Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Springsteen’

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #68–The Rascals: “A Beautiful Morning” b/w “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS 13039 (Q7/R7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #68–The Rascals: “A Beautiful Morning” b/w “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS 13039 (Q7/R7)

Before Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, The Rascals were the group that put New Jersey on the musical map. The group consisted of Eddie Brigati on vocals, Felix Cavaliere on keyboards and vocals, Gene Cornish on guitar and Dino Danelli on drums. Cavaliere, Cornish and Danelli were all members of Joey Dee and the Starlighters along with Eddie Brigati’s brother David. The group formed in the basement of Brigati’s house in Garfield, New Jersey calling themselves The Rascals. They changed their name to The Young Rascals after their manager Sid Bernstein found another group called The Harmonica Rascals who objected to them using their original name.

Their sound was pure blue-eyed soul and the group began by performing covers, scoring hits with songs like “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” “Good Lovin’” and “Mustang Sally” before trying their own hand at writing songs for themselves. What followed was a string of stunning, indelible original hits including “You Better Run,” “Groovin’,” “A Girl Like You,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “It’s Wonderful,” “People Got To Be Free,” and the two songs that inhabit today’s jukebox single “A Beautiful Morning” and “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long.”

“A Beautiful Morning” was the group’s first “grown up” single, meaning that The Young Rascals drop the “Young” in their name to be forever known as just The Rascals. However, the song was just as innocent and vibrant as many of their many other hit singles, adding a welcome relief to some of the heavier sounds that graced the charts in 1968. It was also the perfect follow-up single to “Groovin’.”

The song, which was written by Cavaliere and Brigati, climbed to the #3 position of the pop charts in 1968 and sold well over a million copies. It was originally released as a stand-alone single with “Rainy Day” on the flip side, and made its first appearance on an album on Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits in 1968. The album would go on to be the most popular album in the group’s entire canon topping the charts in September 1968. In its wake, the song has been featured in movies and used countless times to sell products in TV commercials.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic is another stellar single “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” which was originally released on the group’s second album Collections. The song was written by Felix Cavaliere, although early copies of the 45 credited it to Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati. The song climbed to #16 on the charts when released as a single in January of 1967.

Cavaliere: “That song was our savior. Before that, there was disgruntled talk in and out of the ranks, and thank God, it was a hit. In retrospect, “Good Lovin”‘ launched The Rascals, but it was “Lonely Too Long” that proved the band was more than a one-hit wonder.” (www.therascalsarchives.com/)

Rock critic Dave Marsh included the song in his book The Heart Of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made and said the following: “Holland-Dozier-Holland deserve royalties for the intro, but after Felix’s organ comes in, The Rascals are on their own with one of the most distinctive performances in blue-eyed soul. The highlight, though, is Dino Danelli’s drumming, which merges Benny Benjamin funk with Keith Moon power.”

By the end of the 1960s, The Rascals’ popularity began to wane, leading to the departure of Eddie Brigati in 1970 and Dino Danelli in 1971. The group carried on for a few more years, releasing several really good jazz-rock albums for Columbia Records in a similar vein to Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago, before calling it quits.

The Rascals went dormant for the next 40 years except for a brief tour that featured three of the members in 1988, a performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in 1997, and another tour where they were booked as The New Rascals featuring only Cornish and Danelli. Meanwhile, Cavaliere formed his own version of The Rascals (calling it Cavaliere’s Rascals) to perform the group’s repertoire, and Brigati also got in on the acrimonious touring game by putting together a group he called The Boys From The Music House, that also featured his brother to perform the Rascals’ repertoire.

After many years of not speaking to each other, the original quartet reunited in 2009 for a benefit show for Kristen Ann Carr (a member of Bruce Springsteen’s camp) at the behest of Springsteen guitarist Steve Van Zandt who joined the group with Springsteen for their encore of “Good Lovin’.”

The Carr benefit led to the creation of a jukebox musical by Steve Van Zandt and his wife Maureen with lighting director Marc Brickman called The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream. The show starred the original lineup of the band performing in front of projection screens and debuted for six performances at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York in December of 2012. After the brief residency, the show moved to Broadway where the group gave 14 more performances the following spring, and then it hit the road and toured throughout North America to rave reviews.

