Podcast host Mitch Slater on his recent gets, John Scher & Ed Manion In recent weeks, lining up guests for my Financially Speaking with Mitch Slater podcast (don’t let the name fool you!), I've been thrilled to pull off a double shot of music legends — in my book, at least — having conversations with one of the great rock promoters of our generation, John Scher (no Capitol Theatre Springsteen shows without him, folks), and the greatest utility infield of saxophone players in our world, Eddie Manion.
These two episodes were such a treat for me; during this "summer of our discontent" I've been trying to book guests that would lift all of us up, and these guys were the embodiment of what I was looking for. I appreciate Backstreets — which I cherish every day and continue to have as my home page — allowing me to share these two special shows with their audience.
John Scher — who for a reason I will never understand was not selected for this year's New Jersey Hall of Fame induction — is one of the inventors of the modern rock concert business. Besides being one hell of a nice guy, he combines great passion and love of music with a terrific business sense — starting at age 16, when he booked the Chiffons for his junior prom (that story is something else).
Speaking with John was like sitting down with the history of rock 'n' roll. Generations of music fans like me (and I am sure many Backstreets readers) have attended his shows at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, or Springsteen's amazing opening run the newly finished Brendan Byrne Arena on the original River Tour, or his early shows at Giants Stadium.
John will also always be known for the amazing Clash concerts at Convention Hall and other Asbury Park shows, as well as having the largest crowd ever for a concert in Englishtown, to this day, for the Grateful Dead, whom he represented for decades. We talked about all of these shows, the Stones and The Who at the Capitol, as well as the Bruce stuff — and an amazing Springsteen/John Sebastian story that I had never heard before.
We concluded the conversation with a frank talk about the music industry issues of the last two decades, including all the ticket scalping and Ticketmaster debacles, as well as the current halt to the industry brought by COVID-19. John had very strong opinions about the advent of drive-in concerts and how he hopes to bounce back from a disastrous 2020, like all of us. I hope everyone enjoys listening as much as I enjoyed doing the interview.
The second game of the doubleheader, my “Night Cap with Mr. Night Life” Eddie Manion, was just pure joy. Not only does Eddie play live on the show, but he teases some new music coming on an album he is recording as I write this, at a studio in Pittsburgh with some very special guests.
Eddie tells the story of his own rise to fame in Jersey. His mom got him his first instrument, too. And when many musicians went to music schools, he truly learned more from "three-minute records" as well as three wise men: the holy trinity of the Jersey bar scene realized his talent early, as Bruce, Steven and Southside all grabbed him by the horns (pun intended) and the magic began.
From his early days as an original Asbury Juke (Southside called him "Kingfish") to performing the songs written mostly by Steven (who called him "Clams" — Eddie explains why) to playing on numerous Springsteen tours (where Bruce dubbed him "The Thin Man"), the stories are magical.
I won't give much else away, but Eddie's description of what went on before the E Street Band's Super Bowl performance and the Sessions Band's Jazz Fest show are amazing. We talked about his relationship with the Big Man and how well they worked together. We also talked about the music business in general, his ups and downs, and his love of photography — as quite the world traveler on tour with Bruce and more recently the Disciple of Soul, Eddie used his camera to make us all feel like we were with him every step of the way.
Towards the end of the podcast, Eddie played a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" to close out the show with hope for a better future, adding some inspiring words himself. His first album Nightlife was wonderful, and his new album has the working title of Have Sax, Will Travel — you can support that effort now by getting the T-shirt. Eddie hopes to be able to get back on the road with the E Street Band again soon; he also reflects on the brilliance of Steven Van Zandt and describes what it was like playing with the Disciples of Soul at the Cavern Club and the amazing finale at the Beacon, which is coming out on DVD later this year.
THE BARBER OF THRILL HILL
Patti Scialfa discusses new work, life in lockdown, with Rolling Stone
When Patti Scialfa appeared on the most recent episode of Bruce Springsteen's From His Home to Yours [Volume 9: Rumble Doll], she talked about her upcoming fourth solo album, which she's been working on with producer Ron Aniello. Rolling Stone follows up, with a new Q&A conducted by Andy Greene.
In addition to the new album (which she says is at the "halfway" mark), Scialfa has contributed music to Bobby Roth's new film Pearl (including two new songs, "Motherless Child" and "Plastic Horses.")
I’m always really honored to hear my music in some other form than me putting it out. I love making albums. I write all the time. But I have a pretty big other life with the [E Street] Band and having children, so I don't really push my own work. I just release it. So when I hear someone else [cover it] or hear it in a TV show, it's a validation in a way: "Oh, somebody has heard this. I’m not making it in a vacuum." It’s very pleasing, really nice. It does not grow old for me.
Patti talks about the producer she's been sharing with her husband for some years now, after Aniello first produced 2007's Play It As It Lays: "Ron is basically living here. You just walk in the studio and everyone is there. You can make music every day, which we do."
We get some more background on that home studio, too, which Bruce gave Patti "full rein" to create and which has since been further "rigged" for safer operation during the pandemic. Even if they have to sometimes fight over it:
We’ve been sharing a studio, and Bruce has just been so prolific lately that it’s hard for me to get in there. He’s always like, "I have to go do this thing and that thing." Getting some traction is the hardest thing for me.
Much of the interview focuses on life in quarantine: at home and with family, the haircuts she gives her husband every six weeks, and the future of live music — including hopes for another solo tour of her own.
Oh, God, I so want to do that. I was all ready. Danny Clinch holds this festival in the summer, Sea. Hear. Now. It’s in Asbury Park. He asked me to play, and it was going to be big, something like 10 or 20,000 people on the beach. I was going to come out and play a 45-minute set. I went, "What a great way to get going!" It was booked, and I was on the list. Then it was just done. But I’d love to go out with my music. I really would.
Back in June, Jay Weinberg presented his dad — and the rest of us — with a unique Father's Day present: a metal cover of "Candy's Room." Recorded during social distancing lockdown, with Jay on the skins, of course, and the blowtorch vocals of Royal Thunder's Mlny Parsonz, it's a beast and a blast — in fact, let's pause here a sec so you can soak that one in.
So what's a proud dad to do? "I returned the favor," the elder Weinberg tells Backstreets.
If there were any lingering doubts as to whether Max can play anything, he reteamed with Two Minutes to Late Night and its host Gwarsenio Hall to pummel a Misfits song for their series of bedroom covers. Check out "Earth A.D.," also featuring Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Ben Weinman (Dillinger Escape Plan), and Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance).
As Two Minutes to Late Night puts it: "This is Max Weinberg, as in Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band/Late Night with Conan O'Brien-fame Max Weinberg playing a goddamn Misfits cover. What an absolute dream."
"I remember Jay saying, years and years ago, when he happened to hear 'Held Up Without a Gun' that E Street at that time sounded like 'a punk band,'" Max tells us. "So, I guess with these great players on this Misfits song, I’ve returned to my roots!"
Max does know whereof he drums, and not just because the Misfits are a Jersey band: "When Jay was younger, we went to so many different shows together of bands he loved — those were great dad/son bonding times. So I heard and saw bands I wouldn’t have normally seen, being of my generation, including the Misfits, Social D, Neurosis, and many more. And of course Slipknot."
Slipknot's drummer since 2014, Jay also produced and filmed his dad's part on "Earth AD."
"Two days out the video got 75,000 views and incredibly surprising comments on YouTube, like, 'Wait — Jay Weinberg’s dad is a drummer?'" Max laughs. "Spreading my wings…" - August 10, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting
LAST CHANCE: BIG BOSS BOOK SALE ENDS TONIGHT! Backstreet Records has remained open throughout the pandemic, since our mail-order-only shop is in a safe and isolated location, and we're following all CDC guidelines.
Our 20% OFF sale on all Books runs through tonight, Friday, August 7 — to have that discount applied at checkout, use the coupon code SUNSHINE. We appreciate your support!
- August 7, 2020
SEVEN NIGHTS TO WAIT TO ROCK
August's First Friday shifted to Second Friday
Due to a minor production issue, the Archive Series release for this month is delayed by one week, now scheduled for Friday, August 14. Let us all find solace in our collective, speculative grousing. - August 6, 2020
FROM A PLACE OUT ON THE HIGHWAY…
New limited-run Backstreets shirt celebrates the spirit of live music
Ah, summer nights at Sleepy Joe's... remember they had this shirt thumbtacked to the wall, back behind the bar next to all the tequila? And if the place hadn't filled up yet, Joe or May might go in the back and see if they still had your size?
(Or maybe we just made it up, with design help from our friends at OYEME! in Spain?)
In any case, you can snag one for yourself by pre-ordering now — we'll be doing a limited run of these T-shirts, based on the number of pre-orders we receive. On a tri-blend shirt, in a wide range of sizes from XS to 3XL.
WHAT'S UP WITH LITTLE STEVEN? IT TAKES TWO
A Stevie doubleshot, on Springsteen on Sunday and What's Up on E Street?
"Checking in at home with X" is the order of the day, given ongoing life in self-quarantine.… and when it comes to Little Steven Van Zandt, two check-ins are better than one.
Over the weekend, Stevie was Tom Cunningham's very special guest on Springsteen on Sunday, discussing many facets of his just-released Rock 'n' Roll Rebel: The Early Work CD box set, plus numerous projects including a forthcoming Summer of Sorcery live album, another album he's producing for his musical director Marc Ribler, Renegade Theatre, his radio channels, TeachRock distance learning... despite the pandemic, Stevie says, "Most things didn't miss a beat."
He also tells TC more about Volume 7 of From My Home to Yours, in which he and Southside joined Bruce Springsteen for a Jersey Summit — in person, it turns out. "We actually did it in real time," Stevie says of the recording, "[Bruce] told me he didn't even edit it at all."
The wide-ranging conversation goes on to touch on Dion, his new "Tucson Train" video (above), Western Stars, and more, and we're happy to have the 35-minute segment archived here. Listen below to Stevie's August 2 guest appearance; thanks to TC and Marc de Bruin, who recorded and edited the clip.
SVZ takes us through what he's listening to, producing, executive producing, and more, including his new Little Steven's Roadshow. — which returns this Thursday night with a virtual stop in Detroit (click here to RSVP).
Though he keeps busy as ever, What's Up also reveals how much of his day-to-day is colored by the state of the nation. "I'm always trying to find some usefulness in the world, to justify my existence," Stevie says. "My usefulness these past three years was to try to bring people together. We couldn't be more divided.... it's becoming increasing harder and harder to do."
In particular, the pandemic response in the U.S. has him rightfully distressed: "We have dumbed down to the point where I don't think any of our leaders can grasp this thing… Everybody's been predicting this, and prediciting it, and it's happening... and yet people still don't believe it!"
"We all want to be optimistic about this," he says, referring to the future of the music and concert industry, predicting it might well be 2022 before things are in full swing again. "Is it possible that it will never be the same? It is — that's a real possibility. I mean, I'm never shaking anybody's hand again. Never. That's out!"
Despite the "horror" of the pandemic, as he described it to Cunningham on Springsteen on Sunday, there has been a silver lining: "I must admit, it's the first time I've been home — since I came back into the business in the late '90s, I've been kinda running for 20 years — and it's been kind of nice to be home, and spend time with my wife and dog!" - August 4, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting
'CONCERTS IN THE GARDEN' BY MIGHTY MAX, WILLIE NILE & MORE
Following the success of Drive-In Live, which brought Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes live to the masses last month, the Count Basie Center for the Arts has a new live series planned at Monmouth Park that's giving a live venue to more Shore favorites, including Mighty Max Weinberg for two nights in September.
Max Weinberg's Jukebox will play the Basie's "Concerts in the Garden" at the Blue Grotto, Monmouth Park, Oceanport, NJ, on September 24 and 25.
General onsale is this Wednesday
at 10am ET (a presale is Tuesday at 10am) via Ticketmaster with more info here.
With temperatures taken at the door, tables six feet apart, and masks required when leaving your table, the dinner/concert series is set up in accordance with all local and state executive orders and gives us continued hope for the future of live music.
STAY SMART… AND STAY IN LOVE… WITH DARLENE LOVE Backstreets contributor Shawn Poole writes: As reported below, in the latest volume of his E Street Radio series From My Home to Yours, Bruce Springsteen gave his wife Patti Scialfa's solo work a spotlight it so richly deserves. With Scialfa right by his side as his special in-home-studio guest, on her birthday no less, they also contextualized her music's influences.
While playing and discussing Ike & Tina Turner's version of "River Deep – Mountain High," Springsteen pronounced it "one of the greatest rock records probably ever made" and called Turner "the greatest woman rock singer of all time." Scialfa added, "Oh, yeah… I feel that no one else can do right by that song."
