News Updated July 10, 2020


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."

Listen live from anywhere in the world on all sorts of devices. Listening options are listed here: https://1071theboss.com/apps-streaming/ 
- July 10, 2020

ASBURY PARK DOC STREAMING FREE FOR 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].

(One day later, in the Hard Rock Calling Festival performance of "Outlaw Pete" officially released on London Calling – Live In Hyde Park, the "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" nod was more subtle, but the full-daylight performance also made much clearer just how well Clarence Clemons played his "Big Man With a Harmonica" role.)

Bruce Springsteen isn't the only person on E Street with such a strong understanding and appreciation of Ennio Morricone, either. Upon learning of the sad news, Stevie Van Zandt tweeted that Morricone was "one of the greatest composers of all time. You can hear our tributes to him in 'African Dawn' on the Lilyhammer Score, and the new arrangement of 'Standing In The Line of Fire' on Soulfire & Soulfire Live."

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 Morricone from 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 hearingThe 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. After all, 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 (a weather-related postponement resulted in a change of venue), 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.

Also read: Erik Flannigan's latest nugs.net blog entry, "I Heard Voices of Friends Vanished and Gone"

- July 3, 2020 - Jonathan Pont reporting

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.


photograph by Mark Krajnak/@jerseystyle_photography

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.

Playlist:

  1. Instrumental intro - "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"
  2. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "Some Things Just Don't Change"
  3. Bruce Springsteen - "Gotta Get That Feeling" (live 12/7/10)
  4. Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Love Again"
  5. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "Love on the Wrong Side of Town"
  6. Bruce Springsteen - "So Young and in Love"
  7. Gary U.S. Bonds - "Soul Deep"
  8. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "Coming Back"
  9. Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Until the Good is Gone"
  10. Gary U.S. Bonds - "Club Soul City"
  11. Bruce Springsteen - "Lion's Den"
  12. Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Soul Power Twistin'"
  13. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "The Fever"
  14. Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers - "Savin' Up"
  15. Gary U.S. Bonds - "This Little Girl"
  16. Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - "Tucson Train" (live)
  17. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "First Night"
  18. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - "I Don't Want to Go Home"
  19. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" (live)
  20. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (with Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt) - "It's Been a Long Time"
  21. 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


ROCK HALL VAULT SPOTLIGHTS SPRINGSTEEN
This week, from now through July 5, Bruce Springsteen is the focus of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "From the Vault" series. Visit rockhall.com to explore Springsteen's induction in the Class of 1999, with newly added streaming video of his many appearances (both speeches and performances) from Rock Hall ceremonies and concert events over the years.
- June 30, 2020


"JERSEY SUMMIT" THIS WEEK ON FROM MY HOME TO YOURS

A hallmark of Bruce Springsteen's radio show, six episodes in, has been its intimacy. But while we love having just Bruce's voice in our ear, we're excited for a Very Special Episode of From My Home to Yours as it returns this week with Volume 7 —  with special guests Little Steven and Southside Johnny Lyon.

Yes, it's been a long time.... but we're getting the trifecta on Wednesday, July 1, for what Little Steven calls "The Jersey Summit!"

Tune in to From My Home to Yours, Volume 7 on Wednesday, July 1 at 10am ET and again at 5pm ET, on E Street Radio, SiriusXM channel 20

- June 29, 2020 - photograph by Mark Krajnak/@jerseystyle_photography


"RESOLUTELY FUNKY AND MUSICALLY DEEP"
Springsteen Archives launches Soundstage with new Sancious interview

Eileen Chapman, Director of The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University, has announced that the first episode of Soundstage, hosted by music historian Bob Santelli, will feature former E Street Band member David Sancious, and will debut this Thursday, July 2 at 10am ET.

Soundstage, a new monthly online series presented by the Springsteen Archives, will explore new works, trends, and contemporary issues in American music. Episodes of the series will be accessible to all via the Archives' website and Facebook page.

Santelli's conversation with Sancious will focus on the multi-instrumentalist's latest album, Eyes Wide Open, which is now available digitally on Amazon, Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, Tidal, and other platforms, with the CD version available exclusively via Headstrong Media Group. The album includes some of the most potent — and relevant — songs Sancious has ever written, given the recent international protests that erupted after the murder of George Floyd.

Santelli, who interviewed Sancious earlier this month at his home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, said of the album, "Eyes Wide Open is an album made for these times. On it, David Sancious explores the tyranny of racism in America, while remaining resolutely funky and musically deep. And as always, the playing is first-rate. It's an honor to have David launch our Soundstage series."

"This may be the most expansive collection of music I've done so far," explains Sancious, "in that it contains all the elements of my musical make-up." Songs on the new release include "Eyes Wide Open," "In the Middle of the Night," "Urban Psalm #3," "If," "Flip It," "The Tree House," "December," and "War in Heaven."

E Street Band keyboardist Sancious and drummer Ernest Carter left the group in 1974 and teamed with Gerald Carboy, a Jersey Shore bass player, to form the jazz-fusion band Tone. Acclaimed by critics, Tone's music expanded the parameters of fusion and featured the extraordinary keyboard work of Sancious. The group's album, Transformation: The Speed of Love, is an acknowledged fusion classic. Tone went on to successfully release several albums to critical acclaim before disbanding with the artists going in different directions musically.


Santelli and Sancious at Monmouth University, October 6, 2019 - photograph by Barry Schneier

Last fall, the Springsteen Archives had the rare opportunity to bring together the three members of Tone at Monmouth University for a live interview with Santelli, followed by a performance, marking the first time in more than 40 years that they performed together.

As a "warm-up" for Santelli's new interview with Sancious, Backstreets is pleased to present contributor Shawn Poole's previously unpublished report on that October 6, 2019 Tone reunion, with photographs by Barry Schneier.

Read: "The Play and Display of the Heart: After more than four decades, Tone reunites onstage"

- June 28, 2020

SPRINGSTEEN IN THE ATLANTIC: THE AMERICAN STORY GOES ON
Signs of progress, '68 flashbacks, and spiritual songwriting
Now six episodes in, Bruce Springsteen's From My Home to Yours has provided shelter-in-place music and commentary — part balm, part antiseptic, and bittersweet. But Sirius XM isn't mainstream: fans overseas, where some of his biggest audiences reside, have trouble logging in to hear the biweekly installments.

A new interview with New York Times opinion writer David Brooks amplifies the message Springsteen has been crafting these past couple months.

Published today in The Atlantic, the June 9 Q&A touches on the themes that have shaped his deepening foray into radio, and Brooks, no stranger to Springsteen's work (see "The Other Education," 2009; and "The Power of the Particular," 2012), tees up a discussion that's steeped in the times we're living through.

While acknowledging factors that would lead "working people" he's written about to support Donald Trump, Springsteen pulls no punches regarding his leadership:

I believe that our current president is a threat to our democracy. He simply makes any kind of reform that much harder. I don't know if our democracy could stand another four years of his custodianship. These are all existential threats to our democracy and our American way of life.

With the American discourse twisted by pandemic and the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, Springsteen nevertheless explains his optimism, inspired by the protest movement, one led by a new generation: "white people and black people and brown people gathering together in the enraged name of love. That's a good sign."

Tracing the political grain of his songwriting, Springsteen adds another dimension to "American Skin (41 Shots)," his response to Amadou Diallo's death. "It's one of the songs I am most proud of," Springsteen tells Brooks. Just don't call it a protest song (something we did, incidentally, in the Backstreets coverage of its 20th anniversary on June 4th). Rather, it's another in the long line of what Springsteen refers to as "character studies that had social implications… you have to create complex characters that you breathe creative, three-dimensional life into. And that's how you find the truth in something."

If you've been unable to hear From My Home to Yours, the songs Springsteen includes here are among the heavy hitters — though they offer a mere glimpse of the tapestry he's woven over the six episodes thus far. Chief among them: Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit," which Springsteen says Columbia Records declined to release at the time; and his own "American Skin." Paul Robeson's "The House I Live In" is here; like Bob Dylan, Robeson is a musician whose works have appeared in more than one episode. Patti Smith's "People Have the Power," Springsteen says, is "one of those songs I wish I'd written…. I don't think there's a better song for this moment than this song."

Springsteen's last major Q&A came around the time of the Western Stars film, seemingly a lifetime ago. Just as the music we love changes, so does the world, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Springsteen, however, continues to speak to concerns foremost in our minds, which is why today's piece resonates.

Read: "Bruce Springsteen's Playlist for the Trump Era" by David Brooks

- June 23, 2020 - Jonathan Pont reporting

WATCH THE SEASON FINALE OF MAX'S MEMORIES
Episode 5 of Mighty Max's Monday Memories, posted last night, closes out the first season of Max's limited series. Clear an hour when you can, and watch it here.

The Q&A show was Max's idea, for a fun way to stay connected during the lockdown, and it's been a blast to help host something different like this. We're grateful to him for really putting his heart into the series, for the work and care he put in to make it outstanding (check the quality jump from e2 to e3). And we're grateful, too, for all of the interesting and informed questions from our readers that sparked Max's memories, giving him such a wide array of subjects to take on.

Wrapping this episode, and the first season, the Mighty One says:

We're going to take a hiatus, I'm going to be spending a few weeks actually organizing and scanning a lot of the memorabilia that I've alluded to —  it fills a warehouse! So this will be the last episode for a little while.

But I've enjoyed it, I hope you've enjoyed it. I hope it's given you a laugh and given you some information through these distressing times we've had to live through most recently. Your questions have been great, your comments have been fantastic, your interest has really warmed my heart — to hear from me, because I'm usually at the back of the stage not saying much.

I will be seeing you! For sure. I'll be playing for you again, and talking with you again. Check in with Backstreets, and I'll let them know when we're going to pick this back up, we'll see how we go with it. For now I want to thank you deeply, from the bottom of my E Street heart… thank you very much for tuning in, I will be seeing you on the road somewhere.

You can watch the entire five-episode first season of Mighty Max's Monday Memories on both YouTube and InstagramTV, where all episodes are archived and available to stream.

The askmax(at)backstreets.com mailbox will stay open — if you have a burning question for Mighty Max, send it in! — as we keep fingers crossed for Season 2.
- June 23, 2020


THE LEGEND OF SAN SIRO: HOW ITALY CAME TO LOVE THE BOSS

Guglielmo Latini on the 35th anniversary of Springsteen's first show in "the homeland"
Thirty-five years ago tonight, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed in Italy for the very first time, to a stadium full of fans packed to the top row. Can you describe in detail an event you did not attend? And can you do it for a rock concert, which usually makes sense only if it's lived, rather than inherited as a historical event, or a memory? An event for which the typical phrase, to be waved like a pennant, is "I was there"?

Regardless, the concert that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed on June 21, 1985 at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan — also known as San Siro — deserves celebration even by people like me who couldn't attend (I must admit, I wasn't yet born in 1985). That's because it represented the beginning of the love affair between Bruce and Italy — his first in what he'll call "the homeland," the first in a long series of memorable concerts at the San Siro stadium, and the official founding of the Italian fan community.

If you ask an Italian rock fan for a Top 5 list of concerts by international artists ever held in Italy, they'll probably mention Pink Floyd in Venice in 1989; Bob Marley in Milan in 1980; the last concert by Patti Smith before she retired, in Florence, 1979; the Rolling Stones in Turin in 1982, on the evening of the World Cup victory. And then, you can be sure, there will be Springsteen in '85 at San Siro.

One must remember that during the 1970s, most international artists had avoided Italy because of its political turmoil, with self-appointed revolutionaries violently protesting against ticket prices and police using smoke bombs on arena floors.

That shifted in 1980, as the famous San Siro stadium, which primarily hosted soccer games, held the first concert in its long history: one of the last by Bob Marley before his death, and likely the most well-attended of his performance career.

By 1985, it was time for full Bossmania — Springsteen was everywhere, a global superstar. But before he'd played a note in Italy, Bruce had been the darling of a few Italian connoisseurs, a tribe who gathered around do-it-yourself magazines such as Il Mucchio Selvaggio.

In April 1981, these die-hards went to Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland, the concert closest to Italy, geographically, on The River Tour. They traveled by bus, by car, by hitchhiking, in order to see with their own eyes whether what they had read in the magazines was true.

For those waiting for Springsteen to play Italy, rumors began to fly at the beginning of 1985, and on May 7 it was official: Bruce would be coming to perform in Milan, for one date, on June 21. Tickets would go on sale less than a month prior, on May 24, and by May 31 the newspapers announced the enormous stadium was sold out.

At this point the Italian newspapers began to feel "Springsteen fever," sensing that the event would be big; articles by music critics appeared everywhere, to "explain" who this American rocker is.

The opinions were generally supportive and admiring, even from unsuspecting voices such as L'Unità, the press organ of the (very strong) Italian Communist Party, which declared: "James Dean, the Outsiders, the first Presley: all the symbols and myths of a candid and outlandish, naive and defeated America, and precisely for this reason antithetical to the glorious arrogance of the richest and most powerful country in the world, are continuously recycled and repurposed by Springsteen".

Springsteen arrived in Italy on Wednesday June 19, after a date in Munich, and was welcomed in Malpensa by none other than Donatella Versace, who together with her brother Gianni hosted him in the villa of the fashion designer on Lake Como.

Then came June 21.

It is the summer solstice, the air in Milan is hot, and by dawn, youngsters began to gather outside the stadium. And because the tickets are not numbered or divided into sections, it is completely first-come, first-served. The audience is, officially, 65,000-strong.

Several well-known names are seen in the stands: among others, the mayor of Milan, politicians, Italian pop stars, soccer players, and such fashion designers as Versace, Valentino, and Fiorucci.

At 7:32 pm, an unthinkable time for a concert (given that the sun is still high), Bruce and the E Street Band take the stage, welcomed by the immense roar of San Siro. Bruce himself recalls this very moment in his autobiography:

We walked down its damp, dim, gladiatorial tunnels with the distant ear-shredding sound of eighty thousand Italians rising, louder and louder, until we broke onto the sunlit field. A cheer rose that sounded like we'd just returned from the Crusades with our vanquished enemies' heads held high on the necks of our guitars (or perhaps we were just about to be fed to the lions).

Walking amid the thunder toward the ramp leading to stage front, I noticed an entire section of empty seats. Our promoter at my side, I said, "I thought the show was sold out." He answered, "It is. Those seats are for the people who are going to break in!' Got it. And so they did.

We hung huge video screens on the outside of the stadium to satisfy those unable to attend, but that only held them for a little while. Gates were rushed, security was breached, and soon all "seats" were full, and then some.

I stood in front of the mind-bending hysteria I'd come to realize passes for a normal reaction from an Italian audience as women blew kisses and cried, men cried and blew kisses, and all pledged undying love and beat their hearts with their fists. Some grew faint. We hadn't even started playing yet!

When the band crashed into "Born in the U.S.A.," world's end seemed near; the stadium shook and swayed as we played for our lives. Marone!

When the "One, two… one-two-three-four!" that precedes "Born in the U.S.A." resounded in the stadium, the spark with Italy was struck. Thirty-five years later we are lucky enough to get an idea thanks to the audio bootlegs (which are easily found on the Internet) and a video made from the field now on YouTube.

Springsteen does not immediately reveal a special kinship with the Italian public, playing "Badlands," "Out in the Street," "Johnny 99," "Atlantic City," "The River," "Working on the Highway," "Trapped," and "Prove It All Night."

By the tenth song, however, things change: it is "Glory Days," which had come out as a single 20 days before; here, Springsteen starts with an introduction based on a call-and-response with the audience that proves to be more than up to the task, such that he exclaims a very Italian "Fantastico!"

Then, again, he unexpectedly uses Italian to dedicate "My Hometown" "from my hometown to your hometown."

Now there is chemistry, and the next songs show it: during "Thunder Road," the audience is perfectly ready to sing its part, and later, the same with "Hungry Heart." Still more unexpected from the Italian audience is the fact that Bruce will pick up a girl from the front and dance with her on "Dancing in the Dark": it's not fiction, it really happens!

"Because the Night," which the Italian public already loves from the Patti Smith version, is a very welcome surprise, and even more so is "Backstreets," performed only five times that year (it even includes a spoken interlude resembling the old "Sad Eyes" segment of 1978).

Then, there is only room for sheer delirium: the drama is over, the reputation as a spotless hero is saved, and a 15-minute "Rosalita" is exactly what it takes to send the audience into rapture. Bruce yells, "Rosie, come out tonight, I'm looking for some amore!"

The most touching moment came just after, when Bruce took a moment to thank the "very faithful Italian fans" for "supporting our band in the years when we didn't come here." As he says it, he seems to regret past absences, as if he had realized that he's missed something remarkable. Then, with voice, guitar and piano, he starts "Can't Help Falling In Love," which is illuminated by thousands of lighters in a completely dark stadium.

Then, in a moment, San Siro is brightly lit as "Born to Run" starts, the eternal anthem of every aimless wanderer; as you can see from the video, the audience has not lost an ounce of energy.

A guitar riff carved in the tablets of the rock 'n' roll announces "Twist and Shout," but the masterstroke is not from Bruce: after a few minutes, it is the Italians, who spontaneously start a chorus that in an instant involves all 65,000. Here, you notice the power of the Milanese audience: they do the show themselves — it's a total communion.

After 18 minutes of sing-along, Bruce now ventures into promises in Italian: "Grazie, thank you, we love you, goodbye. We'll be back to see you." The choirs, however, do not stop, it's all "Bruce-Bruce-Bruce"; the Boss decides to reward the loyalty with a final encore, "Rockin 'All Over the World."

It is 11:20 pm, and almost four hours have passed since the beginning; 65,000 people have just lived an experience for which they will say "I was there" for the rest of their lives.

With not even time for fans to get out of the stadium, Bruce is already away, to Montpellier by private jet. Before embarking, a newspaper reported that he said: "I will never forget Milan, it was the warmest audience I have ever met."

Those words sound standard for a rock star, repeated in every city, but this time it is not like that at all. San Siro will truly remain in Bruce's heart, and he will prove it in the decades that followed. Eighteen years and 22 concerts will occur in other Italian locations. But in 2003 the complete E Street Band will return to the consecrated field of the San Siro, and one of the most exciting moments of the concert, source of infinite pride for every Italian fan, will be the one in the middle of "Growin' Up," in which Springsteen launches into an interlude spoken completely in Italian, and says:

"Here I am, in Milan, in 1985, and for the first time I played in Italy. Thousands of Italians fans: all crazy, very crazy! Shouting: 'Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!' [and he pronounces it 'Broo-che', making fun of some Italians' pronunciation]. It's nice to be back home; we grew up together. Thank you."

There will be San Siro 2008, and again in 2012 (for the first time without Clarence Clemons). In 2013 a spectacular entrance awaited Bruce, in which fans return the love with choreography, including an enormous sign that says "Our love is real" — it is worth enjoying the incredulous and moved look on Springsteen's face when he climbs the stairs of the stage to see an audience so invested with affection.

At the end of the concert, Bruce grew more explicit: "Ever since I was a little kid, I have played in many places. But this place here is the one I will never forget, which is always with me. And you, you are always with me."

June 21, 1985 was not only the date of a concert, but the birth of a community, a type of person, a faith: the Italian Springsteen fan, a passionate and genuine rocker, united by a visceral brotherhood with fellow fans, like scattered believers of the same creed.

For 35 years, that community born in the summer solstice will always be faithful, treating Springsteen not as a vacant pop idol but as an older brother we never had, a travel companion, a friend, one who deserves eternal dedication.

That flame has not gone out: after all, we were all in San Siro. The best gift would be a DVD of that special day, maybe to complement a Born in the U.S.A. reissue. In the meantime, YouTube is still there.

An Italian-language version of this piece can be found here.
- June 21, 2020 - Guglielmo Latini reporting


CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY WITH A NEW ONE FROM NILS

Not only are we wishing a happy Fathers Day to all the cool rockin' daddies out there, but a very happy birthday to Nils Lofgren, too. Born June 21, 1951 and turning 69 today, Nils has been a professional musician for 52 years now, since the age of 17.

And as any E Street fan knows, he's still going strong. Check out this brand new release, a wonderful interpretation of Willie Nile's "All God's Children" (from his 2018 album Children of Paradise), complete with choir. It's an advance taste of a forthcoming tribute album for another guy who's been around a while.

Nils' take on "All God's Children" kicks off Willie Nile Uncovered: Celebrating 40 Years of Music, which will also include contributions from Graham Parker, Elliott Murphy, Dan Bern, Jen Chapin and more, covering 26 of Willie's songs. The 2CD set is due August 21, 2020, from Parardiddle Records.

As quoted by American Songwriter, Nils writes of his contribution:

I've been listening to Willie’s edgy, soulful rock 'n' roll for decades. Willie's always delivered. When asked to sing a track for this wonderful compilation I was sure my first song choice had to have been taken. I was thrilled the brilliant, "All God’s Children" was still available for me to record. A song of hope for the ages, more poignant now then ever as our entire human race strives for equality and peace, through a startling and collective insanity of hellish greed and moral corruption. I'm joined by a joyous choir to revel in this universal cry of hope for all. So raise your voices! We’re All God's Children! Believe, Nils

We believe. And we're sending out best wishes to Nils and Amy for a good day in the midst of the insanity. Same to all the fathers, too!
- June 21, 2020 - photograph by Jerry Frishman

RECAP: FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, VOLUME 6
"Down to the River to Pray"
This year marks the first presidential election year in Bruce Springsteen's entire performing history in which he hasn't been on tour. Going all the way back to 1972, when he played a benefit for George McGovern, Springsteen has been on stage with something to say each time the highest national contest has rolled around. Until 2020.

But thanks to his From My Home to Yours radio show on SiriusXM, Springsteen is still able to speak to the times — perhaps more than ever — and to the Man at the Top:

I'm going to start out by sending one to the man behind the Resolute desk. With all respect, sir: show some consideration and care for your countrymen and your country. Put on a fucking mask.

The long-distance dedication that followed was Bob Dylan's "The Disease of Conceit," from 1989's Oh Mercy. After it played, Bruce highlighted and paraphrased the final lines: "If your delusions of grandeur give you the idea you're too good to die, they'll bury you from your head to your feet from the disease of conceit."

Bruce continued bemoaning the lack of leadership from the top:

It is the responsibility of those who lead us to inhabit the nexus where our national, political, and spiritual lives meet.

The United States of America is ultimately a nation of souls. In times of historic calamity, and tragedy, it is necessary for our leaders to administer not only to our social needs, but to the union of souls that is our common citizenry. To tend to our wounds, both physical and psychic, and speak to the strength and fears of our national family.

This intuitive view of what leadership should offer, combined with Bruce's ability to administer to a union of souls, may be why a kernel of seriousness has always hovered near calls for "Springsteen for President." The above could easily double as a mission statement for Volume 6, in which Bruce himself inhabits that nexus: of the national, the political, and the spiritual.

To dwell solely on the political would be to miss the main thrust of Volume 6, which leaned most on the spiritual: it was a memorial service, or as he called it, "a rock 'n' roll requiem."

"Welcome welcome welcome," Springsteen began (suggesting that he, too, watches Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) as he introduced the new set by revealing that it replaced another he had already recorded.

May you lay your personal burdens down for a moment and join us in the next hour for some music that I hope will lighten those burdens as well as administer, ever so slightly, to your good soul.

Now, I had another show prepared for broadcast this week, on this strange and eventful summer. But with 100,000-plus Americans dying over the last few months, and the empty, shamed response from our leaders, I've been simply pissed off. Those lives deserve better than just being inconvenient statistics for our president's reelection efforts. It's a national disgrace.

So instead of celebrating the joys of summer, we will be contemplating our current circumstances with the coronavirus, and the cost that it has drawn from our nation. We will be calculating what we've lost, sending prayers for the deceased and the families they've left behind.

Springsteen mourned "souls who have passed away due to the coronavirus." Throughout the show, he recited names, sharing something special about each one (being "known for friendliness" on the same level as another's professional achievement), and where they lived.

At intervals, the list went on, becoming a moving glimpse into so many lost lives as he paid tribute to departed husbands, wives, pet rescuers, bond traders, 9/11 first responders, transgender immigrant activists, police officers, stamp collectors, photographers, health care workers, Jersey Shore music fans, stock-car engineers, salsa and ballroom dance enthusiasts.

"God bless them all."

From beginning to end, Springsteen used "Down to the River to Pray," the song that gives this volume its title, as a motif to accompany these prayers (opening with a John Paul Jones version). He also segued into one of his own recordings, "Dream Baby Dream," dedicated "to the memory of the late Alan Vega, and his late band Suicide." First performed by Springsteen 15 years ago, the musical mantra sounded as bittersweet, ethereal, uplifting, and, well, heavenly as it ever has — a fitting soundtrack to this haunting roll call.

Most names were not famous in the wider world, but a few were known to many of us: "John Prine, 73, Nashville, Tennessee. American songwriter.... Adam Schlesinger, 52, of great New Jersey band Fountains of Wayne."

"May they rest in peace."

So this series of names became a ritual we all observed through the hour — which helped fill a void that Springsteen described:

One of the most heart-rending aspects of these deaths is that the virus has stolen from us our rituals. Our funerals, our wakes, our house meetings with family after the burial. Our ability to stand by our loved ones, to touch them, to kiss them as they pass, to look into their eyes and let them physically know how we loved them — this is the cruelty of this disease. To say our last goodbyes to our loved ones by phone, and then to return home, alone, to an empty house.

It is a heartbreaking and lonely death, for those afflicted and for those left behind to pick up the pieces.

Now, when my father died, my close friends and my brother-in-law, we stood in the graveyard, in the midst of our large family, and we took shovels and we buried my father ourselves. It meant a great, great, great deal to me. And it's a memory I'll cherish as long as I live. The importance of that ritual. And to stand with my loved ones on the burying ground.

That personal memory led into a wonderful gospel performance by Sensational Nightingales, "Burying Ground" being one of many fitting song selections in the gospel vein. Namechecking "incredible" lead vocalist Julian Cheeks, Springsteen added that "the greatest singing, in my opinion, is in gospel music. There is no more passionate and raw emotive singing in the world."

Springsteen returned to gospel throughout the set, raving over Sam Cooke's records with the Soul Stirrers, speaking of Ugandan writer Annie Masembe (she wrote the words for "Woyaya," which lyrically evokes his own "Rocky Ground"), digging back to 1966 for the Consolers single "Too Late."

The playlist remains diverse — plenty of "old white men" are here, too: Neil Young with "a beautiful prayer," Johnny Cash in apocalyptic mode, CCR's evergreen "Who'll Stop the Rain," and Dylan going six for six. But they share the hour with an "immortal" keystone track from Marvin Gaye, spoken word from Barack Obama, and the "stunning" baritone of New Jerseyan Paul Robeson. While the Black Lives Matter movement is of course at the forefront of national attention, never once does Bruce's inclusion of black voices feel pandering. This is simply the sonic water he swims in.

