Rarities, oddities, and other fun stuff
Airing Saturday mornings 10 am - 11 am - Hosted by Eric Davis
Download the podcast (MP3). To save the file to your computer, right click the link and choose "save as".
Bruce Springsteen Birthday – 9/23
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American singer-songwriter and musician best known for his work with the E Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss", Springsteen is widely known for his brand of heartland rock, poetic lyrics, Americana sentiments centered on his native New Jersey and his lengthy and energetic stage performances, with concerts from the 1970s to the present decade running up to an uninterrupted 250 minutes in length.
Springsteen's recordings have included both commercially accessible rock albums and more somber folk-oriented works. His most successful studio albums, Born in the U.S.A. and Born to Run, showcase a talent for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily American life; he has sold more than 65 million albums in the United States and more than 120 million worldwide -- and he has earned numerous awards for his work, including 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes and an Academy Award as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Springsteen was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and spent his childhood and high school years in Freehold Borough. He lived on South Street in Freehold Borough and attended Freehold Borough High School. His father, Douglas Frederick Springsteen, was of Dutch and Irish ancestry (his surname in Dutch means jumping stone) and worked as a bus driver, among other vocations, although he was mostly unemployed, and according to Springsteen's account, his mother was the main breadwinner. His mother, Adele Ann (née Zerilli), was a legal secretary and was of Italian ancestry. He has two younger sisters, Virginia and Pamela. Pamela had a brief film career, but left acting to pursue still photography full-time; she took photos for his Human Touch, Lucky Town and The Ghost of Tom Joad albums.
Raised a Roman Catholic, Springsteen attended the St. Rose of Lima Catholic school in Freehold Borough, where he was at odds with the nuns and rejected the strictures imposed upon him, even though some of his later music reflects a Catholic ethos and included a few rock-influenced, traditional Irish-Catholic hymns. In a 2012 interview, he explained that it was his Catholic upbringing rather than political ideology that most influenced his music. He noted in the interview that his faith had given him a "very active spiritual life," although he joked that this "made it very difficult sexually." He added: "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic." In ninth grade, he transferred to the public Freehold Regional High School, but did not fit in there either. Former teachers have said he was a "loner, who wanted nothing more than to play his guitar." He completed high school, but felt so uncomfortable that he skipped his own graduation ceremony. He briefly attended Ocean County College, but dropped out.
In the late 1960s, Springsteen performed briefly in a power trio known as Earth, playing in clubs in New Jersey. Springsteen acquired the nickname "The Boss" during this period as when he played club gigs with a band he took on the task of collecting the band's nightly pay and distributing it amongst his bandmates. From 1969 through early 1971, Springsteen performed with Steel Mill, which also featured Danny Federici, Vini Lopez, Vinnie Roslin and later Steve Van Zandt and Robbin Thompson. They went on to play the mid-Atlantic college circuit, and also briefly in California. In January 1970 well-known San Francisco Examiner music critic Philip Elwood gave Springsteen credibility in his glowing assessment of Steel Mill: "I have never been so overwhelmed by totally unknown talent." Elwood went on to praise their "cohesive musicality" and, in particular, singled out Springsteen as "a most impressive composer". During this time Springsteen also performed regularly at small clubs in Canton, Massachusetts; Richmond, Virginia; and Asbury Park and other points along the Jersey Shore, quickly gathering a cult following.
Other acts followed over the next two years, as Springsteen sought to shape a unique and genuine musical and lyrical style: Dr. Zoom & the Sonic Boom (early- to mid-1971), Sundance Blues Band (mid-1971), and The Bruce Springsteen Band (mid-1971 to mid-1972). With the addition of pianist David Sancious, the core of what would later become the E Street Band was formed, with occasional temporary additions such as horn sections, "The Zoomettes" (a group of female backing vocalists for "Dr. Zoom") and Southside Johnny Lyon on harmonica. Musical genres explored included blues, R&B, jazz, church music, early rock 'n' roll, and soul. His prolific songwriting ability, with "More words in some individual songs than other artists had in whole albums", as his future record label would describe it in early publicity campaigns, brought his skill to the attention of several people who were about to change his life: new managers Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos, and Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, who, under Appel's pressure, auditioned Springsteen in May 1972. Even after Springsteen gained international acclaim, his New Jersey roots showed through in his music, and he often praised "the great state of New Jersey" in his live shows. Drawing on his extensive local appeal, he routinely sold out consecutive nights in major New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York venues. He also made many surprise appearances at The Stone Pony and other shore nightclubs over the years, becoming the foremost exponent of the Jersey Shore sound. Springsteen signed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1972 with the help of John Hammond, who had signed Bob Dylan to the same label a decade earlier. Springsteen brought many of his New Jersey–based colleagues into the studio with him, thus forming the E Street Band (although it would not be formally named as such for several more years). His debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., released in January 1973, established him as a critical favorite though sales were slow.