As a longtime fan of the group, I never thought the day would come that I would actually ever get the opportunity to see the group in action…in any form. However, I was fortunate enough to catch them a few years ago in Chicago. The group was every bit as good as they ever were, and the material has surely stood the test of time. If the show comes around again, I urge any fan of the group to go see it at once.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: August 24th, 2015

4th Of July Playlist

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4th Of July Playlist

Here’s my own personal 4th Of July Playlist. I’m sure there are songs you feel deserving of such an endeavor. If so, add them and let me know…

 

  1. Woody Guthrie: This Land Is Your Land http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaI5IRuS2aE
  2. Ray Charles: America The Beautiful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUjr8EVgBg
  3. The Beach Boys: Spirit Of America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc0cvsSwvs0
  4. Grateful Dead: U.S. Blues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPBLfzTPCDc
  5. Chicago: Saturday In The Park https://youtu.be/PLiMy4NaSKc
  6. John Mellencamp: Pink Houses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOfkpu6749w
  7. Los Lobos: One Time One Night https://youtu.be/cjq4y9EFLMA
  8. X: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/lhu807VUY24
  9. Aimee Mann: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/vOYI85anqmQ
  10. Bruce Springsteen: 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) https://youtu.be/KgFHM8HMbWQ
  11. Hair Original Cast: Don’t Put It Down https://youtu.be/_w2gyWE0M0k
  12. West Side Story Original Soundtrack: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6wo2wpT2k
  13. David Bowie: Young Americans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFudBQcplj4
  14. The Clash: I’m So Bored With The U.S.A. https://youtu.be/A13vj5vdlCU
  15. Devo: Freedom Of Choice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVGINIsLnqU
  16. Neil Diamond: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3S7mlRYL-8
  17. Paul Simon: American Tune http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE3kKUEY5WU
  18. Johnny Cash: Ragged Old Flag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbbGi3mTjCo
  19. Jimi Hendrix: The Star Spangled Banner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_3uHYd7pV0

 

Edited: July 4th, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Win” by David Bowie

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Win” by David Bowie

Plastic soul…on a plastic record.

Shifting gears was nothing new for David Bowie who seemingly shedded skin during the 1970s like others took out the trash. So when Bowie booked time in Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios during a two-week break during the Diamond Dogs tour, it should not have come as a surprise to anyone that he would emerge in the guise of a suave and sophisticated soul man, sans costumes, make-up and theatrics.

The signs were already there. Bowie had begun to work on an album called People From Bad Homes for his protégé, Ava Cherry And The Astronettes who consisted of his friend Geoffrey MacCormack (aka Warren Peace), Jason Guess, Aynsley Dunbar, Herbie Flowers and Mike Garson. Recording for the Cherry album was abandoned before completion as Bowie decided to focus on the recording of his Diamond Dogs album instead. The tapes for Cherry’s album then became tied up in litigation as Bowie tried to separate himself from Tony DeFries and his MainMan management company. As a result, the record remained unreleased for over 20 years, and is still hard to find today.

Several songs from the Cherry album would end up making the cut on future Bowie records, including “I Am Divine” which became “Somebody Up There Likes Me” from Young Americans, “I Am A Laser” which emerged as “Scream Like A Baby” on Scary Monsters and a cover of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” that Bowie would get around to recording for his Tonight album in 1984. Cherry and company covered Frank Zappa & The Mothers’ song “How Could I Be Such A Fool” for the album as well.

While on the American leg of the Diamond Dogs tour Bowie began to perform the Eddie Floyd soul classic “Knock On Wood,” and midway through the tour he dropped much of the elaborate costuming and staging in favor of a more stripped down and soulful approach. After the tour, Bowie released the excellent David Live At The Tower Philadelphia double live album as a stop-gap while he feverishly tried to work through the MainMan management issues. The first official inkling of Bowie’s new direction was the release of the live version of “Knock On Wood” as a single.

