Friday, February 17, 2023
Five songs I've listened to in the last couple of days that I like.
Friday, February 03, 2023
What else? Bruce Springsteen has begun his first tour with the E Street Band in several years. Here is the first song from the first show:
music friday: 29 singers
Friday, January 06, 2023
So, what is this list?
Joan Baez, Chuck Berry, Bono, Roger Daltrey, Bob Dylan, Billie Eilish, Marianne Faithfull, Rob Halford, Emmylou Harris, Debbie Harry, Levon Helm, Chrissie Hynde, Etta James, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Youssou N'Dour, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks, Robert Plant, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Joe Strummer, Corin Tucker, Muddy Waters, Neil Young.
To start the new year, Rolling Stone gave us their list of the 200 Best Singers of All Time. The above 29 singers are the people on that RS list that I have seen live. A few selections follow.
Chuck Berry, backed by the Steve Miller Blues Band at the Fillmore Auditorium, was my first rock concert (1967). It was recorded for a live album:
The first time we saw Patti Smith was at a club in San Francisco in February of 1976. It was simulcast on local FM channel KSAN:
The fourth and fifth times we saw Bruce Springsteen came at Winterland in December of 1978 (it was the last month before Bill Graham closed down the old hall). The first of those two shows was also broadcast on KSAN:
Our first Prince show was at a small club in March of 1981, the Dirty Minds tour. Here's a few minutes of a show he played a week before we saw him:
And here is a clip from the last song from the last concert I attended, last March:
Friday, December 30, 2022
Another edition of What Was I Listening To? I'm going back 16 years, to December 30, 2006. Here are four songs I listened to that morning:
First, Taj Mahal with a Goffin/King song made popular by The Monkees:
Next, Madeleine Peyroux covering Bob Dylan:
Bruce Springsteen covering himself:
Finally, some mellow folkie shit:
music friday: bruce springsteen turns 73
Friday, September 23, 2022
Today is Bruce's 73rd birthday. All week I've been posting Bruce videos on Facebook ... here they are, all in one place:
In 2006, Springsteen released We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, consisting of songs associated with Pete Seeger. The subsequent tour kicked off at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Backstreets website writes:
Quite an important night for Springsteen -- when's the last time he really had to prove himself to an audience? Closing out the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, following Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, it was to a decidedly non-partisan crowd; Bruce wasn't preaching to the choir for the first time in a long time, he had a brand new band to boot, and this their first non-rehearsal show.
The Ghost of Tom Joad was a mostly-acoustic album Bruce released in 1995. Rage Against the Machine released a hard rap/rock version. In 2008, Rage guitarist Tom Morello joined Bruce and the E Street Band for an electric version. As Morello tells it, during the rehearsal, he played a very straightforward guitar solo, so none of the band was prepared for what he unleashed in front of an audience. Morello later joined the band as a temporary replacement for Steven Van Zandt on tours in 2013-4, and an electric version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" featuring Morello's guitar finally appeared on the 2014 studio album High Hopes.
In 2012, Bruce played at the legendary Apollo Theater. It was the first full E Street Band show without Clarence Clemons, who had died less than a year before. (In what now feels inevitable, filling those Big Man shoes was Clarence's nephew, Jake Clemons, who has been with the band ever since.) Celebrity watchers can look for Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Elvis Costello in the audience. Trivia note: Bruce was 62 years old when this concert occurred.
Australia, 2017. Bruce sees a fan in the audience with a sign that reads "Missed school, in the shit now. Can I play Growin Up with you".
Still my favorite Bruce song. He's coming to liberate us, confiscate us:
music friday: shout
Friday, December 17, 2021
In performances around 1958, the Isley Brothers would typically end their shows with a cover version of Jackie Wilson's hit "Lonely Teardrops". At one performance at the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia, lead singer Ronald Isley could see the audience standing and yelling their approval, so he extended the song by improvising a call-and-response around the words "You know you make me wanna..." "Shout!". The group developed the song further in later performances and rehearsals, using a drawn out "We-eee-ll" copied from Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman". On returning to New York City at the end of their engagement, they suggested to record producers Hugo & Luigi that they record the "Shout!" climax of the performance as a separate song. The producers agreed and suggested that the band invite friends to the recording studio to generate a party atmosphere.