Because of Springsteen's lyrical poeticism and folk rock–rooted music exemplified on tracks like "Blinded by the Light" and "For You", as well as the Columbia and Hammond connections, critics initially compared Springsteen to Bob Dylan. "He sings with a freshness and urgency I haven't heard since I was rocked by 'Like a Rolling Stone'" wrote Crawdaddy magazine editor Peter Knobler in Springsteen's first interview/profile in March 1973. Crawdaddy discovered Springsteen in the rock press and was his earliest champion. (Springsteen and the E Street Band acknowledged by giving a private performance at the Crawdaddy 10th Anniversary Party in New York City in June 1976.) Music critic Lester Bangs wrote in Creem in 1975 that when Springsteen's first album was released "... many of us dismissed it: he wrote like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, sang like Van Morrison and Robbie Robertson, and led a band that sounded like Van Morrison's". The track "Spirit in the Night" especially showed Morrison's influence, while "Lost in the Flood" was the first of many portraits of Vietnam veterans, and "Growin' Up", his first take on the recurring theme of adolescence.
In September 1973 his second album The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle was released, again to critical acclaim but no commercial success. Springsteen's songs became grander in form and scope, with the E Street Band providing a less folky, more R&B vibe, and the lyrics often romanticized teenage street life. "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and "Incident on 57th Street" would become fan favorites, and the long, rousing "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" continues to rank among Springsteen's most beloved concert numbers. In the May 22, 1974 issue of Boston's The Real Paper music critic Jon Landau wrote, after seeing a performance at the Harvard Square Theater, "I saw rock and roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time." Landau subsequently became Springsteen's manager and producer, helping to finish the epic new album Born to Run. Given an enormous budget in a last-ditch effort at a commercially viable record, Springsteen became bogged down in the recording process while striving for a "Wall of Sound" production. But, fed by the release of an early mix of "Born to Run" to progressive rock radio, anticipation built toward the album's release.
All in all the album took more than 14 months to record, with six months alone spent on the song "Born To Run". During this time Springsteen battled with anger and frustration over the album, saying he heard "sounds in [his] head" that he could not explain to the others in the studio. It was during these recording sessions that "Miami" Steve Van Zandt would stumble into the studio just in time to help Springsteen organize the horn section on "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" (that and a "minor" chord change in the title track are the only written contributions to the album), and eventually led to his joining the E Street Band. Van Zandt had been a long-time friend of Springsteen, as well as a collaborator on earlier musical projects, and understood where he was coming from which helped him to translate some of the sounds Springsteen was hearing. Still, by the end of the grueling recording sessions Springsteen was not satisfied, and upon first hearing the finished album, threw the record into the alley and told Jon Landau he would rather just cut the album live at The Bottom Line (a place he often played).
Bruce Springsteen & Paul McCartney – I SAW HER STANDING THERE/TWIST AND SHOUT - "I Saw Her Standing There" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and is the opening track on the Beatles' debut album, Please Please Me, the United Kingdom by Parlophone on 22 March 1963. "Twist and Shout" is a 1961 song written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (credited as "Bert Russell"). It was originally titled "Shake It Up, Baby" and recorded by the Top Notes and then covered by The Isley Brothers. It was covered by the Beatles with John Lennon on the lead vocals and originally released on their first album Please Please Me. Recorded 7/14/12, Hyde Park, London, England.
Bruce Springsteen – MOUNTAIN OF LOVE - "Mountain of Love" is a song written by Harold Dorman (also known as Harold Kenneth Dorman). Dorman released his version as a single in 1960. It was originally recorded in late 1959 at the Royal Recording Studios in Memphis before the backing vocals (and strings, much later) were overdubbed. It performed well, becoming his only top forty hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the highest charting single of his career. In 1964, Johnny Rivers released his remake as a single. Recorded 4/13/12, Buffalo, NY, USA.
