Saturday, 17 April 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 15

'Tramps like us baby we were born to run'

The 30th anniversary edition of Born to Run came out on 14 November 2005.  We bought it in Sheffield.

We had decided to stay in Sheffield overnight after seeing Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at The Leadmill.  This was our first SSJ gig but according to The Leadmill‘s website it was The Jukes fourth time there.  The Leadmill is certainly full of character and unlike anywhere we had been before.  The building was apparently a former flour mill and has played host to a raft of famous bands.

Anyway Southside was … well Southside. He is possibly an acquired taste as he does come across as a bit strange but he put on a great show.  We only recognised one or two songs but the crowd were clearly regulars and well versed in the gig rituals.  There was some banter between Johnny and the crowd and people shouted out requests.  He only heard the ones he wanted to though - bit like an early version of collecting the signs that you want and ignoring the others.

We saw Bernie for the first time at this gig. Many Springsteen regulars will know of Bernie even if they don’t know him. He is the wiry little guy with the long, wild grey hair who you will have seen dancing exuberantly around at many a Bruce show.  He has even appeared on YouTube.

There’s a lot to digest in the BTR boxed set - The making of DVD, the Hammersmith Odeon gig and of course the album itself which by this time had without doubt become my favourite album of all time.  I have since become very fond of Darkness too and either one could be my fave now.

We are not great DVD watchers so although we watched ‘Wings For Wheels‘ when we bought it we haven’t seen it since - until I watched it this week that is.  Bruce must have been a hard man to work with. So bad, in fact, I wonder why anyone stuck by him.  Not one person said making BTR was fun! Bruce seemed to look back on it with fondness though even if it was clear he struggled with it at the time.  The thought that it may never have been released at all is unimaginable now.

I wonder what people must have thought when they met him in those days.  Lets be honest he was a skinny scruffy little oik really.  He is a tiny figure on that Hammersmith stage - big hat though.

So was The World finally ready for Bruce Springsteen in 1975? - well, if the Hammersmith Odeon concert is anything to go by 'The World' wasn't sure to start with but he had won them over by the end.  Well almost all of them - Michael Palin's entry in his diary wasn't full of enthusiasm but he did speak to John Peel and his producer afterwards.  This might have coloured his judgement as it is well known that John was no fan of Bruce.  Here is an extract from his Desert Island Discs interview

There are undoubtedly groups who would never have made it to the top if it hadn't been for your initial loyalty and encouragement which has meant that you have been - are in - a very powerful position - do you enjoy that power?

Not at all, really, and I don't think you can allow yourself to reflect on it when you're putting programmes and I don't really entirely believe in it anyway, because, and people say there are certain bands and obviously you advance them a little bit and bring them to a slightly wider audience than they previously had, but at the same time there are numbers of bands whose records I've stoutly resisted playing and I've refused to have in session like U2 and the Police and Dire Straits all of whom applied for sessions at one time or another all of whom were turned down by myself and producer John Walters, quite rightly so I think, so if ever I started to think of myself as some sort of kingmaker, I can reflect back on those bands who have become stupendously successful... and Bruce Springsteen.

What, you turned him down?

Not for a session no, but when his earlier records arrived, I thought they were rubbish and no-one else could understand why I felt like this, I thought they were dreadful, I still think they're dreadful as a matter-of-fact and so it's really quite a good thing I think for me to turn against you because it's a guarantee of stupendous success

Was I ready for Bruce Springsteen - probably not.

Some of my favourite songs of 1975 were Ms Grace - The Tymes, I’m not in love -10cc (which was for a number of years in my top five favourite songs of all time) anything by The Bay City Rollers, The Hustle - Van McCoy and Lovin’ You - Minnie Ripperton.  The big hit single of 1975 was Bohemian Rhapsody which is a classic in anyone’s book whether you like the song or not.

I was working as a Saturday Girl at Woolworths in Skegness at the time, on the ’pick ’n’ mix’ counter - remember them? Unfortunately the sweet counter was right at the front of the store and the record counter at the very back.  This meant that me and my cohort, Jackie, couldn’t hear the records that were played constantly throughout the day.  It’s a very long time ago now but I seem to remember Jackie was a bit of a rocker. We became quite good friends for a while - I wonder where she is now.

I would have given anything to work on the record counter.  It was the job coveted by most of us but it was only given to full time staff.  Vanessa was on most Saturdays.  Funny - I can’t remember the name of someone I met yesterday but I remember the name of the girl on the record counter in Woollies over 30 years ago.

Anyway when I got my pay packet I used to spend a lot of it on LPs. Atlantic Crossing - Rod Stewart and Love to Love You Baby - Donna summer were two albums I bought that year.  Rod was my one musical constant at the time and I bought everything he released until 1983/1984 when I missed a couple of albums.

I remember splashing out one week and buying Minnie Ripperton’s ‘Perfect Angel’ and ‘Never can say Goodbye‘ by Gloria Gaynor the same Saturday.  Left me pretty skint for the rest of the week.  Loved Minnie but don’t remember playing Gloria Gaynor so much.

Bruce didn’t even cross my RADAR. Should I regret this? I missed out on 10 years of fandom.  On the other hand what if I had been swept up in the hype and then hated ‘Backstreets’ or ‘Thunder Road‘.  It certainly wasn’t the sort of thing I listened to at the time…

…and if I hadn’t liked it, ten years on, I might have dismissed BITUSA because I had already decided I didn’t like Springsteen.  A bit like deciding I didn’t like cabbage when I was five years old and not trying it again until I was 45...

…and If I had dismissed BITUSA - well my life would be a lot poorer now for all sorts of reasons.

So I caught up with the Hammersmith Odeon concert and ‘Born To Run’ much later than some but that’s life and, anyway, I have made up for it since.

And now dig out your braces and cowboy boots and dust off your banjo - we are heading towards The Seeger Sessions.

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