With all due respect to Mr. and Ms. S. — as well as to Ms. Turner, of course — I strongly disagree. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please allow me to present Exhibit A: Ms. Darlene Love's 2015 version of "River Deep, Mountain High," arranged and produced by one Steven Van Zandt. As great as Phil Spector and Tina Turner may be (and they both are great artists,) I believe that this version blows the 1966 Spector/Turner collaboration completely out of the water:
At the time, comparing his production style to Phil Spector's, Stevie said: "I liked [Spector's] style, but he owns it. My recording style is different. I have a wall, but it's a Wall of Clarity. I want everyone to hear everything in a record." Serving as Exhibit B, a portion of my 2015 Backstreets review of the album that gave us this recording, the Van Zandt-arranged/produced Introducing Darlene Love.
Darlene Love has long suspected that 'River Deep, Mountain High' was written originally for her to record, but Phil Spector eventually decided to record it with Tina Turner singing the lead vocals. Love sang backing vocals on that version, and wrote in her autobiography [My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story] that she found the sessions to be nightmarish and thought the final product was one of Spector's worst records. (Incidentally, Love remains among the few who stood up to the worst aspects of Phil Spector's bullying behavior and even cleaned his clock in court over royalties, all while maintaining her own dignity and respect for Spector as an artist.) In 1985, as a member of the original Broadway cast of the musical Leader of the Pack, Love got to revisit 'River Deep,' but that recording, too, was less than stellar. On Introducing Darlene Love, she finally gets to tackle it as lead singer with a producer who loves the work of both Spector and Love. The result is arguably the best-ever version of 'River Deep, Mountain High' (though Love's own 2007 version from The Late Show with David Letterman certainly gives it a run for its money).
And unlike Tina Turner, Darlene Love has yet to retire. She turned 79 on July 26, just a few days before Patti Scialfa's birthday, and still performs when she can while also staying connected to her fans via her Facebook page during the COVID-19 pandemic. Defense rests. - August 3, 2020
RECAP: BRUCE & PATTI, FROM OUR HOME TO YOURS Volume 9: Rumble Doll On the occasion of the 67th birthday of the First Lady of Love, the theme of this continuation of Bruce's pandemic-prompted radio shows on E Street Radio revolved around the influences and career of special guest Ms. Patti Scialfa. Over the course of the show's hour and 53 minutes, Bruce played the role of disc jockey, affectionate interrogator, and cozy co-conspirator, cueing up songs to prompt thoughtful discussion and delightful recollections.
With "Tell Her" by the Exciters as the intro music — a song particularly meaningful to the two of them, as he mentioned during Springsteen on Broadway — Bruce opens the show with the usual fanfare, noting that this particular episode was titled Rumble Doll. "Today we will be featuring the music of my red-headed Jersey girl, and her great albums — Rumble Doll, 23rd Street Lullaby, Play It As It Lays, and whaddya say we get started?"
As the final notes of "Rumble Doll" fade out, Bruce begins the investigation: "Let's start by you telling me where this song came from, where were you when you wrote it, and where did that title come from? One of my favorite titles on that record; it's just a great image."
Patti relays her recollections of recording her debut album at Mike Campbell's studio: "We recorded on analog in his garage, and I felt we had a really organic approach to the record — which I think was really fitting for the material," Patti says. "It is the only record of your three that I would call a pure rock record," Bruce adds.
This goes into a Mike Campbell Admiration Society Meeting:
"Mike... was very sensitive to how I wrote the songs — I would always play him the song on the instrument I wrote it on, and he basically copied that muted triplet on the guitar."
"The guitar sound is his ace in the hole, it's always incredible."
Following "Lucky Girl," on which Campbell has a co-writing credit, Patti explains that he basically brought her the song's music completely finished, and then she wrote the lyrics. "That's what he did with Don Henley," Bruce enthuses, "with—" "Boys of Summer," they both say in unison. "And that worked out pretty well!"
The fan club meeting ends with Patti commenting that Campbell had a very "emotionally direct" playing style, and Bruce agreeing, "He's one of the few guys who has a distinctive identity and manages to get a spiritual and emotional richness out of his guitar sound."
Just in case you thought things were getting serious, our DJ breaks away to note:
"I'm pouring myself some champagne!"
"Pour away, my friend," Patti giggles.
"Because I'm interviewing mi amore"[a laugh better suited to a 16 year old boy]
Patti tells another story about the Rumble Doll recording sessions: Campbell inquired one day if she was happy with the work he was doing, because she'd been very quiet, and it was then she shared with him that she was pregnant with her first child. Bruce continues: "So Patti made this album while pregnant, while rushing home to cook some asshole musician dinner — [Patti: "I will never do that again!"] while he sat his fat ass on the couch and watched television all night."
"And you don't eat leftovers, you are pretty particular," Patti notes.
"Don't even go there, Bruce, it's not a good thing."
"No, it is not — but you ended up with a great record."
The truly beautiful element of this particular DJ session is not just the pair's clear affection for each other, or even Bruce's deep acquaintance with his wife's entire catalog, but rather the shared understanding they hold of music history, and how it influenced them.
Bruce cues up two Laura Nyro songs, chosen specifically for not just her overall influence on Patti's songwriting, but for particular elements that she shaped into her own. "I can hear her voice in your beautiful song, 'Young in the City'.... That is just some incredible lyric-writing and a beautiful classic New York City urban arrangement," Bruce affirms at the track's conclusion. "Those city songs of yours remind me of who you were when we first met.... You were a stone cold city girl, nineteen years living in the city!"
"I loved New York City, I had a massive love affair with the city."
"I used to steal up there and sit on a park bench, waiting for my gal to meet me with a six-pack of beer."
"This is true. We got engaged on that park bench."
"Yes we did."
Still steering the conversation, Bruce continues: "I got a quiz for you. Coming up next. Here's a hint: Old Asbury Lanes. Here's another hint: rockabilly. Here's your third hint: the female Elvis. I know you got this."
Patti did: "'Fujiyama Mama', Wanda Jackson!"
This leads to an insightful discussion about Jackson's work and influence, Patti noting that, "At the time, white women weren't singing like that." "There are a few, but not many, and not as good as she is," Bruce agreed. "She allowed herself to be sexual," Patti continued, "She allowed herself to be tough, she allowed herself to growl — that really wasn't happening that much." And in case you thought they were going to get too cerebral about it all, Bruce finished the thought with the righteous declaration, "Wanda Jackson was balls-to-the-wall. She is immortal because of that fact."
"City Boys" and "As Long as I Can Be With You" follow, with Bruce coming in at the end of the latter to say, "I picked that one particularly because…"
"Because it's written about you?"
"Well, besides that… because I heard that the oh-oh's —" and with that, he cues up the thunder and the lightning that can only be the introduction to the Ronettes' "Walking in the Rain."
Bruce asks Patti about her girl group influences — if she was influenced by Ronnie Spector — which led to a story about Patti going to audition for Mike Appel in his office in 1974, where he asked her to sing "Da Doo Ron Ron" with no accompaniment. She thought Appel was rude, but she still got sent on to audition with the band.
Bruce picks up the story: "In 1974, on Route 35 in Neptune, NJ. You wandered in…"
"Well, I didn't wander in, Bruce. I drove my Firebird; I had the address; they had sent me there!" (As a friend noted on Twitter while this was all going down, "She's a Leo, she won't let him get away with jack shit!")
Bruce continues: "We rehearsed a little bit of maybe 'Thunder Road,' and maybe something else. And then you sat down at the piano and you played me your own songs that you were working on already back then, and, I remember they were good."
She remembered what he was wearing. (He still has those clothes. "I'm a pack rat!") Members of the band remembered what she was wearing. ("White hippie-ish top. Coral beads.")
At the conclusion of "Talk to Me Like the Rain," Bruce declares:
"Absolutely one of my top three favorite Patti Scialfa songs!"
"I think that's because you play every instrument on it."
"I think I do, but I still think it is a great song — sexy as hell, lonely as hell, and yes, I had a small part in it."
The two of them proceed to use the word "sensually" to describe various songs six times in about two minutes, before talking about the great New Orleans legend Irma Thomas (who just reissued her great album After the Rain) and her song "Ruler of My Heart."
"From my house to yours —" Bruce announces at the conclusion of the Irma Thomas track.
"Our house!" the Missus reminds him.
"You're a Big Girl Now" by Ms. Patti Scialfa, debut of her soon-to-be-coming next album. I hear those Irma Thomas oooh's in there, and they sound great!" Patti went on to describe working on the record with producer Ron Aniello, and how they called Jack Antonoff to sweeten the track a bit.
"We've been concentrating mostly on Rumble Doll; for your next two records you took a bit of a turn. You embraced more southern soul and R&B influences, even some blues. You had a new producer…"
"23rd St Lullaby was Steve Jordan."
The two share how much they love Steve Jordan (and deservedly so). "He will create one of the most musical sounding rhythm sections you have ever heard in your life," Bruce correctly insists. "He makes music come out of a drum," agrees Patti, before also noting that Bruce was on the record too.
"Yeah, I was the utility player: if they needed something, I'd sit down or stand up and play it," Bruce remembers.
"You actually wrote the bass line on the demo, and then when Willie Weeks came in…"
"I got cut! I was still proud that Willie Weeks had to play my exact part, so I was flattered there."
As "Like Any Woman Would" fades out, Bruce comments, "Love that breakdown! Love it!" "I was listening to a lot of Al Green," Patti says. "Let's go to Al and see where that groove came from. Hold on, here it comes!" he announces, cueing up the Reverend's "So Tired of Being Alone." You can just imagine the two of them slow dancing in the studio.
"Let's go to the greatest woman rock singer of all time," the DJ says, cueing up Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High." "One of the greatest rock records probably ever made," Bruce affirms at the end, "And she's simply one of the greatest rock singers." "I feel that no one else can do right with that song, so direct and powerful. She just ate that song up," says Patti. "Let's hear 'Town Called Heartbreak,'" Bruce continues, commenting on the spooky intro and the song's overall groove.
The next segment of the broadcast turned, perhaps (or perhaps not!) surprisingly intimate and personal, both retelling tales with added color and detail not previously revealed.
"Let's move to 'Valerie,'" Bruce begins.
"This is a very heavy song in our history, because my recollection was, I was visiting you in your apartment in New York, probably when I shouldn't have been visiting you in your apartment in New York."
"We were actually rehearsing…"
"Under the guise of rehearsing for Tunnel of Love, and teaching you the guitar parts. But anyway, somehow you got around to playing me this next song, and I remember thinking, this woman can write, and it totally made me twice as scared as I was anyway."
"That's so sweet!"
"It was like, whoa. I think I saw your talent for the first time outside of your voice."
"I remember that very… explicitly."
"Let's go to Play It As It Lays," Bruce continues, asking Patti to explain her third album title's Joan Didion origins, and her memories of the recording sessions. He cues up "Looking For Elvis": a "great spooky track with an incredible harmonica!" Mr. S notes, suppressing a laugh. "Yeah, who played that?" Patti asks, as the two giggle like teenagers.
"It was actually one of my angriest songs," Patti shared at the conclusion. "Yeah, I can hear that in it. That whole record was — I used to compare it to a Dusty in Memphis, because the grooves were all so low-down and funky," Bruce says, offering a colossal compliment. "It just had a southern soul to it that was just fabulous, I just loved it. 23rd St. Lullaby reminds me of New York City; Rumble Doll will always remind me of California —"
"It was a love letter to you, a complete love letter to you, you know that, that's not new information!"
"Aww, thank you, baby. And this one, reminds me of the South for some reason."
"Now I'm going to play something that was a major song for the two of us when we first got together, so I'm going to send this one out to Patti Scialfa on her birthday." A muted, haunting trumpet line plays.
"Oh! I know what this is!"
"This" turns out to be "Trouble In Mind (The Return)" by Marianne Faithfull, from the 1986 film of the same name; the song combines the blues standard "Trouble In Mind" with new lyrics and music.
Bruce takes a deep breath as the song ends:
"I used to drive you back to New York City after you visited me, and we would play that all the way back,"
"That makes me think of your blue Camaro — and also, you had an old Corvette, which was also blue. We just used to play that, and never talk —"
"Just, like, in a daze of love…"
"Just play that song all the way back to New York City, and I'd drop you off… Marianne Faithfull was our guardian angel in those days"
If you thought we'd reached the end of the confessional, you would be wrong.
"Now we're coming up on, I think this is your masterpiece, and —I don't know what to say about it, except…"
"Is this the last song on Rumble Doll?"
"It's a very… struggling love song."
"And these were all written for you at the time when love feels very dangerous."
"Yes it did. Yes, it did. So — let's play it. When I pass away, just take these ['Spanish Dancer'] lyrics and slap 'em up on my headstone! That's all they need to know about me."
"That's it for this week," Bruce says, wrapping up, thanking his wife for joining him and offering a version of his usual closing benediction: "Stay smart, stay safe, stay healthy, stay strong — and stay in love!" "Rose," from 23rd Street Lullaby, ushers us out.