During the Philadelphia tour stop, Bowie decided to check in to Sigma Sound with Tony Visconti as producer to record some of the new soulful music he heard in his head. He had intended to record with the MFSB rhythm section, but conflicts left only conga player Larry Washington available for the sessions. So Bowie recruited Carlos Alomar on guitar, Willie Weeks on bass, Andy Newmark (of Sly & The Famiily Stone) on drums, David Sanborn on saxophone, Mike Garson on piano, and for background vocals Ava Cherry, an unknown Luther Vandross and Alomar’s wife, Robin Alomar.

The session was the first time Carlos Alomar and Bowie worked with each other leading to a working relationship that has lasted for over 30 years. It was also one of David Sanborn and Luther Vandross’ first sessions. The album was essentially recorded live with the full band playing at the same time that Bowie sang.

When fans got wind that Bowie had checked into Sigma Sound, they began to hang outside the studio every evening to catch a glimpse of their hero and to get autographs. As the sessions went on, Bowie and his entourage came to know the regulars as the “Sigma Kids.” On the final day of tracking for the album, Bowie invited them in to the studio to listen to the rough versions of the songs.

The first single from Young Americans was the title track which was co-written by Luther Vandross. Bowie said the song was about “the predicament of two newlyweds,” although the meaning of the lyrics remains vague. Nevertheless, the single climbed to the #28 position on the charts, which was Bowie’s biggest single up to that point. A very coked up Bowie also performed the song on television on The Dinah Shore Show in 1975. This can be viewed on YouTube.

When Young Americans was released in March of 1975, Bowie described it as both “plastic soul” and “the squashed remains of ethnic music as it survives in the age of Muzak rock, written and sung by a white limey.” It was met with mixed reviews by critics and fans alike.

However, several of the songs on the album were absolute stunners including “Win” which is today’s deep soul Song Of The Day by Eric Berman, “Fascination” which originated from a Luther Vandross song called “Funky Music” that the Mike Garson Band would play to warm up before Bowie concerts on the ’74 tour, “Somebody Up There Likes Me” which came from the Ava Cherry sessions and, of course Bowie’s only chart-topping single, “Fame.”

The recording of “Fame” and “Across The Universe” happened after the album wrapped up at Sigma Sound. Back in New York City, Bowie met John Lennon who was celebrating the release of his Walls And Bridges album and the pair hit it off. They booked a one-day session at Electric Lady Studios in January 1975 and assembled most of Bowie’s touring band. The group worked up an atrocious version of “Across The Universe” for kicks, which for some reason Bowie liked.

Meanwhile, Carlos Alomar started jamming on a riff and soon the rest of the band joined in and before they knew it Bowie, Lennon and Alomar worked up a new song called “Fame.” The lyrics came from a discussion between Bowie and Lennon about the perils of celebrity; however Bowie has said that a fair amount of malice in the lyrics was also directed at MainMan management.

The song became David Bowie’s first number one single with a riff so funky that James Brown, “The Godfather Of Soul” lifted it for his track “Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved).” Lennon can be heard singing background vocals on the track, particularly at the end when his voice is modified from very high to very low. As a result of the New York sessions, the songs “Who Can It Be Now” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” were pulled from the finished Young Americans album at the last minute in favor of “Across The Universe” and “Fame.” They would emerge years later as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of the album.

Several other tracks were recorded during the Young Americans sessions including a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City.” Bowie had been knocked out by Springsteen’s performance at Max’s Kansas City and was jazzed to record the song and meet the artist behind it. Springsteen was summoned to Sigma Sound for an audience with Bowie and a playback of the song. Springsteen took a bus from Asbury Park to Philadelphia and arrived at the studio sometime after midnight. While the two artists mutually admired each other, the meeting was said to be awkward, and after all was said and done, Bowie decided not to play his version of the song for Springsteen because it was not finished yet.

Bowie also remade the 1972 B-side “John, I’m Only Dancing” as an extended dance track during the Young Americans sessions. When RCA began to pressure Bowie for more new music, the plan was to release the disco-fied “John, I’m Only Dancing Again,” however Bowie was already on to his next phase and released “Golden Years” well in advance of his next album StationToStation . Out went the soul man; in came “The Thin White Duke.” Another year, another new persona…

Edited: September 17th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “State Trooper” by Bruce Springsteen

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “State Trooper” by Bruce Springsteen

The guttural howls that he lets out at the end of this psychobilly classic mixed with its pleading paranoid lyrics conjures the mood of pure dread…and with Bruce Springsteen’s sixth album, it was all about mood.