Springsteen has been a vocal fan of Tupac Shakur for decades; the earlier Volume 2 included "Dear Mama." Today Bruce reached for the late rapper again to mark this moment with "Changes," which samples Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" and includes these resonant lines:

We gotta make a change
It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes
Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live
And let's change the way we treat each other
You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do
What we gotta do, to survive

If anyone wondered about Springsteen's range as a music enthusiast, From My Home to Yours continues to tour an expansive wheelhouse. Soon after 2Pac, Bruce is jumping back a century for some history of Blind Willie McTell ("and I think Bob Dylan was right," the DJ added, connecting a dot to Volume 5, "when he says no one sings the blues quite like that").

Today's biggest jawdropper may have been a track from Fugazi, the legendary, iconoclastic, post-hardcore punk band out of DC. Not only was the selection a blast of a wake-up call after "Dream Baby Dream," it bore a perfect title: "Give Me the Cure." Springsteen introduced it like so:

Real illness is frightening, and make no mistake about it, these are frightening times. The footage from inside some of the ERs that we've seen should be enough to convince you to stay safe, behave responsibly, and heed the warning of your medical professionals. The souls intubated, struggling for each breath, are a testament to the deadliness of this virus, and to the bravery of our front-line doctors, nurses, and health care professionals.

Our health care professionals who willingly put themselves in harm's way, risking their own lives for others, deserve some special dispensation in heaven and here on Earth. We owe them our eternal thanks.

Springsteen played a portion of a 2014 speech from President Obama regarding pandemic preparedness, as delivered to the National Institutes of Health on December 2, 2014. As part of his remarks, Obama said, "There may and likely will come a time in which we have an airborne disease that is deadly. And in order for us to deal with that effectively, we have to put in place an infrastructure — not just here at home, but globally — that allows us to see it quickly, isolate it quickly, respond to it quickly." This was six years ago, Obama pushing for "emergency funding to fight Ebola and to set up some of the public health infrastructure that we need to deal with potential outbreaks in the future."

Meant to draw a contrast with current leadership? You bet. The political returned to the fore as the episode drew to a close, Springsteen's concerns coming right back down to Earth in this election year. Johnny Cash's "momentous" recording of "The Man Comes Around" led to a call for action:

He is warning us that Judgement Day is coming. The election is only months away. VOTE! God help us all — vote, before it's too late.…

American citizens, unite. Your country needs you, your countrymen need your care and compassion. And this is our moment. Until we meet again, stay safe, stay strong, mask up! And go in peace.

We do hope that summer-themed episode makes it out of the can and onto the satellite airwaves. But given the power of Volume 6, and the pandemic's increasing death toll, Bruce was right: the joys of summer can wait.

Visit the SiriusXM blog for the schedule of repeat broadcasts for the week to come on E Street Radio.

Playlist:

  1. John Paul Jones - "Down to the River to Pray"
  2. Bob Dylan - "Disease of Conceit"
  3. Neil Young - "When God Made Me"
  4. The Sensational Nightingales - "Burying Ground"
  5. The Brazz Brothers - "Woyaya" (live)
  6. Bruce Springsteen - "Dream Baby Dream"
  7. Fugazi - "Give Me the Cure"
  8. Barack Obama addresses the NIH, 12/2/14
  9. Marvin Gaye - "What's Going On"
  10. 2Pac - "Changes"
  11. Paul Robeson - "Deep River"
  12. Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Who'll Stop the Rain"
  13. Blind Willie McTell - "Lay Some Flowers on My Grave"
  14. Johnny Cash - "The Man Comes Around"
  15. The Consolers - "Too Late"
  16. York College Concert Choir - "Down to the River to Pray"

- June 17, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


LAND OF HOPE AND STREAMS
New on Wednesday: Vol 6 of Bruce's biweekly DJ show, and Joe Grushecky with a Season Finale

After Volume 5 responded so powerfully to these times, garnering kudos from the likes of Esquire, Bruce Springsteen's biweekly DJ set returns tomorrow with Volume 6.

The new set comes with an episode title: "Down to the River to Pray" (as Volume 5 has, in places, been called "American Skin.") There's also been a slight change to the series title — now From My Home to Yours — that mirrors the personal and direct feel of show.

To hear "Volume 6: Down to the River to Pray," tune in to E Street Radio, SiriusXM channel 20, on Wednesday, June 17 at 10am ET.

Tomorrow night, Joe Grushecky — who has been livestreaming weekly performances during the COVID-19 lockdown — brings Season 1 of his Live From Joe's Place series to a close. Watch on Wednesday, June 17 at 8pm ET, via Facebook or Instagram.
- June 16, 2020

WE ACTUALLY LOOK FORWARD TO MONDAYS NOW
It's Monday, and a new episode of Mighty Max's Monday Memories is out!

Spend another hour or so with Max Weinberg as he addresses questions from Backstreets readers, drawn at random from his River/Born in the U.S.A. floor tom-tom. Today Max talks about the E Street Band breakup, Suki Lahav, electric Nebraska, and much more; thoughtful, expansive answers to great questions — continued thanks to everybody sending them in. Here's the brand-new Episode 4:

If you've missed any previous episodes, you can catch up Mighty Max's Monday Memories on both YouTube and InstagramTV, where all episodes are archived and available to stream.

And if you've got more questions, Max has more answers — keep them coming our way, to askmax(at)backstreets.com.
- June 15, 2020


A MIDSOMMAR NIGHT'S DREAM BABY DREAM
New Live Archive release is solo in Stockholm 2005
Bruce Springsteen's 2005 stop in Stockholm, Sweden fell on June 25, or midsommardagen,which is the day after midsommarafton, the night when young people get drunk and try to find someone to love. When you are a bit older, the romance part might be harder to find, but a significant part of the audience probably had a headache earlier in the day. Since Bruce had spent midsommarafton locally, one can imagine he might have been sleeping in, too.

Either way, the date created a huge problem for many, not unlike telling your family you wouldn't visit for Thanksgiving because Springsteen was playing. Lots of people were already traveling, to see relatives or for summer vacation. Many from Stockholm who couldn't make this show traveled to see earlier stops in Copenhagen or Gothenburg instead.

Now, whether previously off with family, getting over the previous night's merriment, or just a fan of Springsteen's acoustic performances, one can listen to Stockholm 2005. It's the fourth Live Archive series release from that year's solo tour, both its earliest one and first pick from Europe, too. The 26-song set features eight from Devils & Dust and the hopscotch between instruments that was a hallmark of the tour.

Springsteen was equally active in moving around the songbook: after about a half-dozen shows that summer, tour premieres became a nightly feature. Stockholm features four, including "Downbound Train" at the outset, "Across the Border," "Walk Like a Man," and "Blinded By the Light."

Hovet is the same venue where Springsteen played for two legendary nights in 1981 with the E Street Band (famously bootlegged as Follow That Dream and Teardrops on the City). Then named Johanneshovs Isstadion, it had since been replaced by Globen as the main indoor venue for big shows.

Hovet's smaller confines made it more fitting for this solo concert and warranted the first instance of a local two-ticket limit (each showed the buyer's name, which was confirmed upon entry).

Had two shows in Germany not been rescheduled, Stockholm would have been the last 2005 show of the European leg, another echo of 1981: those two shows here were the last on the continent before Springsteen and the E Street Band toured the U.K.

The first song of the night "Downbound Train," played on the pump organ, was a tour premiere and also likely a request. The guy shouting "thank you so much" just before the applause as the song ends sure sounds like someone grateful for such a thing.

The bullet-mic version of "Reason to Believe" follows, then the show settles in with tunes from the album, and a nice version of "Empty Sky" mixed in. The first piano song, a great version of the always welcome "The Promise," fits right in as well.

"Part Man, Part Monkey" is not nearly as well known as other frequently played non-album songs like "Because the Night," "Fire," or "Light of Day." Still, Springsteen has consistently included it on two separate tours, one full band (1988) and one solo, so it seems to be important to him. The Devils & Dust tour gave Springsteen a chance to revisit a great number of such songs that had languished in the catalog during the E Street outings of the previous six years.

Like the original River shows, the Devils & Dust era featured much oratory, too; whether due to the rock 'n' roll structure or sheer choice, the Reunion and Rising tours didn't find Spingsteen talking much to the audience. Here, he takes many opportunities to speak, whether setting up new songs ("Long Time Comin'," "Black Cowboys," "Jesus Was an Only Son"), honoring a birthday request ("Point Blank"), or making light of one for "The Promise" (from a fan in the hotel steam room). Before the tour premiere of "Blinded By the Light," Springsteen talks about his experience with the midsummer celebrations, then coaxes the crowd to sing a bit of the Swedish snapsvisa (drinking song) "Helan Går."

A personal highlight is "Point Blank." Bruce questions its suitability as a birthday request, noting that it's a "strange song to want, but hey, it's your birthday, it's not my birthday." To me, this arrangement sounds closer to the original 1978 version than any later one; the electric piano adds haunted beauty.

Stockholm features one of only two performances ever of "Walk Like a Man" beyond the Tunnel of Love tour, in its only European outing ever. "I wrote this after I was married the first time," Springsteen says. "Maybe that's why I let it go." Too bad, since it's a beautiful version.

I happened to be in Chicago when Springsteen added "Dream Baby Dream" as the final song, a position it would keep until the end of the tour. There was no hint as to what it was. Was it an original or a cover? No one in Chicago seemed to know. Before smartphones, it took until the next day to find information on the web. By Stockholm, it seemed a necessary conclusion of any Devils & Dust show.

As I remember, I quite liked this show at the time. Listening to a great example of the European Devils & Dust tour, I think I enjoy it even more now. Bruce always enjoys his visits to Sweden; this is the third Swedish and fifth Nordic archive release (take that Italy and Spain :-))

Ten of the 26 songs get their first release from the Devils & Dust tour. Eight of the 26 have been included on all four releases so far. Each of the four tour premieres ("Downbound Train," "Across the Border," "Walk Like a Man," and "Blinded by the Light") appeared only a handful of times; this marks the first 2005 release for each. "Maria's Bed" and "Silver Palomino" are the last live songs from the album yet to be released.

Also read: Erik Flannigan's latest nugs.net blog entry, "He Who Doesn't Get the Whole, Doesn't Get the Half Either"

- June 12, 2020 - Johan Bjernick reporting


THROWBACK THURSDAY: "EVERYTHING I DO" AT 25
Springsteen and Elliott Murphy teamed up for duet a quarter-century ago

It was 25 years ago this month that Bruce Springsteen recorded his contribution to "Everything I Do (Leads Me Back To You)," the beautiful Elliott Murphy song that became a Springsteen-Murphy duet and a highlight of Murphy's album Selling the Gold, released in early 1996. "Everything I Do" and Selling the Gold remain available for purchase as digital downloads via iTunes and Amazon.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary, Elliott Murphy was kind enough to film exclusively for Backstreets a new solo acoustic performance of "Everything I Do (Leads Me Back To You)" from his home in Paris.

Before performing the song, Murphy shares with us the history behind its creation — "still one of my proudest achievements" —and how he and Springsteen came to collaborate across an ocean on the recording. Murphy vividly recalls "the first time I heard our voices together" on stage; he also recalls Lucinda Williams' influence on the song and notes that he had to include the parenthetical in the title, to differentiate it from Bryan Adams'. We even see the original DAT demo that Elliott played for Bruce when he proposed the duet.

If you enjoy this couch clip from Elliott, another even longer video is available as a Backstreets-only bonus feature, in which Elliott talks more about his relationship with Springsteen and covers "Better Days." That clip comes free as a Backstreets exclusive with the digital purchase of their latest collaboration, the film Broken Poet

Based on Murphy's 1985 short story "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," the fictional Broken Poet film focuses on a modern-day search for world-famous 1970s rock star Jake Lion, who may — or may not — have killed himself in Paris back in 1974. Murphy co-wrote the film's screenplay with its director, Emilio J. Ruiz, and plays a starring role in the film. The film also features Murphy's longtime friends Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa in cameo roles, playing themselves, and a lot of great Elliott Murphy tunes from various phases of his four-decades-and-counting career.

Read the Backstreets interview with Elliott Murphy about Broken Poet

- June 11, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting


MIGHTY MAX'S MONDAY MEMORIES
RETURNS!
Just released this evening: a brand new episode of Max Weinberg's Monday Memories series, in which his spends some quarantine time answering questions from Backstreets readers. Max's capacity for recall has always been impressive, and this third episode is a full hour of mightiness on as he takes on queries at random, tells stories, and provides lots of insight into his career with and without the E Street Band.

When did Max learn to play the piano?? You'll have to watch to find out...

Mighty Max's Monday Memories streams on both YouTube and InstagramTV.

Continued thanks to so many readers who are sending in compelling questions for Max's show. If there's anything you've ever wondered about, when it comes to the Big Beat on E Street, send your Q to askmax(at)backstreets.com, and we'll make sure it goes in the drum!
- June 8, 2020


I DON'T WANNA CLIP YOUR WINGS, BUT...
Today we're wishing a happy anniversary to Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen, who tied that tie that binds on June 8, 1991. Their partnership continues to impact Springsteen's creative life in countless ways (some we can know and some we can't), right up to his latest release, Western Stars.

As Bruce recently said in a post-screening interview: "Patti brings so much, and we've been together for such a long time — for 30 years — and so that's a lot of experience around that one little microphone. We bring all of that the minute we lean in. Oh my Lord, there's this whole 30 years of emotional life together between us. She's wonderful, and really her presence, even when she's not singing with me, if you dig deep down into the center of the film, she's there."

Hope you'll join us in raising a glass — tequila, if it's an option — to the happy couple.

- June 8, 2020 - stills from Western Stars, streaming now on HBO


TO THE OTHER SIDE: "AMERICAN SKIN," 20 YEARS ON

A look back at Bruce Springsteen's most important song of the 2000s
A thought-provoking question recently came across our Twitter feed: which Bruce Springsteen lyric, no matter how many times you hear it, has the power to choke you up? For us, the consensus is the second verse of "American Skin (41 Shots)":

41 shots . . . Lena gets her son ready for school
She says "On these streets, Charles
You've got to understand the rules
If an officer stops you
Promise me you'll always be polite, that you'll never ever run away
Promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sight"

From a child learning "the rules" in America — different ones due to his skin color, with deadly stakes — to a black mother's deep fears for her son, the stark reality of race in this country comes together in just one verse. Whether live or on tape, it can be agonizing to hear — especially given how fiercely relevant the song remains, two decades on, which is the most agonizing thing of all.

Springsteen has succinctly described the song's intention: "Here is what systemic racial injustice, fear, and paranoia do to our children, our loved ones, ourselves. Here is the price in blood."

"American Skin (41 Shots)" debuted in concert 20 years ago tonight, June 4, 2000, in Atlanta, Georgia. Springsteen's Reunion tour with the E Street Band was on its final swing, and Atlanta was the last stop before a high-profile ten-night stand at Madison Square Garden in New York. There, they performed the new song every night.

Today, in the aftermath of the death-by-police of George Floyd, the protests we see in our streets spring by no means from a single event. The trail of police brutality, racial targeting, and unnecessary deaths has been as plain as it is tragic. You can follow it back, through Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, to name only a few — it's a shockingly continuous list — and back to a young immigrant from Guinea named Amadou Diallou, the unarmed man whose death at the hands of four NYPD officers inspired "American Skin (41 Shots)." And, no doubt, the list reaches into the recesses of history, when fewer cameras could document such killings.

In the decades since "American Skin" appeared, Springsteen has continued to deploy the song in hours of crisis, dedicating a performance to Trayvon Martin, or playing it following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, saxophonist Jake Clemons with his hands up. In 2014, the song clearly felt relevant enough for Springsteen, with Tom Morello, to record a studio version, released on the LP High Hopes.

On the night of its very first performance in Atlanta, we vividly recall the thrill of hearing a brand-new song, slowly tempered by the dawning realization of what Springsteen was singing about. The verses — heard first in a cavernous arena setting — were a bit hard to follow that first time. But the repetition of "41 shots," over and over, absolutely cut through the night and landed with anyone who had followed the story of Amadou Diallo.

We had wondered, after "Land of Hope and Dreams" debuted at the Asbury Park rehearsal shows in 1999, whether Springsteen had any more new material up his sleeve. Why get the band together without another grand, meaningful flourish? Springsteen answered that question in Atlanta 20 years ago tonight, and it echoes to this day.

If "Land of Hope and Dreams" celebrated the E Street Band's rebirth, "American Skin" stood as its conscience. Played first in a city that is synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement, the song distinguished itself on many levels, not the least of which was being denounced by people who hadn't heard it. As a songwriter, that's when you know you're on to something.

One of its triumphs is nuance — a strange thing to state, given the repetition of "41 Shots" throughout, led by Clarence Clemons. But the lyric fully acknowledges difficulties on "both sides" when it comes to encounters between wary police officers and civilians who might pose a threat. A mind races with what is it? A bewildered officer kneels mournfully. In 20 years, have those difficulties hardened into impossibility?

Over the years, we've referred to "American Skin" as Springsteen's Public Service Announcement. It's not inherently anti-police, any more than "Born in the U.S.A." is anti-Vietnamese. It's an elegy and a wake-up call, and if the Springsteen catalog has an empathy three-pack, "American Skin" goes in with "Streets of Philadelphia" and "Matamoros Banks" — empathy is precisely what the characters in those songs need.

Not all would agree, however, that "American Skin" plays up its empathy. That was made clear by denunciating voices and statements, some derogatory and personal, well before Springsteen had counted off the song for a second time. But what on God's green Earth were those officers kneeling to do, if not to pray for the life taken in the course of a few deadly seconds of misunderstanding? From there, it's a brutal leap to Minneapolis, where the image of a kneeling officer takes on something that one can neither unsee nor redeem. Ever.

"American Skin" may not be Springsteen's most misinterpreted song — in fact, there are likely some who understand it just fine and are still outraged by it — but it's the one in his long songwriting career that has sparked the most contention. That's what protest songs do.

In a feature called "The Sound and The Fury" (issue #67, Summer 2000), Backstreets explored the song's initial impact, its bewildering reception, and the controversy that began to play out in the media after Springsteen had performed "American Skin" that first time in Atlanta. Immediately, some reaction against it seemed to smack of just leave well enough alone.

Springsteen's penchant for letting his music speak raised the stakes. He opened his ten-night run at the Garden with another brand-new song, "Code of Silence," a de facto companion track (co-written with Joe Grushecky). "American Skin" also featured that night, and in the other nine that followed as the Reunion tour came to a close. About the only thing Springsteen said? "We need some quiet," toward the end of the run, a moment left intact on Live in New York City.

But the music itself did its job then, as it does now. Episode five of Springsteen's From His Home to Yours program on SiriusXM's E Street Radio is yet another reminder of how powerful and moving that music still is, "American Skin" in particular. And as these tragedies recur, repeated over and over, anyone listening is forced to reckon not only with America's original sin, but also with its ongoing descending and attending ones. Lena shouldn't have to teach Charles those rules. America must repair itself, because Black Lives Matter. Otherwise, the Promised Land is simply a myth.
- June 4, 2020 - Christopher Phillips and Jonathan Pont reporting

FROM HIS HOME TO YOURS, S01 E05
How many rivers do we have to cross before we can talk to the boss?
There really was no other way to begin Volume 5 of Bruce Springsteen: From His Home to Yours than with "American Skin (41 Shots)." In the midst of agonizing unrest in the U.S., Springsteen used his current platform to speak at length to what's going on in our country right now, starting with his elegiac protest song.

"American Skin" was written 20 years ago, but it's never felt as painfully urgent as today.

Eight minutes. That song is almost eight minutes long. And that's how long it took George Floyd to die, with a Minneapolis officer's knee buried into his neck. That's a long time. That's how long he begged for help and said he couldn't breathe; the arresting officer's response was nothing but silence and weight. Then, he had no pulse. And still it went on.

That goes out to Seattle, to New York, to Miami, to Atlanta, to Chicago, to Dallas, to Philadelphia, to Washington, to Los Angeles, to Asbury Park, to Minneapolis, and to the memory of George Floyd. May he rest in peace.

As we speak, 40 million people are unemployed. 100,000-plus citzens have died from COVID-19, with only the most tepid and unfeeling response from our White House. As of today, our black citizens continue to be killed unnecessarily by our police on the streets of America. And as of this broadcast, the country was on fire and in chaos.

The attendant fear and anger and outrage boil over in his own "Murder Incorporated" and Childish Gambino's "This Is America," showing the Boss more than ready to meet this moment head-on. Radio doesn't get much more powerful than this. Five songs with "America" in the title, two with "Murder," and the vast, echoing distance between American promise and American reality reverberates throughout the entire set.

When the politics of paranoia, division, prejudice, intolerance, fear — all that's anthetical to the American idea — hold court in the land, we are in deep trouble, my fellow citizens.

To borrow a line from "The House I Live In," Volume 5 (like so much of Springsteen's work) centers on this question: "What is America to me?"

While previous episodes have provided a glimpse into Springsteen's world in quarantine, there was no time today for a slice of life from the farm. It was an extended meditation on what's going on outside, where the streets are on fire and the death waltz is frighteningly real.

Now, almost 60 years [after the Civil Rights movement], we wake again to an America with burned-out buildings, torched police cars, and shattered shop windows. A cost that we're paying for another half of a century of unresolved, fundamental issues of race. We have not cared for our house very well. There can be no standing peace without the justice owed to every American, regardless of their race, color, or creed. The events of this week have once again proven that out.

This was not a show for any Shut Up and Sing (or Shut Up and Spin) proponents. As Bob Dylan says, "We live in a political world."

Five episodes in, Dylan has been represented in each and every one, this time with three songs. Bruce himself sang on five tracks in the set. Cueing up his most recent collaboration with Joe Grushecky, Springsteen noted: "There are 153 days to our next election. God help us; vote. That's what makes us great." The Grushecky/Springsteen co-write "Idiot's Delight" followed in a previously unheard version in which Bruce fronts the band alone: "a track from our vault, written by Joe and I, and debuted here for the first time" — the first time the DJ has premiered one of his own recordings on this show.

That no prior episode has relied more on Springsteen's music is a reminder that few artists speak so consistently to a moment like this. But From His Home Volume 5 also makes a lot of room for black voices: from Billie Holiday and "the magnificent baritone" of Paul Robeson, to Martin Luther King Jr., to Bob Marley, Kanye West, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, and more. And, lest we forget, Tom Morello and the E Street Band.

From Lady Day, "Strange Fruit":

...one of the darkest songs in the American canon. The video of the death of George Floyd is a 21st century visual lynching. And "Strange Fruit" was written on the lynchings of black Americans that took place after the Reconstruction and into the 20th century. It was recorded in 1939 by Ms. Holiday, and written by Abel Meeropol in 1937. It's just an incredible work....

We remain haunted, generation after generation, by our original sin of slavery. It remains the great unresolved issue of American society. The weight of its baggage gets heavier with each passing generation, and as of this violent, chaotic week on the streets of America, there is no end in sight.

History lessons abound, touching not only on the legacy of slavery and lynching, but McCarthyism, the '60s Civil Rights movement, and the story of 1930's "Brother Can You Spare a Dime."

From a 1963 speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Springsteen selected words of encouragement: "In spite of the difficulties… and we're going to have a few more difficulties... keep climbing! Keep moving — if you can't fly, run! If you can't run, walk! If you can't walk, crawl! But by all means, keep moving."

The Reverend's words remind us to "keep the movement moving." To that end, Springsteen yesterday recommended a list of "75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice" — "something useful if you are looking to be active during these times." And today he reflected further on the forward movement required as history repeats.

We need systemic changes in our law enforcement departments, and in the political will of our national citizenry, to once again move forward the kind of changes that will bring the ideals of the Civil Rights movement once again to life and into this moment.

A hallmark of From His Home to Yours has been a connecting of dots, as Springsteen lines up some edifying two-fers and three-fers each time. He points out that Abel Meeropol wrote the lyrics for both "Strange Fruit" and "The House I Live In." In a fascinating trio, we see a biblical story of oppression and deliverance through three different lenses, as "Go Down Moses" (Paul Robeson) and "Get Down Moses" (Joe Strummer) surround Bruce's own "Heaven's Wall."

But if gospel is where Bruce often turns for hope, this time you've really gotta wait until "People Have the Power," from "the beautiful and powerful poet and rocker, and my sweet friend" Patti Smith. "The people have the power to redeem the work of fools" is as an inspiring lyric as there is. But followed by the full 17 minutes of Dylan's "Murder Most Foul" ("timely and epic"), we get a plaintive reminder that we've always had a long walk home, and it's rarely seemed longer.

We have a choice, between chaos or community. A spiritual, moral, and democratic awakening, or becoming a nation fallen to history, with critical issues we refuse to or couldn't address. Is our American system flexible enough to make — without violence — the humane, fundamental changes necessary for a just society? The American story, our story, is in our hands. And may God bless us all.

Stay safe. Stay well, stay strong, until we meet again, stay involved. And... go in peace.

By turns harrowing and inspiring, certainly an unflinching look at our current crisis, Volume 5 again affirms From His Home to Yours as essential listening for these troubled times. Visit the SiriusXM blog for the schedule of repeat broadcasts for the week to come on E Street Radio.

Playlist:

  1. Bruce Springsteen - "American Skin (41 Shots)" (from High Hopes)
  2. Bruce Springsteen - "Murder Incorporated" (from Live in New York City)
  3. Childish Gambino - "This Is America"
  4. Joe Grushecky & Bruce Springsteen - "That's What Makes Us Great"
  5. Joe Grushecky & Bruce Springsteen - "Idiot's Delight" (Vault Version premiere)
  6. Bob Dylan - "Political World"
  7. Bob Marley & the Wailers - "Burnin' and Lootin'" (live at the Roxy)
  8. Martin Luther King Jr. - "Keep Moving," Birmingham 1963
  9. Kanye West - "Who Will Survive in America"
  10. Kanye West & Jay-Z (with Frank Ocean) - "Made in America"
  11. Paul Robeson - "Go Down Moses"
  12. Bruce Springsteen - "Heaven's Wall"
  13. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - "Get Down Moses"
  14. Thea Gilmore - "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"
  15. Bob Dylan - "Blind Willie McTell"
  16. Billie Holiday - "Strange Fruit"
  17. Nappy Roots - "Work in Progress"
  18. Paul Robeson - "The House I Live In"
  19. Patti Smith - "People Have the Power"
  20. Bob Dylan - "Murder Most Foul"
  21. United States Army Field Band Soldier's Chorus - "America, My Country Tis of Thee"
  22. Gram Parsons - "In My Hour of Darkness"

- June 3, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


VAN ZANDTS TO CORDERO: "LIVE YOUR LIFE"
Broadway star Nick Cordero has been in a coma on and off for the past two months in a Los Angeles hospital with coronavirus and related issues. He has sustained a severe lung infection and kidney damage, and has had one of his legs amputated due to this terrible disease. His loving friends at Renegade Theatre in New York City have just created a video of his beautiful song "Live Your Life" that they are sending out as a tribute to Nick.