The Exciters - "Tell Him"
Patti Scialfa - "Rumble Doll"
Patti Scialfa - "Lucky Girl
Laura Nyro - "I Met Him on a Sunday"
Laura Nyro - "The Bells
Patti Scialfa - "Young In The City"
Wanda Jackson - "Fujiyama Mama"
Patti Scialfa - "City Boys"
Patti Scialfa - "As Long as I Can Be With You"
The Ronettes - "Walking in the Rain"
Patti Scialfa - "Talk to Me Like the Rain"
Irma Thomas - "Ruler of My Heart"
Patti Scialfa - "You're a Big Girl Now" (previously unreleased)
Patti Scialfa - "Like Any Woman Would"
Al Green - "So Tired of Being Alone"
Ike & Tina Turner - "River Deep Mountain High"
Patti Scialfa - "Town Called Heartbreak"
Patti Scialfa - "Valerie"
Patti Scialfa - "Looking for Elvis"
Marianne Faithfull - "Trouble in Mind (The Return)"
Patti Scialfa - "Spanish Dancer"
Patti Scialfa - "Rose"
- July 30, 2020 - Caryn Rose reporting
A RADIO SURPRISE PARTY FOR PATTI SCIALFA
Happy birthday to the E Street Band's First Lady of Love!
From My Home to Yours has been, among other things, a series of snapshots from Bruce Springsteen's life in COVID quarantine... so it makes perfect sense that today, on Patti Scialfa's birthday, the new episode would celebrate his partner in lockdown.
Bruce Springsteen is joined by his beautiful and talented wife, Patti Scialfa, on her birthday, for a new episode of his radio show, From My Home to Yours, Volume 9 titled: Rumble Doll. Featuring songs, stories and inspiration for Patti’s music on E Street Radio, Sirius XM Channel 20.
If you missed the surprise broadcast this morning, the 1h 53m Volume 9 will be available on demand as usual with the Sirius XM app and at the following rebroadcast times on E Street Radio:
SPRINGSTEEN ON SUNDAY LIVE ON LOCATION
Vini Lopez and Danny Clinch to guest on 7/26 — you're invited too
This weekend, Springsteen on Sunday host DJ Tom Cunningham is finally taking his show back on the road — not an easy feat these days, but then once you've taken part in a drive-in rock 'n' roll concert, you realize what's possible.
Sunday's live broadcast, which is weekly appointment listening for many fans, will bring Springsteen on Sunday back to Lake Como, NJ's Bar A — outdoors — for the 9am to 11am broadcast on 107.1 The Boss (WWZY), and listeners are invited.
Cunningham tells Backstreets: "A couple of weeks ago at the Southside Johnny Drive-In show at Monmouth Park we realized that people are really ready to have some socially responsible fun. When we did the show from Bar A in January and February, we looked at their great outside set-up and couldn't wait for the warmer weather. Needless to say, we waited longer than we’d imagined… but we can't wait to get rolling again."
So mask up and come if you can, for two hours of Springsteen tunes and socially distanced fun! Guests will be Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and original E Street band drummer Vini Lopez (with TC above) and photographer Danny Clinch (with TC below).
Clinch is generously giving away one of his famous Bruce Springsteen prints (which you can also find at the Danny Clinch Transparent Gallery in Asbury Park), and there will be chances to win 107.1 The Boss swag as well, including the limited edition Springsteen on Sunday T-shirt. You can also grab a bite to eat from the brunch menu or full menu — a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa with every breakfast platter! No cover, doors open at 8am.
For everyone's safety the following will be implemented:
Patrons must wear masks while entering the venue or leaving their table to use the restroom.
Tables will be positioned 6 feet apart, with the front row of tables 12 feet from the broadcast.
Seating configurations: "Table For Two," "Table For Four" and "Table For Six" only.
Admittance includes a dining and drinks service.
Attendees must remain seated at their table; dancing will not be permitted.
Lawn chairs, blankets, pets, food or beverages are strictly prohibited.
Bar Anticipation reserves the right to change any policy without notice
Venue security will enforce ground rules, which will follow current CDC and State of New Jersey guidelines for outdoor events and dining.
In the event of inclement weather, an alternate plan will be announced.
Please refer to Bar Anticipation for any other questions. And if you can't be there in person, you can listen online worldwide, streaming live at 1071theboss.com. - July 24, 2020
SUNDAY NIGHT: 2016 SPRINGSTEEN INTERVIEW REVISITED
Tune into PBS this Sunday night for Beyond the Canvas, as the premiere episode of the new series includes an encore of PBS NewsHour's 2016 interview with Bruce Springsteen.
Beyond the Canvas is a four-part arts and culture series, collecting the "best of" previously aired NewsHour interviews with a range of inspirational artists and creators. The program's subjects are described as "Oscar winners and nominees, musicians, performers, storytellers and those who are breaking boundaries"… and of course, Springsteen is all of these.
Jeffrey Brown conducted the original interview in 2016 (it originally aired in two parts that December), following the release of Springsteen's autobiography Born to Run.
"It was a different type of writing from songwriting," Springsteen told Brown of the memoir form. "A pop song is a condensed version of a life in three minutes. Whereas when you go to write your prose, you have to find the rhythm in your words, and you have to find your rhythm in the voice that you've found."
Executive Producer Sara Just tells Backstreets, "Even though I have heard that interview many times, at the time we shot and edited it, upon listening to it again in this context I was struck by what a thoughtful and compelling interview it was."
Tune in to the premiere episode of Beyond the Canvas for the Springsteen interview this Sunday night, July 26, at 10:30pm Eastern, and streaming online. The additional episodes of the four-part series will air on the following consecutive Sunday nights, August 2, 9, and 16. - July 24, 2020
WEATHERED CAPTURES NILS LOFGREN BAND LIVE IN 2019
Pre-order autographed copy of new 2CD set, coming in August
In 2019, in support of his new album Blue With Lou, Nils Lofgren took a full band on the road for the first time in 15 years. This summer, while we're all sorely missing live music, a document of that tour arrives: Weathered, a 2CD live set from the Nils Lofgren Band, is coming on August 21.
We've also just restocked autographed copies of Blue With Lou on both vinyl and compact disc — big thanks to Nils as ever, for making sure his fans can continue to get his albums signed even when touring is on pause.
Though he does consider himself "one of the lucky ones… compared to what so many people who have been experiencing," during the pandemic, the Professor shared his concern for his children and their generation
during these troubled times, and he finds himself "expressing darker feelings" on the piano.
Always, always, external factors affect one's creative inner life. Certainly when I sit home and play — because that's really what I'm doing these days — I feel it.... I wouldn't say I've been creating a body of work like Bruce did when he recorded The Rising, but the last piece or music or two that I've recorded, they've been a little bit on the dark side, on the restless side. As musicians we can't help but be affected by things that are happening in the world.
Watch the full Episode 2, with Roy Bittan, here:
What's Up on E Street? highlights the individual members of the E Street Band and how they are impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first episode of the series, Nils Lofgren looked forward to resuming his original plan to tour "with the fabulous E Street Band" behind "what I consider to be the greatest record in the works that I have ever heard Bruce Sspringsteen
make — and that's saying a lot."
The next installment in the series, Episode 3, will be online tomorrow and feature Max Weinerg.
"Despite the manner by which COVID has attacked our lives, I get great satisfaction from hearing how Max uses the time he now has at home," says Santelli, who created the series. "You'll be surprised by my conversation with Max. Among other things, it was like taking a crash course American history."
ALL STRIPPED, ALL STRIPPED
Acoustic performances from Springsteen have made for some unforgettable, intimate moments on stage — whether full solo tours like the 1995-'97s outing for Tom Joad and 2005's for Devils & Dust, or special nights like the Bridge School and Christic benefits, or even a quieter turn on the E Street stage, like the acoustic "Born to Run" from the Tunnel tour. Today, the Live Series gathers a healthy chunk of these for a new playlist, "Stripped Down."
"Stripped Down" brings 15 acoustic live rarities — "Seeds" and "Dancing in the Dark" from Bridge '86 (also featuring Nils Lofgren and Danny Federici), "Soul Driver" from Christic '90, and more from Bruce's solo tours — to streaming services for the first time, including Apple, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, Tidal, and more. Click here for all links. - July 17, 2020
THROWBACK THURSDAY: PHILLY 9/25/99,BACKSTAGE AND BEHIND THE SCENES As we continue to enjoy the official release of First Union Center, Philadelphia September 25, 1999 — the new Nugs release at live.springsteen.net, which we reported on below — let's dive into some behind-the-scenes stories surrounding the concert, as well as the run of 1999 Philly shows leading up to it.
The September 25 show closed the band's first series of performances in what was then Philadelphia's newest indoor sports/entertainment arena, which had opened for business just three years earlier. (The venue, known today as Wells Fargo Center, still hosts major concert tours and serves as the home of Philadelphia's 76ers basketball and Flyers hockey teams.)
For old time's sake, however, a special one-night-only return to Philly's older, smaller (and since demolished) Spectrum Arena (site of many previous legendary Philly nights with Springsteen and the E Street Band) also was planned as part of the six-show 1999 stand. Hurricane Floyd forced the rescheduling of the Spectrum show from September 16 to September 24, making it the penultimate show of the run and the first concert that Springsteen would perform after having turned 50 on September 23 (a status originally intended to be bestowed upon the September 25 show).
Ike Richman, former Vice President of Public Relations for both arenas' owning company Comcast Spectacor, recently recalled for us arranging for a birthday cake to be presented to Bruce in his Spectrum dressing room on September 24.
When Richman and one of his interns, George Scott, arrived at Bruce's dressing room door with the cake on a wheeled cart, Springsteen's personal assistant — the late, great Terry Magovern — asked them to wait briefly while Magovern rounded up all of the E Street Band members to join them in presenting the cake. Richman and Scott ended up singing "Happy Birthday" to Bruce, along with the entire E Street Band.
"I can actually say that I am one of the few people on the planet who's gotten to sing with the E Street Band," Richman told us. "Afterwards, George and I were walking back from the dressing room with the empty cart, a bit overwhelmed — in a good way — by the experience. It took about 30 seconds or so before we turned to each other like, did that just happen? And then we just smiled, laughed, and high-fived each other."
Detail of the duffel bags given to each musician in September 1999 - courtesy of Ike Richman
Richman also believes that moving the tour's stage and equipment from the First Union Center to the nearby Spectrum for the September 24 show, and then back to the First Union Center for the September 25 show, must have set a record for the shortest distance any major tour has ever traveled from one venue to the next: exactly 758 feet and 9.5 inches between each venue, as measured by agents of Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections at Richman's request.
Richman submitted the measurement data to Guinness World Records for official recognition, but the record has never been established or recognized officially by Guinness for Springsteen or any other act. The short-distance move did, however, garner some attention in Rolling Stone's "Random Notes" section. (See clipping from the November 25, 1999 issue of RS below, courtesy of Eileen Chapman at The Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music.)
Demme and his cinematographer, Kyle Rudolph, filmed it on 16mm film as a single, unedited take focused tightly on band members as they took turns singing their individual parts.
"I lit it as a pool of light anchored by the microphone that the vocalists would be drawn to for their turn," Rudolph told us recently. "There was a large white card just below the frame which lifted the shadows to see the subtlety of expression — and boy, was there expression! JD told me to feel it, so I vamped on Clarence's sax solo, and crept out on the zoom as all members joined the finish. I think it worked out quite well."
Indeed it did, becoming one of Springsteen's best, most moving music videos, despite the fact that, as Rudolph explained, "Bruce was somewhat conflicted that the non-singing members of the band were not represented." (No worries, Boss. We still can hear Garry's bass and Max's percussion even if we can't see them, and we know that everyone on camera also represents in spirit all members of the legendary E Street Band, both seen and unseen.)
September 25, 1999 - two-page spread from now-defunct DoubleTake Magazine's Spring 2000 issue
And finally, when the September 25 show actually began with its jaw-dropping opening of "Incident on 57th Street," performed for the first time in almost two decades, there was one very special audience-member who was especially moved by that moment: legendary Philly DJ and longtime Springsteen supporter Ed Sciaky.
"It was no secret that 'Incident' was Ed's favorite and that he had been bugging Bruce to perform it," his widow Judy Sciaky recently informed us. "I couldn't swear that that was the reason, but I think it's a very good bet that Bruce played 'Incident' for Ed. I do remember Ed crying when he heard the first notes of 'Incident' that night." At Judy Sciaky's request, "Incident on 57th Street" also was played at Ed Sciaky's 2004 funeral. - July 16, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting – special thanks to Scott Bluebond, Eileen Chapman at The Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music, Ike Richman, Kyle Rudolph, and Judy Sciaky
RECAP: FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, VOLUME 8 "Summertime, Summertime" It's been tempting to liken Bruce Springsteen's From My Home to Yours to Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, but only eight episodes in, with "Summertime, Summertime," is the comparison really apt.