Hot on the heels of The River, his biggest album yet from 1980, and after several years on the road with The E Street Band touring to support it, Springsteen found himself back at home in Colts Neck, NJ with some restless free time on his hand and lots of bummer songs rattling around his brain.

A change of work habits was in the air as well. Rather than writing songs in the studio with the band waiting around as he had done up to this point resulting in albums taking years to complete, Springsteen called upon his engineer friend Mike Batlin to set up a primitive home studio so he could create demos of his new set of songs to be presented to the band in the studio. Springsteen worked fast at home and over a period of few days at the end of 1981, he captured fourteen new songs on his very basic Tascam 4-Track cassette recorder including early versions of songs that wouldn’t see the light of day for several years to come including “Born In The USA,” “Pink Cadillac” and “Working On The Highway” (then titled “Child Bride”).

Springsteen proceeded to carry the cassette of his stark new songs around with him for several weeks before making a copy and sending it to his manager, Jon Landau, who was blown away by not only the darkness and depth of the material, but the change of musical direction he heard.

Upon reconvening in the studio with the E Streeters to work up full band versions of the songs, it became evident that the band couldn’t capture the dark, desolate feeling that these songs needed. So a remixed version of the “demo” cassette that Springsteen recorded at home literally became his next record.

Once the bigwigs at Columbia Records got it in their head that they weren’t going to be releasing another blockbuster Springsteen record as the follow-up to The River, they devised a laid-back promotional campaign to suit the material. Springsteen fans were confused with the release of Nebraska in 1982, but the critics were rightfully blown away by its austere grandeur, hailing the record as one of his best…which it, indeed, still is.

Edited: July 7th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #68–The Rascals: “A Beautiful Morning” b/w “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS 13039 (Q7/R7)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #68–The Rascals: “A Beautiful Morning” b/w “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS 13039 (Q7/R7)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Before Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, The Rascals were the group that put New Jersey on the musical map. The group consists of Eddie Brigati on vocals, Felix Cavaliere on keyboards and vocals, Gene Cornish on guitar and Dino Danelli on drums. Cavaliere, Cornish and Danelli were all members of Joey Dee and the Starlighters along with Eddie Brigati’s brother David. The group formed in the basement of Brigati’s house in Garfield, New Jersey calling themselves The Rascals. They changed their name to The Young Rascals after their manager Sid Bernstein found another group called The Harmonica Rascals who objected to them using their original name.

Their sound was pure blue-eyed soul and the group began by performing covers, scoring hits with songs like “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” “Good Lovin’” and “Mustang Sally” before trying their own hand at writing songs for themselves. What followed was a string of stunning, indelible original hits including “You Better Run,” “Groovin’,” “A Girl Like You,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “It’s Wonderful,” “People Got To Be Free,” and the two songs that inhabit today’s jukebox single “A Beautiful Morning” and “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long.”

“A Beautiful Morning” was the group’s first “grown up” single, meaning that The Young Rascals drop the “Young” in their name to be forever known as just The Rascals. However, the song was just as innocent and vibrant as many of their many other hit singles, adding a welcome relief to some of the heavier sounds that graced the charts in 1968. It was also the perfect follow-up single to “Groovin’.”

The song, which was written by Cavaliere and Brigati, climbed to the #3 position of the pop charts in 1968 and sold well over a million copies. It was originally released as a stand-alone single with “Rainy Day” on the flip side, and made its first appearance on an album on Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits in 1968. The album would go on to be the most popular album in the group’s entire canon topping the charts in September 1968.  In its wake, the song has been used countless times to sell products in TV commercials.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic is another stellar single “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” which was originally released on the group’s second album Collections. The song was written by Felix Cavaliere, although early copies of the 45 credited it to Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati. The song climbed to #16 on the charts when released as a single in January of 1967.

