Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Bruce Springsteen and the original E-Street Band -- with David Sancious and the criminally underrated Vinnie Lopez on drums -- in Los Angeles, 1973. "Spirit in the Night" live.

I wrote about a similar performance in NYC around the same time.

My own Springsteen moment was in early 1973. At the time, I was a baby rock critic at the old Stereo Review, and "Greetings from Asbury Park" had just come out, accompanied by reams of Columbia hype, the gist of which was that Bruce was (what were they thinking?) the latest New Dylan. Little did I know, of course, that for the rest of the more jaded rock press, this tag had the sort of negative connotations associated with phrases like "serial killer" or "record company weasel." In any case, in my naïveté I gave the disc a spin, and sure enough Bruce was spewing the sort of freely associative lyrics that could most charitably be described as Dylanesque (if not, more accurately, verbose and in need of a good editor), and I recall being mildly unimpressed. And then suddenly: Boom! A drum beat and Clarence Clemons's near-mystic sax wail announced "Spirit in the Night," and I was a goner. The music was perfect, like much of Bruce's stuff to come: a sort of Proustian mix of half-remembered licks from rock and R&B oldies that may or may not have actually ever existed, the whole thing sounding simultaneously sublime and absurd, like Van Morrison at his most uplifting, jamming at a South Jersey pizzeria. And the song's lyrics were—and are—the most dead-on evocation ever of what it felt like to be a post-Woodstock 20-something with no direction home. I personally had the eerie feeling that Bruce had been reading my mail, and I later found I was far from alone in that perception.

Now excuse me, I'm gonna go watch that again.

[h/t Laura G]


Anonymous said...

Not David Sancious but Danny Federici on the B3. An amazing performance.

As I always say Bruce's golden age was the 1970's!!!

Captain Al

Anonymous said...

Question: Why is Danny Federici almost always mixed low in the audio mix during live performances?

Speaking of the not so golden age of Bruce: Why is the vast majority of Springsteen studio recordings of the 21st century sound like the were recorded under a layer of sludge? This sludge sound has masked some great songs that are lost to me.

Captain Al

Blue Ash Fan said...

Goosebumps, I tell you. Goosebumps.

One night a few years ago in an Asbury Park bar, I looked to my right and the guy standing next to me was none other than Vini Lopez. I should've bought him a drink.

MJConroy said...

Captain Al -
A large slice of 20th century Bruce also sounds like it was recorded under sludge.

pete said...

The first time that Bruce glommed onto me, too. It's a brilliant performance and, yes, Vinnie Lopez is Bruce's drummer.