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April 25, 2006


Dave G.


Since I mentioned "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live" and how impressed I was by it...it is now available for free on Bruce's website:


I think it supports your argument that had he done more things like this (rewriting these songs with more current events in mind) it would resonate even better.



Glad to see you elaborate on the review, which came across as two reviews: one of the CD, another of the artist's career choices of late.

There was a great moment during a 'Greendale' show I caught when Neil Young was being being bombarded with requests before he'd even reached the midpoint of the new collection of songs. He very politely said something to the effect of, "Just let me finish these new songs I'd like to play for you, and then I'll go back to being whoever you thought I was."

Seems pretty applicable in this case. Just which Bruce Springsteen should we want Springsteen to be these days?

'The Rising' was indeed the last cd that didn't immediately invite comparisons to something else, either by Bruce himself (D&D was a supposed return to the territory of Nebraska and Tom Joad) or another artist.

It wasn't a particularly strong CD, though, as a few short years have proven. Most of the songs weren't properly arranged until they were played live, many reached their expiration date--in terms of their topicality--even before then.

Springsteen has always worn his folk influence on his sleeve (I came in on the Born in the USA tour, which included plenty of Nebraska tunes, as well as Guthrie's 'This Hard Land' and 'Seeds' as staples in the set). Last Thursday I caught the rehearsal show in Asbury, and I echo the sentiments of a few people above: paired with the right songs from his own catalogue, these songs can be viewed in an entirely different light than what we hear on the cd.

I know, I know, one shouldn't have to attend a concert to get a sense of what the artist was aiming for in studio. But that's long been the case with Springsteen, as it has been with plenty of others (see recent tours by Wilco and Elvis Costello, as well as the Neil Young tour for 'Greendale').

As for preaching to the converted, check out some of the Springsteen boards to get a sense of how well this one is going over with the long-term fans. Many of them also want Springsteen to go back to being Springsteen.

Unfortunately, for many that would require a 56 year old man making like someone half his age.

Eric responds: Good thoughts, all, particularly that last bit. I, for one, certainly don't want Springsteen to make another "Born in the USA" or "Nebraska," but he's such a keen observer and powerful writer that I'd love for him to pour those qualities into original material with the same intent he put into those albums: an artistic reflection of life as we live it now, whatever that means to him.

Dave G.

I guess I can see where you're coming from in the "preaching to the converted" (I for one am not a convert ;-)

I see where you're going though with sharper edged comments in songs. That was my gripe before I heard the record or rehersal for this tour. I really cringed at first reports of this record, but it has grown on me since first hearing it in Austin at SXSW.

But after seeing it, which I know you will sometime in the next 2 months, you get where he's at right now, and that's just having fun and trying some new things.

Granted, I'll agree with you 100% if the next record is a Rod Stewart songbook project.

Dave G.


After seeing the rehearsal show, and hearing the album a good 20 times now, I think you're missing something.

First off, he did a double shot of Devils and Dust into Mrs. McGrath (which was dedicated to Cindy Sheehan) Pretty political statement there.

Second, he's reworked the traditional "How can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" Into an in your face commentary on New Orleans post Katrina. There's one line that rivals Kanye's comments.

While I may not agree with Bruce on some of these things, I don't think he's been hiding since the Kerry election. If anything, this has been one of the most prolific times for Bruce Springsteen Appearances. He has not run, he has not hid. He has been interviewed by every major magazine and newspaper for this album and has not shied away at all re: Bush. Just check out his latest interview in Rolling Stone.

The Devils tour saw numerous comments on immigration policy, creationism and several other comments that were aimed directly at Pennsylvania Avenue.

The fact is the E Street Band is off doing many different projects. Timing is not right. That band did back to back tours that were barn burners every night. He has a full album ready to go for 2007 and we'll get another blast from these guys.

But you can't say he's not being Bruce. What did Bruce follow up Born To Run with? The stark, dreary Darkness on The Edge of Town. He released an acoustic album (Nebraska) after the chart topping double album, The River.

After the superstardom and stadium filling tours of Born in The USA? He followed with the nearly solo Tunnel of Love.

So it was only natural that after the stadium filling Rising tour, he went back to find other voices he wanted to explore.

Sure it's not always what we want, but you can't fault a man for seeing what else is out there. The truth is, I'll take the experiment with the Seeger Sessions any day over that horrific 92-93 Human Touch/Lucky Town debacle any day of the week.

See one show, and I think you'll change your tune and realize this is just another stop on Springsteen journey.

Eric responds: I agree with you about the Human Touch/Lucky Town period. I also enjoyed both shows I saw last year on the Devils & Dust tour. And don't get me wrong: I LIKE the Seeger album. I just think those songs, timeless as they are, have limited application to modern circumstances. I'm all for allegory, but I wouldn't mind seeing some of Bruce's sharper-edged comments show up in songs and not just interviews or stage patter.

Kanye said what he did on national television; Bruce, by commenting on stage at shows or in the pages of Rolling Stone, is sort of preaching to the converted, no?

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