Over 100 episodes broadcast from 2006-2009, Dylan delved into a different subject each week, collecting and presenting music arranged and inspired by a particular topic, from Weather to Fruit.
Despite some parallels, each of the first six episodes of Bruce's radio show were doing something else — responding directly to facets of the moment, to the times we're living through; Episode 7, with a special gathering of friends, explored a hyperspecific genre of music they made together. Only with Episode 8 do we get a wall-to-wall Theme Time hour (and three-quarters) of radio from Springsteen, with a deep dive into the subject of Summertime. It's a look back at hot nights and cool water, boardwalks and summer romances and catching rides to the outskirts — and a very personal one.
Our host doesn't pretend shit isn't what it is right now —
And how is your summer going, this summer unlike any other? The beaches are open here at the Shore, may God save us all, so let's carry on into the breach.…
— and later cues up H.E.R.'s "I Can't Breathe"
because this is the summer of 2020, the summer of Black Lives Matter, the summer of bringing down that bastard in the White House…
— but rather than exploring Corona Summer, Episode 8 is mainly inspired by a lifetime of summers, as Springsteen takes us back to his childhood with descriptive memories and aching nostalgia. Along the way you'll find seeds of songs like "Working on the Highway" and "No Surrender" and more.
I loved and love summer. As a child I became summer. I melted into the hot tarmac, I rolled myself into a sand ball at the beach. I slid beneath the murky water, ducking summer dragonflies at the Freehold pond. I sat in the tops of trees, feeling the summer breeze prickle over my freshly cut Saturday-afternoon flat-top.
I'd stand with my bike 'neath the August sun by the roadside, watching the locals on the road crew lay down the steaming blacktop, that beneath their rakes and shovels and heavy equipment curled and flattened like hot licorice. And when the big men and the machinery moved away, I waited, and I wanted my wheels to be the first to touch that steaming, virgin roadway.
In the evening twilight, I sat glued to the curb with a Pinky rubber ball in my hand, waiting for my best friend Bobby Duncan to finish his dinner so we could engage in epic gutterball tournaments into the night. And then later with scissors we'd poke holes into the lids of glass mason jars and invade the vacant lot across from my grandmother's front porch to capture our nightly quota of the evening's fireflies, just to leave them twinkling til dawn on our night tables. May they rest in peace.
We'd play Home Free, running from pool of light to pool of light from our neighborhood street lamps, until we were called in, as the neighborhood's porch lights went dark, by my grandmother's voice. And there, my sister and I would sleep on opposite sides of the bed, wrapped between hot, sticky sheets, on pre-air-conditioning, humid, Jersey summer nights.
There were evenings that, if it got hot enough, my Dad showed mercy on us, and he'd pack us into the Olds and set off in the darkness on Route 33 for the 20-mile ride to Manasquan, where on those nights the heat and the humidity of inland Freehold became too much to bear. We'd sleep in our pajamas, our bed blankets stretched out on the cool sand, enjoying the ocean air of the Manasquan Inlet.
Then at early light, like magic, we'd be carried back into the house, into our bedrooms, sandy-haired from our beach sleep, and I'd watch the sun splash its morning gold over the western wall of my room. And soon I'd smell my mother's coffee drifting up through the floor grate that opened to my room. I'd lie awake and listen to my parents leave for work.
Then I'd dress, skip breakfast, walk out onto our side porch where the bare bones of the sun's rays cut through the green latticework and warmed the wooden steps of our porch. There I'd sit, barely human, a creature of the earth, and the rain, and the sun, and summer.
Already, it's some of his loveliest writing.
A couple of novelty songs up top evoke the era, a reflection of the pop sounds his ears were soaking in as a kid, and the sounds of particular summers for young Bruce. The Jamies record that gives this episode its name, "Summertime Summertime," as Springsteen recalls, "was a hit twice: in 1958, when I was eight years old, and again in 1962 when I was 12. It was a basic novelty song, but it always signaled the beginning of summer for me in its baroque joy. And I always loved hearing it for the first time each summer — it meant summer was on."
As Episode 8 goes along, we gather that the theme is less Summertime in general than Bruce's own Summer memories and associations, a highly personal recollection of the season. Following the War on Drugs song "Up All Night," he riffed on its title:
As a teenager, I would stay up all night — as a crucible to pass for three or four nights of the summer, as the house sank into a midsummer-evening silence. I'd be camping out in my room. I'd have my flashlight, I'd have my Japanese transistor AM radio that I was listening to. I would take 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. walks around the town of Freehold, when the streets were mine!
At night and only at night was I king of the streets of Freehold, New Jersey, unhassled by the day's rednecks. Any time they'd see some longhair pass the barbershop they'd come running out, shaving cream half on their face: "Hey! Are you a girl?"
That was bullshit I didn't need in those days.
So in the middle of the evening, I'd return home — 3:30 a.m., I'd arrive into the kitchen, I would build myself an almighty peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, pouring it on. I would then retire to my room to wait for my favorite song to be broadcast by the WMCA Good Guys. One summer, my favorite song was Lonnie Donegan's "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (on the Bedpost Overnight?)"!
The writing continues to be so evocative, you can easily imagine these passages as outtakes from his Born to Run memoir — is there an extended Director's Cut we might read someday? — the whole episode a summertime supplement to the autobiography and the Springsteen on Broadway show.
After injecting his own summer song into the mix, the "hot sun beating on the blacktop" in "Sherry Darling," Bruce gets back to his youth.
In my bed, in the summer I'd be reading all my old copies of Surfer magazine. Did I surf? No. But the magazine held two very essential elements, surf or not. I was deeply interested in the perfectly tanned surfer girls in bikinis, and in the advertisements for Fender guitars.
There they were, in the fresh ads, the true objects of my desire: three white Fenders — a bass, a Stratocaster, and a Jaguar, each as white as the Hawaiian sand, lined up next to one another, each more desirable than the next… but taken as a group? My god. The perfect trifecta.
Now, I spent relatively short quality time with the pictures of the surfer girls. But I spent hours in my bunk, in my room, salivating over those guitars. I'd drift off to sleep with the magazine open on my chest, and then riding the summer breeze from the west came slipping through my open bedroom window, a sound I swear that was coming from some perfect beach thousands of miles away…
Those sounds, of course, the strains of the Beach Boys' "California Girls."
Calling it "a song is so beautiful it kills me," Springsteen places Ren Harvieu's "Summer Romance" in a lineage of "heartbreak summer songs: 'Sealed With a Kiss,' "See You in September'… ouch!"
It lets you know just how long a summer can feel if you've ever spent one in Heartbreak City.… It was the longing, the longing… from the spring, late-school-year breakup. I'd cheated on a fabulous girlfriend I'd had, with one of my exes. One of the dumbest things I'd ever done, and I immediately had buyer's remorse.
That summer — the summer of '67, the summer of Sgt. Pepper — I chased my girl from beach town to beach town to beach town. Thank god I was aided by a big ol' '60s ragtop black Cadillac, and a car of good friends. My running pack, Jay, Sunrise, Bird — you guys saved my life that summer. I don't know where you are now, but I've never forgotten you and the solid that you did me in the summer of '67.
"I am a Lana Del Rey fan," Bruce says as he cues up "Video Games," her 2011 summer single, and his striking introduction is pure poetry in a very real sense:
This is a singer and a song
That reminds me of the hot, humid, sultry summer nights
And the girls that went with them.
Nights so hot and still
Fields of fireflies
Leaves so still on neighborhood trees
That they did not whisper
No rumor of a breeze
You'd sit on your porch
You were dressed
Waiting either for her
Or the end of the world.
An R&B section brings into the mix James Brown with the apropos "The Boss" — "regardless of my sobriquet, nobody knows better than he does about paying the cost to be the boss" — and Sly Stone, with 1969's "Hot Fun in the Summertime": "I remember this song from a dead midsummer day coming out of a car radio as we were on our way to the beach, and all I remember thinking is, I'm gonna find out where those guys are... and I'm going there."
Soon enough Bruce was taking us there too, putting together a killer suite of his own tales of hot summertime fun, the musical heart of Episode 8: "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," "County Fair," and "Backstreets."
He sets it up with Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick's "Under the Boardwalk." Calling the song "just about perfect," Springsteen introduces the 1964 classic by pointing out that it's an answer song, as he sings the first line:
"When the sun beats down and melts the tar up on the roof..." referred to The Drifters' great "Up on the Roof," which made this kind of an answer record, and it presented itself as the perfect alternative paradise to "Up on the Roof" once the weather turns to steam — you go under the boardwalk.
Now, I can testify to this firsthand, because I spent a summer tarring — in 95 degree heat — Mrs. Ladd's, my neighbor's, roof for 50 cents an hour! As a young teenager. And it was hell on Earth. It sent me running to the beach, and under the boardwalk to wash the sticky tar off me and take a break, underneath Convention Hall and the Casino.
This song was a real perfectly drawn beauty. Every line is beautifully crafted, and the change to minor in the chorus was something musically unique. Now this was made a hit in the definitive version by The Drifters, but today I chose the Stones' somewhat punkier version.
Of Springsteen's brilliant pairings and juxtapositions in his From His Home to Yours series, few have been so perfect as segueing from "Under the Boardwalk" right into "Sandy," his own tale of boardwalk life. But rather than the start of a one-two punch, "Under the Boardwalk" would really prove to be a prologue for this majestic trio of Bruce's own summertime songs that followed.
With those oh-so-sweet accordion strains from Danny Federici, the tilt-a-whirl and carnival life of "Sandy" gives way to the roller coaster and merry-go-round of "County Fair." Springsteen recalls the time in his life that inspired the long-lost fan favorite (eventually released on 2003's Essential), and also drops a tantalizing suggestion of more in this vein to come:
A studio outtake from 1983 — of which there are many more, and one of these days all of this work I did between Nebraska and The River [sic] will show up magically.
I lived up on Telegraph Hill, on an old 165-acre farm that I rented for $700 a month. I had my '60 Vette, from the cover of Born to Run, and I would take my girl to the Monmouth County Fair — which was a lot of fun, but a funkier proposition in those days. A lot of 4H farm animals… and there was a car you could bust up with a sledgehammer, for two bucks… oh, the simple joys… a dunk tank.
After the fair, we'd ride back to the farm, the roof down, we'd sit out in front of the big ol' white farmhouse, lean back, listen to the music down below, just talk and look up at the stars.
And then it's "Backstreets" for the trifecta, illuminated by more visions of his youth as he vividly describes a summer day in worn-out Converses, towel in tow, hitchhiking to Manasaquan and dodging beach cops. Backgrounding Western Stars' "Hitch Hikin'" too, this magnificent "Backstreets" prelude paints a picture of what a "soft infested summer" might have looked like:
As a teenager, my bedroom window faced south when we lived on 68 South Street. So I got light but not much sun in the morning. I'd wake, I'd put on my uniform for a '60s midsummer's day — it was a white T-shirt, a pair of washed-out cut-off blue jeans slightly stiff with the salt of daily ocean swimming, bare legs shredded at the thighs with grains and grains of sand in each pocket, and a pair of faded Converse sneakers.
I had just finished — and barely survived — summer school. Had Mr. De Tomaso, along with my Italian cousin Alfonse, Mr. De Tomaso's assistant. And he was a Spanish whiz. Together, we had all striven to understand the nuances of español— a musical language as it is; and as musical as I am, unfortunately we remained a hopeless match. With Alfonse's sly assistance, I passed.
Well now all I know is, the rest of this summer is mine: my mornings, my afternoons, my evenings belong to me. So I make my way down to the silent morning kitchen, last night's dinner plates shiny in their drying holders compliments of no one, of course, but my mom. There's a five-dollar bill on the table, next to a box of Corn Chex and a bowl. It's her daily summer greeting to me. But the five is gonna have to last me all week. And the house is mine for a moment: my pop at work (or, having bailed, still in bed sleeping), my sister's still in bed, the house is mine. And I love the quiet. I love the quiet of the house in the morning.
So I have a quick bowl of cereal, and I scoop up the five, and I'm out the door, striding down South Street towards Route 33. I carry nothing but a folded beach towel under my arm. I make sure not to stick my thumb out until I reach 33, as that would bad-voodoo and jinx my chance of a quick ride east. At the stoplight, I settle into formation at the intersection. Highway 33 and Shore Points. Where they meet, I take my hitchhiker's stance: one hip slung low, the knees slightly bent, thumb out, an air of nonchalance, like I could give a shit if you gave me a ride or not. I take the occasional few steps backward toward my destination — the beaches and bikinis of Manasquan, New Jersey — and I wait for the magic to begin.
Now, I'm confident that shortly a bored trucker, nascent hot-rodder, traveling businessman, or a concerned mom will pick me up. I'll hear car wheels squeal on gravel, and the passenger side door will open and soon make that beautiful slamming sound of victory in the morning.
