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Evolution, not Revolution.

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Reflections from Asbury Park

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At 49 years old, my first Springsteen concert is in the books, and I need to process what I have just witnessed.
The Hype: The guy who sold me a beer before the show asked me “have you seen Springsteen before”? After I replied No that this was my first time, he replied “well you are in for a real treat”. The dude had wicked BO so it was hard for me to focus on our interaction at the time, but later I understood. I had very high expectations heading into the show, perhaps too high. I can safely say my expectations were exceeded.
The River: The first two hours of the show were dedicated to The River, the 1980 album that he described as his “first adult record”. I didn’t know how that was going to go, given that I only know maybe a third of the 21 songs. When we saw Stevie Wonder perform “Songs in the Key of Life” there were many moments when I found myself looking at my watch. This didn’t happen with The River. Sure, there were a couple songs that made good bathroom-break material, but overall, viewed as a complete work, beginning to end, I found it to be very engaging, sometimes moving, and occasionally extraordinary. It didn’t matter at all that we knew so few of the songs from that record.
After The River: When “The River” portion of the show ended, he gave his band and the audience about 20 seconds to gather themselves before launching into Badlands. The transition was breathtaking and thrilling. He then played for another 90 minutes, knocking out one huge song after another. I love The Rising, and was very happy to have the opportunity to see it live. The six-song encore was perhaps the finest, most intense and entertaining 30 minutes I’ve ever seen in any concert.
The Boss: Bruce himself, at 66, is an amazing physical specimen. He basically did three-and-a-half hours of continuous calisthenics, bouncing across the stage, side-to-side, and front-to-back. He fell back into the audience and crown-surfed for 40 feet during Hungry Heart, still holding his microphone and singing up to the ceiling. He brought a 91-year old lady and a teenage girl on stage to dance with him during Dancing in the Dark. I’ve never seen any performer put out that much energy on stage. Never…not even close.
The Band: With the possible exception of Nils Lofgren, there are no virtuosos in The E Street Band. Individually, they are fine musicians. Collectively, however, they are the finest rock-and-roll ensemble out there. When The Boss describes his band as “the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary E Street Band” he is not overselling anything at all. Wow. Wow. Wow.
OK, I Get it Now: At the beginning of the show, after the lights came down, Bruce greeted the crowd with a “…are you ready to be entertained? Are you ready to testify? Are you ready to be transformed?” The crowd was clearly ready to do all of these things, but it was at the end where I truly understood what he meant. Had I been transformed? Hell yes I’d been transformed. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at a live show the same way again. It was an exhilarating and, yes, transformative experience. I was left with two questions: Why did we wait so long to do that? When can we do that again?
Truest
Line of the Night: Jen, looking over at me, after another amazing moment, and saying “I think we are witnessing a genius.”
The setlist, for those of you who are interested in such things:
  1. Meet Me in the City
    — Beginning of The River —
  2. The Ties That Bind
  3. Sherry Darling
  4. Jackson Cage
  5. Two Hearts
  6. Independence Day
  7. Hungry Heart
  8. Out in the Street
  9. Crush on You
  10. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
  11. I Wanna Marry You
  12. The River
  13. Point Blank
  14. Cadillac Ranch
  15. I’m a Rocker
  16. Fade Away
  17. Stolen Car
  18. Ramrod
  19. The Price You Pay
  20. Drive All Night
  21. Wreck on the Highway
    — End of The River —
  22. Badlands
  23. No Surrender
  24. Prove It All Night
  25. Backstreets
  26. Because the Night (Patti Smith Group cover)
  27. The Rising
  28. Thunder Road
    — Encore —
  29. Born to Run
  30. Bobby Jean
  31. Dancing in the Dark
  32. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
  33. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  34. Shout (Isley Brothers cover)

Written by Rick

February 29, 2016 at 11:59 am

Posted in Like of the Day, Music

If I Should Fall Behind

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I need to post more, so in between those times I feel inspired to write something, I’ll simply post something I like (or dislike).

I’ve been running through The Boss’s catalog in preparation for my first Springsteen concert in Feb 29. I revisited this little gem. The starkness of the video production contrasts with the beauty of the song in a really nice way. And it reminds me of my girl.

We said we’d walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we’re walkin a hand should slip free
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by side
We’d help each other stay in stride
But each lover’s steps fall so differently
But I’ll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
And I’ll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now there’s a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There ‘neath the oak’s bough soon we will be wed
Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me
Darlin’ I’ll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me

Written by Rick

February 4, 2016 at 8:26 am

Posted in Like of the Day, Music

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Will You Be There?

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In honor of what would have been Michael Jackson’s 56th birthday (I had no idea his birthday was only two days different than mine), it is worth revisiting this magnificent video of Will You Be There.  I encourage you to look up the lyrics and read them, perhaps while watching this clip. Think of someone you love. It is wonderfully moving and uplifting….simply gorgeous.

