Saturday, 30 January 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 4

‘And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above’

I don’t remember thinking much about Bruce between 1985 and 1987.

I see that Tunnel of Love (TOL) was released on October 9 1987.  We bought our first CD player when we lived in Carlisle and we didn’t move there until 1988.  We have never owned Tunnel of Love on anything other than a CD so, although it pains me to say this, we didn’t buy this when it was first released.

I can’t believe this now.  These days I am practically queuing at the door and although I try hard to resist I have probably heard the illegal copy several times before that via the internet.

Some time in the late 80’s we bought a new hi-fi system.  This replaced a Bush music centre. Very 1980s - grey plastic with a smoked perspex lid.

The new system was a Pioneer midi stacking system, shiny black, very good looking with great sound - tuner at the bottom, double cassette deck in the middle and record deck at the top.  I loved it.

This must have reawakened our interest in music because we bought seven albums in 1989.   (I have included the list below if you are at all curious).  I know this because I had to do a bit of research for this week’s chapter looking at lists of albums released.  We couldn’t remember exactly when we bought our CD player but I know all our 1989 albums were cassettes.  Now seven albums might not seem many but it’s six more than we bought in 1988!  The 1988 album was Rattle and Hum - U2.

Our 1990 albums were all CDs so I am plumping for the 1990 January sales when we bought the CD player. This matched the hi-fi system we already had and simply slotted in between the cassette deck and the turntable.

Try as I might I can’t remember when we bought TOL but I think it was between 1990 and 1992.

I already knew ’Brilliant Disguise’ and ’Tougher than the Rest’ which had been released as singles.  I love both these tracks.  Don’t think I was so familiar with ’Tunnel of Love’ or ’Spare Parts’ which were also singles but didn’t do as well.

Over the years I have sometimes been disappointed by the second album I have bought by a particular artist. When you really love the first album it’s not easy to fall so hard again.  With Bruce I was on to the fourth album and I still wasn’t smitten!

I played TOL more than ‘Nebraska’ or ‘The River’ but it still wasn’t the ’Born in the USA’ part two that I had been looking for.

Listening again now I remember that at the time I liked ’All that Heaven Will Allow’, ’Walk like a Man’ and ’One step Up’.

Nowadays there are only a couple of tracks that I am not keen on and I am keeping these to myself.  You can have a guess if you like.

So let’s see what tour dates did we miss out on this time around? - Birmingham, London, Dublin, Sheffield and loads in Europe.  I have seen the videos though which is better than nothing … just.  Here's the link

We still hadn’t been to a rock concert in 1988 when Bruce was on The Tunnel of Love Express Tour.  The nearest we had been was Odyssey at a small nightclub type venue in Cleethorpes and Barbara Dickson in a converted sports hall.

Our first proper gig was Tina Turner - the Foreign Affair Tour - SEC Glasgow 16 September 1990.  She was great and I am still impressed by all those steps.

Our first Springsteen gig was Sheffield Arena 15 April 1993... and so to next time.

1989 album list
Bonnie Raitt            Nick of Time
Michael Bolton         Soul Provider
Cher                       Heart of Stone
Don Henley             The End of The Innocence
Tina Turner             Foreign Affair
Eric Clapton            Journeyman
Phil Collins             …But Seriously

Sunday, 24 January 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 3

'You can't break the ties that bind'

So we have a taped copy of Nebraska and The River. I am looking for another BITUSA and neither of these fit the bill. Mike loved Nebraska from the start.

He picked out Mansion on the Hill straight away and now Atlantic City is one of his all time favourites.

You will also see Atlantic City in my list of favourites - well a girl can change her mind can’t she?

Nebraska didn’t seem melodious to me and if there is one thing I like it’s a melody. My ears couldn’t pick up the tunes at all. In fact I really didn’t like it.

I am an ipod addict. I hear nearly all my Springsteen music- on a bus- via a randomised play list. Nebraska isn’t good listening on a bus as there is too much engine noise so, the upshot of this is, I haven‘t heard the album from beginning to end since those first few listens. I have it on the stereo as I write this and I hear great melodies. Compared to some of the tracks on Tom Joad and Devils and Dust the Nebraska songs are positively sing along !

The River by contrast has loads of sing-a-long pop songs but they seemed a bit too frantic. I recognised Hungry Heart (which I see from my ‘British Hit Singles’, got to number 44 in 1980) and I loved The River - good tune great lyrics: ‘But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy’ ( who uses ‘economy’ in a song lyric!) and ‘Is a dream a lie if it don‘t come true‘- great lines Paddy Mcaloon - not about cars or girls.

I like lyrics. I heard one of my favourites on the radio this morning - ‘Here you come again looking better than a body has a right to’ - Dolly Parton: and continuing the country music theme you surely can’t beat ’Did I shave my legs for this?’

When I get a new album I read the lyrics along with my first listen. I am a grumpy old woman when it comes to absent lyrics. It can even be the difference between whether I play an album a lot or not.

Perhaps this is why neither The River nor Nebraska grabbed me straight away. The cassette, taped by a mate, did not come with lyrics. Many years later we bought CDs complete with words of course!

In the wider Bruce world 1985 brought a huge tour. Newcastle, London and Leeds in Britain and Paris, Dublin and Rotterdam only a hop and a skip away. This passed us by completely! Neither Mike or I had ever been to a rock concert and It would not have crossed our minds to try for tickets even if we had been remotely aware of a tour.

The closest we got was watching ‘Live Aid’ from Wembley only a few days after Bruce had done his 3 gigs. I heard he left his stage behind for them to use but is this an urban myth?