Cavaliere: “That song was our savior. Before that, there was disgruntled talk in and out of the ranks, and thank God, it was a hit. In retrospect, “Good Lovin”‘ launched The Rascals, but it was “Lonely Too Long” that proved the band was more than a one-hit wonder.” (www.therascalsarchives.com/)

Rock critic Dave Marsh included the song in his book The Heart Of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made and said the following: “Holland-Dozier-Holland deserve royalties for the intro, but after Felix’s organ comes in, The Rascals are on their own with one of the most distinctive performances in blue-eyed soul. The highlight, though, is Dino Danelli’s drumming, which merges Benny Benjamin funk with Keith Moon power.”

By the end of the 1960s, The Rascals’ popularity began to wane, leading to the departure of Eddie Brigati in 1970 and Dino Danelli in 1971. The group carried on for a few more years, releasing several really good jazz-rock albums for Columbia Records in a similar vein to Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago, before calling it quits.

The Rascals went dormant for the next 40 years except for a brief tour that featured three of the members in 1988, a performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in 1997, and another tour where they were booked as The New Rascals featuring only Cornish and Danelli. Meanwhile, Cavaliere formed his own version of The Rascals (calling it Cavaliere’s Rascals) to perform the group’s repertoire, and Brigati also got in on the acrimonious touring game by putting together a group he called The Boys From The Music House, that also featured his brother to perform the Rascals’ repertoire.

After many years of not speaking to each other, the original quartet reunited in 2009 for a benefit show for Kristen Ann Carr (a member of Bruce Springsteen’s camp) at the behest of Springsteen guitarist Steve Van Zandt who joined the group with Springsteen for their encore of “Good Lovin’.”

The Carr benefit led to the creation of a jukebox musical by Steve Van Zandt and his wife Maureen with lighting director Marc Brickman called The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream. The show starred the original lineup of the band performing in front of projection screens and debuted for six performances at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York in December of 2012. After the brief residency, the show moved to Broadway where the group gave 14 more performances the following spring, and then it hit the road and toured throughout North America to rave reviews.

As a longtime fan of the group, I never thought the day would come that I would actually ever get the opportunity to see the group in action…in any form. However, I was fortunate enough to catch them this past November in Chicago. The group was every bit as good as they ever were, and the material has surely stood the test of time.  If the show comes around again, I urge any fan of the group to go see it at once.

Edited: January 29th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/10/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen

Some of my favorite scenes from The Sopranos are when Tony Soprano is shown driving in his SUV rocking out and singing along to ‘70s tunes, usually by BTO or Journey.

Today, I felt a little like Tony Soprano while driving to work, but instead of Journey or BTO, I was rocking out to one of the greatest albums ever released, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen.

A strange and wonderful sensation came over me by the time the title track came on (which will always signal the beginning of Side Two to me even when hearing it on an iPod).

“Born To Run” is still such a powerful song, and I got the chills this morning as if I was hearing it for the first time all over again. Except, something was dramatically different…all of the years that have passed by, the friends that have come and gone and the life events that have taken place began to run through my mind as the song played, bringing tears to my eyes as I realized just how many years have slipped away and how much I’ve changed since I first experienced the power of “Born To Run.”

It was a coming of age album, and I just happened to be coming of age in 1975 when the album came out. This song vocalized the feelings most of us in my age group shared of needing an escape, and being on the precipice of something unknown that cannot be found in your own home town – “Baby this town rips the bones from your back / It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap / We gotta get out while were young / `cause tramps like us, baby we were Born To Run…Together we could break this trap / Well run till we drop, / baby we’ll never go back…” – and it all came drifting back to me this morning during its four and a half minute duration.

While listening, I experienced the same feeling of nirvana I’ve gotten many times over the years watching The E Street Band kick into this song in lit up arenas and stadiums (especially in NJ) with thirty to fifty thousand fans singing along in unison as if their lives depended on it.  And it felt great…it’s too bad that all of that greatness culminated in going to work, but that’s what happens when you don’t hit the Powerball…

Back in the ‘70s, I usually found out about new record releases either from magazines like Rolling Stone and Creem, or most importantly, from reviews in the Sunday New York Times Arts & Leisure section which were usually written by Jon Pareles or John Rockwell. Not only would I find out about artists and records I’d never heard about before, but I could also see what the album covers were going to look like in Sam Goody’s ads, hoping that I’d be able to score one of the precious platters on display during the coming week.