In our darkest hour, in my deepest despair, will you still care? Will you be there?
In my trials, and my tribulations, through our doubts, and frustrations.
In my violence. In my turbulence. Through my fear, and my confessions.
In my anguish, and my pain. Through my joy, and my sorrow.
In the promise of another tomorrow.
I’ll never let you part, for you’re always in my heart.

This is taken from his Live in Bucharest DVD, available on Amazon. It is not a particularly good rip in terms of video quality, but the audio is very good. Enjoy.

Written by Rick

August 29, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Music

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Take It Down

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It’s been a while since posted a good cover. My love for Patty Griffin is deep and abiding. Here is a recording of her performing Take it Down, from the John Hiatt tribute album called It’ll Come To You. They are both such exceptional songwriters, and her interpretation of his song is breathtaking and gorgeous and sad.  It is one of those songs, like Bonnie Raitt’s cover of Jackson Browne’s My Opening Farewell, that always breaks my heart.  The Wailin’ Jennys do a pretty nice version of Take it Down too, but no one truly compares to Patty.

I’m still married to it all
That ain’t no place to hang around
My love is 50 feet tall

Tears all rusted on my face
And I’m just an empty place
Where your love used to fit

 

Written by Rick

August 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Covers, Music

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Here Comes The Rain

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Say what you will about Daryl Hall and his performing abilities, but he is one of the great pop songwriters and arrangers of his era.  Vocally I think he always oversings a bit, putting in too many unnecessary and throw away notes, many that make me cringe.  As a player, he is good, but not great.  But as an writer, arranger, an interpreter, I think he is excellent.  I love how much he loves the old soul standards.  I’m right there with him.

Here is Daryl covering doing a great cover of a Eurythmics song, featuring ol’ Dave Stewart himself.

Written by Rick

January 17, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Covers, Music

Mother

I encountered The Wall for the first time when I was maybe 12 or 13.  It was in Texas.  We were visiting family, staying at my grandmother and Uncle Nonnie’s home.  My uncle Joe lived there too, and he had a great record collection.  I was introduced to all kinds of groups I’d never heard of before.

One day in that house, I heard Roger Waters’ opus for the first time, and it was a revelation for me.  I loved the dark themes, interspersed with the smallest glimmers of light. The songs were beautifully crafted, bleak and sometimes cruel.  Musically, it was new territory for me, my first meaningful exposure to the concept album.  I was hooked.  It was intoxicating.  Emotionally it allowed me to explore those dark places in a manner that was detached and somewhat voyeuristic. Later I was able to relate some of the themes back to my own life.  I connected to it.

I’ve listened to The Wall hundreds of times, although certainly not much in the last 20 years.  I heard this cover of Mother earlier this year and I was instantly drawn to it.  I had not considered the possibility of a woman singing this song.  I just didn’t occur to me.  It is such a bold move.  The song takes on a completely different emotional texture, but keeps all of its darkness and beauty.

Natalie Maines, singing Pink Floyd.

 

Written by Rick

September 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

Posted in Covers, Music

We Shall

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I started going to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in the spring of 2000. My wife suggested it, using a manner of persuasion that is familiar to anyone in a long-term relationship. I wasn’t against going. I was just skeptical. How would this place be any different than anywhere else?

Yes, we were church shopping, for reasons I’ll tell in another story. I was beginning to believe that we would not find a place that fit us. I’m not even sure I knew what that would be if we were to stumble into it, but I knew we would just know. We Would Just Know. And we did. That is how it happened. We came. We ate. We stayed.

In December of 2000 the pastor asked me, incredibly, if I would be willing to deliver The Message in a service. To Preach. The Sermon. This was a bit overwhelming to a boy who grew up Catholic and saw nothing but that particular authoritarian regime when it came to matters of church. I learned later that such a thing can only occur at a small church. She would be on vacation, of course, and needed some poor schlump to fill in. Ignorant as I was, I said Yes.

I found that I like doing it, only if done occasionally. I’ve done it now maybe 15-20 times over these 13 years. I’ve preached about personal stuff. I’ve preached community things. I preached right after 9/11, at a Thanksgiving service held in a nearby public school. That particular service was something, I will tell you.

I realized tonight that almost every time, I’ve ended the service with the same hymn. I have a certain connection to this song. Maybe it is because I’m an optimistic guy. There is always something to hope for, something deep in our hearts, something we want to believe.

I heard this song on one of my playlists tonight. I moves me every time I hear it.. As it turns out, on this particular day The Boss closed his show with this song too. I feel like I am in good company.

Written by Rick

September 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Covers, Music, Personal