Small talk will ensue, which you must be good at, and then an hour and three or four rides later, I will be deposited at Manasquan main beach. I will dodge the badge-counters, though it is un-American — in New Jersey we must pay to go to the beach! I do not, however, plan to have my arcade or lunch money eaten up by stinkin' beach badges. So I head for a plot of sand, I scan thoroughly for the beach cops and the nearest crowd of pretty girls, and I settle in.
After a few moments in the sun, I head for my morning baptismal in the wonderful, God-given Atlantic Ocean. Summer's on.
And it's hard to think of a better prelude to Roy Bittan's opening notes of "Backstreets."
Though Bruce himself has notoriously steered clear of recreational drugs, he cues up Victoria Williams' "Summer of Drugs" to recall how they led to the end of his first band:
In 1965 Freehold, there were no visible drugs to be seen. The high school principal was still concerned with you hiding out behind the gym swigging beer. But that started in to change around 1967, and one evening there was the first drug bust that had ever occurred, in history, as far as we knew, in Freehold, NJ.
And: bass player for The Castiles? Goodbye. Organ player for The Castiles? Goodbye. Drummer for The Castiles? Goodbye. All ripped out of mamas' and daddies' arms at 3am.
I was standing on the corner of Throckmorton and Main, standing guard at my phone booth, waiting for a late-night call from my girlfriend — this was one of my permanent positions throughout the years of my high school because we had no phone at home, and I was there at all hours of the evening and morning — standing with a friend of mine, Bruce Nelson.
Bruce Nelson says, "I just saw Mrs. Bots go by in the cop car with baby Bots!"
"Mrs. Bots" was [Castiles drummer] Vinnie "Skeebots" Manniello's better half.
I said, "Get outta here!"
He said, "She was in the cop car with the baby Bots, on the way to the police station!"
I said, "Nobody gets arrested with their baby!"
But sure enough, the Bots family went down to the police station, victim of the new Freehold Borough war on drugs. So that spelled the final chapter in my first band, the fabulous Castiles.
As the episode nears its close, Springsteen looks back at the summertime pleasures of drive-in movies and skinny dipping, offering a recollection and endorsement of "nightswimming" that's just as lovely as the R.E.M. song he's introducing — a very high bar.
There is nothing like the sea at night. When the water is slightly warmer than the air, even though the air is humid after a 95-degree day. God, I love swimming at night. It is all darkness and mystery. It is the void.
And it must be done naked. Clothes at the waterline, please. Do this, and my pilgrim, you will become cleansed. Never will the evening air, or a kiss on the beach, or a dry towel ever feel so good again. The walk to the car will be filled with starlit grace, and you will never forget it.
And once you hit the water, you will be covered in the blossoming beauty of your youth, no matter how old you are. And whoever you're with, you will always remember them.
Springsteen wraps with a modern masterstroke from an old friend, the title track from Little Steven's latest Summer of Sorcery evoking Van Morrison's "And the Healing Has Begun" and capturing up the romance, transformative power, and "unlimited possibility" of summer as well as you could ask of a record.
And from there it's "Until we meet again, stay strong, stay smart, stay safe, stay healthy, mask up… and go in peace" as the DJ drifts away beyond the sea until next time.
Visit the SiriusXM blog for the schedule of repeat broadcasts for the coming week on E Street Radio, beginning today at 5pm Eastern.
LITTLE STEVEN RELEASES REMASTERED "EARLY WORK" WITH DELUXE CD/DVD REISSUES; LAUNCHES TEACHROCK ROADSHOW SERIES Last December, Little Steven released Rock 'N' Roll Rebel - The Early Work (Wicked Cool/UMe), a 1000-copy, limited-edition vinyl box set containing remastered LPs of his first five solo albums: Men Without Women (1982), Voice of America (1984), Freedom No Compromise (1987), Revolution (1989) and Born Again Savage (1999). Also included was Steven's awareness-raising 1985 Sun City protest album (by Artists United Against Apartheid) on vinyl, and four bonus CDs (51 tracks in all) of rare or previously unreleased material, including demos, outtakes and rehearsals.
The six albums were also made available at the time as digital downloads, with the rarities divided up as bonus tracks with each album and on several stand-alone EPs. In February and March this year, the six vinyl albums were released individually on 180-gram standard black or limited-edition color swirl vinyl, matching those in the box.
Now, a CD version of Rock 'N' Roll Rebel - The Early Work is due for release on July 31. The CD box set will contain all of the material from last year's vinyl version, plus some additional exclusive DVD content. As with the vinyl box, the CD version is available exclusively through udiscovermusic.com.
Each Little Steven album is also being broken out of the box to be available individually on compact disc. Digitally remastered by Bob Ludwig, the six albums (three on CD only and three as CD/DVD sets) are being reissued separately throughout July, in advance of the boxed set at the end of the month.
Men Without Women adds the Live at Rockpalast 1982 DVD and 16-panel fold-out poster; Voice of America adds the Live at Rockpalast 1984 DVD and poster.
In the '70s and '80s, German music TV show Rockpalast ("Rock Palace") held annual or biannual Rock Nights, which were broadcast to an audience of millions via the Eurovision network. Little Steven's appearances took place at the Grugahalle in Essen on October 16, 1982 — only his second gig with the original Disciples of Soul — and at the open-air Loreley Festival on August 25, 1984.
"We were much bigger in Europe due to the political nature of our music," says Little Steven. "I credit performing on the Rockpalast TV show in '82 and again in '84, that went live to 17 countries, with helping to get our music to a massive audience. It was a blast revisiting these shows, and I'm thrilled they are now being released for all to enjoy."
The soul- and R&B-flavored 1982 performance (with a temporary horn section) focuses on the Men Without Women material, but it also includes four songs that Steven gave to Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes ("Take It Inside," "I Played the Fool," "This Time It's for Real," "I Don't Want to Go Home") and a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get a Witness."
The 1984 concert features the subsequent stripped-down band blending those early songs with the more direct political rock material from Voice of America ("Los Desaparecidos," "Solidarity," "I Am a Patriot").
The concert at the Ritz in New York City dates from October 8, 1987 and features a completely different Disciples line-up playing the musically adventurous Freedom No Compromise material ("Bitter Fruit," "Freedom," "Sanctuary"). There's also a guest appearance from Bruce Springsteen on "Native American" and "Sun City."
"This was the only show that was filmed of that tour because it was live on Japanese TV," says Steven. "We're lucky somebody caught it and now all these years later we can share this high-quality version. We happened to have a particularly good show that night. That show with that band was my rock peak."
The three live DVDs provide a fascinating document of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul's many changes, both of line-up and musical direction, in the '80s.
Little Steven will be making selected performances from the three DVDs available on his own YouTube channel. The first to be released was "Trail of Broken Treaties" from the Ritz concert, a song that "refers specifically to the 'Trail of Tears' forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans, and symbolically to the hundreds of broken treaties with Native America." The latest was posted today: "Los Desaparecidos" from the '84 Rockpalast.
Currently there are no plans for standalone releases of the DVDs, or of the four rarities CDs from the box set.
Other releases expected at some point in the future include a companion book to the Early Work box set; a live DVD of Little Steven's final Summer of Sorcery tour performance at New York's Beacon Theatre last November; a possible release of his '90s album by The Lost Boys; and solo records by Disciples of Soul musical director Marc Ribler, horn section leader Eddie Manion, and vocalist Jesse Wagner.
This week, Little Steven also launches his TeachRock Roadshow, a "living room style" talk show and virtual tour that "explores issues in education and the world through music." Roadshow will benefit his Rock 'N' Roll Forever Foundation's TeachRock initiative ("we don't teach music, we use music to teach") via proceeds and donations and explore many of its concerns along the way.
Each episode will virtually visit a different city, featuring "special musical and celebrity guests and education heroes" from each location. The first "stop" of the series is Cleveland, Ohio.
The series premiere will stream live from 8-9pm ET this Thursday, July 16. Steven's Cleveland-associated guests will include songwriter Neil Giraldo, legendary DJ Kid Leo, musicians Michael Stanley and Conya Doss, and literacy advocate Rhonda Crowder, founder of Hough Reads. Further Roadshow stops will be announced soon.
For information on how to register and support the cause (donations are appreciated but not required for viewing) visit: /teachrock.org/roadshow. - July 14, 2020 - Mike Saunders reporting
BETTER DAYS ARE COMIN'
"We're gonna wake up and break this curse…" Photographer A.M. Saddler reports from 7/11 Drive-In Live
Summer's here, but up until Saturday the traditional Jersey Shore summertime party with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes had been missing in action. Normally the band visits their ancestral home, The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, but in these days of social distancing they had to trade sand between the toes for the staggered parking spaces of nearby Monmouth Park in Oceanport.
Springsteen on Sunday host Tom Cunningham with the 107.1 The Boss contingent, making introductions and broadcasting live
When the band took the stage to "Better Days," those above lyrics rang loud and true. Always a band to be reckoned with, Southside and the Jukes showed that they still had something to prove at this drive-in "concert experience," billed as the "first of its kind" in New Jersey. They quickly shook off any cobwebs that may have gathered in their pandemic-forced performance hiatus, and the crowd showed their appreciation right back — fans dancing in cars and on cars.
This the first time that the Jukes had a 1,003 piece horn section: three on stage, and the rest in vehicles packed in for the show. Those horns honked for sure — not always in key or on the beat, but with an exuberance that we've all come to expect from a Southside show. Johnny assumed his usual conductor stance with this expanded horn section, and the results were… um, mixed… proving that liking good music does't necessarily guarantee you have rhythm.
But the band delivered the goods: there were Jukes classics like "I Played the Fool," "Love on the Wrong Side of Town," and "Talk to Me," and favorite covers like Sam and Dave's "Broke Down Piece of Man" and Stevie Van Zandt's "Forever." The Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee" included a surprise interlude of recently departed John Prine's "Lake Marie" ("we gotta go now…"), and a stellar version of Blind Faith's "Can’t Find My Way Home" had Juke keyboardist Jeff Kazee taking the lead vocals, showing that he can hold his own in a sing-off with Steve Winwood any day.
Already behind the wheel or not, I still don't think anyone in attendance would disagree with the sentiment of "I Don't Want to Go Home" as the end of the show came around. Live concerts are such a vital part of life to so many, and we all have had a hole where that live show vibe used to be. My hat's off to Basie Presents, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, all the production and security staff, and the audience for following the social distancing rules, so shows like this can still happen until things get back to normal… whenever that is.
At the end of the evening it was a Jukes party at the Jersey Shore with most of the usual happenings that go with it — including that couple in the back doing the Dirty Jersey in their car. Yep, it was an official Jersey Shore Jukes party!
- July 13, 2020 - report and photographs by A.M. Saddler
DRIVE IN OR TUNE IN, JUKES ARE LIVE ON SATURDAY NIGHT
There's no more room for cars at the Drive-In, but you can still get your Jukes fix on Saturday night: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes' sold-out show on July 11 will be heard live around the world, thanks to 107.1 The Boss (WWZY-FM) at the Jersey Shore.
In addition to broadcasting the concert live, the station will also be hosting an on-air "pregame" show from the concert site beginning at 4 pm. Morning show hosts Bill Fox and Dianne De Oliveira will be joined by Springsteen on Sunday host Tom Cunningham, and they'll be spinning some Jersey Shore classics prepping for the historic concert.
107.1 The Boss VP/Programming & Program Director Jeff Rafter says, "The arts have been especially hard hit by the lockdown. This show benefits the Count Basie Theatre and the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. Also, it's not summer at the Shore until Southside and the Jukes play! In a summer of few concerts and limited access, we're bringing the show to our listeners."
ASBURY PARK DOC STREAMING FREEFOR LIMITED TIME
"Troubled times had come… to my hometown," as the song goes, and it was 50 years ago this month that tensions came to a head in Asbury Park.
The civil unrest of July 1970 — before, during, and after — is at the heart of the 2019 documentary feature, Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n' Roll, which also explores music's ongoing importance to the community and its recovery.
In recognition of this 50th anniversary, the film is now streaming for FREE on YouTube through August 31:
Directed by Tom Jones, with participation from Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven, and many other musicians from the Jersey Shore scene, Riot, Redemption, Rock n' Roll tells the story of the long troubled town of Asbury Park, and how the power of music can unite a divided community:
A once storied seaside resort, Asbury Park erupted in flames during a summer of civil unrest, crippling the town and reducing it to a state of urban blight. A town literally divided by a set of railroad tracks, the riot destroyed the fabled Westside jazz and blues scene, but from the flames of the burning city emerged the iconic Jersey sound.
The film returns Asbury sons Steven Van Zandt, Southside Johnny Lyon, and Bruce Springsteen to the legendary Upstage, the psychedelic after hours club where they got their start, featuring never before seen interviews and performances. Shuttered for four and a half decades, the Upstage remains a perfect time capsule of the Club, which united both sides of the tracks in Asbury and acted as a crucible for young talent. Now, as Asbury Park enjoys its long awaited renaissance, it is music, which has helped its return.