I distinctly remember reading the article that introduced me to Patti Smith’s Horses back in 1975, and I also remember opening the August 29th 1975 edition of the NY Times and reading Rockwell’s headline about Bruce Springsteen’s new album: “Springsteen’s Rock, Poetry At Its Best.” I probably first heard tracks from the album, including today’s Song Of The Day, introduced by Scott Muni on 102.7 WNEW, our local FM rock station in New York City.

I can also remember seeing the album cover for the first time with a smiling, leather-clad Bruce leaning on the Big Man’s shoulder. They were comrades in arms hoping to take the world by storm with their latest opus. What we didn’t know at the time was that it was the last chance for Bruce and Columbia Records. After two failed releases for the label, it was either produce or be dropped. It’s a good thing that Jon Landau saw the future of rock ‘n’ roll…and thankfully, we did too.

Before the release of Born To Run, I had never heard of Bruce Springsteen, which might seem strange to some since I grew up in New Jersey. But after the album’s release, I went back and picked up his first two albums (as did most of my friends), and from then to now, I’ve never missed one of Springsteen’s new releases. I can’t say I’ve liked them all, especially the recent ones, but I don’t think I will ever get to the place where a new Springsteen release will instill indifference within me.

These days I don’t reach for Born To Run as often as I used to, but this morning I got both the renewed sense of youth and that feeling of the passage of time all at once, while driving on the highways of Chicago.

Edited: August 10th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/1/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “State Trooper” by Bruce Springsteen

The guttural howls that he lets out at the end of this psychobilly classic, mixed with its pleading paranoid lyrics conjures the mood of pure dread…and with Bruce Springsteen’s sixth album, it was all about mood.

Hot on the heels of “The River,” his biggest album and the tour to support it, Bruce Springsteen found himself back at home in Colts Neck, NJ with some restless free time on his hand and lots of bummer songs rattling around his brain.

A change of work habits was in the air as well. Up to this point, Springsteen fleshed out his song in the studio with the band waiting around, resulting in albums that took years to complete. For “Nebraska,” Springsteen called upon his engineer friend Mike Batlin to set up a primitive home studio to create demos of his new set of songs to be presented to the band in complete form.

Springsteen worked fast at home and over a period of few days at the end of 1981, he captured fourteen new songs on his very basic Tascam 4-Track cassette recorder including early versions of “Born In The USA,” “Pink Cadillac” and “Working On The Highway” (then titled “Child Bride”) that wouldn’t see the light of day for several more years.

Springsteen proceeded to carry the cassette around with him for several weeks before making a copy and sending it to his manager, Jon Landau, who was blown away by not only the darkness and depth of the material, but the change of musical direction he heard.

Upon reconvening in the studio with the E Streeters to work up full band versions of the songs, it became evident that they couldn’t capture the dark, desolate feeling that the songs needed. So a remixed version of the “demo” cassette that Springsteen recorded at home literally became his next record.

Once the bigwigs at Columbia Records got it in their head that they weren’t going to be releasing another full-band blockbuster Springsteen record as the follow-up to “The River,” they devised a laid-back promotional campaign to suit the material.

Springsteen fans were confused with the release of “Nebraska” in 1982, but the critics were rightfully blown away by its austere grandeur, hailing the record as one of his best…which indeed, it still is.

Edited: June 30th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 11/30/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “State Trooper” by Bruce Springsteen