Actor/singer Constantine Maroulis, who worked with Nick in the cast of Broadway's Rock of Ages, sings lead on the track. Actor/musician Sammy Semenza, who directed the video, contributes killer lead guitar. Renegade Theatre's Artistic Directors Maureen Van Zandt and Vinny Pastore make cameo appearances. Cordero appeared in a Renegade Theatre production of Pastore's Crazy Horse, which Maureen Van Zandt directed.

Cordero and Pastore appeared together in Bullets Over Broadway in 2014, for which he received a Tony nomination for best featured actor in a musical. Earlier this year, Cordero moved to Los Angeles to star in Rock of Ages.

Steven Van Zandt joined in on vocals and guitar and has been speaking about Cordero's situation every chance he gets. For the past several weeks, he's been playing Nick's recording of "Live Your Life" every day at 6pm EST on his SiriusXM Channel Underground Garage.

"Nicky is one of the most wonderful and talented people we know," said Van Zandt. "With this video we send all our positivity and love to him." Please join us in sharing this video far and wide as a tribute to Nick, and include him in your prayers. There is also a gofundme page to help with his ongoing medical expenses. 
- June 3, 2020 - Holly Cara Price reporting

MIGHTY MAX WILL BE BACK
A different memory for today; regular programming resumes next week

Today's scheduled episode of Mighty Max's Monday Memories has been postponed "in light of the unrest in America." Today, the memory Max most wants to share is this:

…on June 11, 1963, my family and I sat around our little black and white television watching President Kennedy deliver an extraordinary message on civil rights. I hope you can take a moment to watch and reflect on his call for change. His message is so apropos of the times in which we still live. I'll see you next Monday.

If you missed any prior episodes of web series, in which he answers questions from Backstreets readers, you can watch Episode 1 and Episode 2 on YouTube, and stay tuned next week for the third installment.
- June 1, 2020


DRIVE-IN ALL NIGHT WITH THE ASBURY JUKES
Southside concert and Springsteen T-shirt both benefit The Basie

A silver lining to the COVID quarantine has been seeing people get creative, when it comes to how to entertain and how to stay connected. The Count Basie Center for the Arts stikes silver this summer, combining the drive-in movie experience with live music for a drive-in concert, at the Monmouth Park Racetrack.

While Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes won't be able to play their annual July 4 bash this year, they'll be rocking the drive-in one week later as the first event announced by The Basie Presents: Drive-In Live at Monmouth Park, on Saturday July 11 (4pm gates, 6pm show).

Tickets for the concert are $150 per vehicle (with a gold circle option at $250 / $225) and go on sale this coming Friday to the general public. A presale is on now. One might initially recoil at the sticker price, but bear in mind it's per vehicle. Not saying you should stash anyone in the trunk like the old days, but if you're not going solo (four concertgoers per vehicle are allowed) it gets pretty reasonable pretty fast. As The Basie points out, "$37.50- $67.50 a person. Cheapest Southside ticket in the market in years."

Southside says, "The Asbury Jukes and I are so excited that we can play this first of its kind live concert and help get New Jersey started on a quick and healthy return to normal. Why sit at home when 'We’re Havin' a Party,' drive-in style? We'll safely see everyone July 11th."

General onsale is June 5 at 10am, exclusively via Ticketmaster.com and phone charge at 800-745-3000. Only touchless, mobile tickets administered through the Ticketmaster app (iOS | Android) will be valid for these performances. The concert will benefit the Count Basie Center for the Arts, with a portion of the proceeds going to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

For further details, including social distancing measures and guidelines, visit thebasie.org/drivein/

Also benefitting the Count Basie Center for the Arts — which has been shuttered since mid-March due to the pandemic — is this new, limited edition T-shirt.

The Jersey-centric shirt features the Basie Center logo and Garden State silhouette on the front. On the back, inspiring words from Bruce Springsteen that opened his May 6 Bruce Springsteen: From His Home to Yours broadcast on SiriusXM’s E Street Radio, which have since resonated on social media. Springsteen has approved the usage; the T-shirts, priced at $35 + S/H, are available for a limited time at theBASIE.org/springsteen.
- June 1, 2020


LET'S PLAY TWO!
Springsteen's virtual return to Fenway Park for a pair with DKM

Well the Dropkicks had a homecoming at Fenway early last night, and Bruce brought a good dose of the magic.

Local favorites the Dropkick Murphys played a live and livestreamed concert for charity at Boston's old (and empty) ball yard, Streaming Outta Fenway. Our own Mr. Springsteen appeared via remote as a special guest near the end of the show for two songs in a set that lasted just under two hours, counting the videos and appearances by some of Boston's most well-known Dropkick fans.

Boston's big-hearted Celtic punk badasses were in particularly fine form in one of their favorite venues. Lead singer Ken Casey was his usual ball of fire. The band was locked in, despite the requisite social distancing that had Casey's bandmates spread throughout the infield. This is the crew that brought us a re-written "Tessie" at the request of Red Sox brass during the summer of 2004; immediately after the single's release, Casey brashly declared that the Sox would end their World Series drought that season (they did, then won three more).

The Dropkick Murphys have a long history in the Springsteen universe, so this pairing was welcome but not unusual. In 2011, Bruce joined them for "Peg O' My Heart" on record and on stage. Before that, guitarist Tim Brennan famously proposed to his girlfriend onstage during a Boss blowout at the TD Garden in April of 2009 before the band took up temporary residence on E Street for a rollicking "American Land."

"American Land" featured again last night, with Bruce joining the fun from somewhere in Jersey, beaming in on the Fenway Jumbotron for the second song in their shared set (a Double Play, as it was termed in advance: "one of ours and one of his").

Their first Jumbotron pairing was a note-perfect rendition of the Dropkicks' classic "Rose Tattoo." Bruce previously shared vocals with the group in a 2013 recording of that song, re-released on a charity EP after the Boston Marathon bombing. Predictable? Maybe, especially since Casey name-dropped the songs Bruce would play in Variety during a pre-show interview, but it worked because of great chemistry and flawless technology.

The sound was terrific despite the distance between the band members. Bruce's appearance was a true duet despite his playing in a roomful of guitars a few hundred miles away. This was a genuine concert experience, and it was clear that Casey and company had gone all-out to make it an evening to remember. The Dropkicks had memorable cuts as well, including a gorgeous cover of "Amazing Grace" and a beautiful take of their own "Shipping Up to Boston."

But Bruce threatened to steal the show, and Casey seemed to know it, shouting, "You're making us look old! What are you? 50?" after "Rose Tattoo." It evoked Bruce's memorable 1997 romp with The Wallflowers at the MTV music awards. That Springsteen performance — Bruce completely takes over "One Headlight" — left Jakob Dylan looking befuddled, perhaps wondering how he'd lost control of his best-known classic.

The Boston area has been without a Springsteen show since the memorable September, 2016 River Tour-ender at Gillette Stadium, a four-hour-plus masterpiece that the late great Obie Dziedzic pronounced the best E Street show she had ever seen. So this was a welcome, well-executed diversion in the middle of a global pandemic, and both Springsteen and the Dropkick Murphys were fully up to, and into, the moment.

The livestream has been archived, so you can watch the entire performance on YouTube (the Double Play follows "Dirty Water" at about the 1:55 mark) or dkmstream.com, where you can also pick up merch and/or donate to the cause, benefitting Boston Resiliency Fund, Habitat For Humanity and Feeding America.

Setlist:
Rose Tattoo (with Dropkick Murphys)
American Land (with Dropkick Murphys)

- May 30, 2020 - Adam Hurtubise reporting - photograph via @RedSox


HOW TO WATCH SPRINGSTEEN WITH DKM TONIGHT
Hope you've already walked the dog, looked for a job, called ya mutha, made some suppa, and taken out the gahbage… because tonight's the night!

Dropkick Murphys are ready to stream outta Fenway in a matter of hours, with special (remote) guest Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen will be joining the band via Jumbotron for a "Double Play" — one of their songs and one of his.

If you don't mind a spoiler, the band's Ken Casey revealed to Variety which two to expect.

Streaming Outta Fenway begins at 6pm ET —  which as they helpfully point out is 3pm PT, 11pm in Dublin, midnight in Berlin, and 8am in Sydney.

Tune in to watch the simulcast worldwide via...

For just the audio, you can listen live on E Street Radio, SiriusXM Ch 20, which will also air additional DKM interview and guest DJ segments.

Streaming Outta Fenway will be a "full electric" performance from the infield dirt and a benefit fundraiser for three charites: Boston Resiliency Fund, Habitat For Humanity and Feeding America. You can pitch in by texting “DONATE” to 404-994-3559, or online here.

Event merch is also now on sale.

- May 29, 2020 - photograph via @FenwayPark


PARADISE IS WHERE I'LL BE: MARK BARKAN, 1934-2020
Let's take a moment to mark the passing earlier this month of an artist who had a small but significant role in Springsteen history: Legendary songwriter Mark Barkan died on May 8 at his home in NYC, at the age of 85. While Barkan was by no means a one-hit wonder, he's probably best known to Springsteen fans as the composer of a song that Bruce has returned to again and again in concert since 1975: the classic "Pretty Flamingo."

Barkan had a long, varied career in the world of popular music outside of Bruce's fave about a girl whose "hair glows like the sun." Born in Brooklyn, Barkan got his start working in the Brill Building in the early 1960's, where his songs were recorded by some of the top pop artists of the day: Connie Francis, Nat King Cole, Paul Anka, Gene Pitney, and Lesley Gore all had success with Barkan's songs. He went on to co-write several songs that appeared in Elvis films in the 1960s.

The success of "Pretty Flamingo" in 1966 ensured Barkan's place in history —versions by Manfred Mann, Rod Stewart, and, of course, Bruce make that a given — as did numerous, classic recordings of his other songs by leading lights like Dusty Springfield, Chuck Jackson, Sonny and Cher, and others. But this writer will always remember him fondly for writing (with Ritchie Adams) "The Tra-La-La Song" for The Banana Splits — a song I can still sing start to finish decades after the first time I heard it — along with other favorites from my childhood like "Melody Hill" by the Archies.

Mark's daughter, Bridget Barkan, writes on her Facebook page that the songs her father "was writing in the last year were so introspective, too. I look forward to finding ways to share them for the rest of my days." And we here at Backstreets HQ look forward to hearing them. 
- May 27, 2020 - John Howie Jr. reporting


SAME MAX DAY, NEW MAX CHANNEL
Watch Episode 2 now!

Today's the day for the second episode of Max Weinberg's new show, Mighty Max's Monday Memories. For this limited series, we've been collecting questions for Max from Backstreets readers, which he then draws and answers at random from his Ludwig tom-tom.

The first episode debuted last week on Instagram; Max has now added his YouTube channel as a venue for the series, so you can choose which you prefer. Episode 1 is now viewable on both, and as of this afternoon, you can also watch the brand new Episode 2 — another entertaining and enlightening check-in with Max during lockdown and a must-watch for E Street fans:

Enjoy, keep sending your questions for the Mighty One to askmax@backstreets.com for future episodes, and happy Memorial Day!
- May 25, 2020


photograph by Gary Glade, courtesy of Wesley Stace

KNOW YOUR RITES
Five new Boss covers and more Springsteeniana from Wes Stace

Wesley Stace has already been on our minds, as some wonderful video footage recently surfaced from a special Springsteen event he moderated ten years ago.

This past week, the Artist Sometimes Known as John Wesley Harding took that ball and ran with it, for five days of social media postings presented as The Rites of Springsteen.

To zoom out a sec, there are several notable JWH moments in Springsteen history: the 2010 WAMFest event mentioned above, a live surprise duet of "Wreck on the Highway" at the tiny McCabe's Guitar Shop in 1994, and an extremely rare opening slot for Springsteen the following year on the Tom Joad tour. Stace also contributed an essay to the recent Long Walk Home anthology and covered "Jackson Cage" on One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen. As part of the Rites, he posted clips, clippings, photographs and more on Facebook.

The summit at McCabe's "happened to be extremely well documented," Stace writes, "because by total coincidence we were making a video for Cupid and Psycho that night. So there was filming. McCabes photographer, Gary Glade, was also there to take a portrait of me (as I remember) and so there were photos too." [One is above, more are here.] The 1994 live duet has been officially released on several titles, including as a bonus track on his Awake album.

As part of the week's postings, Wes added to the extant McCabe's documentation, posting unearthed Super 8 footage of the "Wreck" duet (he offers additional notes about it here)

The Rites of Springsteen brought unseen performance video from WAMFest as well, when he and Bruce revisted "Wreck on the Highway" together some 16 years later:

Despite all the historical "Springsteeniana" from his collection (he's been "having a bit of a clean-up," like many of us) the Rites of Springsteen wasn't just a look back — each day of the week, Wes also offered up a brand new cover of a Bruce Springsteen song as suggested by fans.

These Rites have been concluded, now the Rites may be observed:

MONDAY: "I'm on Fire"
"I've never played 'I'm on Fire' before this morning (at least in any vaguely official capacity) but it's always been a favourite. (And if you play Born in the U.S.A. on 45RPM, it sounds just like Dolly Parton.)"

TUESDAY: "Brilliant Disguise"
"I love this song so much. This was the first and only time I've played it the whole way through in my life. Fact."

WEDNESDAY: "Racing in the Street"
"There are simply no words to say how much I love this song, despite the fact that it might as well have been written in a foreign language when I first heard it. This song spoke loud to me and I remember reading about it in Dave Marsh's book. I never tried to play it before and it was an ambitious one to do. And I present it to you here."

THURSDAY: "Bobby Jean"
"I love this song so much.... And it's kinda like a John Prine song, right? It's such a killer tune, simple great lyric, and that weird D7 is the folkiest chord ever.

"(SIDEBAR: I always loved the gentle postmodernism of the last verse. That line "If you do, you'll know I'm thinking of you" made me think: "If she did hear the song on the radio, she'd know Bruce had been thinking about her when the recording was made, but he probably wouldn't be thinking about her at the very moment she heard it on the radio. However, since he was thinking about her at the moment he sang the song, then in a way, provided the song is being broadcast or that you are in some way hearing the song, that moment is the present for the rest of time." I could have witten a friggin' dissertation on this kind of whimsy back then. And almost did.)"

FRIDAY: "The Ties That Bind"
"Performed in my magic shirt. The first song on The River, of course, which was the first Bruce Springsteen album I bought, because that's exactly how old I am. I loved every single song on it, and could in fact just sit and play the whole album through probably from top to bottom. 

"I started this covers trip on Monday with zero plan, but ended up doing one from Darkness, two from Born in the U.S.A., one from The River, and one from Tunnel of Love. Among the songs I nearly did: 'Growin' Up,' 'I Wanna Marry You,' 'Hello Sunshine,' 'Stolen Car,' 'I'm Goin' Down' (one of my all time favourites, and one I always used to play when I was busking) and 'For You.' It's all about what you feel you can add to. 

"I didn't mean to reimagine 'The Ties That Bind' in any way, but this is how it popped out. (No 'ay ay ay ay' if that's what those who requested it were hoping for. I even surprised myself by trying to play a bit of the sax solo note for note. Or maybe it was the sax solo from another song, too late to change it now!)"

Explore more on Wesley Stace's Facebook Page, where his Community Coronation Covers project continues.
- May 24, 2020

FROM HIS HOME TO YOURS, S01 E04
"Live every day as if you're going to live forever"
In the fourth volume of From His Home to Yours, Bruce Springsteen spared no time addressing a major loss since his last broadcast: "Let's start the day by allowing me to introduce to you Little Richard Penniman."

Little Richard's death had gone unremarked online by the Boss until today's wonderful tribute, when he stacked up three tracks at the top of the show for a salute to...

The purest rock 'n' roll voice of all time. And it belongs to the Georgia Peach, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Little Richard, who we lost in early May. He was one of the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll and its preeminent vocal genius. And there he profoundly explained, in my opinion, why and how he does what he does.

Now Richard came out of Macon, GA, to take the nation, the world, and your body and soul by storm. His art was filled with absurdity, dead seriousness, great humor, and sex, sex, sex. He is one of a handful of men who changed the face of world culture: he crossed racial boundaries, he challenged gender norms, and he had the time of his life.... the High Priest of rock 'n' roll. A wop bop a loo bop, a wop bam boom. Rest in peace, Richard.

A nice transition from one Little to another — Richard to Steven — took us "Out of the Darkness" into another timely and moving set of songs with Springsteen at the wheels of steel.

Once again, Bruce displayed his talent for calling up music that fits the moment perfectly, whether a song — like Warren Zevon's "Don't Let Us Get Sick" — a song title, or even just one line. "The waiting is the hardest part," anyone? He also singled out "I have no use for the truth" in Tom Waits' "Lie to Me," and a "timeless line" from Courtney Barnett: "I wanna go out but I wanna stay home."

"Perfect for the times," Bruce said, "and my ambivalent life story."

He summed up the current dating scene with a Future Bible Heroes title, "Kiss Me Only With Your Eyes."

Dating. How's that going for all you singles out there? How is Love in the Time of Corona? I am old, and I simply can't imagine it. I mean, it's got to be happening... but… but how? I mean, is testing going on? I guess there's virtual dating, why wouldn't there be? I don't know how satisfying that can be — no physical contact, yikes! No sex, I would imagine...

I guess there's always sexting, naked selfies... they say naked selfies are 'the new seduction.' I read an article that said this is the golden age of naked selfies! Hell, I may take a few myself when this show is over. Why not? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Pairing Future Bible Heroes with a "fantastic masterpiece" from Magnetic Fields, Bruce praised their common denominator Stephin Merritt — a surprise but well-deserved rave:

If you do not have in your record collection 69 Love Songs, I suggest you purchase it pronto, and get ready for one of the most enjoyable evenings of your life.... Stephin is one of our best American composers and songwriters, and if you haven't gotten into his music, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Another two-fer: Craig Finn with "Tangletown," from his solo album We All Want the Same Things, followed later by his frontman duties in The Hold Steady. "Do you feel stuck between stations?" asked Bruce — "I do!"

Pairing Joe Ely and Shane MacGowan (with The Pogues), Springsteen connected those dots by recalling an "unforgettable" dinner out the three once shared in Dublin. (There's a picture for you — or the start of a joke.)

Shane's voice is nearly indeciperable in a loud restaurant, but I was such an admirer, and I love him, and I was happy to just sit across from him. And all I know is, with the exception of Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry... I'm not so sure about the rest of us, but I know that they'll be singing Shane MacGowan's songs 100 years from now.

With the widest-ranging selection of music yet, this fourth installment included Mozart next to Zevon, and Marlene Dietrich next to the Aqua Velvets. But the DJ still made room for Bob.

If you had any doubt that Bob Dylan is the father of Springsteen's country, an episode of From His Home to Yours still has not gone by without at least one Dylan tune. This time we had the etheral show-closing cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Antony and the Johnsons, as well as Dylan's own 2015 recording of "Some Enchanted Evening," from Shadows in the Night.

I don't know how many of you followed Bob on his deep journey into the great American songbook, but not only was the choice of material wonderful and enlightening, he showed himself to be a superlative interpretive singer. It's a trip well, well worth taking.

Musically, Springsteen himself showed up first on the new Dion track, "Hymn to Him" which features contributions from both Bruce and Patti. "A beautiful devotional," Bruce called it, "a lovely prayer."

But the big Boss moment came next with a "This Train" trifecta. A fantastic trio of songs capped by Bruce's own "Land of Hope and Dreams" was led out of the station with two of its lyrical precursors, Big Bill Broonzy's "This Train" and Rank and File's "The Conductor Wore Black." Springsteen, like many folks in lockdown, proud to show his roots.

Of course, From His Home to Yours isn't just about Springsteen's ability as a playlist curator — that's only part of what's so compelling and uplifting about each episode. It has also become our regular check-in with Springsteen himself during lockdown, his thoughts about the times, the news, the isolation, the future.

In today's episode he referred to these "hard times" as "testing — they reveal character. They can bring out your generousness or your selfishness, your kindness or your cruelty, your love or your fear — just take a look at our 'man at the top.' Hard times do that."

So how does Bruce cope?

I take a daily drive, because driving has always relaxed me, and it gets me out of Patti's hair for a while. I drive all my old routes, through all my old towns, day after day. I see all the shops shuttered, what folks there are on the street in masks, my favorite hangouts closed — takeout only, god bless 'em. I drive out to Manasquan Inlet, my old man's stomping grounds, to sit and watch the boats for a while. But they closed all the parking places, and the boardwalk's closed. So I find a side street, and I sit, roll down the window, feel the ocean breeze and read the newspaper for a while.

Thirty million workers joining the jobless ranks over the last two months. That is... frightening, and heartbreaking. A day doesn't go by when I don't count my lucky stars, when I don't know how profoundly fortunate I am.

So after an hour, I fold my newspaper, I start the car, and I head home. And on my way, on 79, I pass the ShopRite that I opened with the Castiles! During its midnight madness opening in 1965! We played out in front of the supermarket! And it was the only time during this day that I saw a parking lot filled with cars, and it almost brought me to tears.

The stories he shares can be as optimistic as they are wistful — longing for the return of daily routines and rituals like an incantation might being it all to pass, with faith that we'll get there somehow:

When this is over — and I do have faith that it's gonna be over — I want to do the simple things again. That's what I've been missing. I want to get an ice cream cone at the Jersey Freeze! To be able to walk inside, step up to the counter, and say, "Soft vanilla dipped in chocolate, please." I want to get a pizza with my pal, the ex-mayor of Freehold, and all my old friends down at Federici's.

I want to take in the boardwalk on a quiet weekday night in Point Pleasant. Lose some of my money at all those wheels of chance. Hang at the beach until about five-thirty or six, when the evening cool just begins to drift in and that sun is low and warm on your skin. That is my favorite time of day. Then I may head in to Red Bank and stop at Jack's record store — stay strong, Jack! We're lucky to have a record store in Red Bank! That's for sure. Then maybe find a place to sit outside and have a drink, just surrounded by folks without a worry, just going about their business. Never has the mundane seemed so longingly attractive.

But appealing as all that may sound, Springsteen is circumspect — in no uncertain terms — about rushing things at the expense of lives:

Now the protestors we see in some of our state capitals trying to get the country to open up or cut back on some of the mitigation concern me. I worry for them, first of all. Up to this point, that mitigation has been our only defense against the deadly virus.

I know folks need to get back to work, need to get their bills paid, they need to feed their families… but the country should be reopened in a cautious, safe, and responsible manner. Not carelessly, in a gesture that will cost tens of thousands of lives — prodded on by a president going against his own government mandate in advising citizens to "liberate Michigan" and "liberate Virginia." Frankly, that is the wrong language right now. And it pissed me off. It's just weak and irresponsbile. It's the gesture of a man willing to roll the dice and put the lives of those who put him into office — and their children, and their elderly friends and families —  at risk. For perhaps nothing more than an election year ploy. It's cowardly.

With so much uncertainty in these troubled times, and the struggle of sitting still when we want to move, Bruce shared some advice from his late Aunt Ida:

The toughest thing about the lockdown is the feeling of not knowing what the future holds. The feeling of your whole life being placed on hold. Time seeming to move quickly but slowly. Empty and unused time, I don't care for —  especially at 70. I'm counting my days.

And my friends, I've got things to do that involve me and you.

My son is 25, and he's worried about the time that's ticking out of his life. I feel like Muhammed Ali, who was at is prime —  well, I'm in my late prime — but who was at his prime, and the years he could have spent boxing were taken away from him.

So I try to heed my deceased Aunt Ida's advice: she always said, "Just live every day as if you're gonna live forever." I like that. "Live every day as if you're gonna live forever."

I think she meant, greet each day on its own terms. As an opportunity for life's possibilities. Breathe it in. Let the world open up before you, and prepare yourself to accept it in its entirety, on its own terms, with a vengeance. Well, I'm ready and I hope you are too. But right now, the waiting... is the hardest part.

"Things to do that involve me and you." That's the kind of thought that keeps us going, too, and we pray that this train doesn't get stuck between stations.

Playlist

  1. Roy Acuff - "Turn Your Radio On"
  2. Little Richard - "Born on the Bayou" (intro)
  3. Little Richard - "Tutti Frutti"
  4. Little Richard - "Do the Jerk (Get Down With It)"
  5. Little Steven - "Out of the Darkness"
  6. Glen Campbell - "Times Like These"
  7. Future Bible Heroes - "Kiss Me Only With Your Eyes"
  8. Magnetic Fields - "Andrew in Drag"
  9. Courtney Barnett - "Nobody Really Cares if You Go to the Party"
  10. Tom Waits - "Lie to Me"
  11. The Aqua Velvets - "Return to Paia"
  12. Marlene Dietrich - "Das Lied Ist Aus (Don't Ask Me Why)"
  13. Bob Dylan - "Some Enchanted Evening"
  14. Craig Finn - "Tangletown"
  15. Joe Ely - "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown"
  16. The Pogues - "A Rainy Night in Soho"
  17. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - "The Waiting"
  18. The Hold Steady - "Stuck Between Stations"
  19. Dion (with Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen) - "Hymn to Him"
  20. Big Bill Broonzy - "This Train"
  21. Rank and File - "The Conductor Wore Black"
  22. Bruce Springsteen - "Land of Hope and Dreams"
  23. Warren Zevon - "Don't Let Us Get Sick"
  24. Pforzheim Motet Choir - Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618"
  25. Antony and the Johnsons - "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"

You can listen to From His Home to Yours Volume 4 on demand and via rebroadcasts on E Street Radio — Springsteen's fourth "channel takeover" will be airing numerous times in the coming week, with all parts getting the encore treatment on Memorial Day. Free streaming for SiriusXM and E Street Radio is available through May 31.

- May 20, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


FRANKIE AND PAMMY
Podcaster Mitch Slater on his new episode with Pam Springsteen and Frank Stefanko

Last September, after Bruce Springsteen made a cameo appearance at the His Hometown exhibit opening in Freehold, an idea was born. I was sitting with the man who shot both the Darkness and The River album covers and who I am proud to call a friend, Frank Stefanko, about the recent podcast I had done with Danny Clinch, and naturally I asked Frank to join the fun and appear on my show. The plan would be to take a deeper dive into the world of rock photography — the subject fresh on my mind, as Frank was taking some wonderful photos of Bruce and Joe Grushecky jamming on that brutally hot night under the tent. Fortunately, Jersey Freeze was next on the agenda

Coming off the successful release of his masterpiece of a monograph, Further Up the Road, and a stellar Morrison Hotel Gallery Exhibit of his photography, Frank said, "Hey, I have a cool idea — let's get Pammy on this show!"

At first I was like, "Who is Pammy?…" But I quickly realized Frank was referring to the very accomplished Pam Springsteen, who has shot some of the most notable faces in music and film during her career as a brilliant photographer. Now living in New Jersey with daughter Ruby and helping to take care of her mom, Pam's unique strength in image-making lies in her ability to create an honest and intimate portrait in a comfortable, fun, and collaborative environment.

The original plan was to record this show in Asbury Park (naturally) this spring, in front of a live audience, with their photography on display; sadly, the darkness came to the edge of all of our towns, and we were forced to "zoom" our way into the conversation out today in podcast form.

