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The Bruce

This Sunday, the third day of Advent, is a splendid occasion for a savior to rise from these streets. Not the Savior, mind you, but a musician who can make a big difference in your life. Like Bach. Beethoven. Brahms. Bruce. I’ve had the good fortune of watching one of them on Broadway a year ago, and that show will be available on Netflix this Sunday.

Way back before most of you were born, in a far-away country, one of the three available FM stations had a one-hour show each workday afternoon devoted to American music. One day, on comes some Kraut sociologist who explains zat zere is a place called New Jersey, zat zey haff girls, and zat it produced a new Bob Dylan with a great new song: Geboren um zu laufen (and yes, they really did translate the lyrics for the clueless listeners).

“I wrote Born to Run,” the Boss has said, “so you’d never need to hear another song.” Close to true. A country that can produce that stuff, I figured, can’t be all bad; and so, a few years and Bruce albums later, I moved to this promised land, and I’ve lived among the hungry and the haunted happily ever since. I’ve even learned English (sort of) but I haven’t managed to make it quite as forceful as Mr. Springsteen’s halting German: Ich moechte mich bedanken bei allen Leuten in Ost-Berlin die dieses Konzert moeglich machten and oops, there goes the Wall (and the West Germans paid for it).

I’m struck by how well the man has captured my sense of things over the decades, all the way into old-age wistfulness. I am grateful that my children can recite his lyrics from 40 years ago. Some of Mr. Springsteen’s work is corny for sure; a few lamentable pieces are agitprop. But at its best, it’s one sustained prayer to his Holy Mother and to this country, with never an ounce of irony or cynicism. He can’t think that way—and good for him.

Of course I’ll be watching come Sunday. So should you: it is two and a half hours of magic.

Reader Discussion

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on December 14, 2018 at 13:40:19 pm

Nice take on the Boss!

Funny, the German comment re: "a new Bob Dylan."
Many years back a girlfriend worked for a NYC radio station and brought me an unreleased copy of Springsteen's first album. My first impression was not as favorable as later ones. You see, I thought that one that first album, The Boss was attempting to sound like Dylan. I was not prepared to accept THAT.

I have come to more fully appreciate the depth and style, vocal and musical of Springsteen over the years and found that in many respects his music is as evocative as is Dylan's - he simply chooses to evoke different memories and experiences.

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gabe
on December 14, 2018 at 15:28:52 pm

How can a guy so insightful about life, particularly that of the common man, so blessed with poetic sensitivity, so imaginative and creative in his lyrical compositions and so musically-talented have also been such an idiot as to convert his well-grounded anti-Vietnam War sentiments into knee-jerk support for hard Left causes, to demean his admirable sympathy for the working class by rote support of unionism, to waste the treasure of his religious upbringing by allowing the profundity of his Catholic faith to atrophy into mere agnosticism and pop "spirituality," and to insult his and our intelligence by enthusiastically supporting some of the stupidest politicians in America and our only anti-American, anti-constitutional president?

If youth is wasted on the young, the young artist who never grows up can, as he ages, demean his legacy by steadfastly playing the fool of political naivete and the captive of ideological dimness.

But I do love the music!

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Pukka Luftmensch
on December 14, 2018 at 15:42:20 pm

Plus 1, Pukka. AND I don't even love the music. I appreciate him and his band for the obvious musicianship and for the earned reputation for giving everything in performance, but the political baggage he brings along weighs the whole thing (the...gestalt!) down.

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Hektor Bleriot
on December 15, 2018 at 11:03:49 am

sorry but the guy is a fraud
his open support for the extreme far left and his real life denigration of all who think different makes me wonder why any decent human being would pay to see him
they are good musicians, but a poor example of humanity

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Deserttrek
on December 17, 2018 at 12:03:10 pm

Actually TRIED to watch this.
Could not get past the first 15 minutes of posturing. where I was expecting music, I received maudlin discussion of The Boss' past idyllic childhood.

It also struck me that Springsteen, who admittedly has never seen the inside of a factory (to his credit, he admits this) sings about "outliers". Never having lived it firsthand, he may only, as any decent writer would, imagine what it WOULD be like to have so lived it. Consequently, he misses the truth of that life. The truth is that all too many of my "compadres" do not see themselves as Born to run, nor do they envision life as a "suicide trap" BUT rather make peace with their world, look to family and friends, make the best of their work lives, find satisfaction those pursuits and, at worst, spend time among friends at the local pub.

Rather than rage, there is present among them, a quiet but begrudging resignation.

Perhaps, The Boss, now that he has "come clean" may wish to write / sing about that. In fact, he may be able to use many of the same dramatic elements.

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gabe
on December 17, 2018 at 13:29:25 pm

There's imagination, gentleness and tenderness toward the commonplace in the minority of his music, which arguably reflect Wordsworthian aspirations in the man's character, sweet qualities that are drowned out by the ideological shrill and PC repugnance of his politics.

Lyrics like:
"Pony boy pony boy
Won't you be my pony boy
Giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up whoa
My pony boy."

and:
"Now everyone dreams of love lasting and true
Oh, but you and I know what this world can do
So let's make our steps clear that the other may see
I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me."

And songs like Glory Days, Human Touch, Lucky Town, Pony Boy and If I should fall Behind.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on December 17, 2018 at 13:46:15 pm

I may have been a bit harsh. Perhaps it was his alluding to horses as a boy during last nights introductory segment that set me off.
This from the leftist lyricist decrying inequality, the rich, etc., who like the Queen of England receives substantial subsidies from the US government for his *farm* in New Joisey!

BTW: And like all good leftists with Power, say Nancy Pelosi, he can afford multiple plastic surgeries. - Ha!

sing about that Brucey!

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gabe
on December 17, 2018 at 14:09:38 pm

Perhaps he can write a song about caboose liposuction which he badly needs and could add to the expansive list of elitist essentials, like private jets and armed bodyguards, which deplorables are denied by virtue of penury and Leftist double-standards.

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Pukka Luftmensch

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