The guttural howls that he lets out at the end of this psychobilly classic mixed with its pleading paranoid lyrics conjures the mood of pure dread…and with Bruce Springsteen’s sixth album, it was all about mood. Hot on the heels of “The River,” his biggest album yet, after several years on the road with The E Street Band touring to support it, Springsteen found himself back at home in Colts Neck, NJ with some restless free time on his hand and lots of bummer songs rattling around his brain. A change of work habits was in the air as well. Rather than writing songs in the studio with the band waiting around as he had done up to this point resulting in albums taking years to complete, Springsteen called upon his engineer friend Mike Batlin to set up a primitive home studio so he could create demos of his new set of songs to be presented to the band in the studio. Springsteen worked fast at home and over a period of few days at the end of 1981, he captured fourteen new songs on his very basic Tascam 4-Track cassette recorder including early versions of “Born In The USA,” “Pink Cadillac” and “Working On The Highway” (then titled “Child Bride”) that wouldn’t see the light of day for several more years. Springsteen proceeded to carry the cassette around with him for several weeks before making a copy and sending it to his manager, Jon Landau, who was blown away by not only the darkness and depth of the material, but the change of musical direction he heard. Upon reconvening in the studio with the E Streeters to work up full band versions of the songs, it became evident that the band couldn’t capture the dark, desolate feeling that these songs needed. So a remixed version of the “demo” cassette that Springsteen recorded at home literally became his next record. Once the bigwigs at Columbia Records got it in their head that they weren’t going to be releasing another blockbuster Springsteen record as the follow-up to “The River,” they devised a laid-back promotional campaign to suit the material. Springsteen fans were confused with the release of “Nebraska” in 1982, but the critics were rightfully blown away by its austere grandeur, hailing the record as one of his best…which it, indeed, still is.

Edited: November 29th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 4/7/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Fire” by Bruce Springsteen

It boggles the mind the songs that were left on the cutting room floor from Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” recording sessions. There was a plethora of material to choose from due to the legal problems that resulted in a three year span between “Born To Run” and “Darkness.” As a result, Bruce gave now-classic songs like this one, “Because The Night” and “Talk To Me” away to The Pointer Sisters, Patti Smith and Southside Johnny respectively. Rather than release what would have been a solid double or triple album back in 1978, he chose to leave classics like “Rendezvous,” “Spanish Eyes,” “Outside Looking In” and “The Promise” off the record entirely making fans wait 30 years for their eventual release on “The Promise.” Two years later, he did release a pretty solid double album with “The River” which included the “Darkness” outtakes “Independence Day,” “The Ties That Bind” and “Sherry Darlin’.” I know of at least four CDs of outtakes from those sessions just waiting for eager ears to officially sample in superb fidelity. When it does come down the pike…and I’m sure it WILL come down the pike, “The River” sessions box set will also be superb!

Edited: April 7th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 2/13/12

 

Song Of The Day and Grammy Recap by Eric Berman – “Holocene” by Bon Iver

OK…time for a rant. After spending 3 1/2 abysmal hours with our friends at NARAS last night watching them trade awards for record sales and publicity, I think I have a right to complain a little about some of the stuff that passed for music that I sat through. Nicki Minaj…WFT was that? While she adds much needed novelty to tracks she makes guests appearances on, this had to the most head-scratching-devoid-of-any-musical-value “performance” of the night…and that’s a night that included “performances” by Katy Perry and Chris Brown. Then we had some of the tried and true stalwarts like Bruce Springsteen who has been regurgitating the same song for the last ten years, Paul McCartney who was redeemed by appearing twice, the second time with a Beatles medley. He was pleasant enough if you overlook the fact that on this night his voice was pretty well shot. Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keys paid a well-deserved and well received tribute to Etta James that did not disappoint. There were a few other artists who like Keys and Rait got up there and performed without much fanfare and let their music speak for them including Taylor Swift, who was channeling The Beverly Hillbillies with her look (thanks Deb), Cary Underwood and Kelly Clarkson who actually gave American Idol some credibility, The Foo Fighters who while out of place in today’s world of processed music, managed a full-on assault without looking like a dinosaur act and, of course, Adele who earned every award she received with a record full of real songs performed with a real voice. Jennifer Hudson had the near-impossible task of paying tribute to Whitney Houston whose death hung over the entire proceedings. While she has one of the best voices out there today, her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” only pointed out what a great loss the death of Whitney Houston really is. Nobody could sing that song like she could. This brings us to today’s Song Of the Day. I don’t get Bon Iver. I’ve seen Justin Vernon/Bon Iver twice in person (albeit during festivals) and he’s never impressed. I have the two albums and find them to be rather dull affairs. I do, however, give him credibility for the most humble down to earth acceptance speech of the night.

Edited: February 13th, 2012

On This Day…10/27

On This Day In 1975:

Bruce Springsteen appears on the covers of both “Time” and “Newsweek.” To commemorate, here’s a 1978 version of a “Born To Run” classic recorded at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ.

Play: Bruce Springsteen: “Meeting Across The River”

Edited: October 27th, 2010