I don't want to give much away, but the opening story alone is a treasure: how Bruce called Frank to bring kid sister Pammy to the farmlands of South Jersey to see a real darkroom in 1982 — which wound up lighting a fire for photography under the young actress (who that year played cheerleader Dina Phillips Fast Times at Ridgemont High).

The stories that Pam shares about her leap of faith into photography are both funny and inspiring. Make sure you listen closely to her recent adventures with Willie Nelson, while shooting his recent album cover, and of course her journey with her big brother to create the Mojave Desert images for The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Right: photograph by Pam Springsteen

And of course, Frank takes us into a time machine back to his days in college with Patti Smith, with many tales to tell from then on.

Thanks to Chris and all my friends at Backstreets for offering to debut this special episode and who were kind enough to share my interviews with Maureen Van Zandt, Danny Clinch, and Thom Zimny over the last year. Backstreets.com has always been the home page I check every day — and lately I need it now more than ever to escape these difficult times. Yes, I host a show called Financially Speaking… but don't look for any personal financial advice in an episode like this — it's all about my passion for music.

Please feel free to share the podcast through either the Spotify link or my Show Page from my day job at UBS. Most of all, thank you to Pam and Frank for not only being a great interview but being so damn funny and honest. Please check out their work for sale at Morrison Hotel Gallery and their personal websites pamelaspringsteen.com and StefankoStudio.com
- May 19, 2020 - Mitch Slater reporting

KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS COMING!
Mighty Max takes questions from our readers for his new show premiere

We're psyched to be helping Max Weinberg out with his new online show, Mighty Max Monday Memories, and the first episode is out now. As posted to Max's IGTV last night, watch him here drawing questions from his "magic drum" — the floor tom he used in the studio for The River and Born in the U.S.A. sessions — all great memory prompts sent in by Backstreets readers.

In this first installment, Max answers a popular burning question, regarding Bruce calling "Stick!" over and over in The Promise documentary — and how they finally got "the elusive sound we were looking for." You'll want to go back and listen to "Darkness on the Edge of Town" again.

Plus, Max talks about his role in the E Street Band ("the worst thing in the world on stage is if you can't hear the drummer; the second-worst thing is if the drummer's too loud"), a surprise visit from James Brown, a "Bruce cam" on his drums, the power of match grip, watching the E Street Band with Jay at the kit, and how much he and the band enjoy playing: "When it's safe, I can't see any reason why we wouldn't be back out there playing for you!"

Big thanks to everybody who sent questions in already, a nice chunk of which were answered here. Of course there are more great ones waiting to be asked, and another episode of the show to come next Monday — so after you enjoy the premiere, send us yours to askmax@backstreets.com.
- May 19, 2020


SPRINGSTEEN'S SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON
We've heard him spinning records on the radio, and seen him singing at home with Patti... but finally, at the end of this month, we'll get to see Bruce Springsteen rocking a big venue. Even if by remote with no one in the stands.

On May 29, the Dropkick Murphys will livestream from Fenway Park (also home of some amazing E Street doubleheaders from the Rising and Wrecking Ball tours), the first concert from Park's infield diamond. "To make sure this is a night to remember," the band announced this morning, "our friend Bruce Springsteen will be joining us remotely for a FENWAY DOUBLE PLAY.... We’ll play together - one of ours + one of his."

Streaming Outta Fenway will be a "full electric" performance and a benefit fundraiser for three charites: Boston Resiliency Fund, Habitat For Humanity and Feeding America. According to the band's Instagram post this morning, the fundraising has already begun, and you can pitch in by texting “DONATE” to 404-994-3559.

Tune in May 29 at 6pm Beantown Time, on Facebook or YouTube, to watch.
- May 18, 2020


THE TIME IS RIGHT
Songs of Summer playlist brings 15 more live tracks to streaming services

Lots of us are waitin' on a sunny day... and even though summer is just around the corner, it can be hard to feel that way. But, as they say, you can go there in your mind: the seventh playlist in The Live Series has arrived today, featuring 15 Songs of Summer performed live by Springsteen with and without The E Street Band. Each new playlist adds to the officially available Springsteen performances on Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming services.

If you're looking for "Summertime Blues," well, that was last time, and we've got enough blues. But you'll find Indians in the summer, girls in their summer clothes, soft summer rain, and sweet summer nights on the Jersey Shore —  all in versions streaming for the first time.

1
Born to Run
W Hollywood, CA - 10/18/75
2
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Passaic, NJ - 9/19/78
3
The Fever
San Francisco, CA - 12/15/78
4
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Uniondale, NY - 12/31/80
5
Thunder Road
London, UK - 6/5/81
6
Spirit in the Night
E Rutherford, NJ - 8/20/84
7
Out in the Street
Los Angeles, CA - 9/27/85
8
Blinded by the Light
Asbury Park, NJ - 11/24/96
9
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Helsinki, FI - 6/16/03
10
Racing in the Street
Grand Rapids, MI - 8/3/05
11
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Boston, MA - 11/19/07
12
Seaside Bar Song
Virginia Beach, VA - 4/12/14
13
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Dublin, IE - 5/29/16
14
Frankie
Horsens, DK - 7/20/16
15
Jungleland
E Rutherford, NJ - 8/30/16

Arranged chronologically, the first eleven tracks are taken from the live archive series, with the remaining four courtesy of the nightly tour releases from 2014 and 2016. Listen now via Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Tidal, or Deezer.

Plus, check out a new sister playlist on YouTube: Bruce Springsteen - Songs of Summer Live gathers available footage of most of these songs from official concert films.
- May 15, 2020


BACKSTREETS PREMIERES: BROKEN POET
Elliott Murphy film (with cameos from Mr. & Mrs. S) is available online now, with exclusive Backstreets bonus feature

Today, Backstreets is proud to present the official world premiere of singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy's film Broken Poet. The movie is now available to purchase via Vimeo for streaming at home, as a special limited-time offer for Backstreets readers.

Based on Murphy's 1985 short story "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," the fictional-narrative film focuses on a modern-day search for world-famous 1970s rock star Jake Lion, who may — or may not — have killed himself in Paris back in 1974.

Elliott Murphy co-wrote the film's screenplay with its director, Emilio J. Ruiz, and plays an intriguing, mysterious starring role in the film. The film also features Murphy's longtime friends Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa in cameo roles, playing themselves, and a lot of great Elliott Murphy tunes from various phases of his four-decades-and-counting career.

In addition to permanent online access to the film, everyone who purchases Broken Poet through this Backstreets digital premiere will receive permanent access to a bonus feature created just for us: Elliott Murphy filmed a special "Couch Concert" especially for Backstreets readers, inspired by his longtime association and friendship with Springsteen.


Elliott Murphy and Bruce Springsteen in 1976 - photograph courtesy of EM

In the 18:45 bonus video, Elliott tells stories and delivers three beautiful solo acoustic performances: his Broken Poet theme song, "Drive All Night" from his 1977 album Just a Story From America (which predated the official release of Springsteen's song of the same title by three years,) and a cover of Springsteen's "Better Days." An intimate experience, like all of his Corona Couch Concerts, with a Boss twist.

This special premiere of Broken Poet was, of course, brought about by the enormous impact that the coronavirus has had on the ability of artists to present their works to homebound audiences. With that in mind, Backstreets is honored to join Elliott Murphy and our friend Joe Amodei, President of Broken Poet's worldwide distributor Virgil Films, in donating a portion of the proceeds from each Broken Poet purchase to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

In the spirit of this unique, COVID-19-crisis-inspired way of premiering his film, Elliott Murphy also granted an extensive — but safe — interview with Backstreets, while quarantined in his Paris home.

Read Just a Story From Paris, Backstreets contributor
Shawn Poole's interview-by-email with Elliott Murphy

- May 15, 2020


WAM BAM THANK YOU DAVID DANIEL
Ten years later, Springsteen/Pinsky WAMFest footage sees release

On May 6, 2010 —  ten years ago this month — Fairleigh Dickinson University hosted a once-in-a-lifetime event at its Florham campus in Madison, NJ: a joint appearance by Bruce Springsteen and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.

Under the banner of "Jersey Rain,
the title of a Pinksy poem, the two writers talked about their shared Jersey roots, their similar approaches to their art, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, and much more. They also performed, both separately and together. Wesley Stace, the writer who has also performed music under the name John Wesley Harding, served as moderator. The original Backstreets setlist report is here.

David Daniel, the FDU professor who organized the event for the university's WAMFest (Words and Music Festival), has now posted three videos containing excerpts from it to a new YouTube channel, with Springsteen's management's permission.

The event lasted about 90 minutes, and the three videos [the first one is above] are less than a half hour, together, so there's much more available, and Daniel says he will be posting more.

For further details, follow this link to NJArts.net's post on the subject, with all three embedded videos (including performances of "Darkness on the Edge of Town," "The Promised Land" and "Born to Run," plus poetry readings by Springsteen, Pinsky, and both reading together), along with transcripts of all that was said in the videos.
- May 14, 2020 - Jay Lustig reporting

DRUMMER'S DAUGHTER
Ali Rogin, née Weinberg, brings harmony to quarantine

There's no doubt that music flows in the Weinberg family veins. Jay Weinberg — #1 Rock Drummer in the 2020 Modern Drummer Readers Poll — clearly didn't fall far from the family tree (even if you may never see his Slipknot mask on the E Street stage). Then there's his sister Ali, who E Street fans have also seen sitting in with Bruce Springsteen in concert — her debut was on "Glory Days" at the age of 12.

Though Ali Rogin now makes her bones as a journalist (currently foreign affairs producer for PBS NewsHour), she's also been making music at home during these troubled times, sharing videos in which she harmonizes with herself. Check out her multi-tracked "Hard Times Come Again No More" above.

Rogin tells Backstreets, "I was inspired to start recording these when I heard a portion of 'Down to the River to Pray' in a piece my NewsHour colleagues did about finding community during quarantine. People seemed to like it, so I just kept doing them once a week. "

Many of us first heard Stephen Foster's "Hard Times" as revived by Springsteen, with both the Sessions Band and the E Street Band; the song came to Ali through a different route: "I knew [Bruce] had performed it," she says, "but actually an acquaintance of mine through Instagram suggested I sing it, based on Emmylou Harris' version. But it turns out it has such a rich history, and it's powerful how the sentiment of this song from the 1850s is particularly meaningful today." 

Rogin also creates her own Trio, emulating the voices of Emmylou's supergroup with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt; another recent cover brings her two-part harmony to "Angel From Montgomery," a modern classic by the late, great John Prine. "After I posted my first song, this was another request someone made, a week or so after John Prine's passing. I confess I hadn't been familiar with the song but thought it would be a nice tribute, and then I heard Bonnie Raitt sing it and regretted that I'd gone my whole life to that point not knowing it!" 

Visit Ali's YouTube channel for more, and as the saying goes: "like and subscribe!"
- May 14, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting

YOU ASK, THE MIGHTY ONE ANSWERS
Max Weinberg's weekly Q&A to debut on Monday, May 18

We've been catching up with Max Weinberg, who is in the same boat as most of us: socially distancing and sheltered in place, putting future plans on hold. In the drummer's case, he had nearly a year's worth of gigs to cancel —  Max Weinberg's Jukebox had been booked for most of 2020, through New Year's Eve.

But one the coolest aspects of his own shows over the years — as you know, if you've seen Max give a talk or lead his various bands — is the Q&A he often conducts with his audiences. And fortunately for us, that's something that we can try to recreate from home.

Enter Mighty Max's Monday Memories.

"It'll be a weekly show from my house," Max tells us, "where every Monday I'll be answering questions on Instagram. For anyone and everyone who has something they've wondered about through the years — regarding Bruce and the E Street Band, of course, but also my TV career, really anything that's on someone's mind that I might be able to address." 

Max is new to Instagram — follow him here — and he'll be posting a new episode to his IGTV channel each Monday at 6pm, giving As to Qs for roughly half an hour, beginning this coming Monday, May 18.

Backstreets is now collecting questions for Max via email, and we'll pass them along in time for each Monday evening show. He'll print them out, put them in his one-headed tom tom from the Born in the U.S.A. tour, and pick them at random to answer. 

To get your query in the drum for Mighty Max's Monday Memories, email askmax@backstreets.com with your question, your name and location

We had a few questions for Max ourselves for starters, just checking in on how he's handling life in these troubled times — consider it warm-up to the show.

Well, like everyone else, my wife Becky and I have been following the protocols for distancing, staying home, masks when we go anywhere, and working out in the garage like crazy. I've got a couple of machines out there, and weights, heavy-duty elastics — that kind of thing. Get the heart rate up like in a Bruce show! 

Fortunately Becky's the best cook I know, so eating home all the time has been great.  I hit the grocery store a few times a week.

We read a lot, binge on a few shows like Succession, American Experience, The Plot Against America, based on Philip Roth's great novel. Starting Seinfeld over from episode one. I find Seinfeld hilariously funny now, though I can't say I watched a lot of it when it was first run. It's a great release from all the awful news.

My favorite read right now, though I'm almost finished, is Freedom's Forge, by Arthur Herman, which is about America's industrial ramp-up to World War II — the energy and ingenuity of the private sector during the late 1930s, working together with the administration to get it done! The country was dealing with the inevitability of the war crossing the Atlantic, Lend-Lease and all that for Britain. How FDR marshaled industrial America to get prepared. And he did it against the wishes of many of those who elected him in '32.

I grew up in a solidly Democratic household — my father's hero was FDR. My dad always said, "FDR saved the country" — I never really knew what that meant when I was a kid, but my interest has been stoked the past few years. So, Man of Destiny by Alonzo Hamby about Franklin Roosevelt's rise in America is on my schedule currently.

Whether you'd like to hear Max talk about FDR or BTR, we hope you'll join us — send along a question to askmax@backstreets.com and watch the debut episode of his IGTV show on Monday night.

"I'm hoping to make lemonade out of lemons during this pandemic scourge," Max says of his new venture, "and I enjoy reminiscing, as well. After all, I think I've always had the best seat in the house!"
- May 13, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


"YOU WANNA DANCE?"

Backstreets to premiere Elliott Murphy's film Broken Poet, featuring cameos from Bruce and Patti, plus exclusive bonus feature, benefitting the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund
Practically everybody who regularly visits this website will have some idea who singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy is. Some are very familiar with his impressive body of work, spanning four decades and counting. Others may know him mainly as that cool guy who regularly gets invited to sing onstage with Bruce Springsteen whenever Springsteen plays Paris. But no matter what you currently know about Elliott Murphy, you're about to see him in a different light.

Backstreets is honored to serve as the exclusive venue for the digital premiere of Broken Poet, the fictional-narrative film in which Elliott stars, along with Marisa Berenson, Michael O'Keefe, Joanna Preiss, and — in special appearances playing themselves — Elliott's old friends Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.

Murphy also co-wrote (with director Emilio J. Ruiz) the film's screenplay, which is based on Elliott's 1985 short story "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and the film's soundtrack is filled with some of Elliott Murphy's all-time best songs.

Broken Poet, distributed by our pal Joe Amodei's Virgil Films & Entertainment, originally was slated to debut in theaters worldwide, but of course the COVID-19 pandemic has forced those plans to change. As a result, the film will first become available to own and stream this coming Friday, May 15, right here through Backstreets in an exclusive, limited-time offer.

The offer includes a bonus feature, just for us: the film will come bundled with an extra clip, a solo-acoustic mini-concert that Elliott has recorded exclusively for Backstreets readers who purchase Broken Poet. A portion of every purchase will be donated to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund as well.

We'll have plenty more to share here on Friday when Broken Poet officially becomes available for purchase and streaming. In the meantime, you can check out a special message above from Elliott Murphy himself, and click here to pre-order.
- May 12, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting

INSTAGRAM LIVE: RESUSCITATED, RELIBERATED, REPLAYED
In this "new normal" of virtual gatherings, we had a great time Saturday engaged with Backstreets readers on Instagram Live. We hosted author Barry Schneier as he took us through the stories and photos in his book Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Roll Future, on the 46th anniversary of the night Bruce was hailed "rock and roll future" by then-critic, soon-to-be-manager, Jon Landau.

It was a great opportunity for Barry to dig a little deeper into that night — as a Boston local and the only photographer there at the Harvard Square Theatre on 5/9/74, he offered his unique perspective on not just the performance but also the events that led to Bruce being on the bill. And we also learned how his well-known photo of Bruce at the piano playing "For You" might never have happened if it wasn't for a last-minute change of plans that night on Barry's part.

We had a truly global audience, with viewers tuning in from Ireland, Italy, Sweden, and as far away as Australia — and we'll hope to do something like this again. Thanks to the 700-plus participants who joined us on the anniversary; if you missed it live, or had trouble getting in, you can view the replay on our Instagram or YouTube, and of course Barry's book is available in our online shop.
- May 11, 2020


GOOD GOLLY, LITTLE RICHARD (1932-2020)

When you consider Little Richard adjacent to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, it's far less about "influence" — a vague descriptor that doesn't do the connection justice — as it is about a common denominator, a shared understanding, and an agreed-upon acceptance that he was the architect (to quote Wilson Pickett), the real deal, the roots of rock 'n' roll. 

Richard Penniman pulled from the blues and the church, borrowed a vocal style from Sister Rosetta Tharpe and an attitude from Esquerita, and BOOM! Little Richard was born: larger than life, loud, and utterly fabulous. He was commanding and unapologetically bold. He screamed, and you suddenly felt like you could scream along with him, and you suddenly wanted to. He was proud of the fact that he got both the white kids and the black kids to dance together

You don't need a list of Little Richard's songs covered by Bruce and the band to see the connections — which at their core go back to the essentials of gospel music anyway — but the presence of those songs throughout Springsteen history seals the compact. There is zero doubt that Little Richard's songs were in the repertoire of every cover band the E Streeters were ever in; you could hear them on the radio in cars and on transistor radios on the beaches up and down the Shore; they were performed by the musicians who played in the clubs off Springwood Avenue. 


June 29, 2013, Paris, France - photograph by Rene van Diemen

So there's a good reason the E Street Band can turn on a dime when signs for "Lucille" get pulled out of a crowd, or why the "Detroit Medley" (which was Little Richard via Mitch Ryder, borrowed for the same essential reasons of defiance and freedom) became (and, frankly, still is) legendary, or you find "Good Golly, Miss Molly" when the tequila comes out or "Long Tall Sally" when Bruce grabs a guitar and comes out onstage to guest star. 

I see Little Richard's influence on E Street every time Bruce jumps on a piano, shakes his ass at a camera, growls in a full-throated shout, and in every time he grabbed Clarence's hand onstage. Like the best rock and roll, Little Richard represented freedom. A wop bop a loo bop a wop bam boom!
- May 10, 2020 - Caryn Rose reporting

LAND OF HOPE AND STREAMS, for MAY 8
In addition to some of the ongoing livestreams we listed earlier, there are a couple of special one-off streaming events to put on your radar as we head into the weekend. (Yes, today is Friday, we promise.)

Saturday, May 9 at 4pm ET: We'll be celebrating the anniversary of Springsteen's legendary May 9, 1974, concert performace with an Instagram Live stream featuring author and photographer Barry Schneier. His book from Backstreets Publishing, Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Roll Future, was all about that very night that Jon Landau witnessed said "rock and roll future" at the Harvard Theatre in Cambridge, MA. Since we can't send Barry back on the road for another book tour right now, we figure this is a fine way to mark the occasion.

"I’ll be doing my 'book talk,'" says Barry, the only photographer in the house that special night in '74, "sharing further stories and insights into that show 46 years ago." Follow backstreetsmag on Instagram, and tune in live tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, May 9 at 9pm ET: Later tomorrow night, stay tuned for a special full-album performance from Aoife O’Donovan. The singer-songwriter (who Sessions Band aficionados may know from her time in Crooked Still with banjo player Greg Liszt) will be taking on Springsteen's Nebraska live, from start to finish. Check out an earlier performance of the title track to whet your appetite. Several ways to watch are here, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the MusiCares Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Sunday, May 10 at 6pm ET: Jersey Shore stalwart Bobby Bandiera is holding a living room concert to benefit the Asbury Park Music Foundation and the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. A preview shows him killing it on Springsteen's "The Fever," a favorite from his Jukes days; if you watch that, you'll wanna tune in for the whole thing. We recommend following @APMusicLives on Twitter for further details.

Any time, on demand: All three parts of Bruce Springsteen: From His Home, to Yours… incluing Volume 3, which first aired on E Street radio on Wednesday (scroll down for details), are now available On Demand on SiriusXM.com. (Part 3 is currently misnamed at the top of the list, but it's there!) The On Demand service is part of SiriusXM's free streaming offer that currently extends through May 31.
- May 8, 2020

ALL WOUND UP
Haruki Murakami on Bruce Springsteen
The tent over E Street Nation is enormous, stretching not only from the big white house to the parking lot, but also around the world. Often, one fan stands out. For some of us at Backstreets, we've been consistently intrigued by the work of one such fellow fan, the Japanese literary giant Haruki Murakami.

His works span a range of topics, from twin obsessions running and jazz music to the 1995 terror attack on the Tokyo subway system. But his fiction distinguishes him the most, whether A Wild Sheep Chase (1982) or Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (2013). And of course, in the mid-'90s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle appeared, a deeply imagined work that requires precisely one thing of the reader: the suspension of disbelief.

Like Springsteen, Murakami deploys recurring devices: where one uses the car, the other elevates the cat. And as we are reminded below, neither is afraid of heading toward the darkness, whether in a bedroom on Tunnel of Love or down a well in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. There are surely more parallels to uncover, whether in their respective works, or in how each of them sees the world. Both share a knack for putting ordinary characters in extraordinary situations.

Full disclosure: late in 2010, we reached out to Murakami through his New York agent, asking whether he'd write something — anything, really — about the Darkness on the Edge of Town deluxe reissue. We quickly got a polite response: Mr. Murakami appreciates this invitation to contribute, but he is unfortunately unavailable to take on new projects and requests. Thank you for your interest and understanding.

Neither has diminished. We were intrigued again to discover that Murakami, who has spun tunes for listeners over Japanese airwaves since at least 2018 — our kind of precursor to From His Home, to Yours for sure — concluded his April 26 episode of Murakami Radio on Tokyo FM this way:

Today's final quote is from Bruce Springsteen. After he became a rock star with the success of Born to Run, What did he think over? Though it's a little long, please listen:

The one thing I did feel after Born to Run was a real sense of responsibility to what I was singing and to the audience. I didn't have an audience before that, not much of one. I was concerned with living up to that responsibility. So I just dove into it. I decided to look around. I decided to move into the darkness and look around and write about what I knew and what I saw and what I was feeling. I was trying to find something to hold on to that doesn't disappear out from under you.

Though it's presumptuous to say that I'm one of his fellow artists, I can recognize his feeling very well. Actually, I was born in the same year as Bruce Springsteen. Incidentally, Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Suga* is the same age. But it's confusing or almost bewildering to say Bruce and Suga-chan are the same age. Like it makes me wonder where I stand… well, it doesn't matter. That's all for today.

*Our friend Tadd Igarashi notes: "Suga is the current Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications for the Abe cabinet. He is well known for dodging difficult questions during the daily press briefing."
- May 8, 2020 - Jonathan Pont and Christopher Phillips reporting - special thanks to Caryn Rose, and to Tadd Igarashi for translating

BOSTON COLLEGE WELCOMES FRESHMEN WITH BORN TO RUN
Springsteen himself to address Class of 2024 on September 10

Among his titles are songwriter, singer, rock star, playwright, screenwriter, film director, and author. It is the last of these which set Bruce Springsteen up for another title he will pick up in September, when he goes to Chestnut Hill, MA as First Year Academic Convocation Speaker for the Boston College class of 2024. He may have "strafed his old high school," but the Boss is going to college to address a group of young, newly independent men and women born the year The Rising was released.

This news, first noticed on Instagram by the younger teenager under my roof, quickly created a buzz in our house. My family and friends know the two lifelong passions that overshadow the rest of my interests involve either Boston College or the ministry and majesty of rock 'n' roll according to Bruce. Putting these two things together is a powerful cocktail, made more potent because my son is now a rising freshman at BC.

Upon finding out that Bruce will kick off his college years, my son — whose first Springsteen concert was as a ten-year-old, at the memorable MetLife lightning-delayed birthday show in 2012 — expressed approval with genuine joy that has been hard to find in a high school senior this spring: "That's friggin' awesome!"

Letting his college experience be his own, and not me trying to re-live mine, just got a little bit harder.


Ten years old at Giants Stadium, 9/22/12 at 9:50pm, taking a cat nap during the storm delay… now Boston College Class of 2024.

Says dad Chris Eidt: "How he feel asleep on a beer cart with that non-stop PA announcement, about clearing the field because of lightning strikes, is beyond me. The 24oz coke after midnight in a 10-year-old rallied us to the end!"

The Boston College connection for Springsteen is well established. His son Evan graduated from the Heights in 2012. There have been four private shows at the Stone Pony (in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2019) to benefit a scholarship program at BC. The 2011 show was especially memorable for having both Max and Roy sit in all night, and for being the first real performance Bruce gave after Clarence died. I still have the "Working on a Dream since 1863" T-shirt.

But what exactly is a First Year Academic Convocation? And why Bruce? At BC it is a tradition that welcomes all first-year students to the university academic tradition. The program is designed for the students to use a common text to start both an intellectual and reflective dialog that will encourage the students, as the Jesuit motto says, "to set the world aflame." This gathering and exhortation by a distinguished speaker is to set a way of preceding for the next four years of community where they are called to engage in conversation, live together, and share their lives with one another.

Thinking of the conversation Bruce has engaged in with his community of fans —  particularly the recent reflective stretch from The River box set through the Born to Run autobiography, Springsteen on Broadway, and Western Stars — makes the selection of the author and his memoir seem ideal.

Each of the 2,300+ incoming freshman will receive their own copy of Born to Run and a study guide to the book. The summary and study guides for the past 15 author speakers are online. Past guides lay out answers to "Why read a book?" and "Why read this one?", suggesting ways to approach the text by reading attentively, reflectively, and lovingly; they offer "questions to consider" and end with The Examen, the wrapper in which the Jesuit educational goal to produce men and women who make discernment a habit is found. Complicated history with Catholicism aside, I feel like Bruce knows a little something about discernment. Going through the previous ones today, I can't wait to see the new study guide for his autobiography and go back to school myself.

This is going to be a fascinating forum, and audience, for Bruce to share his message and inspire another generation. His address to the Class of 2024 is scheduled for September 10. It is also when we'll get the answer to the other question my son hopefully asked: "Do you think he'll bring his guitar?"
- May 8, 2020 - Chris Eidt reporting

CHASIN' THE CLOUDS AWAY IN ASBURY PARK
When musician Bobby Mahoney is performing in Asbury Park, NJ, he's usually backed by his three bandmates, The Seventh Son. But recently he was part of a much larger group: Bobby was one of 30 musicians from Asbury Park that gathered, Zoom-style, to record a version of Bruce Springsteen's "Waitin' on a Sunny Day."

The Boss himself liked what he saw.