As Stevie tweeted today, "It’s a great film. It provides a fascinating context for both the history that happened before us, and what was going on in real time as we worked around the clock learning our craft and finding our identities."
The documentary premiered in its final form at the 2019 Asbury Park Music + Film Festival at the historic Paramount Theatre. Also new to YouTube is the post-screening Q&A from that APMFF event, with director Jones and Backstreets' Chris Phillips.
As Jones and Phillips discussed, a primary goal of the director has been to raise funds for music education programs, in Asbury Park and farther afield. If you enjoy the free stream, we encourage you to check out and support such organizations as the Asbury Park Music Foundation and
the Lakehouse Music Academy.
Lakehouse Music Academy student Oliver Van Nostrand — one of three new scholarship recipients, thanks to the documentary and the POP Music Foundation — with Bruce Springsteen at the 2017 Asbury Park Music + Film Festival - photograph by Mark Krajnak
"We have always thought that the idea of music as the best connector of people is more of a movement than a movie," says Jones. "As it turns out, even though the inciting incident of our film happened 50 years ago, we find that it is still, tragically, completely relevant. Asbury Park has something to say about social justice and we hope this film serves as a unique educational piece in helping to push our way forward." - July 9, 2020
GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J.
The Turf Club... someday comes back? The Asbury Park African-American Music Project is doing a cool thing. It's working to restore the Turf Club, the last standing music venue on Springwood Avenue.
The idea is to bring it back as a "community music and cultural venue." But it's more than that. The cinderblock Turf Club, empty since 2000, is a symbol of the "other" Asbury Park. People tend to talk about the city's Methodist heritage and its "shore" music: Springsteen, Southside, Little Steven. But in a recent SiriusXM radio broadcast (From My Home to Yours, Volume 7), those musicians were eagerly proclaiming their debts to R&B, soul, funk. To restore the Turf Club is to honor a history that's too often neglected, to expand and correct the very definition of Asbury Park.
That history's complicated. Springwood Avenue's "Little Harlem" included tough characters, black and white, as well as fine music. Here's a brief, nowhere-near-complete look at the Turf Club.
On June 15, 1940, Robert Brown of Sylvan Avenue and Carroll Brown of Springwood Avenue applied for a liquor license as partners in "Turf Club Bar," 1125 Springwood Avenue. That September, they transferred the license to John W. Moore, who effectively took over. While there may have been live music at the bar during this early period, there doesn't appear to be any record of it.
Seven years later, in early 1947, Moore tried to transfer his license to an entity called Turf Club Bar, Inc. That corporation was owned by Sol and Fannie Konvitz of Belmar and Leo Karp of Asbury. City council twice denied the transfer, and their ruling was upheld by the State Commissioner of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The grounds for the denial were that the proposed new owners "had some connection with operators of other taverns in the city and that these places were operated in an objectionable manner." Representatives of the West Side Women's Club and a Methodist pastor testified that the Turf Club was a "focal point for undesirables who 'loiter thereabouts and indulge in loud, vulgar and boisterous language.'" They complained that Springwood Avenue was home to 13 saloons and five package stores, leading to "misery, depression, and [an] increasing crime rate…."
In response, Moore argued that in the eight years he'd owned the bar, there had been no complaints or violations against him.
A 1948 article in Beverage Retail Weekly criticized the denial, claiming that the council "consistently approves transfers" and in blocking this one was "playing politics." Sol Konvitz managed the Hampton Inn several blocks west of the Turf Club in Neptune. It was owned by his brother, Phillip Konvitz, who also had an interest in the Palace bar on Springwood. Phil Konvitz has been described as a man who "influenced most of the things that took place in Asbury Park…." Famous for his no-interest loans, "Uncle Phil" ended up owning — and not developing — some 75 lots on Asbury's West Side. After an FBI probe in 2002, the influencer was indicted on federal bribery and extortion charges.
The Konvitzs and partner Leo Karp eventually prevailed, and the Turf Club ran at 1125 Springwood till the mid-1950s. Then Karp proposed moving the operation down the street to 1200 Springwood. He'd tear down the old Victory Hotel that stood there and create a new venue.
A petition signed by about a hundred Springwood residents objected. They claimed the move would result in three bars and three package stores within about 200 feet of one and other, which school children would have to pass by on their way to school. Karp countered that the proposed move was only a block away, and school children already passed by the current Turf Club. In 1956, the city council approved the transfer, contingent on the new building being completed.
With the new structure came a new emphasis on music. Karp, described as "an irascible man… a tough businessman and competitor," booked rhythm & blues, soul, and harmony acts.
In the spring of 1961, Leo's Turf Club featured the smooth B3 Hammond organist Stan "The Man" Hunter, who had performed with John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan. Eddie and his Four Cousins, an R&B band, played the room, and in the summer of 1963, so did the organ great Jimmy McGriff. McGriff was nationally known, as was the saxophonist Jean-Baptiste "Illinois" Jacquet, who played Leo's Turf Club in the summer of 1965. Jacquet was famous for his work with the Lionel Hampton band, including his sax solo on "Flying Home." In Asbury, he contrasted the wildness of that, his trademark tune, with a smooth cover of Cole Porter's "So in Love."
The Turf Club was becoming a stop for major jazz artists, competing with the former Hampton Inn, now Big Bill's. Who made up the audience? Big Bill's, anyway, "had about 85 percent white clientele."
Leo's Turf Club drew listeners from as far away as Philadelphia and Newark. It also drew its share of trouble. There was the stabbing of a police officer in the fall of 1965, a throat slashing in 1967. One patron, refused entrance, punctured the tires on Leo Karp's car. Still, through the late 60's, the club continued to book musical acts like Brenda & the Tabulations, whose smooth vocals created soul hits like "Dry Your Eyes" and "Who's Loving You." When Lloyd Sims' Fabulous Untouchables appeared, they included a young saxophonist called Clarence Clemons.
Through 1968, Karp booked acts like organist Wild Bill Davis and the Soul Brothers Six, but the Turf Club's run was coming to an end. In January, 1970, Karp and the Konvitzs sold their liquor license to Wayland Goldstone, an African-American, who re-named the bar Wakie's Show Place.
Wakie's continued to bring in music — singer Irene Reid, who'd been a vocalist with Count Basie, and a local band called King Solomon and the What Five — but six months after Wakie's opened, Asbury's West Side burned in an act of frustration and rebellion. The "misery [and] depression" had become too much.
In the July 7, 1970 edition of the Asbury Park Press, there's a photo of a man directing firefighters from the roof of Wakie's Show Place. It was one of the few structures that didn't burn to the ground. By the end of the month, it was open again, featuring music by Bobbie Tucker and the Me Three Souls. Goldstone was appointed chairman of the business development committee of Asbury's West Side Coalition, but business didn't come back. "Springwood Avenue is dying," said one community leader. "People are afraid to come there."
"Wakie" Goldstone submitted a letter to the City Council in December 1970. It complained that Asbury's police had stopped patrolling the West Side altogether. All around the former Turf Club, Springwood Avenue was in ruins — and would mostly remain so for the next 50 years.
As the condominiums on Asbury's beachfront capitalize on the city's musical heritage, the Turf Club sits vacant. You can help change that. For more info, go to www.asburyamp.org. You'll find a place to donate there, too. - July 9, 2020 - Daniel Wolff reporting - Wolff is the author of, among other books, 4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land
The Boss and the Maestro in Rome, April 10, 1996 - photograph by Ermanno Labianca
WE ALL LOVE ENNIO MORRICONE, 1928-2020
When Bruce Springsteen and the great film composer Ennio Morricone, who has died at 91, finally got around to meeting in person, more than 15 years had passed since Springsteen and the E Street Band first began preceding certain live performances of "Badlands" with a nod to one of Morricone's greatest compositions.
As initially performed in Portland, Oregon on October 25, 1980 and continuing through many shows on the 1980-81 River Tour, Roy Bittan would play a brief solo-piano portion of Morricone's beautiful, haunting main-title theme, aka "Jill's Theme," from Sergio Leone's classic film Once Upon a Time in the West.
Whenever and wherever it would happen, it always served as the perfect lead-in for what would follow: a heart-quickening, full-band performance of one of Springsteen's own greatest compositions. Just in terms of how they sounded, "Jill's Theme" and "Badlands" couldn't be more different from one another, but emotionally — where it really mattered — you could feel in your very soul just how perfectly these two compositions connected.
There were many great "Jill's Theme"/"Badlands" performances on the 1980-81 River Tour. So far two of them (both from the Nassau Coliseum stand in late 1980) have been released officially through Springsteen's ongoing live Archive Series at live.brucespringsteen.net.
Probably the most storied performance of "Jill's Theme"/"Badlands" occurred on April 24, 1981 in Lyon, France, involving the audience as much as the band. As described by Dave Marsh in his book Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s, "The crowd sang along to [Morricone's] spectral melody, making a beautiful, haunting sound that no one could have predicted, upsetting and enriching the spectacle of the show. (It turned out that the Once Upon a Time in the West theme had been a jukebox hit in northern Italy, where about a third of the crowd came from.)"
Unfortunately when the 1980-81 River Tour ended, so did Bittan's "Jill's Theme" preludes. (In the ensuing quarter-century or so, Springsteen's only other interpolation of Morricone's music occurred on Halloween night 1984, oddly enough.)
Meanwhile, Morricone and Springsteen first met on April 10, 1996, at Springsteen's solo-acoustic gig in Rome on the Tom Joad tour. Morricone was in the audience that night, as reported by Massimo Benvegnu in Backstreets issue # 53: "He was visibly having a good time, clapping along to 'This Hard Land,' which was introduced as a song about, among other things, 'every Western movie I ever saw.'"
Another longtime Backstreets contributor, Ermanno Labianca, was backstage with Morricone and his wife Maria when they met with Springsteen after the show, and he reported on it in Backstreets issue # 56: "Bruce said how delighted he was by that visit. He stopped and opened a little door so the music from the hall could come in. 'That's my personal tape, that's the music I want to be played after these shows,' Bruce told Morricone. 'It's your music playing right now, Maestro,' he said, smiling. While the notes of 'Finale' (a reprise of 'Jill's Theme' from Once Upon a Time in the West) vanished under the roaring of the audience asking for more 'Broooce,' Bruce and Morricone posed for a couple of pictures."
Beginning with their June 28, 2003 show in Milan, Italy, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band began a new and moving tradition, using a recorded version of "Jill's Theme" as their walk-on music for many of their Italian concerts. Eventually this included some shows that featured "Badlands" as the set-opener, effectively reuniting "Jill's Theme" with "Badlands." This even occurred once in a country other than Italy, at the June 17, 2012 Madrid, Spain show [above].
Before taking the stage, Springsteen and the E Street Band take in the San Siro spectacle as Morricone plays, June 3, 2013 - photograph by Mauro Regis
And of course, "Jill's Theme" served as the perfect aural backdrop for that powerful "Our love is real" moment on June 3, 2013 at Stadio San Siro in Milan, Italy [below].
Another special night in Italy: Bruce walked on to "Jill's Theme" at his June 6, 2005 Rome concert on his Devils & Dust solo-acoustic tour, and then proceeded to perform his Morricone-fied version of "I'm on Fire," incorporating various elements from Morricone's many Spaghetti Western scores, with Il Maestro himself sitting in the front row [below].
In the summer of 2006, Springsteen recorded an electric-guitar-driven version of "Jill's Theme" for the tribute album We All Love Ennio Morricone, with orchestral backing from Unione Musicisti di Roma, Morricone's longtime collaborators. Released on We All Love Ennio Morricone in 2007 as "Once Upon a Time in the West," the track provided Springsteen with a Best Rock Instrumental Performance win at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in early 2008.
One year later, Springsteen would again be paying tribute to Morricone, but this time by recording and releasing an original composition, "Outlaw Pete" on Springsteen's album Working on a Dream. In many ways, this was Bruce's fullest personal salute to the essential element that made Morricone's film music such a breakthrough: his successful fusion of rock-band dynamics and instrumentation with epic orchestral and choral landscapes. In Springsteen's own epic composition, "Outlaw Pete" achieved a similarly successful fusion that included along the way a specific nod to Morricone's "Man With a Harmonica" from Once Upon a Time in the West. Live performances of the song often featured Bruce adding a bit of Morricone's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Main Title)" on electric guitar, too, as he did in his June 27, 2009 Glastonbury Festival performance [below].
Finally, Ennio Morricone also had a keen understanding and appreciation of Bruce Springsteen. In 2007, Italian author/scholar Leonardo Colombati invited Morricone to write the original foreword for Colombati's book Bruce Springsteen – Come un killer sotto il sole: Il grande romanzo americano (1972-2007) (republished internationally a decade later as Bruce Springsteen – Like a Killer in the Sun: Selected Lyrics, 1972-2017.)