Bruce Springsteen – YOU NEVER CAN TELL - "You Never Can Tell" also occasionally referred to as "C'est La Vie" and "Teenage Wedding", is a rock and roll song by Chuck Berry. It was composed while he was in prison for intent to commit a sex crime. The song was originally released in 1964 on the album St. Louis to Liverpool, and has also been recorded or performed by Chely Wright, John Prine, New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Jerry Garcia Band, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and Emmylou Harris. Recorded 7/7/13, Leizpig, Germany.
Bruce Springsteen – DRIFT AWAY - "Drift Away" is a song written by Mentor Williams and originally recorded by John Henry Kurtz on his 1972 album Reunion. In 1973 the song became Dobie Gray's biggest hit, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. A new version by Uncle Kracker, with Gray, became a major hit in 2003. Recorded 5/28/13, Hanover, Germany.
Bruce Springsteen – LONG TALL SALLY - "Long Tall Sally" is a rock and roll 12-bar blues song written by Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, Enotris Johnson and Richard Penniman (known as "Little Richard"), recorded by Little Richard and released March 1956 on the Specialty Records label. It became one of the singer's best-known hits and has become a rock and roll standard covered by hundreds of artists. Reocrded 7/3/12, Milan, Italy.
Bruce Springsteen – SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL - "Shake, Rattle and Roll" is a twelve bar blues-form rock and roll song, written in 1954 by Jesse Stone under his assumed songwriting name Charles E. Calhoun. It was originally recorded by Big Joe Turner, and most successfully by Bill Haley & His Comets. Recorded 7/5/13, Monchengladbach, Germany.
Bruce Springsteen – I FOUGHT THE LAW - "I Fought the Law" is a song written by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets and became popularized by a cover by the Bobby Fuller Four, which went on to become a top-ten hit for the band in 1966 and was also recorded by the Clash in 1979. The Bobby Fuller Four version of this song was ranked No. 175 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004, and the same year was named one of the 500 "Songs that Shaped Rock" by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Recorded 7/17/12, Dublin, Ireland.
Bruce Springsteen – JAILHOUSE ROCK - "Jailhouse Rock" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that first became a hit for Elvis Presley. The song was released as a 45rpm single on September 24, 1957, to coincide with the release of Presley's motion picture, Jailhouse Rock. Recorded 7/13/13, Werchter, Belgium.
Bruce Springsteen – THE WEIGHT - "The Weight" is a song originally by the Canadian-American group The Band that was released as Capitol Records single 2269 in 1968 and on the group's debut album Music from Big Pink. Credited to Band member Robbie Robertson, the song is about a visitor's experiences in a town called Nazareth. "The Weight" has significantly influenced American popular music, having been listed as #41 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time published in 2004. "The Weight" is one of The Band's best known songs though it was not a significant mainstream hit for group in the U.S., peaking at only #63. Aretha Franklin's 1969 soul music arrangement was included in her This Girl's in Love with You album, which peaked in the U.S. at #19 and #3 on the soul chart, and peaked in Canada at #12. Recorded 5/2/12, Newark, NJ, USA.
Bruce Springsteen – CALIFORNIA SUN – "California Sun", is a song credited to Henry Glover and Morris Levy. Originally recorded by the 35-year-old New Orleans-born singer-songwriter Joe Jones, and released by in the winter of 1961. The most successful version was by The Rivieras' in 1964. Recorded 4/26/12 – Los Angeles, CA.
Bruce Springsteen – BOOM BOOM – "Boom Boom" is a blues song written by John Lee Hooker and recorded in 1961. The song was a hit in the US in 1962 and 1992 in the UK. It is one of Hooker's most identifiable songs and has been recorded by numerous blues and other artists, including a 1965 Pop hit by The Animals. According to Hooker, he wrote the song during an extended engagement at the Apex Bar in Detroit. "I would never be on time; I always would be late comin' in. And the bartender Willa kept saying, 'Boom boom—you late again'. Every night: 'Boom, boom—you late again'. I said 'Hmm, that's a song!' Recorded 5/31/13, Padua, Italy.
Bruce Springsteen – WILD THING - "Wild Thing" is a song written by New York City-born songwriter Chip Taylor. Originally recorded by American band The Wild Ones in 1965, "Wild Thing" is best known for its 1966 cover by the English band The Troggs, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1966. The song peaked at No. 2 in Britain. In the final verse the intention of the narrator and his relationship to the wild thing is revealed. A young man who has viewed his loves desire from across a crowded dance hall. Recorded 7/18/13, Cork, Ireland.