Watch the video here:

How this performance came together is a story bred from quarantine, creativity, ingenuity, and a desire to help the local Asbury Park music community, specifically, the Asbury Park Music Foundation.

According to Bobby, it all started a few weeks ago, when the shelter-at-home order was first put into place. "Joe (Pomarico, founder and president of Asbury Park-based Telegraph Hill Records) reached out to me early in the lockdown, and asked if I would be interested in participating," Bobby told Backstreets via email. "He mentioned asking a bunch of other local musicians, so I was excited to be working with a lot of our Asbury friends."


Bobby Mahoney, lead singer of Bobby Mahoney & The Seventh Son

Pomarico was able to pull together 30 talented musicians that often grace the Asbury Park stages to do a USA For Africa-style version of Springsteen's upbeat anthem from The Rising. Instead of having all the musicians in one room, they would all record the song individually at their homes, as is becoming more commonplace these days, and Joe would use his editing expertise to splice them all together into one cohesive song.

"'We Are the World' was such a powerful moment for music when it came out," Joe says, "and the impact it had on the world beyond just the industry has always been something in the back of my mind. It's something so common for these musicians to collaborate, especially when it's for a good cause like supporting music education for the local youth."

The mission of the Asbury Park Music Foundation is to keep the town's music legacy alive by providing under-served youth with life-changing music education, helping the local scene thrive, and uniting a diverse community through music.

These times are sorely testing the APMF's ability to do this, though. According to an APMF Facebook post, the volunteer-managed, non-profit organization is facing a critical juncture.

"During this unprecedented time, our focus has shifted from in-person programming on the Beat Bus (a state-of-the-art mobile recording studio that brings music education to under-served youth across New Jersey) and at schools and partner facilities, to an all-digital platform," the May 5 post states. "This virtual curriculum is crucial for at-risk students who have lost the structure of school days and after-school programs."


Jarod Clemons, youngest son of Clarence Clemons

Given the current challenges in fundraising these days, a team effort was required — a partnership with Telegraph Hill Records helped bring this project to life. Zack Sandler, a local musician who has ties with both the APMF and Telegraph Hill (and contributed saxophone to the song), helped connect them.


Saxophonist Zack Sandler

"I was brainstorming new projects for the APMF and different ways to encourage donations," Zack said over email. "I knew that my friend Joe Pom over at Telegraph Hill had this idea, and I introduced him to the APMF team with the hopes that we would be able to collaborate on this project together."

Happily, it all came together in a way that even Bruce himself approved. Soon after the song was released, in social media posts on Twitter and Instagram, the Boss thanked the local musicians for the rendition of his song, finishing both posts with "God bless everyone and stay safe. – Bruce"

According to Joe, this may not be the last socially distant gathering of local musicians, but for now he's concentrating on how make more records for local artists without a studio. 

The musicians involved in this "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" remake include, in alphabetical order: Patty C, Jarod Clemons, Matt Cook, Tara Dente, Rachel Ana Dobken, Luke Dowler, Kevin Duggan, Brian Erickson, Natalie Farrell, Matt Fernicola, Owen Flanagan, Ryan Gregg, Zach Kornhauser, Ray Laux, Bobby Mahoney, Mark Masefield, Jessie McCormick, Ashley McKinley, Chad Morales, Lou Panico, Joe Pomarico, Avery Rose Puryear, Nick Ryan, Zack Sandler, Dillon Schindler, Deseree Spinks, Mike Squillace, Marc Tappan, Taylor Tote and Max Viner.

If you would like to donate to the Asbury Park Music Foundation, please visit their website: AsburyParkMusicLives.org/Donate.
- May 7, 2020 - Mark Krajnak reporting - Krajnak is a freelance photographer from Allentown, NJ. Follow him on Instagram at @jerseystyle_photography

FROM HIS HOME TO YOURS, S01 E03
Let the music keep our spirits high
"As hard is it is to believe right now, your children will go back to school. Churches will be open and full. You will once again hug and kiss family members at your gatherings. You will shout over the noise of a crowded bar to order a drink and to speak to your friends. You will buy a hot dog at Yankee Stadium. You will walk through the streets of your hometown, free and easy. You may hold a complete stranger on a crowded dance floor. And 50,000 people will once again scream their heads off — somewhere in New Jersey."

So began episode 3 of From His Home, to Yours... Bruce Springsteen's DJ series of music for troubled times, as Bruce cued up his own "Wrecking Ball" — complete with those thousands of screaming fans, recorded live at the song's 2009 Giants Stadium debut. Again tapping a wide array of tunes in his collection, Springsteen spun meaningful music from old friends, new finds (hello, Pokey LaFarge!) and not one but two from Bob Dylan. In fact, Dylan is the one artist aside from Springsteen himself who has been represented in every episode so far.

As Little Milton's "We're Gonna Make It" led right into The Impressions' "Keep on Pushin'," there was plenty of hope in today's third installment. Whether it comes in a glass...

I can tell you one thing I'm doing every day, rain or shine: at four o'clock I am setting myself up a drink —  a shot and a beer — I'm not waiting until five o'clock! — or a little vodka and soda — and I'm on my way to shortly putting a new shine on this whole experience. I take no shame in it, at this place and time, to looking into something that is gonna fuck me up.

Or, the biggest carrot of all, thoughts of the blowout we're gonna have when lockdown is done:

I was out last night about 9:30, running an errand, and let me tell you who else was out there: nobody. Nobody at all. The streets were barren. The highway was not alive. It was like, while we were waiting for the apocalypse, it had already happened. All I can tell you is: when this experience is over, I am gonna throw the wildest party you have ever seen — and you, my friends, are all invited.

At times, this DJ set felt like an extension of his memoir, as Springsteen described a scene from his current life on the farm:

The weather — it's funny how the weather this past two and a half months, since the lockdown, the weather has taken on a whole new level of importance in my life. I check the forecast three or four times a day. I pray for sun. I suffer through gray clouds and rain. I got a dog that wakes me up like clockwork every morning at sunrise, so around 6:30 every day I am standing in our front field, waiting for the sun to come up. And on those days when it rises and washes a golden light across the field into the trees I take a deep sigh of gratitude, and I am momentarily deceived into believing that things are almost normal again. Or at least that they will be. I never thought that the emotional beginning of my day could so depend on a change in the weather.

It's not the first time Bruce has introduced John Fogerty, but it might be the most expressive.

Hopes continue that Bruce might use this format to debut something new of his own; he hasn't yet, but with its inclusion of the new Stones track, "Living in a Ghost Town," Episode 3 is proof postitive of his awareness that others are doing so.

So many lovely moments along the way, from Bruce's first and only chance meeting with Joe Strummer, to his love of parades. Once again, Springsteen used his airtime to look at this thing from all angles, from "tension between you and your significant other" (can you spell D-I-V-O-R-C-E? Tammy Wynette can) to the "bravery of our front-line workers," including "the working people who keep our society running," to dancing: "When you're dancing, don't forget to practice your social distancing. We need a new dance called 'The Distance.' You have to be ten feet away from your partner to do it."

From takeout food — shout-outs to Tony's Grill and Federici's in Freehold preceeded The Miami's "We Deliver" — to death.

When Ralph Stanley's chilling, a capella "O Death" segues into Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand," you know shit has gotten real. And Bruce kept it real:

Our sanitation workers, our grocery clerks, the folks who are in low-paying service jobs that require a high degree of contact with the public —  they are carrying the full weight of this virus for all of us. The coronavirus has revealed once again the fissures in our society, the inequalities that put the backbone of our society — our working people — at risk.…

I'll tell you what frustrates me right now: the fact, as a country, we were so ill-prepared for this pandemic. And it's not like it hadn't been predicted. If you willfully ignore science and scientific fact in the year 2020, you end up suggesting to people that they ingest household products to clear themselves of the virus. Not a smart idea. You, and all those you're responsible for, will pay the price. The head of our government knew as early as January of the dangers the coronavirus posed to our country and failed to act. Thousands of more lives could have been saved had their warning been heeded.

The Pet Shop Boys cover of Bruce's own "Last to Die" followed.

But hope comes back around. "We have been visited by a plague." Bruce said. " Our strength resides in our ability to hope, and in our faith." He quoted Ephesians 1:18: "'I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you'.... 'I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.' I like that."

He included one of his favorite benedictions —  Chris Whitley's "Big Sky Country" — and closed the 90-minute set with his own: "I wanna thank you for spending this time with me. I hope you've enjoyed yourself, and that we've lightened your burden just a little bit. So until we meet again, go now, and peace be with you."

Playlist:

  1. Roy Acuff - "Turn Your Radio On"
  2. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - "Wrecking Ball" (live 9/30/09)
  3. Little Milton - "We're Gonna Make It"
  4. The Impressions - "Keep on Pushing"
  5. John Fogerty - "Change in the Weather"
  6. Pokey LaFarge - "Fuck Me Up"
  7. Bob Dylan - "Everything is Broken"
  8. The Rolling Stones - "Living in a Ghost Town"
  9. Koko Taylor - "Wang Dang Doodle"
  10. Lightnin' Hopkins - "I Hate I Got Married"
  11. Tammy Wynette - "D-I-V-O-R-C-E"
  12. Rank and File - "Rank and File"
  13. The Miamis - "We Deliver"
  14. Public Enemy - "Harder Than You Think"
  15. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas - "Dancing in the Street"
  16. Pet Shop Boys - "The Last to Die"
  17. Graham Parker - "Don't Ask Me Questions"
  18. Jackson Browne - "Before the Deluge"
  19. Chris Whitley - "Big Sky Country"
  20. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - "Ramshackle Day Parade"
  21. Ralph Stanley - "O Death"
  22. Bob Dylan - "Every Grain of Sand"
  23. The X Seamen's Institute - "Shenandoah

You can listen to From His Home to Yours on demand, and to rebroadcasts on E Street Radio — Springsteen's third "channel takeover" will be airing numerous times in the coming week, starting today at 5pm ET. Free streaming for SiriusXM and E Street Radio has been extended through May 31.

- May 6, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS THREE

Bruce Springsteen: From His Home, to Yours…, the Guest DJ series he premiered during the coronavirus lockdown, continues with Part 3 tomorrow on E Street Radio.

The SiriusXM blog offers a preview of his selections:

During Part 3 of the Bruce Springsteen From His Home, To Yours… series, Springsteen will once again select some of his favorite songs, as well as share his exclusive stories and words of encouragement during these troubled times. Tune in to the premiere on Wednesday, May 6 at 10am ET to hear songs from Bob DylanJohn FogertyPublic EnemyPet Shop BoysJackson Browne, and more. This episode will also be available On Demand after it airs. 

Tune in Wednesday, May 6, at 10am ET for the first listen; repeat broadcasts will follow starting that afternoon at 5pm. E Street Radio is streaming free on SiriusXM through May 15 for the coronavirus lockdown.
- May 5, 2020


BACKSTREETS PRESENTS
Celebrating the Rock and Roll Future anniversary on Instagram Live

It was 46 years ago, this Saturday, May 9, that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band opened for Bonnie Raitt in Cambridge, MA, when Jon Landau, in his legendary review, declared: "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen."

To celebrate this historic event, Backstreets will go LIVE on Instagram this Saturday at 4pm ET, 1pm PT, as we host photographer Barry Schneier, who was in the house at the Harvard Square Theatre and wrote the book on that night.

Author of Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Roll Future from Backstreets Publishing, Barry will be discussing the events that led up to the Cambridge bill, his involvement with show and its promoters, and the stories and photos of the performance from his unique vantage point that are captured in the book. He'll take questions, too — we hope you'll join us for this fun, live, and interactive event on Instagram.
- May 5, 2020 - photograph by Barry Schneier


SOCK IT TO ME, BABY! THE RIVER ROLLS INTO SUMMER '81
Out today: final night of Brendan Byrne stand, July 9, 1981

I could not have anticipated how moving it would be to revisit this particular show for the first time in years, especially during such a dystopian moment. I was lucky enough to first see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in 1978 (alas, only three times) but by the time the River tour rolled around, I hit the road, seeing more than 50 shows. Sometimes, I'd call in sick from work to hop into a car and drive (if the distance proved feasible); in September 1981, I actually quit my job to drive cross-country and see the last two dates in Cincinnati. No regrets!

All of which is to say that I spent the summer of 1981 going to show after show. And that began with a six-night run at the Meadowlands, the last of which, July 9, 1981, is today's First Friday release as Brendan Byrne Arena 1981. As the Archive Series' fifth original River tour nod, it presents a host of songs that were new to American audiences that summer, a dazzling array of covers, and a guest spot by Gary U.S. Bonds.

These were the first-ever live shows at the newly-christened Brendan Byrne Arena, and the first dates after the European swing. The show had evolved overseas, morphing from its original model — a mix of the somber and dramatic, with moments of light (courtesy of the River rockers) — to a more cohesive, better balanced presentation.

The early River shows tried to pack in nearly every song on the double album; by this point, the show was shorter on the ballads ("Stolen Car," "The Price You Pay," "Drive All Night," et al.) and the pacing had tightened considerably. Now, over two taut sets, genres crossed effortlessly, weaving in ballads with the rockers. And new songs appeared, too.

Music from July 9 leaps out of the speakers sounding as fresh as the day it happened, starting with two well-known-and-loved anthems ("Thunder Road," "Prove It All Night"), which dovetailed into "The Ties That Bind." Following the customary but majestic "Darkness on the Edge of Town," Bruce's exquisite arrangement of Elvis Presley's "Follow That Dream" appeared, the first new song of the night.

Before "Independence Day," Springsteen spoke of a recent visit to his father, who had been ill. "Family is forever," he reminded the audience, a lesson he admitted that he learned later in life — one which he was hopeful that we, the audience, would take to heart. The warmth of Clarence's sax solo lit up the cavernous room, only the sixth time it had been used since its official opening one week before. The rock followed: "Who'll Stop the Rain," framed by Max's crashing drums, careened into "Two Hearts" and then "The Promised Land."

At this point, we all breathed, and Bruce stepped to the mic stand with his guitar for "This Land is Your Land." As he strummed a few chords before starting to sing, a firecracker went off, piercing the quiet. This understandably rattled Bruce, who had been struck in the face by a firecracker in 1978 on New Years Eve in Cleveland. For the first time, if I'm not mistaken, he cursed on stage, asking those near the perpetrator to throw him out of the arena. "Whoever you are," Springsteen seethed, "you are no friend of mine."

Once Bruce collected himself, the Woody Guthrie song segued seamlessly into the poignant harp lead-in for "The River." Miami Steve's harmonies during the keening at the end were positively unearthly. Next came Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped," which had debuted in Europe. I remember viscerally how its quiet, intense beginning crashed into the chorus, lights blazing, then all went quiet and dark again, showcasing the band's expert ability to turn on a dime. "Out in the Street" and an exhilarating "Badlands" ended the first set.


Today's release is sourced from 24-track tapes, thanks to a Record Plant mobile recording unit on the scene in '81, Plangent Processed and freshly mixed for the archive series as usual by Jon Altschiller

A quartet of River rockers led the second set, including the endearing Jersey love story "Sherry Darling" (where the tradition of Bruce dancing with an audience member began) and "Hungry Heart," preceded by the now-familiar audience singalong of the first verse (another tradition born of this tour). Special guest Gary U.S. Bonds joined in for the rollicking cajun classic "Jole Blon" and a Bruce original, "This Little Girl," both new songs from his comeback album — the spectacular Dedication, produced by Miami Steve with help from his friend Bruce, which had been released just two months prior.

Again we paused, this time for "Johnny Bye-Bye," a tender ballad about Elvis Presley by someone who loved him dearly. Now moved from its usual place in the first set, an ineffably sad and sweet "Racing in the Street" followed, its long coda punctuated by Bruce's guitar: it sounded like bells ringing as he lifted it up, seemingly an offer to the audience, acknowledging us as the song went on.

Then, the show headed for the home stretch, with barely a pause before "Ramrod" in all its raunchy, silly glory, the perfect segue for "Rosalita." It was pure magic as Clarence stepped to the mic and sang in his deep baritone: "the night was dark, and the moon was yellow, and the leaves came tumbling…." prior to Bruce hitting those classic opening notes and the arena exploding in delight.

The encores kicked off with Tom Waits' stunning ballad "Jersey Girl," which Bruce had played for the first time on opening night. Originally on Waits' Heartattack and Vine, the song became something of a signature cover for Springsteen, aided in part by the version recorded this very night: it appeared officially as the B-side to "Cover Me" in 1984; and again, this time without the spoken introduction, as the closing track on the Live/1975-85 box set in 1986.

After "Jungleland" and "Born to Run," we were completely shaken and stirred by the "Detroit Medley," particularly by newly-added segments: another Mitch Ryder hit in "Sock it to Me!"; a reprise of "Sweet Soul Music" (which the band teased earlier as the "Spotlight on the Big Man" during "Rosalita"); and Sam Cooke's "Shake." By the time Bruce grabbed the microphone in the last moments on stage that night to attest that he is a prisoner of rock 'n' roll, we knew that we were too, and we always will be.

All net proceeds from the sale of the Brendan Byrne 1981 set will be donated to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

Also read: Erik Flannigan's latest Nugs blog entry, "Thank You Guys For Making This Really Seem Like Home"

- May 1, 2020 - Holly Cara Price reporting - cover photograph by Jim Marchese


WORLD PREMIERE: DISCIPLE OF SOUL JESSIE WAGNER GOES SOLO
New single "Over and Over" on Little Steven's Wicked Cool Records

You've seen Jessie Wagner on stage with Little Steven — in photographs here on Backstreets, if not live in concert — as she sang and go-go'd her heart out with the Disciples of Soul, on both their Soulfire and Summer of Sorcery tours. Now she's entering a new phase of working with Stevie, as his label Wicked Cool Records is releasing her first solo single.


Wagner (left) with the Disciples of Soul, now taking her own shot - photograph by Rene van Diemen

Especially if you love the 20 Feet From Stardom documentary like we do, you'll be jazzed to see Jessie (who has also toured with Lenny Kravitz, Chic, Kid Rock, and Duran Duran) break out on her own. Right at a sweet spot where Soulfire meets Dusty in Memphis, driven by her lustrous lead vocal, "Over and Over" is soulful, sultry, and dripping with horns. And you can hear it here first!

Gearing us up for her solo debut, Stevie says: "You've gotten to know Jessie the Disciple of Soul these past couple of years, now you’re about to meet Jessie the Artist. It’s an entirely different, very exciting side of her we are very proud to introduce. Her music is eclectic, unique, and impossible to categorize, which makes her the perfect Wicked Cool artist. Turn it up and enjoy!"

"Over and Over" features contributions from two more Disciples of Soul, bandleader Marc Ribler on guitar and longtime E Street ally Eddie Manion on saxophone.

The song, Jessie says, "is my cheeky tune about easily falling in love, but not staying in love. It's a playful take on having a wandering eye, but possibly finding the right guy in the end. Its bluesy, country rock sound perfectly encapsulates the tone of my upcoming album, Shoes Droppin" — also on Wicked Cool Records and expected this fall.


photograph by Rene van Diemen

"Working with Steven is a masterclass in understanding music composition and production," Wagner says. "He has such a keen ear and knows exactly how he wants everything to feel and sound."

And when quarantine is lifted and the Disciples are back in action? "I would gladly do another tour with Steven. He always took great care of the band and I'll always be forever grateful for his generosity and kindness."

"Over and Over" B/W "Put Off Saying Goodbye" will be officially released tomorrow, April 30, on digital platforms as well as on black-and-yellow vinyl from Wicked Cool.

Follow Jessie Wagner on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram; follow Wicked Cool Records on  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.

- April 29, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting

LAND OF HOPE AND STREAMS, for APRIL 28
As we all stay hunkered down, while that wild wind blows outside, there's no shortage of new, at-home entertainment to keep our ears and hearts happy, thanks to so many musicians and artists who keep doing their thing. We're grateful to them all. Yesterday we spotlighted Melissa Etheridge's recent all-Springsteen set; there's a lot more new content out there from Friends of Bruce, fans paying tribute, and other related artists. Time for a round-up.

UPCOMING: Quaransteen
This Friday, singer-songwriters Anthony D'Amato and Brian Dunne are teaming up for Quaransteen, a special joint livestream show of Springsteen songs and stories.

D'Amato, a Backstreets scribe before the bright lights came calling, has been quarantined in New Orleans, where he's been living since January. "We were expecting to be back north by now, but the virus has pretty much frozen everything in place," he tells us. "As much as I love New Orleans, my heart is with my family back in New Jersey, and this show is hopefully a way to channel that worried energy into something positive."

Live on Instagram, May 1 at 8pm ET, the performance will benefit the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund. "The show will be free," D'Amato says, "but if people want to support the cause, they can donate any time via and 100% of proceeds will be sent to the NJPRF."

Follow @briandunnemusic and @anthdamatomusic on Instagram for details on how to tune in Friday night. 

UPCOMING: Hungry Heart U.K. 24 Hour Springsteen-athon
These days, the Springsteen-dedicated club nights sponsored by Hungry Heart U.K. gone virtual like most everything, with Bruce fans connecting online rather than on shared dancefloor to get their ya-yas out. Get a taste of those house parties here. This weekend, they're going one step beyond, rocking around the clock with a 24-hour, non-stop, no-sleep Bruce Springsteen-athon.

Hungry Heart founder Hannah Summers tells Backstreets, "With Springsteen known for his marathon sets, we felt we had to do this! We'll be starting on Saturday, May 2, at 1pm BST (8am ET), through to the same time on Sunday... We’ll be going for the duration without sleeping, entirely DJing, and taking requests and shout-outs... or even marriage proposals!"

Of course, not everyone needs to go sleepless in order to participate. "The 24 hours will be divided up into sets, festival-style," Hannah says, with family hours, covers, smooth sessions, and party bangers all featured," so you can tune in at any time.

The weekend event, which welcomes fans from all over the world, is also a fundraiser: "We’re aiming to raise £10,000 for several UK charities – Childline, Barts Trust, Trussell Trust, Hospice UK and Age UK." Click here for their Virgin Money Giving page, and you'll find the livestream link and more information at hungryheartevents.com.

ONGOING (weekly): Jesse Malin's The Fine Art of Self Distancing
Every Saturday, you can tune in to a livestreamed couch concert by Jesse Malin, live from his New York City living room. Jesse is "playing songs, telling stories, doing bits and motivational backflips. It’s free, but with an option for donations that will help me, the band and road crew get through this crazy time of tour cancellations and postponements." The sixth installment is coming up May 2 at 4pm ET on YouTube.

ONGOING (daily): Elliott Murphy's Corona Couch Concert
Like Etheridge, Bruce's pal Elliott Murphy is living it every day, with a daily livestreamed performance:

"Every night just after 8:00PM Paris time (2:00PM EST and 11:00AM PST), Elliott will be live on Instagram and Facebook to play a few songs. Just Elliott and his guitar (well, maybe a few surprises here and there). France is on a very strict lockdown due to the Coronavirous and everyone is confined indoors. What better way to pass the time than to listen to some classic Elliott Murphy songs in a special, intimate setting."

ONGOING (weekly): Joe Grushecky's Live From Joe's Place
Joe Grushecky rocks the house every Wednesday night at 8pm ET, also on Facebook and Instagram, with stories and acoustic performances.

ONGOING (weekly): Jeff Kazee's Live from the Living Room Lounge in Astoria, Queens
Longtime keyboardist, bandleader and collaborator for Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes has done five of these Facebook Live concerts so far, every Wednesday night. The next one looks particularly enticing: coming Wednesday April 29 at 8pm, the sixth episode will be an "All New Jersey" special.

Jeff will perform the music of various New Jersey musicians on his home piano and share personal stories of how the musical selections have impacted his life and career.

"New Jersey has turned out so many stellar musicians," says Kazee (right), "and I’ve picked four artists that have been highly present in the playlist of my life: Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and from the band that I’m in, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. I've been lucky enough to actually perform with three of these artists in various settings, and I've always been interested in re-arranging some of their songs to fit my style and interpretation. And to do it in a sport coat and pajamas, in my living room? Well, that’s quite a bonus."

ARCHIVED: Garry Tallent and the Long Players salute John Prine
Last Wednesday, April 22, E Street band bassist Garry Tallent took part in a tribute to legendary singer/songwriter John Prine coordinated by The Long Players.

The Long Players are an all-star Nashville-based band formed in 2004 by power-pop/roots-rock/country legend Bill Lloyd. Tallent was a steady member until 2008 when, as the Players' website states, he bowed out "for obvious reasons," at which point the bass spot was taken over by musician/songwriter/producer Brad Jones (Jill Sobule, Hayes Carll, Steve Forbert). But Garry rejoins the fold every chance he gets.

"A Sequestered Singer/Songwriter Celebration" features a stellar lineup of the cream of the Nashville scene; along with Garry, Chuck Mead, Kim Richey, Shawn Camp, Radney Foster and others made appearances. As is tradition, the Long Players chose an entire album — as they've done in the past with Darkness on the Edge of Town and Born to Run — and this time the LP in question was the late John Prine's classic, Bruised Orange.  

The album is perfomed in its sequential order, and Garry delivers a lively , rockabilly-styled solo acoustic version of the record's second track, "There She Goes," right after Players founder Bill Lloyd's moving version of album-opener "Fish and Whistle." The Long Players' John Prine tribute is online via YouTube, and Garry's track starts at the 4:21 mark. 

ARCHIVED and ONGOING: Morrison Hotel Gallery's Behind the Lens
Our friends at Morrison Hotel Gallery have connections with a whole host of rock 'n' roll photographers, and as many of them are featured in their Behind the Lens Instagram Live/IGTV series, the shared stories and images are often of interest to Springsteen fans. Most recently, sister Pam Springsteen was the featured photographer for Episode 12, a wonderful hour (storytelling is in the blood, apparently) and if you missed the live event, it has been archived on Vimeo. Watch here.

Also of particular interest to Springsteen fans — and archived for online viewing any time — are Episode 2: At Home with Danny Clinch, Episode 3: At Home with Lynn Goldsmith, Episode 5: At Home with Neal Preston, and Episode 10: At Home with Timothy White, . Keep up with future installments on the Gallery's blog.

ARCHIVED and (we hope) ONGOING: Bruce Springsteen
The Jersey4Jersey benefit for the NJPRF was, for a time, only repeatable on AppleTV, the full hour is now on YouTube, including Springsteen and Patti Scialfa dueting on "Land of Hope and Dreams" and "Jersey Girl."

Bruce Springsteen: From His Home to Yours... is his special guest DJ series on E Street Radio, which has now aired two episodes of his suggested "music for troubled times." All fingers crossed for a third (keep an eye on the SiriusXM blog for announcements). You can find scheduled reairings here, and we've recapped Part 1 and Part 2 below, with playlists.

That's it for today... if you know of an upcoming streaming event, or if we missed something here, let us know and we'll spread the word next time. Stay home, stay safe, stay well!
- April 28, 2020 - Christopher Phillips and John Howie Jr. reporting


40 DAYS OUT, ETHERIDGE SALUTES SPRINGSTEEN FROM HOME

While hunkered down at home in California, Melissa Etheridge has been delivering a free daily online live concert for her fans. She plays live each day — seven days a week — at 6pm ET via Facebook, and each show is archived on her YouTube channel shortly thereafter. Originally intended to run fifteen minutes or so per day, each of Etheridge's daily performances now averages up to an hour or so of live music every 24 hours. She clearly is enjoying this chance to connect regularly with her worldwide audience.