The recording took place on July 29, 1959, with Hugo and Luigi choosing the studio musicians and the Isley Brothers inviting organist Herman Stephens. Released in August 1959, with the song split over both sides of the record, the single reached number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the group's first chart hit, and later the brothers' first gold single on the basis of its longevity. Ronald Isley later said that church groups wrote to radio stations asking them to stop playing the record, because of its use of a traditional black gospel sound. [emphasis added]
Live on Shindig:
Arguably the most famous version of them all:
It's been more than five years, and in these troubled times, there is no guarantee there will be another ... this is the last song we saw Bruce Springsteen sing in concert:
bruce springsteen & the e street band: the legendary 1979 no nukes concerts (thom zimny, 2021)
Sunday, November 21, 2021
There is some discussion about just how legendary these concerts were (the film is made from two nights). It's kind of pointless, though ... Bruce and the Band are terrific, it's 1979, what more needs to be said. The restoration is strong, the sound unstoppable (thank you, Bob Clearmountain), the performances are ... well, they're late-70s Bruce, if you were there, you know, if you weren't, here's a fine example. I remember when the Darkness on the Edge of Town reissue came out, including a complete live show from 1978, I said I was glad the video existed, especially because it let me know it wasn't just nostalgia that made me think Bruce '78 was the best ... it was the best. This No Nukes concert film is like that ... it reminds us just how great he was when he turned 30.
Friday, March 05, 2021
Dave Brubeck, Concord, 1970s. Not sure if we saw Brubeck more than once. The Concord Jazz Festival started in 1969 ... I believe it is still running. It took place each year in Concord, California (Brubeck's birthplace, along with Tom Hanks, and about 15 miles from where I grew up). My wife's dad was in the newspaper business, so he often got free passes to the Festival, plus the Festival was created by a local car dealer and my dad was in that business, so sometimes he got free passes, too. We went to a few of them over the years ... can't remember when, but in the 70s. Brubeck being a local boy who did good, he was always welcome at the Festival. "Take Five" was that rarity, a jazz track that was a crossover hit. It was written by Paul Desmond, who plays sax. Brubeck is on piano, of course, Eugene Wright was on bass (he was probably gone by the time we saw Brubeck), and Joe Morello was the drummer who does wonders with the 54 time. This recording is from 1961:
Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers, Keystone Palo Alto, 12-3-82. Clarence put this band together to play with while Bruce was working on something, probably Born in the USA. They released one album, Rescue, which wasn't bad, with a singer named J.T. Bowen who could shout with the best of them. On this date, the crowd spent most of the time waiting for Bruce to show up (he didn't). At one point, Clarence teased us by saying they were going to play "Fire", only to perform the Jimi Hendrix song.
Bruce wrote a song for Rescue, "Savin' Up":
Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Candlestick Park, 9-8-84. I wrote about this a few years ago. It took place after a Giants' game ... CS&N set up on the field and played a set. Don't remember a lot about it, except that it happened, and I was there. You can listen to a show from the next day by clicking this link. Meantime, I'll once again post this, the best song Crosby and Nash ever did:
Tracy Chapman, Oakland Coliseum, 9/23/88. Human Rights Now! was a tour to benefit Amnesty International, with a load of stars: Sting, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour, Tracy Chapman. Bruce and the E Street Band closed the show. This was his 39th birthday ... as I recall, Joan Baez sang "Happy Birthday" to him. Chapman had released her self-titled debut album that year, featuring the runaway hit "Fast Car".
The last show of the Human Rights Now! tour, in Buenos Aires, was the last time Bruce toured with the E Street Band for more than a decade. The crowd in Argentina was bonkers:
bruce, jeep, super bowl
Sunday, February 07, 2021
Today, Jeep released their Super Bowl ad for 2021. It features Bruce Springsteen.
Bruce had never done an ad before this. It helps that he isn't hurting for money ... he hasn't had to pick up the extra dough. But now, something changed.
I think it's depressing that he did a commercial.
Nobody is perfect. If you look up to someone, you don't expect perfection, but it is good to feel as if that someone represents our better selves, even when they, like all of us, fuck up.
Call me naïve, but the fact that Bruce Springsteen did a Jeep commercial for the Super Bowl is extremely dispiriting.
He doesn't need the money, he doesn't need the exposure. It is rare, if ever, that he could be accused of selling out, which makes this all the more depressing.
I do not have much issue with what Bruce says in the commercial. I am uninterested in coming together with the middle, but that's not the problem. The problem is that the one artist who has held out against the use of his work as fodder for advertising has broken the faith. He has many outlets for his message, and there's not much new in what he says in the ad. I just really wish he hadn't decided to do it in a Jeep commercial.