Morricone jumped at the chance, writing:
In his songs, Springsteen creates a strong sense of pietas — of the pain and humanity inherent in the characters he recounts. He does this not only through his music, where he uses different timbres and sounds to endow characters with a unique personality, but also through his lyrics, which are where his real power lies…
Although they are very different, a certain part of my work and his shares a common basis in the simple chords we use to create structured and original melodies. The composer of instrumental music must redeem this simplicity with elaborate orchestration; the author-singer/storyteller can do so by using both voice and words, as long as the voice communicates an emotion and the words are true. I like Springsteen precisely because he places this need for Truth in the forefront. This is how he manages to elude passing fads and why his music runs no risk of being lost over the course of time.
Those last two sentences, of course, also could form the basis of an explanation as to why so many of us on E Street love Ennio Morricone. Rest in peace, Maestro Morricone, after such a long and fruitful life. Your music lives on. - July 8, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting - special thanks to Joe Amodei and Leo Colombati
GOODBYE, IL MAESTRO Some personal thoughts on the passing of Ennio Morriconefrom Joe Amodei
I love movies. They have been a part of my very fabric for as long as I can remember. They have been my constant companion through life and have been there for the good, the bad, the sadness, and the gladness of life. They are my first memories as a child. And they never go away.
As a young teenager my world was opened to a vast array of films and filmmakers from all over the world. I cherished each film and new discovery. And then one day I found myself in a darkened movie theater while the Sergio Leone masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West came across the screen in all of its majestic Spaghetti Western glory. There was Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, and the exhilarating beauty Claudia Cardinale creating characters that would forever be etched in my movie subconscious: Fonda's evil Frank, Bronson's Harmonica, Robards' Cheyenne, and Cardinale's enchanting Jill. Legendary roles in a legendary film. And all acting to the backdrop of the Maestro's amazingly beautiful score. We all know that the Maestro himself is Ennio Morricone.
We just lost Morricone at the good old young age of 91. He leaves behind the love of his life Maria, his children including composer Andrea Morricone, and a host of grandchildren with whom he had a close and loving relationship. He also left behind many fans, famous and not-so-famous, who have been tweeting and testifying to his greatness. And they should, because Morricone was, well, great. I am in tune with all of them.
But for me, Morricone also was personal. His music filtered in and out of my life on so many occasions. Many years ago on a memorable trip out west with my wife and two daughters, we were about to enter the full majesty of Monument Valley when I pulled over to the side of the road and inserted into the car's CD player the soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in the West. While the landscape in front of us turned into something right out of heaven, the music became a part of that trip, a memory that for reasons unsaid here will never, ever go away. That memory is seared into my mind, and Morricone's music played a major part in it.
I am so thankful to Maestro for so many more movie-music memories. Seeing — and hearing — The Mission, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Malena, The Legend of 1900, and of course the elegant, romantic, and haunting Cinema Paradiso gave me even more memories, the kind that can be relived over and over again.
When I heard that Bruce Springsteen was going to record the theme to Once Upon a Time in the West on a tribute album to Morricone, my excitement was through the roof. I was not disappointed, and neither were Grammy voters who gave Bruce the award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance that year.
I've been lucky. Very lucky. I met Morricone once in Cannes, before a screening of Once Upon a Time In America. He was sitting mid-row, and I stood in the aisle when our eyes met. Not knowing what to do, my instinct just took over and I moved my hands to my lips, blew him a kiss, and mouthed the words "Thank you." He blew a kiss back to me and nodded his head, saying "Thank you" back to me. He smiled, and so did I.
I also am lucky to have seen Maestro in concert not once, but twice. The first was during his 2007 visit to the U.S. to receive his honorary Oscar. (Morricone also received six Best Original Music Score Oscar nominations during his career, and won the 2016 Best Original Music Score Oscar for The Hateful Eight.) He stopped in New York on his way and performed a night of music at Radio City Music Hall. Then on August 31, 2017, my wife and I were honored to be in the audience when, at the age of 88, Morricone took to the stage of the Arena in Verona, Italy. In the heart of the ancient Italian city where Juliet professed her love for Romeo, with a full moon looking over the Coliseum-like, age-old structure, Maestro led what seemed like a 100-member choir of angels and orchestra as they performed a set of the greatest, most memorable Morricone moments. I literally sat in the audience on that hot summer night and wept. That is how much his music has meant to me. I am weeping as I write this right now.
Thank you, Il Maestro. Thank you so much. Make some music up in Heaven. The angels have been waiting. The chorus is about to begin. - July 8, 2020 - Joe Amodei is the Founder and President of Virgil Films & Entertainment. One of Virgil's recent releases is Elliott Murphy's and Emilio J. Ruiz's film Broken Poet, currently available as a Backstreets exclusive and featuring special appearances by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa
SPOTLIGHT ON NILS, IN SERIES PREMIERE FROM BRUCE ARCHIVES
During what Bruce Springsteen calls "these troubled times," it's not so crazy that many of us are concerned for not only our own familes and loved ones, but also our friends in the E Street Band. It's part of why we've enjoyed Springsteen's From My Home to Yours radio show so much, and Max Weinberg's Mighty Max's Monday Memories — keeping up with these artists that mean so much to us, hearing that they're okay. A new online series from the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music is a similar balm: What's Up on E Street? debuts today, and it will "highlight the individual members of the band and how they are dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic."
In the premiere episode, series creator Bob Santelli catches up with Nils Lofgren — you can watch it here:
Santelli explains, "What’s Up on E Street? is an attempt to capture a bit of contemporary history, namely how E Street Band members have been coping with the COVID pandemic. All of our lives have been affected by this terrible disease. To document its impact on Springsteen and the E Street Band is just one of the Archives' many responsibilities."
Next in the series: Professor Roy Bittan. Visit the Springsteen Archives website and Facebook page to keep up with what they're doing at Monmouth U. - July 7, 2020
PREMIERE: "THE RISING," STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
With new side project The Lab, Nancy Wilson salutes "true heroes among us"
Nancy Wilson of Heart has always been a Bruce Springsteen fan, but holed up in quarantine, one of his songs kept coming up again and again for her. When she began working on new music, writing new material remotely with some of the members of Heart, and other players in a side project, there was a Springsteen song that just wouldn't let go of her.
That song was "The Rising." The tune had always moved Nancy, but in the past few months it kept resonating even more. "It's a response to all the souls departing, and the bravery of the first responders and medical crews," she said this week. "There are true heroes among us."
When I was working on Nancy and Ann's bestselling memoir (Kicking & Dreaming) a few years back, Nancy and I would talk about Springsteen a lot. When she first met him in the '90s, backstage at a show, she said she felt like "he was the coolest person on the planet."
Springsteen immediately stuck Nancy as someone special: "The kind of hope he brought to casual banter, even, was something. He was inclusive, disarming, and in the world of entertainment it also felt like he understood surviving 'the shadow.'"
To Nancy, "The Rising" had much of that same appeal — a song of hope, and about surviving the shadow — which is why it was one of the first things she decided to record during quarantine. Her current side venture is called "The Lab," and they are working on an EP. The line-up includes three players from Heart — Ben Smith, Andy Stoller, and Ryan Waters — along with two other acclaimed musicians: Austin's Eric Tessmer and Seattle's Jeff Fielder (who usually plays with Mark Lanegan).
Here's a world exclusive premiere, of Nancy Wilson and The Lab performing "The Rising."
- July 6, 2020 - Charles R. Cross reporting
INCIDENT ON SOUTH BROAD STREET Newly 50, Springsteen serenades Philly in new Archive Series release, 9/25/99 At 22 tracks, the final date in Philadelphia on Bruce Springsteen's 1999 Reunion Tour with the E Street Band might appear short; previous Archive Series selections from that year (Chicago and Los Angeles) featured 25 songs. But this show is stocked with lengthy ones, rarities, and a good deal of complexity. "Incident on 57th Street" and "New York City Serenade," after all, take some time to unspool.
Performed in a city known for its long-standing support — in 1974, Springsteen first played "Born to Run" in Swarthmore, a Philadelphia suburb, then debuted the studio recording a few months later on the city's FM rock station, WMMR — September 25 ranks among the tour's more celebrated concerts, and with good reason.
Philadelphia, September 24, 1999 - photograph by Ken Lesnik
After celebrating his 50th birthday on September 23, Springsteen played back-to-back Philly dates: the 24th, at the Spectrum (after a weather-related postponement), and this one:First Union Center, Philadelphia September 25, 1999. Both saw an infusion of infrequently-played numbers from his first two records; here, "Incident on 57th Street" gets a breakout turn to open the show.
Unplayed since its lone nod on the River tour in 1980, its top billing revealed Springsteen reinhabiting the song, from its narrative to the guitar work to an impressive lead vocal. By comparison, the 1980 airing at Nassau Coliseum sounds like Springsteen, whose new music sprang from different vantage points and typically played out in three minutes rather than eight, was sending it gently into the good night, simply because it was time.
That makes its 1999 rediscovery an exciting prospect today. From the opening notes on the piano (which hadn't been turned up full in the house, leading to a few seconds before it really sank in) to the sustained F chord that rang at the end, this is one deliberate performance. It took years before "Frankie" found its way back to the right place; one might argue that "The Fever," another song tried once that year, never has. But after this, the first of four Reunion tour plays, Springsteen would revisit "Incident" more frequently in later years, in both solo piano and full-band arrangements.
9/25/99 audibles: "Atlantic City" replaced the originally setlisted "Trapped"/"Darlington County"; "Sherry Darling" and "Streets of Philadelphia" replaced the setlisted "Working on the Highway" and "Ghost of Tom Joad"
Philadelphia September 25 brings plenty more new material from 1999: "Point Blank," "Sherry Darling," "Streets of Philadelphia," "Jungleland," and "Raise Your Hand" ("Light of Day" tags a good bit of "You Can't Sit Down," and "My Girl" gets a few bars during the band introductions segment of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out"). "New York City Serenade" made the set, too (its first '99 entry is an honor bestowed by Chicago, released in 2018).
While the reworking of older songs is the kind of experimentation an attentive fan would gladly hear anytime, in the Reunion era the E Street Band came to play anew. Driven by Max Weinberg's six years of chopping wood on late-night television, they coalesced around a hard-rock trio of "Youngstown," "Murder Incorporated," and "Badlands" — a song from the solo LP The Ghost of Tom Joad, then a Born in the U.S.A. outtake, and finally a classic — then again in the encore, around "If I Should Fall Behind" and "Land of Hope and Dreams." Those songs feature here, each in a way that captivated listeners night in and night out.
Those agreed-upon places and arrangements — each more or less new to the band and audience alike, save for "Badlands" — served as the foundations that year, which saw Springsteen and the E Street Band restore the relationships — and some of the mythology, perhaps — left hanging by their dissolution a decade before.
"We were somewhat estranged, we were just taking the first small steps of performing," Springsteen said in 2014, when inducting the E Street Band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "We didn't know what the future would bring, and perhaps the shadow of some of the old grudges still held some sway."
Watching as Scooter and The Big Man tried to shimmy to some new, yet-to-be-determined place, one got the sense that they would get there, and that it might take some time. But never did the music sound tentative, even at the rehearsal shows in Asbury Park. Whatever disappointment lingered, be it over money or not being inducted with Springsteen in that year's Hall of Fame class, it never threw the E Street Band off their sound. Not that I could hear, anyway, and certainly not at this point in the tour, after nearly 80 performances.
Philadelphia, September 24, 1999 - photograph by Ken Lesnik
Sometimes, focusing on a single player brings out another dimension in the recording. In this case, it's Clarence Clemons. Fifteen of these 22 tracks feature a sax solo: The Big Man makes a strong impression throughout, accenting the introduction to "Point Blank" and making the "last taste of summer" on "Sherry Darling" sound especially delightful. "Jungleland" simply elevated the place. Maybe it was a belated 50th birthday gift; more likely, it was all in a night's work. Godspeed, Clarence.
The Reunion tour's biggest payoff was its authenticity. The wariness that Springsteen alluded to at the outset gave way to a sense of refinement and possibility, making room for meaningful celebrations like this, where a song like "Incident on 57th Street" could get reimagined all over again. Later, it brought the modern era's highest in-the-moment number, "American Skin (41 Shots)," and finally, "Blood Brothers," proving Springsteen right once again: you can't get there by yourself.
RECAP: FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, VOLUME 7 "Fourth of July, Asbury Park, featuring Southside Johnny and Little Steven Van Zandt" The E Street Band isn't the only weapon in Bruce Springsteen's arsenal that can turn on a dime. Part of the power of Bruce's art has been its flexibility, to give us what we need at different times — across the years, or in a single show.
From My Home to Yours, too, has proved sturdy enough to do the same, shifiting tones, repsonding to the times, and giving us very different fixes from one episode to the next.
After the scorched earth of Vol. 5 ("American Skin") and the rock 'n' roll requiem of Vol. 6 ("Down to the River to Pray"), Volume 7 of Bruce's radio show is a summer special, a gathering of old friends, and the story of the Asbury Park sound, in a two-hour blowout.
Hello, hello, fellow Americans and summer revellers! I'm glad to be here with you on this Fourth of July weekend to help you celebrate our Independence Day. We have a three-DJ spectacular for you today — I will be spinning the discs with Southside Johnny and Little Steven Van Zandt! And we will be concentrating on the soul stylings of Asbury Park, circa 1977 to '88, when Southside and Steve and I had all gotten together down at the Stone Pony. Steve and South had their fantastic house band there, and I spent many nights there high as a fuckin' kite.
This set might make you feel that high, too. Focusing exclusively on this "horn-centric" Asbury Park sound, it's the narrowest band of music Springsteen has yet cued up — but where he doesn't go broad, he gets to go deep. Discussing this music with his fellow architects and curators of the sound, it's also the first time Springsteen has played host on From His Home to Yours, and he does it with the ease and warmth you'd expect — at times it's the roundtable of old pals chatting like they're all at a bar, but our host also makes a point of asking questions and showing his appreciation for the accomplishments of his friends.
Bruce on "It's Been a Long Time": "In my opinion, Steve, a perfect song."
Yes, it's quite a set of accomplishments, as this history lesson of a playlist attests. For this sound, this particular strain of songwriting by Van Zandt and Springsteen, it's a perfect primer. There are exceptions, like Box Tops cover "Soul Deep," but this is largely a sampler of the horn-soaked soul sounds conceived and penned by Bruce and Stevie, which they brought to life with friends and compatriots Southside Johnny (vocally, its premier interpreter), the Asbury Jukes, Gary U.S. Bonds ("one of the greatest soul singers of all time," says Stevie), E Streeters, and more.
It's interesting to note, this is a sound that was often left off of Springsteen's own albums — most of his own recordings here are from outtake collections: "Gotta Get That Feeling" ("lost in the sauce of the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions"), "So Young and in Love" ( "The E Street Band back in its wild and wooly days, trying to write something that was gonna tear the roof off the place"), "Lion's Den."
So there's a thread running through Volume 7 that offers a Secret History of Bruce Springtsteen — running parallel to his carefully crafted LPs, there was this string of collaborations, songwriting, production, uncredited performances. In some cases it had to be secret, since his label wouldn't grant him permission! The trio delves into some of those moments, recalling recording with "Bondsy" so fondly you wish they'd do it all over again tomorrow.
Bruce does stretch his self-imposed boundaries a bit on either side of the 1977-'88 timeframe, playing more recent material from Little Steven ("from his Summer of Sorcery record, the man's return to soul!" and even his live take on "Tucson Train") and going back to "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," with a recounting of Stevie's crucial on-the-fly horn arrangements ("second song we ever put horns on with the E Street Band," after "Kitty's Back"). In between, so many classic cuts highlighting collaborations — with Bonds, the outstanding "Club Soul City," with Clarence and the Red Bank Rockers, "Savin' Up" — and Jukes treasures from the first record up through the Better Days "comeback" and two of its finest moments.
So with Springsteen having created and cued up such a stellar a playlist, it becomes a privilege for the rest of us to hear this "Jersey Summit" react to it along the way. Sometimes it's just "mmmm!" But the history shared by Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and Southside Johnny Lyon goes back 50 years — "just one coat between us, and we never felt cold," as the song goes — and it's a blast to hear them reflecting on that shared history, relistening and responding to the music they've made together.
"This Little Girl"? "We had a hit!" "I Don't Want to Go Home"? "Steve almost drove into Sunset Lake," Southside says, when they heard the song come on WNEW. And don't forget the cut-throat games of Monopoly.
Other memories along the way are of the great influences on the music that we're hearing, like seeing Sam Moore at the Satellite Lounge ("We got to watch... from six feet away... One of the greatest musical nights of my life," says Bruce), and their habit of drawing on and paying tribute to their own heroes from the "oldies circuit," like Bonds, Lee Dorsey, Chuck Jackson, and Ben E. King, and reuniting the Coasters, the Five Satins, and the Drifters to play with the Jukes.
Stevie: "We always had one foot in tradition."
Southside: "Twist and doo-wop… we were really trying to be with the modern cats!"
Sometimes Volume 7 is a fascinating listen as much for what they don't remember as what they do. "Stevie, you're gonna have to remind me if I had anything to do with this one," Bruce says as "Love on the Wrong Side of Town" begins. Stevie responds, "You did, that's your riff!" We get some insight into how their co-writing worked, and glimpses of studio sessions and production, too — "those tympanies were just lying around!"
You'll have your own favorite stories here. Bruce recounts "The Fever" leaking on WMMR; they all bemoan the sterile studio sound of the '70s, as "the engineers had taken over": "We're trying to go for the wall of sound, but the wall was covered with a fuckin' carpet!" You'll have your own favorite one-liners, too. "Steve Van Zandt — all in, or not in at all!"
Some "Soul Power Twist" from Stevie?
Southside: "Let it never be said that Little Steven is not au courant!"
Bruce: "I'm twistin! I'm twistin' right the fuck now!"
So maybe it's less au courant, but Volume 7 is, more than any previous episode, a timeless set of music and commentary begging for repeat listening. And also perhaps a chance for this music to reach new ears — it's entirely possible to be a big Springsteen fan without being well-versed in this particular rock 'n' soul sound of Asbury Park. While many of Bruce's performances revel in these stylings — certainly on club stages or when he brought a horn section on the road — on record it's a different story. As the playlist illustrates, many of the songs Springsteen himself wrote in this vein are ones that he gave away — "all the records that we should have made in between the records," as he says — which makes this two-hour sepcial all the more of a treat, spotlighting and tying together his own work in this soul-deep vein with his Asbury Park comrades in arms.
Happy 4th of July, Bondsy! Happy 4th of July, everybody! Play it loud!
Visit the SiriusXM blog for the schedule of repeat broadcasts for Independence Day Weekend and beyond on E Street Radio.
Instrumental intro - "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "Some Things Just Don't Change"
Bruce Springsteen - "Gotta Get That Feeling" (live 12/7/10)
Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Love Again"
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "Love on the Wrong Side of Town"
Bruce Springsteen - "So Young and in Love"
Gary U.S. Bonds - "Soul Deep"
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "Coming Back"
Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Until the Good is Gone"
Gary U.S. Bonds - "Club Soul City"
Bruce Springsteen - "Lion's Den"
Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Soul Power Twistin'"
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "The Fever"
Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers - "Savin' Up"
Gary U.S. Bonds - "This Little Girl"
Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Tucson Train" (live)
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "First Night"
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "I Don't Want to Go Home"
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" (live)
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (with Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt) - "It's Been a Long Time"
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - "Jersey Girl" (live)
- July 2, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting
REBIRTH AND REDEDICATION: HE REALLY MEANT IT
An ending and a beginning, 20 years ago tonight in NYC
It's a good night for a ride Cross that river to the other side My blood brothers
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first time Bruce Springsteen sang those lyrics as part of an entirely new verse of "Blood Brothers," a unique performance that brought the curtain down on the 1999-2000 "Reunion" tour with the E Street Band. "Blood Brothers" was originally recorded as part of an earlier, briefer reassembly in 1995. Though we know with hindsight how it all turned out, both reunions were tinged by uncertainty at best regarding the future of the legendary E Street Band.
July 1, 2000 was the final night of a ten-night stand at New York City's Madison Square Garden as well as the final night of the Reunion tour that lasted nearly 16 months. As Bruce later revealed in his autobiography Born to Run, he began the pre-tour rehearsals with a sense of "ambivalence" and "anxiety." To his relief, both feelings faded as soon as they played in front of actual fans.
On many nights of the Reunion tour, Bruce introduced the newly written "Land of Hope and Dreams" by saying the tour represented "a rebirth and rededication of the band." But while he seemed sincere and earnest, there was always a bit of doubt regarding whether that rebirth was meant to last beyond the closing notes of July 1, 2000, or if he would continue to follow muses that led him away from E Street.
Introducing "Land of Hope and Dreams" on the final night, Bruce thanked the crew and management, and, after thanking the E Street Band, he called them "the best band in the land." Within seconds, the entire crowd erupted into an "E Street Band! E Street Band!" chant, an outpouring that visibly moved everyone on stage. And since the spotlight was still only on Springsteen for the introduction, he prompted further cheers as he urged the lighting crew to: "Get some damn lights on 'em, will ya?!"
A powerful "Land of Hope and Dreams" followed, and its images of tickets, suitcases, unknown destinations, and traveling companions inspired thoughts of the previous 15 months and the amazing tour that was coming to a close.
There were times when such a reunion seemed improbable, or fears that such a reunion wouldn't have the same power as the original iteration. But faith was indeed rewarded as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had come roaring back to reclaim their title as one of the greatest live rock acts on the planet.
As "Land of Hope and Dreams" ended and Bruce implored the audience to "Let me see your hands," his howls had a bit more emotion than most nights — not unexpected. What was unexpected was that no one left their spots on the stage when the song ended (all previous nine shows at the Garden ended with the band exiting after "Land of Hope and Dreams"). The emotion in the building wasn't trending in the direction of a "Raise Your Hand" or "Blinded by the Light" performance. Bruce approached the mic and gave a short shout-out to Food for Survival, a community-based organization that helps New York City hungry and homeless, a PSA he normally gave prior to "Land of Hope and Dreams."
"We've talked a lot about faith on this tour. Faith don't mean nothing unless you put it into action," he said. "We got one more for you, but we're going to need a little bit of quiet. C'mon, my friends."
A single keyboard chord began, joined shortly by Max's high hat keeping a slow but steady beat. The crowd started clapping along but was quickly quieted with a hand gesture from Bruce. The keyboard chord changed, and the progression made the song obvious: "Blood Brothers." As the music settled after the "houses of the dead" verse, Springsteen paused and motioned for everyone not behind a drum kit or keyboard to come to the front of the stage, where they joined hands to form a line, facing the crowd. With a slight twinge of uncertainty and more than a hint of emotion, he sang an entirely new closing verse:
Now I'm out here on this road Alone on this road tonight I close my eyes and feel so many friends around me In the early evening light And the miles we have come And the battles won and lost Are just so many roads traveled So many rivers crossed And I ask God for the strength And faith in one another 'Cause it's a good night for a ride 'Cross this river to the other side My blood brothers
The music built back up and the band soared, led by Bruce's harmonica and Clarence's saxophone, before gently ending.
As the E Street Band left the stage, Bruce stayed at the top of the stairs, seemingly thanking each band member individually. After Clarence — the last one to descend the stairs — Springsteen took an extra moment to look at the audience. We don't know what was going through his mind, but fans were certainly hoping it wasn't the last we'd see of them.
Time has told: Bruce was intent on keeping that pledge of rebirth and rededication. Over the course of the next two decades, Springsteen would go on to record and release seven albums, five of which were followed by a tour with the E Street Band, plus two box sets based on earlier E Street projects. There were off-ramps — Devils & Dust, Seeger Sessions, Broadway — but Bruce lived up to the most optimistic interpretation a fan might have for the band's "rededication."
The ongoing vitality of the E Street Band since that night — its ability to address hard times, its flexibility through nearly unthinkable losses and lineup changes — has been undeniable. Thank you, Bruce — and the heart-stopping E Street Band — for the miles we have come together in the last 20 years. - July 1, 2020 - Flynn McLean reporting - McLean is co-host of the podcast None But the Brave
Backstreet Records is the mailorder division of Backstreets, delivering Springsteen merchandise to fans for more than 25 years. We carry numerous collectibles, tour shirts, books, magazines, and imported CDs and records.
The world's best selection of Springsteen collectibles, all available by mail.
"Steve Van Zandt’s Plan to Save Music Education During the Pandemic" [Rolling Stone]
"Live Music Returns to the Shore: 'It's Like Getting Your Life Back'" [NYTimes.com]
"Jesse Malin on New York’s Club Crisis: 'Very Few Venues Are Going to Be Able to Survive'" [Rolling Stone]
We also post all known concert dates for some of our favorite Jersey Shore (and Shore-adopted) musicians:
Joe D'Urso... and more.
For more information on upcoming shows such as these, check out our Concert Calendar.
Many from the Springsteen community banded together to preserve this Asbury Park landmark.... and Tillie has now been saved!
Check our Save Tillie page for the latest developments.
THE SPRINGSTEEN SPECIAL COLLECTION
Organized by Backstreets in 2001, this storehouse of Boss books and magazines is the largest such collection outside of Bruce's mother's basement. Thanks to the generosity of fans around the world, total holdings are now well over 15,000. But the collection is by no means complete.