Saturday, 7 December 2013

Lovesong: Bruce Springsteen: New York City Serenade & Dream Baby Dream

I'm on my own this weekend; that invariably means cricket, curry, whisky and music.
Even though the early signs of the imminent 'High Hopes' aren't too inspiring, I've got a hankering for Springsteen... I like him languid not lumpy. A bit like Costello; I switch off when he starts shouting at me.
But no-one does a rasping whisper like Bruce... and the motherlode of whispering intensity is surely his sophomore release. It's been a while since I visited the glories of 'The Wild the Innocent and the East Street Shuffle' so I went looking for a live performance of one of its highlights and, boy, did I strike gold.
This version of 'New York City Serenade' was shot weeks ago in Rome and it's just beautiful. 
And I thought that the man's voice was shot... 
It's a stunning performance.
String sections can come over as detached, aloof; here they just seem really chuffed to be there.
Then I then found this video of a song (more of a sweet chant really), 'Dream Baby Dream' which is new to me. It's quite hypnotic and the visuals are a treat. 
I defy even the staunchest cynic not to be moved by a moment or two from these performances...
Music made for the right reasons: to connect.
That Bruce can do that in a huge stadium of 100,000 odd is testament to his abilities as a performer.
Whether you love or loathe him (there doesn't seem to be much middle ground), whether he's whispering or shouting you cannot deny the man's integrity.
Meanwhile, back to the cricket.


  1. Good stuff Mr Jones. Nothing like a bit of Bruce to bring things into perspective. I always found it a pity that Born In The USA was his biggest album. It's also his least effective. I've always loved his early albums before he went cinematic with Born To Run. Although we both agree that is an album of genius. I always hoped he'd record a Tunnel Of Love 2. His voice would surely fit a more country tinged album these days. By the way, don't bother with the cricket. It's all over!!!!

  2. Ay, dreadful toothless stuff down under.
    I'm with you on Bruce Nick. I think that his voice now suits intimacy, but he seems intent on going raucously. His choice of course but its all starting to sound a bit lumpy to me. I'd stick him in a small room with a string quartet and an acoustic...

  3. Whew! What a great post. 40 years later, The Boss still in fine form. Along with Jungleland & BTR, NYC Serenade my favorite Bruce songs. Fish lady, Diamond Jackie, vibes man, junkman... a haunting piece of epic street poetry. The original David Sancious piano/string arrangement, Clemons' sax, and the Boss whispering "Listen to your junkman" always give me chills, but this live take actually rivals the studio version. Absolutely gorgeous...

    I have to agree with all the comments, including the lumpy bit. Nick is right on about the weakness of Born In The USA, and the relative strength of Tunnel Of Love. Valentine's Day another of my faves...

  4. I went to see Peter Gabriel a few weeks back; Sancious was playing piano for him; he even played guitar, which proved... what a great piano player he is.
    I met him over twenty years ago (sorry Seamus!) at 'Easy' rehearsal studios up in Pentonville, North London. We were stuck in studio 2 between Living Colour (Studio 1 - very loud) and Sting (Studio 3 - very good). I met him in the studio canteen/bar and I brought him a beer. I gushed so much about NYC Serenade that he had to hush me and change the subject as Gordon Sumner (apparently a fragile ego) approached...

  5. ... Sorry TT; hit 'Publish' before completing...
    ... Sancious was playing with Sting back then Tim. Alongside Manu Katche on drums who was also playing with Gabriel the other night. Strange connections...

  6. Dream Baby Dream is one of my all time favourites. Nice to see Bruce giving the nod to the great Suicide -

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