This past Friday, Day 40 of the series was marked with something special that Etheridge had promised to deliver: an all-Springsteen set. Her in-home "stage" was transformed for the day into Etheridge's own personal Springsteen shrine, complete with a vintage Born in the U.S.A. Tour shirt draped over her mantle, behind a microphone-stand-mounted photo of her performing with Springsteen in Milwaukee on October 2, 1996.

Rather than share any specific setlist details, we encourage you to experience Etheridge's show as it was intended: a totally live, one-woman tribute to Bruce from a genuine fan who also happens to be a talented, world-famous musician herself. There were more than a few surprises along the way; Etheridge assembled a great set of songs to cover, along with some fine introductions and stories to accompany them. In the process, you'll get to hear many new layers of meaning added to Bruce's work when performed by the U.S.'s first openly lesbian rock star.

Dive in on YouTube to spend an hour or so celebrating Bruce Springsteen with Melissa Etheridge at home. You'll be glad you did.
- April 27, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting

ANDREW "HOOD" KAFAFIAN, R.I.P.
"Mayor of Jukesville" Mike Saunders raises a glass

Jukesville has been a sad place these last few days, following the passing of Hood — the legendary stage manager, roadie, driver, load-in/load-out supervisor, expert van-packer, jack of all trades, archivist, one-finger keyboard player for (and huge fan of) Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, who passed away in his sleep several months after surviving a major heart attack.

Since the news broke last week, tributes have been pouring in from Jukes past and present, and from the many fans who'd met him at the shows.

My friend Dave and I (aka The Druids) first met Hood at Jukestock in March 2001, although we'd heard of him long before that. It was our great pleasure to work with him as members of the Jukes road crew on seven tours (85 shows) in the U.K., France, Germany, and the Netherlands between 2001 and 2006.

We travelled many miles together, from the Astoria in London and the Ferry in Glasgow to Le Trabendo in Paris and the Amsterdam Paradiso. After that, we remained friends and would hang out with him at Jukes gigs on both sides of the Atlantic. We last saw him a year ago on the band's most recent U.K. tour. He always greeted us with "My favorite Druids!" and he nicknamed me The Mayor of Jukesville.


Hood with Druid Dave Percival

When we began working as The Druids in June 2001, Hood took us under his wing, showed us where to position everything onstage, how to plug it in, and how to break it all down again.

For our part, we helped him to acclimatize to temporary life in the U.K. He was like a fish out of water at first ("Why is there no ice? These bills don't stay crisp!"). The food was a challenge, too. If it wasn't a burger or fries, he wouldn't touch it. Sometimes he wouldn't touch it even if it was a burger and fries.

He rarely drank anything but soda and put ketchup on everything, including a traditional British Sunday roast. But finally, after five U.K. tours, he enjoyed one meal so much that he complimented the chef.

In Utrecht in 2003, Hood declined the opportunity to eat at an African restaurant with the band and crew. "I can't eat anything that I've seen running around on TV," he said, then went in search of the nearest McDonald's. The irony was lost on him.


Jukes road crew, Amsterdam, 2005 (L-R): Hood, Mike Saunders, Dave Percival, Sean Giblin, Joe Prinzo

We have many priceless memories of our time on the road with Hood, and a million great stories. Beneath that deceptively gruff exterior lay a heart of gold and the soul of a music fan.

It has to be said that Hood wasn't a man who had much understanding of history or culture. When visiting the Stonehenge ancient monument, he asked: "If it's so popular, why don't they build more of them?" And having been shown around the ruins of a castle, he asked why they didn't just knock it down and build condos.

We would sometimes watch the show from the side of the stage and ended up watching Hood instead. When he wasn't racing across the stage to fix something, he'd be mouthing the words and dancing along. He was the Jukes' biggest fan and had been watching them play since the '70s.

One of my fondest memories is of seeing Hood sitting in the loading bay at Fairfield Hall in Croydon, smoking a joint beside a giant "No Smoking" sign. That summed him up perfectly. It was one of the best pictures that I never took.


Hood spots a distant relative, Longleat Safari Park, 2008

I also remember, while being driven around Longleat Safari Park in the tour bus in 2008, Hood saw a gazelle walking past and asked, with a straight face, if it was a unicorn.

We thought the worst when he had his heart attack last year — he was in the hospital a long time — but he came through it and had even gone back on the road with the Jukes. By all accounts, his last months were happy ones.


On board the SS Great Britain Victorian steamship, Bristol, 2005

Now he's joined the other Jukes and crew members who've gone before us. He's probably already working with Steve Becker, Louie Appel, George Ruiz, Kevin Kavanaugh, and Carlo Novi. And once he's finished packing the truck, he'll be sharing a joint or three with sound man Sean Giblin and fellow roadie Tim Holland.

My condolences to his partner Karen, to his son, and to the band. Jukesville will never be quite the same. So long, Hood, and thanks for the memories.
- April 27, 2020 - Mike Saunders reporting - photograph of Southside and Hood via southsidejohnny.com - additional photographs from The Druid Archive, courtesy Dave Percival

AND HEAR YOUR SISTER'S VOICE…
Morrison Hotel Gallery's Behind the Lens series has been spotlighting stellar photographers on Instagram Live, including many connected to This Thing of Ours: Timothy White, Neal Preston, Lynn Goldsmith, Danny Clinch... and for the latest episode, Pamela Springsteen.

View this post on Instagram

TOMORROW | Taking family snapshots to the next level is Behind The Lens, Episode 12 featured artist Pamela Springsteen (@pamspringsteen). Beyond noteworthy photos of her older brother, Bruce (@springsteen), Pamela’s remarkable oeuvre encompasses compelling subjects including but not limited to Lenny Kravitz, Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and Trent Reznor. Yet more than the sum of its famed sitter, what remains integral to a quintessential Pamela Springsteen portrait is the stylized sensibility she brings to each and every frame. Underscored by a frank Americana grit not entirely unlike that of Diane Arbus or Al Clayton, Springsteen's body of work is distinctive yet indescribable. This Sunday, April 26, however, the MHG photographer shares live the stories and processes behind some of her most exceptional photographs for Behind The Lens, Episode 12. #morrisonhotelgallery

A post shared by Morrison Hotel Gallery (@morrisonhotelgallery) on

Tune in today, Sunday April 26, at 5pm ET.

- April 26, 2020

FROM HIS HOME TO YOURS, S01 E02
"Greetings E Street Nation, this is Bruce Springsteen coming from my house to yours with music for troubled times. For the next hour or so, I will be your DJ for youir dancing and listening pleasure."

This morning, Springsteen was back in the saddle as special guest on E Street Radio, for Part 2 of his quarantine DJ series Bruce Springsteen: From His Home to Yours.

The first episode, which premiered April 8, caught us up with how the Boss was handling quarantine, locked down on the farm with Ms. Patti Scialfa. He offered both hard truths and comfort throughout a playlist covering numerous themes relating to these dark days. The playbook stayed much the same for episode two — Springsteen's skill in reflecting multiple facets of a subject recalling Tunnel of Love and The Rising — but the second time around it's arguably an even more powerful set of music. No sophomore slump here.

"I hope you've all been staying safe and staying home, because outside the world is roiling." These words preceded "Ball of Confusion," and for the first half-hour or so, Bruce's introductions were to-the-point — noting his fandom of Jimmy Cliff, Social Distortion, and Future Islands ("a band I stumbled on, watching one of the late night shows about a year or so ago, and they've become one of my favorites").

But around the half-hour mark, Bruce began to talk more expansively, about our current troubles, our fears, our country — "I've lived in the United States for 70 years now, and I have to admit I've often been disappointed in our failure to live up to our ideals... But I've never been able to deny that there's a promise that constantly resides in the American people that could make us the great nation we carry in our hearts and our dreams." A familiar and recurring theme from Springsteen and his work, but reflecting on the current moment and introducing a powerful punk rock cover of his own "The Promised Land," by Blacklist Royals. (Great DJs expose us to new music to love — check!)

Debuting "The Wish" 30 years ago, Springsteen bemoaned the dearth of "mother songs" in rock 'n' roll; over the years he's talked about 2Pac's "Dear Mama" as one of his favorites. He played it today for his mother and for yours, with a moving introduction:

One of the hardest things about recent times is the distance you have to place between you and your loved ones... My mom has had Alzheimer's for 10 years, and she lives in the present: this moment, and this moment only, is hers. So touching her and hugging her and kissing her are very, very important for her life experience right now. One of the things we've had to suffer with is that we can't do that right now. For her safety and for her health. So I wanna send this one out to my mom, and to your mom too.

From there, Bruce moved into "The Fuse" portion of the playlist: "There's one thing I know, there are gonna be some babies made over the next few months! Babies are gonna get made! I mean, what else is there to do? I'm gonna grease the wheels right now with one of the sexiest records ever made by one of the sexiest men who ever lived..." That brought Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," followed by Sam Cooke ("the other sexiest man that ever lived!") and "sexy singer" Johnny Nash. With Nash's "Guava Jelly" closing the three-pack Springsteen joked, "I have got to get into the house NOW with Ms. Patti Scialfa!"

In a truly moving pairing, Bruce followed Bily Joel's "New York State of Mind" with his own "New York City Serenade," for NYC and its people. "New York City has struggled so tremendously with this disease... My son lives there, of course we've been worried about him, and everybody else, too." He sent this dynamic duo out specifically to "all the healthcare workers, the doctors and the nurses who have put themselves on the line."

Even though we were getting to the hour-mark at this point, Springsteen had much more delving to do (this second episode was longer than the first, coming in around an hour-forty).

"One the most frustrating things about this virus," he said, "is not knowing how long we're going to have to live like this.... before people are going to be able to trust one another to congregate in large groups, for music, sports, family gatherings... it's very disheartening." Noting that he's been marking off each day on a blackboard at home, he concluded: "We've got to stay strong, stay home, and stay together, and settle on the fact that it's probably going to be a pretty long walk home."

With that cueing up another one of his own, the modern classic from Magic, it was another fine example of how Bruce's music adapts to the times (think most notably of "My City of Ruins" after 9/11). "Long Walk Home" is sturdy and, perhaps sadly, evergreen.

It's also representative of one thing we turn to Springsteen's music for: hard truths, well said. The full spectrum, even when it ain't pretty. So it shouldn't be a surprise that, in the same hour as "Stayin' Alive," Bruce beheld death, on an intimate level, with George Jones' "A Picture of Me Without You" as he prefaced the song:

I think one of the hardest things in diffifcult times is keeping faith. Not letting the struggle and the pain and the loss grief overcome you. That's very, very hard. There's a lot of people that have suffered a lot of loss over these days. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you. But I know that is cold comfort for those who have lost husbands and wives and sons and daughters.

And finally, Springsteen zoomed back out to take the nation's temperature. He recommended and read from a New York Times op-ed, one "I would advise everyone to read," called "The America We Need." You can read it here.

Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" is breathtaking on any occasion, but in this context, and followed by "Inner City Blues," Bruce's second From His Home playlist has reached and maintained epic proportions. "The current pandemic has laid bare the inequalities in health and wealth that plague our nation… As the great Marvin Gaye said, it makes you want to holler."

After a brush with death and darkness, more delights in the "encore" warm us back up: Springsteen namechecks the Replacements as he cues up a marvelous Slim Dunlap song, the title track from 1996's Times Like This ("Slim Dunlap is, in my opinion, is simply one of the best songwriters we have"), graces us with a second Jimmy Cliff track ("always one of my favorite, favorite musicians"), and delivers some good-for-the-soul gospel.

"I've enjoyed spending this time with you... To take us out, there is a group with a wonderful name —  they are called The Consolers. Something we could use a little bit of right now. Until we speak again, stay safe."

Playlist:

  1. Frank Bey and the Anthony Paule Band - "Town Without Pity"
  2. The Temptations - "Ball of Confusion"
  3. Future Islands - "Seasons (Waiting on You)"
  4. Jimmy Cliff - "Sufferin' in the Land"
  5. Bee Gees - "Stayin' Alive"
  6. Social Distortion - "Bad Luck"
  7. Blacklist Royals - "The Promised Land"
  8. 2Pac - "Dear Mama"
  9. Marvin Gaye - "Sexual Healing"
  10. Sam Cooke - "Good Times"
  11. Johnny Nash - "Guava Jelly"
  12. Billy Joel - "New York State of Mind"
  13. Bruce Springsteen - "New York City Serenade"
  14. Bruce Springsteen - "Long Walk Home"
  15. George Jones - "A Picture of Me Without You"
  16. Bob Dylan - "Not Dark Yet"
  17. Marvin Gaye - "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Want to Holler)"
  18. Slim Dunlap - "Times Like This"
  19. The Consolers - "Over Yonder"
  20. Jimmy Cliff - "Many Rivers to Cross
Keep an eye on the SiriusXM blog for From His Home to Yours audio clips, as well as additional airtimes — Springsteen's second "channel takeover" will be airing several more times over the weekend. E Street Radio streams for free through May 15.

- April 24, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


ELECTRIC BOOGALOO

When the Boss played DJ on April 8, a special hour-plus session of words and music called Bruce Springsteen: From His Home to Yours..., we were left hoping it wouldn't be just a one-shot. And sure enough, a second episode will premiere tomorrow on E Street Radio.

So if Bruce spinning tracks from his personal collection and checking in from the farm with words of encouragement sounds good for your heart and soul, be sure to come back for round two. The SiriusXM blog offers a preview of his selections:

During the second episode, Springsteen will once again take over E Street Radio as a guest DJ to spin some of the songs he's been listening to while stuck at home, as well as share more uplifting thoughts. Listeners will hear an eclectic selection of songs by Billy JoelThe Temptations, Tupac Shakur, the Bee GeesJimmy CliffFuture Islands, and more. 

Tune in Friday, April 24, at 10am for the first listen; repeat broadcasts will follow starting that afternoon at 4pm. E Street Radio is streaming free on SiriusXM through May 15 for the coronavirus lockdown.
- April 23, 2020


JERSEY 4 JERSEY TONIGHT: HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN
Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, and many more Garden Staters are taking part in tonight's JERSEY 4 JERSEY broadcast, an hour-long benefit for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. While Springsteen enterntained us from home with a fine DJ set on E Street Radio a couple weeks ago, this will be our first chance to see him perform since the pandemic began.

For fans around the world hoping to watch, we've rounded up some info that might help.

If you're anywhere near the New Jersey Turnpike, you'll have no trouble tuning in tonight — the telethon is being broadcast on multiple networks from Philly to NYC, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and WPIX. Elsewhere, it could also be worth checking local TV listings, just in case.

AppleTV makes it easy, if you have it, with no subscription required in the U.S. (international streaming is available via Apple with a subscription).

But if those options don't work, your best bet might be to spend a night with the Jersey Devils: the benefit will be streaming at NewJerseyDevils.com/Jersey4Jersey.

The Devils' site also points to their home arena's Prucenter.com, which provides a "Watch on Facebook" link... could be the most promising for those outside of the U.S.

If you'd rather not use your eyeballs, radio options include E Street Radio on SiriusXM, Apple Music, and numerous stations in the region.

How to Watch/How to Listen from NJPRF.org

JERSEY 4 JERSEY is a one-hour broadcast, airing from 7 to 8pm tonight, April 22. Donations to the NJPRF can be made here.

- April 22, 2020


WHERE THE BANDANAS ARE
With the release of Western Stars, here at Backstreet Records we were able to offer an official Springsteen bandana as a promotional giveaway. With the Western Stars movie and soundtrack, a second exclusive bandana design. All cool enough... but of course we had no inkling how useful they might turn out to be.

Since seeing these Springsteen bandanas repurposed as masks on social media, a few readers have been asking about them — we cannot sell them outright, since they were provided to us as promotional items. But we DO still have bandanas available.

While the first design (the WS horse on navy) is sold out, the second bandana design (gray, with Bruce and his horse in silhouette, pictured below) is still in stock, still shipping out FREE from Backstreet Records with any format of Western Stars.

We're sending out a FREE official Springsteen bandana with each of the following:

Of course, we can make no medical recommendations or statements as to the efficacy of improvised face-coverings for health purposes; we point you to CDC guidelines, with useful links from the CDC: Cloth Face Coverings: Questions and Answers and Consumer Reports.

Also note, the CDC recommends multiple layers for an effective face covering. There are useful online tutorials for easily turning a bandana into a face mask with multiple layers of fabric, including this one, or adding a coffee filter.

Stop the spread, stay safe, stay well if you can!

- April 20, 2020

GET-WELL WISHES FOR COVID-19 SURVIVOR EVERETT BRADLEY
Chris Jordan's April 15 Asbury Park Press feature on Jon Bon Jovi's participation in the upcoming Jersey 4 Jersey benefit and other COVID-19 relief efforts was an informative read. Bon Jovi provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the benefit — featuring the involvement of both Bruce Springsteen and his longtime manager Jon Landau —came together, and what to expect from Wednesday's impressive talent lineup.

Bon Jovi also talked about the personal impact that COVID-19 has had on his family and band members. In the process, he revealed information previously unknown to most of E Street Nation: Everett Bradley, who has served stints with the E Street Band as well as with Bon Jovi and many other famous acts, has been battling the coronavirus.

"Everett had it bad," said Bon Jovi, but then quickly added, "He's about 85 percent on the road to recovery."

Alarming news, for sure, though it's a relief to hear that Everett is on the mend. Get well soon, Papadelic; we love you!
- April 19, 2020


LONG DISTANCE SALVATION
The 6 Feet Covers project, spearheaded by Activista Los Angeles, is promoting social distancing in a creative way: by digitally altering famous album-cover photos so that each subject appears to be at least six feet apart from any other. Among their latest reimaginings: Born to Run, updated for 2020 as a COVID-19-conscious sleeve.

In addition to the social distancing endorsement, the 6 Feet Covers site is also encouraging visitors to support the Feeding America COVID-19 Response Fund.
- April 17, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting - original Born to Run cover photograph by Eric Meola

AN EPISODE FOR THE VIETNAM VETERAN
None But the Brave podcast explores Springsteen’s landmark '81 benefit
One of Bruce Springsteen’s best-known concerts is the topic for the newest installment of None But the Brave, the podcast series hosted by longtime Backstreets contributor Flynn McLean and Hal Schwartz. A Night for the Vietnam Veteran, a benefit concert Springsteen and the E Street Band played in Los Angeles toward the end of the 1980-'81 River tour, is credited as a turning point for the Vietnam veterans movement — and a performance high-water mark for Bruce and the band.

"Whether it’s the best show Springsteen played is a matter of debate," says Backstreets Associate Editor Jonathan Pont, who joins the co-hosts for the episode. "There's an unusual intensity about the music that night for sure. What's always been plain is how consequential the Vets Show was, for Bruce himself, and certainly for others."

In 2001, to mark the concert's 20th anniversary, Backstreets #72 (pictured right, now sold out) featured an unprecedented look back on that night; at its center was an exclusive interview with Bob Muller, the Marine Corps veteran whose wounding in Vietnam led him to a life of service — and a fortuitous meeting with Bruce Springsteen in 1981. Muller was president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, the benefiary of Springsteen's concert on August 20, 1981.

The new episode, the 13th in the podcast's run, uses the Backstreets Q+A with Muller as a way to sift the night’s meaning and music.

Pont's None But the Brave appearance marks the first time McLean and Schwartz have invited a guest onto their podcast.

"We all went back and played those magnificent audience recordings," Pont says of preparing for the discussion. "There’s so much going in that show, whether the range of covers [Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimmy Cliff, Woody Guthrie, Roger McGuinn], the public lament for Elvis Presley, or the books Springsteen talks about having read in Europe a few months before — it’s the loudest, most grand history lesson rock 'n' roll ever had."

Episode 13 of None But the Brave appears today — subscribe here, or listen on your favorite podcast platform.
- April 16, 2020

A VIRTUAL RIDE TO THE JERSEY SIDE: NJPRF BENEFIT APRIL 22
Last week we got to hear from Bruce Springsteen via E Street Radio, playing DJ from home and sharing some restorative words along the way... but he didn't actually perform. Next week, he will — as part of the JERSEY 4 JERSEY fundraiser to benefit the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. The April 22 broadcast — which will be carried on ABC, as well as other outlets, at 7pm ET — was announced today on Good Morning America.

Further details:

The one-night event featuring Bruce Springsteen, Saquon Barkley, Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi, Danny DeVito, Whoopi Goldberg, Halsey, Chelsea Handler, Charlie Puth, Kelly Ripa, Jon Stewart and SZA, will raise funds to fight the impact of COVID-19

Special evening will be broadcast at 7pm ET on Wednesday, April 22 

Today, the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF) announced JERSEY 4 JERSEY - a one-night broadcast fundraiser to fight the medical, social and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable communities.

This special evening will feature New Jersey’s biggest champions and celebrities participating from their homes. This recognition of New Jersey’s strength and character will also include first-hand accounts from front-line workers and citizens impacted by the pandemic.

Jersey 4 Jersey will be broadcast at 7 PM EST on Wednesday, April 22, on Apple Music and AppleTV apps, worldwide. It will also be broadcast live and rebroadcast on SiriusXM E Street Radio and carried on a variety of television and radio stations. 

“New Jersey is on the front lines of this pandemic, making it more important than ever for us to do what Jersey does best – take care of one another,” said New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy. “That’s why we’re asking everyone in our state to join the NJPRF and some of New Jersey’s finest for some much-needed musical entertainment, levity and Jersey Pride during these unprecedented times.”

Besides raising funds for NJPRF.org, JERSEY 4 JERSEY will honor those on New Jersey’s front lines, including healthcare workers, first responders and other essential employees. The event also will remind all those tuning in about how they can help stop the spread. 

JERSEY 4 JERSEY will be produced by Joel Gallen, who recently produced the iHeart Living Room Concert Benefit for Fox, in addition to numerous other fundraising television events including the award-winning telethon that immediately followed September 11.

- April 14, 2020


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MAX WEINBERG, REVISITING HIS ROOTS
For Mighty Max's birthday today, let's spend a little time with him the way we're spending time with all our friends these days... in a small box on the computer screen. This is a great little clip, though, delving into one of his most famous performances — the towering drums on "Born in the U.S.A.", recorded 38 years ago this month, in April 1982. Returning to The Power Station, where The River and Born in the U.S.A. took shape, Max recreates his parts and discusses the famous drum breakdown. "That song, on that night… I think we hit it out of the park." We'll second that. Have a swinging birthday, Max!

- April 13, 2020


LET US NOW PRAISE JOHN PRINE
Paying tribute to the late, great (well done, hot dog bun) national treasure

As Little Steven announced on Thursday, his Sirius/XM Outlaw Country Channel 60 will be dedicating this whole weekend to John Prine and his music, through Monday April 12 at 4am ET. Special programming includes special tributes from Steve Earle on his regular show The Steve Earle: Hardcore Troubadour Radio and The Buddy & Jim Show featuring Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, along with specials on Prine’s Tree of Forgiveness and For Better or Worse albums. Tune in if you can.

Along with Springsteen’s thoughts expressed on this week’s Sirius/XM radio special [top], Bruce, Stevie, and fellow E Streeters Nils Lofgren and Garry Tallent weighed in on Twitter with their tributes, along with countless other Prine fans. Jason Isbell, one of the finest songwriters and musicians of a generation younger than Springsteen and Prine, who credits them both as major influences, wrote a column for the New York Times. Here at Backstreets — even though we know Prine will surely find the afterlife grand — we all share the community's sense of profound loss.

I never met John Prine, but then again, maybe I did.

If you ever find yourself in the dust bowl emptiness of Oklahoma's panhandle, and you keep driving south to the town of Perryton, you will reach an intersection just south of town. If you're like me, you're likely to jump out and shout, "This is it, we're here, this must be it!"

You may pull over and look at the four compass points going off to infinity and swear that the Earth is flat, just the way it looks at the end of the movie Cast Away. One day I found myself at that crossroads, looking out to where the wind fell off the edge of the world.

The cover of John Prine's album The Tree of Forgiveness, captured by Danny Clinch, is a photograph of someone who has faced down death and reached a point where he looks like a deer caught in the headlights of heaven's door. It is a remarkable image, in the way an artist known for his wry humor just stares out at the viewer to say "Here I am, this is me, this is life."

A survivor of two bouts with cancer, Prine looks at the camera with the eyes of one who can laugh at himself and his small place in a universe where he found his voice and brought us into his world.

One day in the late 1970s when Bruce Springsteen was in my photo studio, he handed me Prine's album Bruised Orange and said, "I think you'll like this." The songs didn't grab me out the gate, but they latched onto me and became a haven from everyday life. Over time, Prine's writing became, for me, all the more powerful for the commonplace it embraces and celebrates.

In spite of himself, John Prine wrote lyrics that define what it is to be human, to be alive, and to forever be at the crossroads between laughter and despair; it's with the honesty of his lyrics that he touched us in a way few musicians have, making us laugh every time we heard his warm, raspy voice telling us about how things were going to be. Few artists move us with words the way he did, in quiet ways that resonate deep in your soul.
- Eric Meola


It's all Bruce Springsteen's fault. Though Backstreets may share part of the blame as well. 

I knew John Prine's name. But that was all I knew. Back then, I doubt I even knew that John Prine had been a mailman in Chicago, or that he (like Bruce and countless others) had been tagged as a "New Dylan" in the early 1970's. 

Then, sometime in late summer or early fall of 1991, I learned — likely from Erik Flannigan via the Backstreets SuperSub hotline — that Bruce was contributing to John Prine's new album. The Missing Years also featured contributions from the likes of Tom Petty, Phil Everly, Bonnie Raitt, and David Lindley. Who was this guy with this many friends in high places?

I bought the CD, listened once (maybe twice), and I was hooked. My John Prine collection grew with each new release (and back catalog purchases along the way), and I believe I caught every tour from the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis on August 25, 1997 to Symphony Hall in Duluth, MN on June 1, 2019. 

What many did not know is that, for years, the Prine organization sold its own modified version of Bruce's will-call (a/k/a jailbait) tickets, intended to prioritize fans over scalpers. Because I was "in the know," I managed to score high quality seats for a dozen or more shows at face value (including dead center front row in Eau Claire, WI a few years ago), and I've always been grateful for that extra effort for the fans.

I am not sure why I adored John Prine as much as I did. One of many reasons I loved him was his ability to write serious songs like "Sam Stone" and "Hello in There," and then offer up songs like "Fish and Whistle," "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian," and "Illegal Smile." 

I never heard a bad John Prine album, and I never saw a bad John Prine show. My lasting memory of John Prine will be watching him dancing off the stage at the end of his set in Duluth. 

Finally, while I do not believe in heaven, I plan to honor John's passing with a vodka and ginger ale, the world's longest cigarette, and a ride with my pretty girl on a tilt-a-whirl. 

When it comes to John Prine, summer's end came way too damn soon. 
- Josh Jacobson

Standing By Peaceful Waters
John Prine 1946-2020

John Prine, three-time Grammy award winner, member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, recipient of the 2016 PEN/Song Lyrics Award, passed away on April 7, 2020 due to complications from Covid-19. Prine was a master songwriter and musician. He was also a very kind, humble, generous, gentle soul who always had a smile on his face and an eye for the best meatloaf dinner in Nashville, Tennessee, his adopted hometown. Prine's independent label Oh Boy Records is based in Nashville, as well.

The paths of John Prine and Bruce Springsteen ran parallel throughout their careers. Prine released his debut album in 1971, just two years prior to Springsteen's Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. Both artists had a touch of the south in their lives, which anchored them and their songwriting in the everyday lives and moments of many of their characters. Prine was born and raised in Maywood, IL, a suburb of Chicago, but his father's family was from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where they often visited his grandparents (which begat one of Prine's most famous songs, "Paradise"). Springsteen, meanwhile, grew up in the "Texas" area of Freehold, New Jersey, home to many migrants of the south who came looking for work in the town's surrounding factories and fields.


Springsteen and Prine together in Tarrytown, NY, 11/12/88, with Garry Fish on guitar. Photograph by Thom Wolke

Both artists, from the beginning of their songwriting careers, focused on the craft of lyric-writing; musically, they combined many of the same sounds and genres, as can be heard on Prine's "Angel From Montgomery," with its blend of guitars, piano, and organ, adding a gospel touch akin to Springsteen's "Racing in the Street." Prine was a folk songwriter and singer in the vein of Woody Guthrie, with touches of Hank Williams and Bob Dylan, and a love of Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard running underneath the surface. Both songwriters were able to be economical and spare at times when needed, but both also knew how to form their lyrics to create a vivid, visual image, like watching a screen at a picture show, a new fresh world opening before your very eyes.

They both touched on many of the same topics, including veterans coming home from Vietnam, fighting to regain their place in the country and at home. Prine's "Sam Stone" can be laid next to Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." and "Shut Out the Light" in their rage against the treatment of returning service members. Prine and Springsteen both wrote many of their songs with great compassion for the everyday lives of blue collar, working class people, their struggles to work, find some happiness, bear the loss of family members and their communities around them.
In the early years of his career, Prine was more a folk artist with touches of country and bluegrass, but as he continued to record and write, he showed more signs of rock 'n' roll, with songs like "Saddle in the Rain," "She Is My Everything," and "Lake Marie," hard, guitar-driven performances.

Prine and Springsteen would never shy away from humor; take Prine's "It's a Big Old Goofy World," full of similes he pulled from puzzle pages he completed with his mom everyday. Springsteen's "My Best Was Never Good Enough," full of similes, is in very similar vein. Prine's "In Spite of Ourselves," sung in duet with Iris Dement, is chock full of blue material and lyrics like "She gets it on like the Easter Bunny… She takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'" — it's in the same family as Springsteen's "Red Headed Woman," with it's "Well I don't know how many girls you've dated/But you ain't lived till you've had your tires rotated/By a red headed woman."

The other great gift they share as songwriters and artists was being able to imagine and write about the lives and circumstances of characters beyond their own personal experience, creating a universe all of their own. Coming from working class families, seeing the hard work their parents put in every day to care for their families, both artists display compassion, humility, and very observant eyes and ears for details and the nuances and vagaries of the human heart. From Donald and Lydia, to Spanish Johnny and Puerto Rican Jane. In "Jesus The Missing Years," Prine develops a whole world of what the historical figure of Jesus Christ was doing between the ages of 13 and 30, while Springsteen imagines an alternate universe life of Christ in "Jesus Was an Only Son."

The "New Dylans"
According to an interview from 2017, Prine first encountered Springsteen seated at a piano at New York City club Max's Kansas City, recalling that he came across at the time as "kind of an introspective singer/songwriter."

The two met again a few years later in Washington, D.C., at a stop on Springsteen's Born to Run tour.

"When he saw me, he got a folding chair and put it by the side of the stage, and then he went out to do the show," Prine said. "And then four songs into it — back then, there was no stopping in between songs, Bruce would hit the stage, do four or five songs with no breath for the audience — he leaned over at one point because he was working his way back to the side of the stage where I was. I'm sitting in the folding chair, and he goes, 'How am I doing?' and the place was coming apart!"

It was a moment that Prine never forgot. "All of a sudden, he was not this introspective singer/songwriter; he was Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, Bob Dylan, all of these rolled into one, and he reminded everybody of what rock 'n' roll was like — just like when the Beatles came over and reminded people of what America had started with rock 'n' roll."

On November 13, 1975, Springsteen and Prine were backstage together at Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review concert in New Haven, CT. We have photographic evidence of the occasion, thanks to Ken Regan and Getty Images (Springsteen's then-girlfriend Karen Darvin is also in the shot.) On meeting Bruce and John backstage that night at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Dylan joked, "There was one of me to my left and one to my right."


Springsteen and Prine together in Tarrytown, NY, 11/12/88, with Garry Fish on guitar. Photograph by Thom Wolke

Fast-forward 13 years: on November 12, 1988, in Tarrytown, NY, Bruce joined Prine onstage for a performance of Prine's "Paradise." According to Eddie Huffman's book John Prine, after the show, Prine reminded Bruce of their shared "new Dylan" days:

"I knew Springsteen from way back in '74. I met him when we were basically trying to do the same thing, trying to bust loose, and Bruce got Born to Run and all hell broke loose. I reminded him about a New York Times article in about 1973, maybe, and it was like the new Bob Dylan contest. It was Springsteen, Loudon Wainright, Keith Sykes, Elliott Murphy and myself, this big article about who was going to be the new Bob Dylan."

Syphilitic Critics
Both artists' careers were greatly influenced by critics in the early 1970s. Famously, Jon Landau's review for Boston's Real Paper of a 1974 Harvard Square Theatre show named Bruce Springsteen as "rock and roll future… and on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time."

In 1970 in Chicago, Prine was lucky to have Sun Times film critic Roger Ebert catch one of his sets at The Fifth Peg. It blew Ebert away to the point that he submitted a glowing review to his editor even though he was not a music critic. "Lyrics like this are earning John Prine one of the hottest underground reputations in Chicago these days," Ebert wrote. "He's only been performing professionally since July, he sings at the out-of-the-way Fifth Peg… and country-folk singers aren't exactly putting rock out of business. But Prine is good. He appears on stage with such modesty he almost seems to be backing into the spotlight. He sings rather quietly, and his guitar work is good, but he doesn't show off. He starts slow. But after a song or two, even the drunks in the room begin to listen to his lyrics. And then he has you." The rave helped push Prine's songs out to more listeners in Chicago and nationally.

Alternatively, and famously, one early Prine review by critic John Segraves from a 1972 Washington DC show contained these lines: "Oh yes, there's that good old trio of realism, pathos and poignancy in Prine's songs. There's also enough gloom and despair to give soap opera scripters enough ammunition for a new series. In the main, he's about as entertaining as a dog bite." Ouch.

Prine famously kept this review taped to his bathroom wall, an appropriate place, as John joked, to peer at from time to time for motivation to keep improving and striving despite some people's negative words. Prine got the last laugh, though. On his last album The Tree of Forgiveness, the last track "When I Get To Heaven" his self-eulogy contains this nugget:

Then as God as my witness
I'm gettin' back into show business
I'm gonna open up a nightclub called 
'The Tree of Forgiveness'
And forgive everybody
Ever done me any harm
I might even invite a few choice critics
Those syphilitic parasitics
Buy 'em a pint of Smithwick's 
And smother 'em with my charm

It's a Big Old Goofy World
In May of 1991, while Springsteen was working on Human Touch and Prine was gearing up for his first studio album since '86, the two songwriters bumped into each other at a Southern California Italian restaurant. It was the day Prine got to town to get started. Springsteen told him, "When you guys get into the record and have something to play, please invite me over. I'd just love to play guitar or harmonica or sing or whatever."

Springsteen wound up providing harmony vocals on "Take a Look At My Heart," a song Prine co-wrote with John Mellencamp, released in August 1991 on his "comeback" album The Missing Years. The LP won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Produced by Heartbreaker Howie Epstein, the album was largely recorded at Epstein's guest bedroom studio in Los Angeles, dubbed "Huh Sound Theater"; Springsteen reportedly recorded his vocals in the bathroom for the sake of acoustics.

In 2006, Prine's Fair and Square beat out Springsteen's Devils & Dust for the Grammy's Best Contemporary Folk Album. Interestingly, both artists drew indignation from some corners in the oughts, for overt criticism of the president and lack of "patriotism" due to songs released during the Iraq War. Prine and Springsteen knew of which they were writing: Prine was drafted and served in the Army during Vietnam as a mechanic in Germany, and while Springsteen was drafted but did not serve, he had close friends killed in action overseas. Springsteen's Magic continued tackling the times with "Long Walk Home," "Last to Die," and the title track; Prine's "Some Humans Ain't Human" contained these humorous but pointed lyrics:

Have you ever noticed
When you're feeling really good
There's always a pigeon
That'll come shit on your hood

Or you're feeling your freedom
And the world's off your back
Some cowboy from Texas
Starts his own war in Iraq

Prine told an interviewer, "Surprisingly some people have written letters or walked out on shows and asked for their money back. They usually preface it by saying they've been fans for years, and I would be thinking, if you've been listening all these years to 'Sam Stone' and 'Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore,' I can't see how you would be aghast because I tore George Bush apart."

In the end, regardless of the new Dylan hype and other barriers placed in their paths, both Prine and Springsteen threw off those labels and quickly became artists in their own rights, developing distinctive musical styles and long careers all their own. Amazingly prolific and steady in output, Prine recorded and released 18 studio albums (compared with Springsteen's 19) during his career, his last being The Tree of Forgiveness in 2018. Both artists maintained a high quality of material, ideas, sounds, and performances, with some of their better work coming in the later parts of their careers.

Wherever John is, I hope he's standing on the shores of a lake near the Illinois Wisconsin border, gazing at peaceful waters while four Italian sausages sizzle on an outdoor grill. I hope he's got a big old goofy grin on his face. I hope he's drinking a Schlitz or an Old Milwaukee, strumming his guitar, whistling a tune, and thinking about going fishin': fishin' for a few nice-sized bass for dinner, or fishin' for another great set of lyrics. Sail on, John Prine. We love you and we thank you.
- Ryan Hilligoss

From Fiona Whelan Prine and the Prine family: In lieu of flowers or gifts at this time we would ask that a donation be made to one of the following non profits:

thistlefarms.org
roomintheinn.org
nashvillerescuemission.org

- April 11, 2020


TURN ON, TUNE IN, DROP OUT WITH SPRINGSTEEN
On his E Street Radio takeover, the Boss asks, "Are you alright?"

"Hello E Street Nation! This is Bruce Springsteen coming from my house to yours, with music for these troubled times." So began this morning's special guest DJ appearance from the Boss on E Street Radio (SiriusXM ch 20), Bruce Springsteen: From His Home to Yours.

For more than an hour — even longer than originally planned, after last night's crushing news of John Prine's death spurred Springsteen to add one more tune to his playlist — Bruce spoke to listeners sheltered in place, sharing songs of both shadow and light for this moment, from "It's Bad You Know" to "Better Times Are Coming."

Between songs, Springsteen pulled no punches about the current darkness on the edge of town: "These days you can feel like you're looking out over the edge of the apocaplypse." He talked about his sense of loneliness, shared by so many: "I think the hardest thing about what we're going through right now is not being able to see, hug, kiss your loved ones." Saying that he and Patti are "together and we're doing great," he also added, "it's lonely down here on the farm!" Not everyone's there. "Mom —  I miss you."

And if you're not with any of your loved ones? "If you're by yourself? That ain't so bad! I spent 35 years by myself in a room! And I liked it!"

Given "that feeling of safety you once had has been stripped away," when Springsteen dipped into his stacks of wax for one of his own, it was "Cover Me." The whole world is rough and just getting rougher.

But he also played "We Shall Overcome." And while not neglecting any concern for the ill, the dead, the health care workers, or "the folks who don't have a safety net," Bruce reminded his listeners that for most of us, this too shall pass. "When these days end — and they will end — there will be a religious celebration, a spiritual celebration."

"All I know is, when this is all over, I'm gonna take Patti to a baseball game."

In 1984, Bruce summarized his live-show approach and goals to the BBC's David Hepworth. "Whatever people want — whatever they take from it — whatever they need at that moment is what I hope that it would be. If you come and you need some inspiration, maybe, I would hope that you could find a little bit of that in it. But if you want to dance... I'd hope it was a combination of all those things." Mission accomplished once again, this time as a DJ. So good to hear from you, Bruce. Here's hoping you'll make this a series.

Playlist:

  1. Lynn Taitt and Baba Brooks Band - "Forty Miles of Bad Road"
  2. Cracker - "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me"
  3. Wyclef Jean - "Gone Till November"
  4. Don Henley - "End of the Innocence"
  5. Roy Orbison - "Only the Lonely"
  6. R.L. Burnside - "It's Bad You Know"
  7. Bob Dylan - "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'"
  8. Bruce Springsteen - "Cover Me"
  9. Bon Jovi - "Livin' on a Prayer"
  10. Morrissey - "Every Day is Like Sunday"
  11. Marion Williams - "Trouble So Hard"
  12. Common - "Letter to the Free"
  13. Sarah Jarosz - "Ring Them Bells"
  14. Patti Scialfa - "Talk to Me Like the Rain"
  15. Huey "Piano" Smith - "Rockin' Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu"
  16. Kate and Anna McGarrigle - "Better Times Are Coming"
  17. Bruce Springsteen - "We Shall Overcome"
  18. Lucinda Williams - "Are You Alright?"
  19. Ry Cooder - "3rd Base, Dodger Stadium"
  20. John Prine - "Angel From Montgomery"
  21. Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers - "The Last Mile of the Way"

Visit the SiriusXM blog to listen to additional From His Home to Yours audio clips, where we also found this list of additional airtimes — Springsteen's "channel takeover" will be airing at least twice daily for the next week. E Street Radio streams for free through May 15.

- April 8, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting, with thanks to Shawn Poole


TUNE IN TOMORROW TO BRUCE, "FROM HIS HOME TO YOURS"
Special E Street Radio guest DJ set for "the times we are living in"

A late-March phone call from Bruce Springsteen to E Street Radio let us know that Bruce and Patti were safe and well at home. Tomorrow on the SiriusXM channel, he'll be taking over to host Bruce Springsteen, From His Home to Yours.

Debuting Wednesday, April 8, at 10am ET, the new program is an hour-long guest DJ set from the man himself, recorded at his home. He won't be performing, but rather spinning tracks he's been listening to during lockdown, and, according to the website, sharing "thoughts about the times we are living in. Hear Bruce select songs from Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, Don Henley, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, Patti Scialfa, Wyclef Jean, and more!"

From now through May 15, you can stream SiriusXM for free. And listen Wednesday morning for Bruce Springsteen, From His Home to Yours on SiriusXM channel 20.
- April 7, 2020

IF WE ARE WISE WE KNOW THAT THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW
Remembering Bill Withers, whose music carries on

Along with music fans all over the world, we were saddened by the news that Bill Withers, the legendary American pop/soul singer-songwriter who racked up a number of big hits in the 1970s and 1980s, died last week in Los Angeles of heart complications. He was 81.

Withers, who was born in Slab Fork, West Virginia on July 4, 1938, began his recording career at the relatively late age of 32. Signing to Sussex Records in 1971, he released an astonishing debut LP, the Booker T. Jones-produced Just as I Am. The album yielded the hits "Grandma's Hands" and the Top 5 smash "Ain't No Sunshine," and the cover featured a photo of working-man Withers — reluctant to leave his steady job installing toilets in airplanes — holding his lunch pail on the job site. The following year, Still Bill included Withers faves "Use Me," "Who is He (And What Is He to You)?" and the song that would become the most identified with Withers, his number one hit, "Lean on Me." An immediate classic, the song went on to become the Number 7 song of 1972.

In 1973, Withers released the album that this writer considers his finest, Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall. Recorded on a rainy Friday night in October of 1972, it features Withers and his crackshot band in their element, performing a selection of his finest material — much of which centers around the hardships of the Nixon-era marginalized citizens of this country. In that, as a songwriter, he certainly shared an affinity with Bruce Springsteen: disabled veterans, the working class, and those who have failed in love and friendship all get the nod in Withers' world.  Indeed, no less an authority than Questlove himself referred to Withers as "...the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen” in Andy Greene's 2015 Rolling Stone profile.

The early hits are all here on Live at Carnegie Hall, too, and many of the songs are introduced by Bill with the stories that inspired them, giving the listener insight into the background behind much of this magical body of work.

Signing with Columbia Records in 1975, Withers went on to have a few more massive hits as Springsteen’s labelmate, including 1977's "Lovely Day," and his duet with saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., "Just the Two of Us," in 1985. However, frustrated with the music industry in general and his label in particular, Withers bowed out of the business in 1985. He did, however, continue to make occasional guest appearances here and there, and some of his ‘70s singles were re-released in new remixes. His songs — "Lean on Me," in particular — continued to be covered and sampled with a large degree of success.

Above, you can see Springsteen and Nils Lofgren dueting on the Withers classic, captured at one of Nils' Stone Pony gigs on June 9, 1989. Nils himself tweeted about the clip and noted the power of the song in these times: "Damn I did not even know this video existed  #BILLWITHERS Rest In Peace sweet man.  No more appropriate song right now."

Little Steven weighed in with a tribute on Twitter as well.

Withers' working-class roots, his determination to remain (in his own words) a "regular guy," and his magnificent, universally relatable body of work all ensure that those kinds of tributes will be rolling in for decades to come.

For more on Bill Withers, his music and his legacy, the 2009 documentary Still Bill can be viewed for free on YouTube.
- April 6, 2020 - John Howie, Jr. reporting


ULLEVI 2012: FIREFLIES IN THE SWEDISH SUMMER RAIN
A Wrecking Ball spotlight shines on night two in Gothenburg, July 28

Ullevi Stadium is the sixth Wrecking Ball show in Bruce Springsteen's Archive Series, a legendary night from the modern era that many fans have hoped would see the light of day. Having experienced this one first-hand in Gothenburg, Sweden — and written a review for Backstreets that was colored by what I had witnessed an hour or so earlier — today's release of Gothenburg July 28, 2012 provides a chance not only to re-live that night, but to validate those feelings eight years later with some perspective.

Just like the Reunion Tour had been a rededication of the E Street Band, Springsteen's decision to tour behind Wrecking Ball became a second instance of rebirth, after the 2011 death of Clarence Clemons. For any fan, imagining an E Street Band show without him was hard. How could the band go on? The tour kick-off at Harlem's Apollo Theater (the first Archive Series release, in 2014) proved that there could be life after the Big Man.

Expanding the E Street Band to a 17-piece ensemble made for a new experience: not better, not worse, just different. After hundreds of Reunion-era concerts, perhaps that's what everyone needed. And it worked. Spring 2012 saw Bruce and the band delivering rock-solid shows in U.S. arenas, showcasing the Wrecking Ball material and turning the reconfigured band into a well-oiled machine.

Which brings us to Gothenburg, Sweden, and Ullevi Stadium, which once literally did get "wrecked" by the E Street Band, back in 1985. Sweden was and remains one of the band's favorite places to perform, and any Ullevi show has always stood out among the strongest of any tour. For Wrecking Ball, Ullevi hosted back-to-back shows in late July; today's release captures the second performance.

After a splendid show the night prior, July 28 turned out to be among the rainiest days of the summer, with thunderstorms approaching just before showtime. Messages on the stadium screens informed the crowd how to evacuate in case it would be necessary, surely adding some hesitancy to general expectations.

Springsteen took the stage in a white T-shirt (under a black vest), not a common color scheme for any of the E Street Band — was that a sign that something special was about to happen? (Eight years later, that makes it easy to spot pictures taken at this show.)

With the rain pouring down, which continued for most of the concert, a stellar "Who'll Stop the Rain" kicked off the proceedings, followed quickly by "The Ties That Bind" and "Out in the Street." Springteen delivered a Born in the U.S.A. "double header" (in his words): "Downbound Train" and "I'm Goin' Down."

While none of these setlist choices would raise any eyebrows, the razor-sharp, driven, and inspired performances by the E Street Band stand out to this day. Not forgetting the weather, a rare "Lost in the Flood" came early, a wonderful performance by a band at the peak of its powers.

Following a strong if familiar Wrecking Ball three-pack, "My City of Ruins" was one of many emotional highlights of the evening, as fans honored the Big Man with "we are not worthy" bows and waves towards the side of the stage where Clarence once stood.

Sign request segments were common since the Magic tour, but they could break a show's flow and result in the coupling of obscure songs. Yes, this gave setlist watchers a field day, and we got to hear songs we may not have heard otherwise. But listening back to complete Archive Series recordings, those one-off choices of rarities or covers are sometimes just that — without adding any emotional textures that are needed to create a truly great show. Not so in Gothenburg.

The sign request for "Saint in the City" came at exactly the right time: when we needed to wipe tears from our eyes following "My City of Ruins." Even better, another sign request brought "Frankie," a version that to this day hasn't been topped, in my opinion. Just watch the YouTube clip, with the fireflies lighting up Ullevi on this dark and rainy summer night (okay, so they were lights from cell phones). "The River" and "Because the Night" led us toward the home stretch of the main set, illustrating how well rarities were deftly coupled with more familiar material on this special night.

After three crowd-pleasers maybe aimed at more casual fans, Bruce dedicated the tour premiere of "Where the Bands Are" to the group of fans that had been following the tour all over Europe. An outstanding performance of "Backstreets" followed, delivered with a lengthy interlude evoking the '78 "Sad Eyes" version.

The encores kicked off with "Thunder Road," which I believe is the best spot for this song in any show. A truly earth-shaking "Born in the U.S.A." and a blistering "Born to Run" followed. By the end of the encores, Bruce signaled that his voice was gone, and I remember wondering whether this really could continue for much longer.

As usual on the Wrecking Ball tour, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" appeared as a tribute to the Big Man, and Bruce noted after the song ended that "Clarence always had a special connection to Sweden." He went on: "We haven't rehearsed this, but this is for you, and for the Big Man": the tour premiere of "Jungleland."

A single spotlight fell on a lone saxophone placed at Clarence's usual stage position, and we heard an extremely moving version of his signature tune, its first play since Clarence's passing. Having masterfully performed the notes usually played by his uncle, Jake got a hug from Bruce, and tears were in everybody's eyes.

As Bruce declared, "We need to send these people home!", it was time for the classic Ullevi stadium-shaking anthem, "Twist and Shout," ending a show that ranks among the best of the tour. It's one to crank up — just not so loud that you break your stereo. Consider yourself warned.

Also read: Erik Flannigan's latest nugs.net blog entry, "Tonight I Wanna Feel the Beat of the Crowd"

- April 3, 2020 - Ivar Noer reporting - photographs by Riku Olkkonen

NO FOOLIN'
Gotta say, we appreciate (most) everyone taking yesterday's April Foolishness with a gracious spirit — we had given the tradition a rest for a couple years, but this felt like a good time to get away from it all for a day and hope to spread at least a few laughs. And if seeing Bruce with a Joe Exotic mullet slightly scorched your eyeballs, we do extend sympathies.

Back to real news today, we're happy to share some good news: Nugs.net's official Springsteen live archive series, which has been dropping a new historic concert on the First Friday of most every month, does not appear to be affected by the pandemic; we are getting continued indications that there will be a fresh new release tomorrow, April 3. We can all use something like this to look forward to. So tune in tomorrow, and of course we hope you'll support the series now more than ever, to keep the concerts coming.

If having new Bruce stuff helps keeps your spirits up during lockdown, another reminder: Backstreet Records is able to remain open at this time, since our mail-order-only shop is in a safe and isolated location, and we're following all CDC guidelines.

So if you'd like something new to keep yourself occupied and keep cabin fever at bay, please check out our online catalog for CDs and records galore — by Springsteen, E Streeters, and other Jersey Shore artists — as well as DVDs/Blu-rays and shelves full of Boss books, which are all currently 20% off with the coupon code SUNSHINE. We hope to keep spreading some of that during this dark time, and we appreciate your support of our very small business!


- April 2, 2020

PLEASE DON'T BURY JOHN PRINE
Sunday's six o'clock news was a stomach sinker: beloved singer-songwriter John Prine is in critical condition after developing coronavirus symptoms.

John has shown that he can take a lickin' and keep on tickin' — he already beat cancer twice. We hope you'll join us, and so many of his fans around the world, in sending love and good thoughts his way. It don't cost very much, but god willing, it lasts a long while.

- March 29, 2020


"I'M JUST CALLIN' TO CHECK IN…"
Bruce (and Patti) send love, laughs, and hope via E Street Radio
Yesterday our friend Jim Rotolo of E Street Radio got to chat over the phone a bit with Bruce Springsteen. This morning, in a special live Friday DJ session, Jim played his recording of the conversation on SiriusXM's all-Springsteen satellite radio channel, and the conversation has since been posted as an on-demand item in the SiriusXM app, as well as online for all to hear (above.)

Bruce said that he called to "check in on you guys, and all our friends and fans out there, hopin' everybody's well and staying safe."

After being asked by Jim about it, Bruce discussed his ongoing support of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. He reported that he and Patti Scialfa remain well and are enjoying their COVID-19 self-isolation time as much as possible. He spoke of keeping his spirits up by telephoning Steve Van Zandt, "always a source of great entertainment."

In another funny moment, Bruce handed the phone over to Patti while he rummaged around his computer for stay-at-home book recommendations from his reading list. (Much love from Bruce for Richard Ford's Bascombe trilogy, among others, and in discussing his music playlists, a Future Islands Boss endorsement.) Regarding those music playlists, Bruce also noted, "I've got plenty of 'em, and would love to play [E Street Radio] DJ again."

Springsteen expressed his love and concern for old friends Jackson Browne and Tom Hanks, both of whom have publicly confirmed their COVID-19-positive statuses. He also confirmed that he continues working on new music, which is "going well, and hopefully keeps going well."

Finally, Bruce said, "We want to send out our thoughts and prayers to, of course, all our fans and friends in New York, that's really going through such a tough time right now… fans in Italy and Spain, whom we love so much. Stay home, stay safe… Everyone, everywhere, we're thinking about you and praying for you, so God bless. I hope it's over soon."
- March 27, 2020 – Shawn Poole reporting – special thanks to Jim Rotolo and Vinny Usuriello at E Street Radio


HOUSEBOUND AND HOUSEROCKIN'
Let's get out alive, but have a good time: Joe Grushecky will livestreaming tonight, entertaining us all in our little rooms with a solo acoustic performance. "I've got songs to sing and stories to tell," says Joe, and you can hear 'em live online tonight. Tune in to his pages on either Instagram or Facebook at 8pm Eastern for the show.
- March 25, 2020

THE BOSS HELPS LAUNCH NJ PANDEMIC RELIEF FUND
Springsteen fans may now exhale. At least a little. Our first sighting of the man since these "uncertain times" began, alive and well, comes in a video posted today for the newly formed New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. "We are practicing social distancing," Bruce notes, "we are staying at home." But there's more that can be done, and Springsteen is joined by other Jersey luminaries (including Jon Stewart, Danny Devito, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jon Bon Jovi) to launch this new effort in the Garden State.

"These are uncertain times," Springsteen says. "What is for certain is the pain, the fear, and the real needs of many of our neighbors, friends, and certainly all of those who are on the front lines of this pandemic."

New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy writes on the NJPRF website: "How long will this last? We don’t know, but we do know that by banding together we can make the days ahead a bit easier. We have established New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund to collect donations and distribute funds. One hundred percent of donations received online by NJPRF will be used to fight the medical, social, and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable, supporting organizations that provide essential services and aiding those on the front line of the pandemic."

Visit njprf.org for more information and to make a donation.

- March 24, 2020


BACKSTREET RECORDS DELIVERS: 20% OFF ALL BOSS BOOKS!
One way we can of use during these troubled times, for any Springsteen fans out there going stir-crazy — here at Backstreet Records, we have shelves and shelves full of Boss ways to pass the time.

An advantage to being a very small business right now is that there only two of us here at Backstreets HQ, working in separate rooms, in a safe and socially distanced workspace. Following all CDC guidelines, we're able to continue to ship to Boss fans in need around the world, and we're continuing to do so as long as it's safe and as long as shipping services continue running. Mail order is our specialty, and we are still here to serve.

With loads of CDs, records, DVDs and Blu-rays, books, back issues and more — surely the most comprehensive if not the only Springsteen-dedicated shop around — we likely have something that can help you through the frustration of physical and social distance. And for that, especially, there's nothing like a good book.

Right now, until further notice, you can save 20% off all books in stock from Backstreet Records, using the coupon code SUNSHINE.

We have a wide variety of Springsteen-related titles for audiences from kids to academics, from small publishers to the big fellas, from biographies to songbooks (we know a lot of folks who are breaking out their guitars right now), several that are signed by the authors. The discount will be applied when you add that coupon code during checkout. For books already on sale, the SUNSHINE code will reduce the price by an additional 20 percent.

We're thinking of all of our friends and longtime readers and customers around the world — hoping you and yours are well, staying safe, and hanging in there. And we also appreciate your support of this small business during this time. Take a look and see if there's anything that would help brighten your bunker — now more than ever, we'd be happy to send you a box of sunshine.
- March 23, 2020

ASBURY PARK MUSIC + FILM FESTIVAL POSTPONED
It should come as no surprise, but still a disappointment that this year's APMFF, originally scheduled for late April, is now on hold. A brief statement was issued over the weekend:

The Asbury Park Music + Film Festival's unwavering commitment to provide music education to underserved kids in and around Asbury Park is still our priority. 

With that in mind, we are working on rescheduling events for the summer, and all previously purchased tickets will be honored.

New dates will be announced in the near future. For those unable to attend, refunds will be available upon announcement of these new dates.

We will have more details in the coming weeks. Thank you for your patience and please stay safe.

I'm still looking forward to moderating Thom Zimny's presentation of the Bruce Springsteen Archives at the festival, once this darkness has passed... now more than ever, in fact. Let's all stay well and I hope to see many of you there. We'll keep you posted on new scheduling information as we receive it from the festival.
- March 23, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


LOVE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT

Remembering when Kenny Rogers became Chrysler's "Plan B" Springsteen
Country-music superstar and Hall of Famer Kenny Rogers died at 81 on Friday. His passing has us recalling Rogers' two tangential but still notable connections to Bruce Springsteen's career.

Rogers performed with Springsteen and more than fifty other major music-industry figures on U.S.A. For Africa's 1985 anti-hunger benefit recording of "We Are the World." Rogers' then-manager Ken Kragen was one of the key figures who organized the famous U.S.A. For Africa effort.

A year later, the careers of Rogers and Springsteen would intersect again, though for less noble reasons. After Bruce turned down an offer reportedly of at least $12 million — a record sum at the time — to license "Born in the U.S.A." for a Chrysler ad campaign, the auto-manufacturer simply shifted gears. Chrysler hired professional jingle-writers to compose a "Born in the U.S.A." knockoff entitled "The Pride Is Back," which became the theme of the company's campaign.

Kenny Rogers sang the male lead on "The Pride Is Back," which also was released as a single that peaked at #30 on Billboard's U.S. Adult Contemporary chart on July 5, 1986. The resonances with "Born in the U.S.A." are even more striking in the full single, if you've never heard it:

"Ironically," Dave Marsh noted in his second Springsteen biography Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s, "the Plymouth minivans being pushed via [Chrysler's] ads weren't 'born in America' in the jingoistic sense ['The Pride Is Back'] intended anyway; they were assembled in Canada." Marsh also wrote that the campaign conveniently ignored "that Chrysler's [1980s] success was built on the backs of concessions by the members of the United Automobile Workers union, who continued to work for the lowest wages in the American automobile industry for more than a year after Lee Iacocca's salary had risen from a dollar a year to several million."

In a neat little circle-is-now-complete twist, a Chrysler "Pride Is Back" television commercial can be seen and heard briefly during a scene in Paul Schrader's 1987 film Light of Day, starring Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox. Schrader's earlier screenplay for that film, then entitled Born in the U.S.A., was sent to Springsteen in the early 1980s for him to consider a starring role. Bruce swiped the title of Schrader's screenplay for what would become the chorus and title of the song he was composing about a Vietnam War veteran. Springsteen later allowed Schrader to use his song "Light of Day" for the film instead, "my polite attempt at paying Paul back for my fortuitous and career-boosting theft," wrote Bruce in his Born to Run autobiography. (Schrader received a shout-out in the Born in the U.S.A. album's liner-notes, too.) In Light of Day's closing credits, Kenny Rogers' female duet partner is listed not as Nickie Ryder, as on the released single, but as Sandy Farina (who's sung commercial jingles for years, played Strawberry Fields in the infamous 1978 film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and — like Kenny Rogers — was managed by Ken Kragen.)

Finally, on a more personal and fitting closing note, Backstreets staffer and professional country-music singer-songwriter John Howie, Jr. shared this reflection on Kenny Rogers at his best, via his band's drummer Dave Hartman, who encountered Rogers abroad while touring in 1998: "We were in Australia doing shows and press when Tammy Wynette died. So was Kenny Rogers… and because we were all on the same label in a relatively small market, our paths crossed. He was super nice, but most notable was as soon as word about Tammy came, he cancelled the rest of his tour and press, and flew home immediately. Whenever I think about him, that's what I remember."
- March 22, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting - special thanks to John Howie, Jr.

HEY HO ROCK 'N' ROLL
DJ Tom Cunningham will be live tomorrow for his weekly Boss broadcast

One thing that always helps us through times of crisis — it kinda goes without saying, if you've landed on this page — is music. Warm, familiar voices coming through the speakers. So it was a particular comfort this afternoon when Tom Cunningham told me: "I'm doing the show live in the studio tomorrow morning."

Having seen Tom do his studio thing, I know he can do it solo, and the place isn't so big he'll have an issue wiping down surfaces. So tune in Springsteen on Sunday, as always, Sunday morning from 9 to 11 on 107.1 The Boss at the Jersey Shore. Just, for the luvvagod pal, be careful and safe! Well, that goes for everybody.

"Bruce's music has always fostered a great sense of community around and with his fans," Tom says, telling us about a new idea he had for tomorrow's show. "I wanted to use that connectivity to have some fun this week — sunshine on a cloudy day, if you will — and do something that I'd not done before. All songs tomorrow will be live tracks. Plenty from our backyard here at the Shore, and also performances from as many different countries around the world that I can fit in. It's been fun putting it together, and I can't wait to get in there."

If you're not within the broadcasting radius, you can Listen Live tomorrow morning at 1071theboss.com.
- March 21, 2020 - Christopher Phillips reporting


LAND OF HOPE AND STREAMS
Catch Darlene Love live today, plus Southside and Stevie tonight
Major E Street influence Darlene Love will be hosting an hour-long Facebook Live special event today, beginning at 3pm ET.

"We all need some LOVE right now during this unusual and depressing time,” Love has posted on her Facebook page, "so I've decided to do a Facebook Live special from my living room on Friday, March 20th from 3-4pm EST to put a BIG smile on your faces. It'll just be me and my husband who will be the camera man. You can ask me any question you like, we can pray together, laugh, I can give you advice if needed and I'll even accept a few songs requests & sing for ya!! This will be my very first daytime talk show! Lol - What should I call it? I hope this will help warm your heart for one hour.”

At the suggestion of one of her fans via Facebook, the show has been entitled An Hour of Love. Check out Darlene Love's official Facebook page for details and to link to this afternoon's live event.

And tonight beginning at 8 pm ET, The Relix Channel will stream for free the complete The Thrill Is Gone: A Tribute to B.B. King concert, filmed last month at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The all-star lineup includes Little Steven and Southside Johnny. Viewers are asked to donate funds to the concert's beneficiary organization, the SEVA Foundation, which supports blindness-prevention and sight-restoration efforts. Click here for details.
- March 20, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting – special thanks to Hannah McSwain


MENTAL HEALTH BREAK: SINGING FOR THE LONELY
For a few minutes of deep, cleansing breaths, watch young Toby Cohen bring "Thunder Road" to life, earlier this month at the Cutting Room in New York. Pine for the loss of your own upper register, if you choose... or just enjoy a few minutes of this 13-year-old, part of yet another new generation of Springsteen fans, feeling that magic in the night.

Backstreets readers may recall Seth Cohen from his nearly a decade as Bruce's day-to-day PR person at Shore Fire Media. Seth tells Backstreets, "My son Toby has been raised in a home that has tremendous respect for, and gratitude towards, Bruce Springsteen. Toby, of course, knows of my history working with Bruce and has grown up appreciating the music, as we all do. His performance was his way of honoring Bruce, while supporting awareness for a very worthy cause."

Toby's Cutting Room performance was part of a charity concert, raising funds and awareness for Friends of AKIM USA. The organization supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, regardless of their age, faith, ethnic background or gender. They currently serve more than 34,500 children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens, as well as supporting their 130,000 family members.

"'Thunder Road' was an ambitious choice for him to attempt at the benefit concert," Seth adds, "because it requires both grace and power. I’m proud of Toby for pulling it off and giving the audience an emotional, authentic rendition. We hope he did right by the song.

"As for the children advocated for by Friends of AKIM USA, they are courageous, talented, resilient young people. These kids and their families are heroes."
- March 19, 2020

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY, FROM OUR BUNKER TO YOURS
Here in our home state today, bars and restaurants have just been ordered closed (excepting takeout and delivery) by the governor. Even if your local is open, of course, we hope you're staying home regardless. But while we can't meet out in the street or down at the pub tonight, we can raise a glass... and for anyone looking for a way to celebrate, we remind you that as of ten months ago, Live in Dublin — a full show's worth of performances from the end of Springsteen's 2006 tour with the Sessions Band — is streaming in full, for free, on YouTube.

We won't name names, but we know there are fans out there who've never actually sat down to watch this one — whether a busy life, or a resistance to the Seeger Sessions project — and there's no time like the present. There are worse ways to spend a #staythefuckhome St. Patrick's Day than a trip to Ireland with Springsteen, a 17-piece band, and a barnburner of a set. Stream on, stay safe, and sláinte mhaith!
- March 17, 2020

OUTSIDE THE STREET'S ON FIRE IN A REAL DEATH WALTZ
As COVID-19 news seems to get scarier by the update, we're not the only ones thinking of Stephen King's The Stand. King's epic novel, about a pandemic even scarier than the one we're facing now, opens with a direct quotation of the final twelve lines from "Jungleland."

Marvel Comics' take on The Stand cranks the Springsteen knob higher. We previously featured the Marvel adaptation in our overview of Boss depictions in comics, as part of Backstreets Magazine issue # 90 (now out of print). As you can see in the variant cover here and sketches below, artist Mike Perkins clearly used Bruce as inspiration for one of the novel's main characters, professional musician Larry Underwood.

In his forward to the "Complete & Uncut" version of his novel, King contemplated the casting for roles in any film adaptations and noted that Bruce "would seem to make an interesting Larry Underwood, if he ever chose to try acting (and based on his videos, I think he would do very well... although my personal choice would be Marshall Crenshaw.)"


- March 12, 2020 - Shawn Poole reporting


A COOL BAKIN' MAMA IN THE U.S.A.
Bruce Springsteen and his music have been artistically honored in a number of ways — paintings, cartoons, charcoal portraits, metal sculptures, wood carvings….

But as a cookie?

That's exactly the route an artist/baker from Robbinsville, New Jersey, recently took in her quest to win the grand prize at CookieCon, a four-day event held in Louisville, Kentucky. CookieCon is one of the largest gatherings of cookie artists in the world, and the competitive event, CookieCon's Sugar Show, gives artists the chance to win more than $5,000 in cash prizes.

Leslie Marchio, a married mom of four kids (the inspiration for her cookie-decorating business name, Four Peas And A Dog), has a background as an architectural designer. But since 2012, she's been decorating and crafting clean designs and abstract concepts on cookies. Her unique artistic talents are helping her to carve out a niche in the upper echelon of cookie artists across the country.

When she saw one of the contest themes at CookieCon 2020 was "Home Sweet Home," she came up with a boss way to illustrate her home state in cookie form.

"I saw 'Home Sweet Home' and of course, my mind immediately went to the New Jersey music scene… and Bruce!" Leslie tells Backstreets.

But with so much Springsteen inspiration to choose from, she had to narrow it down to a concept that was workable and would hit the high notes with the judges.

"I feel Born in the U.S.A. is one of Bruce's most iconic albums, and I immediately felt a pull towards it.  I really wanted to make this piece worthy of his music, so I knew I had to go above and beyond," Leslie says. "That is where the guitar comes into play. I modeled the cookie after Bruce's one-of-a-kind Fender — in miniature — using all edible materials: gingerbread, royal icing, fondant, and isomalt."

The hardest part creating the guitar out of edible ingredients? The strings!

"I wanted the guitar to look as realistic as possible, so I knew piping lines with royal icing was not going to achieve that look – too thick. I researched other methods of creating edible guitar strings but couldn't find a viable solution, so I devised my own. I figured isomalt" — that's a sugar substitute derived from beets — "would be my best option, but I wasn't sure how it would behave in this fashion."

In the end, Leslie's innovation and faith were rewarded: "It took many attempts, but I finally figured out the best way to use the isomalt to create the thin strings I needed. As I started attaching them to the guitar, I held my breath. By the time I put the last one on, I was so happy when none of the strings broke, I almost cried!"

While the hardest part was creating the guitar strings, creating the cover art for the partner CD was the most fun for Leslie.  

"I work best in cartoon form, so I edited the Born in the U.S.A. cover on my computer to resemble an image that I felt worked best for my style," Leslie says. "I also added some other iconic images of Bruce — a silhouette, his signature, and one of his full body images — to the inside cover and the back of the  'jewelcase'" — also edible! — "to add variety and showcase my technique."

Leslie's hard work, innovative design, and attention to detail paid off. Her Bruce Cookies took third place in the Home Sweet Home category. While she of course wanted to come in first, she was thrilled with the result. "It was really competitive, and the winner was indeed very cool. Many people (and Bruce fans) kept coming up and complimenting me on my Springsteen cookies."

What's next for Leslie? "My ultimate goal is be the go-to cookie artist for musicians and  the music industry," Leslie says. "Whether it's for a band's record release event, promotional opportunities, leave-behind collateral… the possibilities are endless… I'd love to help artists bring their musical vision to life… in a tasty treat!" 

- March 11, 2020 - reporting and photographs by Mark Krajnak/JerseyStyle Photography


B-SIDES AND BROKEN HEARTS IN DETROIT
Tunnel of Love Express Tour Hits "The Joe," March 28, 1988
Legend has it that the first time Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band ever played Detroit, one of his amps literally blew up. Other area shows over the years have seen milestones, from the first-ever "Detroit Medley" to guest appearances by Bob Seger, Mitch Ryder, and Martha Reeves. And in 2009, Springsteen thought he was in Ohio (Little Steven set him straight) only to return in 2012 to announce, "I know where the fuck I am!"

In 1988, Bruce came to Detroit a day early for the band's two-night stand, taking in Terence Trent D'Arby's show in suburban Royal Oak the evening before his first Joe Louis Arena performance — that's today's Live Archive release, March 28, 1988.

Detroit becomes the Archive Series' fourth '88 show. As the Tunnel of Love Express Tour's earliest representation yet, it features the most songs from its namesake album. Springsteen and the E Street Band performed nine songs from Tunnel of Love on this night — including the first live release of "Walk Like a Man" (here, featuring the Horns of Love). There's also a magnificent cover of "Love Me Tender" in the encores. Another tour highlight, "Be True," was captured from this show for the Chimes of Freedom EP; released in August, 1988, the B-side became one of the tour's first official live recordings. Now, we can hear the show in its entirety.

The Tunnel of Love album was deliberately scaled back from Born in the U.S.A., certainly in terms of band participation. "Brilliant Disguise," its first single, is more than a little reminiscent of another Elvis song, "Suspicious Minds," ending with the line "God have mercy on the man who doubts what he's sure of." The second single, the album's title track, concluded this way: "You've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above." Even for an artist whose lyrics had openly wrestled with various forms of darkness over a 15-year recording career, these statements were uncommonly downcast.

A third single, "One Step Up," was released as the tour started that February, and had risen to #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart at the time of the Detroit stop (it would eventually go to #13). A thoroughly miserable song, it was paired on the single with "Roulette," which until then had been among Springsteen's most famous unreleased tracks. Bruce found a spot for "Roulette" in the setlist after "Seeds"; that gave an angry double-gut counterpunch to the sweetness of "All That Heaven Will Allow."

Looking back, it's startling to see how much Springsteen changed the presentation for The Tunnel of Love Express Tour. It wasn't simply a matter of swapping E Street Band members' placement on stage. Look at the 3/28 setlist. The first seven songs — just one of which had been a part of Springsteen's set during his most recent Michigan appearance in 1985 — weave together three from the new album ("Tunnel of Love," "Two Faces," and "All That Heaven Will Allow"), a deep album track ("Adam Raised a Cain," above), and three songs that had not been on any studio LP ("Be True," "Seeds," and "Roulette"). Plenty of hits appeared in the show, but this was hardly a suite of old favorites. As the show started, a sign on stage behind Terry Magovern's ticket booth read "This is a Dark Ride"; by the time the band finished "Roulette," you could be excused for believing it.

The most searing moment comes towards the end of the first set. The band plays "Born in the U.S.A.," laid visually bare without the huge flag. About four minutes in, just before the drum coda, there is Bruce, just there, writhing on the stage, prone, wailing. Somehow beyond mere performance, it's a gut-wrenching howl of painful screaming. How can he do that to his voice? How can he even have a second set, after that? How can he do that same thing, night after night?

Overall, the concert in Detroit was tight and fast-paced. Although the Tunnel of Love Express Tour was still in its early stages, the performances had gelled. Spoken intros to songs such as "Spare Parts" and "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" are shorter than they'd be by the time of the April 23 show in Los Angeles, previously issued in 2015 as the Live Archive Series' sixth release. As with most tours, Springsteen typically tools with setlists and arrangements; in the live archive thus far, Detroit is closest to the tour's original blueprint he laid out in Worcester.

Although the Joe Louis Arena wasn't even ten years old at the time of the Tunnel of Love Express Tour, these two shows would be Springsteen's last there: he moved on to The Palace of Auburn Hills as his primary Detroit-area large-hall venue in 1992. Both buildings are currently being demolished; the final large beam of Joe Louis Arena came down only this week, on March 4.

It's not all darkness, though. After a typically rousing "Light of Day," a seven-song encore, anchored by the acoustic "Born to Run" and accented further by "Love Me Tender," helps restore some sense of equilibrium. And the inclusion of "I Hear a Train" (or, maybe "I Hear a Train with a really big horn") during the "Detroit Medley" helps brighten the dark ride even more.

Additionally, today's Archive Series installment is the second to feature a performance from soundcheck as a bonus track — "Reason to Believe" is here, rehearsed at Joe Louis, but never performed in a show that year. For all those who continue to doubt what they're sure of, keep listening after the show proper.

Also read: Erik Flannigan's latest nugs.net blog entry, "Gotta Sing a New Song, That's My Job"

- March 6, 2020 - Matt Orel reporting - 3/28/88 photographs by Ken Settle/kensettlephotography.com


KEEPING UP WITH THE WEINBERGS
Mighty Max returns to tellyvision, Jay gets a new drum throne

Tune in to CBS this Friday night for the return of Max Weinberg as Mario Vangelis. After portraying a recurring character on Hawaii Five-O (gun shop owner Norm) earlier in the decade, the Mighty One is now lending his talents to Blue Bloods, where his character Mario Vangelis, a nefarious NYC real estate developer, first appeared in Season 8. Reprising the role now in Season 10 — and pictured above with Bridget Moynahan as ADA Erin Reagan — Max tells Backstreets, "This episode contains some surprising twists crucial to the arc of the show and these two characters."

Blue Bloods S10e15, "Vested Interests," airs Friday, March 6, at 10pm/9c on CBS.

We're also pumping a fist for Jay Weinberg — once clutch E Street relief drummer, now of Slipknot — voted #1 Rock Drummer in the 2020 Modern Drummer Reader's Poll. They grow up so fast... but we'll always have "Radio Nowhere." Congrats, Jay!

- March 3, 2020


REMEMBERING "MOMMA" JEANNE HEINTZ, 95
It's with sadness but with plenty of admiration, too, that we mark the passing of St. Paul, MN Springsteen fan Jeanne Heintz, who never did hang up her rock and roll shoes. She died on Friday at the age of 95, after seeing more than 300 Springsteen concerts over the decades since the 1988 Tunnel of Love tour (when she was in her 60s) — making them her "golden years" for sure. Common fond recollections of Jeanne include her opportunities to dance on stage with Bruce and her friendships with E Street Band members, but her passion for the music had positive reverberations through many aspects of her life — as her daughter Jackie Heintz tells us, "Momma had E Street Friends from all over the world!"

Jeanne's "superfan" status was enough to earn her notable obituaries in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. We're grateful to Jackie for providing us her own:

Jeanne Heintz, age 95, HUGE Bruce Springsteen fan from St. Paul, MN, died on February 28, 2020 from complications of Alzheimer’s. She began listening to Bruce in 1978, listening to the album Darkness on the Edge of Town. Her favorite song was "Factory," but she had many, many favorite songs from all of his albums.

Jeanne would listen to her daughter’s Springsteen record collection and could sing along to all of his songs. Her first concert was in 1988 at the Met Center in Bloomington, MN. I promised her if Bruce got the E Street Band back together, I would take her to as many shows as she wanted. In 1999, when the band reunited, mom was ready to rock 'n' roll!  We traveled extensively, night after night. The entire band called her "Momma." She met Bruce’s mom [pictured together below] — Adele couldn’t believe someone so close to her in age loved her son!

Jeanne became very close to Clarence and would visit him in Florida. She also became very close to Stevie Van Zandt. In all, she attended 311 shows.  

After Clarence died, Stevie took her under his wings. She had the honor of Dancing in the Dark three times: September 20, 2009 in Des Moines, IA; November 11, 2012 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MNl; and again at the Xcel Center on February 29, 2016 — which would be her final dance, in front of her hometown crowd.  

She wanted one more dance with Bruce, but she’s now dancing forever in heaven with Clarence and Danny! She is our superstar. Concerts will never be the same, but as Bruce said, “If we’re here, they’re here!” I believe that.

Our condolences to all of the Heintz family, as well as all those E Street Friends all over the world who knew and loved her.
- March 3, 2020 - photographs courtesy of Jackie Heintz


TRAMPS LIKE US CELEBRATES 30 YEARS BURNING DOWN THE ROAD
Catch them live with two upcoming anniversary shows
Way back in issue #36 of Backstreets, we reported: "A new Springsteen cover band has sprouted up in the New York area called Tramps Like Us. The group play Bruce's hits and some obscure outtakes and have been recommended by several subscribers."

Fast forward three decades, and Tramps Like Us is still rocking —  still recommended! —  and still taking on new challenges.

Since forming in New York City in 1990, the Springsteen tribute band has performed more than 2,500 concerts in four countries, for more than million fans. Tramps Like Us carved out a special niche for themselves, focusing on re-creating historic and legendary Springsteen concerts from throughout his career, concentrating on the live renditions and extended set lists from those shows (check out a list of their concert recreations so far). This spring, they'll be celebrating the band's 30th anniversary with two special shows.

This Saturday, March 7, Tramps Like Us will perform a career-spanning setlist of Springsteen deep cuts and classics at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. At the time of this story there were only limited tickets left, as a sell out is expected.* Those who plan on attending should purchase in advance to secure entry.

A second anniversary show has been added by popular demand in New York on Friday, April 17 at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center, in Chappaqua, NY; advance tickets are also available.

Visit trampslikeus.com for more information on the long-running Springsteen tribute band, and long may they continue to run — happy 30th, guys!

*Update: the March 7 Stone Pony show is now sold out. Tramps Like Us will return to the Pony on Saturday, July 4 —  watch for tickets to go on sale this Thursday.
- March 2, 2020

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SPRINGSTEEN AS SOUNDTRACK
In her new book, film critic Caroline Madden explores the sound of the Boss in film and television

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#91 IS HERE!
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We Are the World: Inside Pop Music's Most Famous All-Nighter [Esquire.com]
Jay Weinberg drums + MlnyParsonz sings on an incredible metal cover of "Candy's Room" [YouTube]
"Bruce Springsteen is an Excellent Radio DJ. And It's Not Just His Playlist." [Esquire.com]
"Safety first" as Asbury Park & Jersey Shore beaches reopen [WaPo]
Little Steven remembers Little Richard [USA Today]
Dave Grohl on the power of live music (and meeting Springsteen) [The Atlantic]
"'We're Just Horrified': Why a Springsteen Sideman Took On Nursing Homes" [NYTimes]
"Little Steven has a new alias — ‘Trenton Quarantino’ — and some thoughts on when Springsteen might tour again" [Inquirer.com]
Steven Van Zandt guests on Gilbert Gottfriend's Amazing Colossal Podcast!
How Asbury Park, New Jersey, Reclaimed its Musical Heart [RS.com]


Updated 6/30/20



We also post all known concert dates for some of our favorite Jersey Shore (and Shore-adopted) musicians:

Willie Nile
Bobby Bandiera
Southside Johnny
John Eddie
JoBonanno
Joe D'Urso... and more.

For more information on upcoming shows such as these, check out our Concert Calendar.



SAVE TILLIE

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.

Check out the Springsteen Special Collection page for more info.



FIGHT THE MONOPOLY
With the Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger approved, we encourage fans to get involved to help protect ticket-buyers.

Check our Fight the Monopoly page for the latest developments

 


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