via, photo credit Valerio]

Older Posts »
Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →