Archive for bruce springsteen

56. ‘Stuck Between Stations’ by The Hold Steady (2007)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by G.K. Reid

Beaker from The Muppets: The Rock Star Years

Eschewing any pretensions, The Hold Steady are often condescendingly dismissed as a ‘pub band’, peddling blue-collar preoccupations in a doggedly outmoded style.  In actuality, the output of this band is consummately realised, passionately delivered, and as fully engaged with the hits and misses of life as you could ever ask for.

The Springsteen influence is worn on the sleeve, as the band repeatedly plough the same territory, offering up a portrait of America populated by the down and disillusioned, a retinue of characters frustrated by their limits yet irrevocably yoked by the promise of something more, something meaningful.  If you’re looking for a definitive Hold Steady song, then you may as well take ‘Stuck Between Stations’, although so many volunteer themselves.

Perhaps part of what makes ‘Stuck Between Stations’ resonate in particular is in how it locates itself within the legacies of both Jack Kerouac and John Berryman.  It can be tough for a rock band to pull off literary allusions without seeming self-aggrandising or mismanaging the allusion horribly. The Hold Steady, however, are fully invested in the worldviews of Springsteen, Kerouac and Berryman and, consequently, their music not only grows from, it adds to the richness of each.  To hell with innovation; The Hold Steady are pursuing something much purer than that.

Bonus points: Craig Finn has very expressive hands.

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71. ‘The Rising’ by Bruce Springsteen (2002)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 17, 2010 by G.K. Reid

Gratuitous arm shot.

 It’s hard to think of many people other than Brucie who could craft a rock anthem about 9/11 without it coming across as unpleasant or exploitative. But ‘The Rising’ is an utterly absorbing, truly spiritual achievement.  Even without the 9/11 connection, Brucie can still sing about the big concepts of life and love and death and make me feel like he’s the first person who ever thought to do so. Like a lot of the album, lyrics which in lesser hands could sound like the pat sentiments of a Hallmark card seem profound in their simplicity here. It’s no wonder he fancied himself as some kind of crazy preacher at Glastonbury last year.   

 

Bonus points: ‘A dream of life comes to me, like a catfish dancing on the end of my line’ – lovely analogy, Brucie!