Now living in Leeds I am surrounded by people who saw Bruce at Roundhay Park in 1985 and think he disappeared off the face of the earth after that. Yes really! I have not met a single person who went to another Springsteen concert after Roundhay.

By contrast our first gig which was some years away at this point took us on a journey around the world.

Mike and I were living apart in 1985 - Mike in Shipley in Yorkshire and me in Grimsby in Lincolnshire. We later moved to Hull and then Carlisle where we bought our first CD player. Our Copy of ’Tunnel of Love’ is a CD so…next time.

Friday, 15 January 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 2

"I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies"

So who knew that, today, 26 years burning down the road, I would be looking back thinking that buying ‘Born in the USA’ was a pivotal moment in my life.

The electronica of the 80s did nothing for me. Mike’s taste was more American rock music - Bob Seger, The Eagles, Don Henley. Springsteen was a natural choice for him. I was starting to reject the stuff I had always listened to and needed to find some new music to get me interested again.

I had actually fallen out with the pop charts in the late 70s. I had always listened to the radio and like most people of my generation watched TOTP every week. I was still steeped in disco and soul when punk hit the main stream charts and I turned instead to Northern Soul which I still love today. Northern Soul is often obscure, usually not top twenty material so the charts became a no no for me and I got out of the habit of following the latest music trends.

I still listened to Radio 1 in the morning. I woke up with Noel Edmonds for years, then DLT (Dave Lee Travis) and Mike Read. Mike and I were seduced by Breakfast TV for a while and by the time we came back to radio we had become old gits so Terry Wogan was perfect. I am now a radio 2 listener through and through.

Getting back to the matter at hand our BITUSA was a cassette so if ownership is important it belonged to Mike. If I had been buying it for myself I would’ve bought vinyl. I am guessing we bought the album after hearing ‘Dancing in the Dark’.

I love the mystery of buying albums. The fact that I only know one track and the other 10 or 11 are going to be completely new to me is what it’s all about. There has been many a time when I have bought a LP/CD because of one track and hated all the rest. That’s a risk I am happy to take because sometimes I come across something I will love forever. BITUSA - love? or hate? You decide!

I can only recall four other albums we bought that year - Tina Turner’s Private Dancer: Barbara Streisand Emotion: The soundtrack to Mack and Mable (because I had loved ’I won’t Send Roses’ since seeing Torville and Dean do an exhibition dance after the Winter Olympics in 1984)  and Jane Fonda's Workout.

Jane was the exercise guru of the time. I went to a Jane Fonda Workout class at the local gym and this record described the same exercises. Later when we rented a video recorder from Radio Rentals I bought a tape which was much easier to follow.

This was the first of a long line of tried and failed exercise routines. I had a Jane Fonda step in the early nineties.  A friend suggested ’Great Bums and Thighs’.
I had a great bum and thighs then and still do:- celebrated?, distinguished?, eminent?, exalted?, excellent? No:- big, bulky, colossal, enormous, extensive.

A contraption to help us do sit ups didn’t last long and a cross trainer has been languishing unused and unloved in our friends’ garage for over a year.

Now I have a Wii Fit which told me last week that it was 376 days since I had last visited and I am now a bit of a porker.  Needless to  say I didn't reach the weight loss target I set for myself - presumably over 376 days ago.

All this springs to mind because I did much of my Jane Fonda workout whilst listening to BITUSA. and I got quite a good routine going. I have to say jogging on the spot in time to ‘Working on the Highway‘ was hard work… It still is - I‘ve just tried it!

We practically wore this tape out we played it so much. The CD we have now has hardly been played. Have I become a bit of a Bruce snob poo pooing it because it was so popular with the hoi polloi? I think so. It’s playing as I write this and it really is very good.

Did we rush out and buy the back catalogue? - no: but a friend taped Nebraska and The River for us and that will be my story for next week…

Random fact - one of my favourite tracks on BITUSA is ‘I’m Goin’ Down’ and this is the only track I have not heard live.

When you visit my Blog please post a comment and tell me your favourite BITUSA track.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 1

"If dreams came true oh wouldn't that be nice"
I first came across Bruce Springsteen in 1984. 

Mike(my husband) came to me with a dog eared copy of ‘Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits’, every album Donna Summer had released (including a very obscure one only released in Europe) and a cassette which he had recorded himself of his favourite songs.

Ahhhh cassettes - do you remember those. I was never really taken with the pre recorded cassette. I loved my LPs. I loved everything about them the size of them, the feel, the look but the great thing about cassettes was that you could buy them blank to record on yourself. Nearly everyone of my age from the UK will remember setting up the cassette with an external microphone propped up near the radio on a Sunday afternoon taping that week’s charts. You hardly dare breathe because the mic picked up every little noise: and all that stopping and starting so you didn’t get any talking in between records. Oh and how irritating when Tom Browne (who remembers him ? - I looked it up on Wikipedia talked over the intro or outro of the one record you really wanted that week. The advent of the music centre made all this much easier but that story is for another time.

Anyway back to my tale.

I had fallen hopelessly in love with Mike so his favourites became the soundtrack to my life for a while. Music has always been important to me and knowing Mike’s taste was a way of getting to know him better. He later admitted they weren’t his favourites at all apart from one or two tracks!. The rest were just included to fill up the tape.

My record collection was a little more extensive - some Rod Stewart a couple of early David Bowie and lots of Motown. My music taste was moulded by the disco and pop of the seventies and yes I was a teeny bopper. A bit of a flighty soul though as I liked both David Cassidy and Donny Osmond - you were supposed to go for one or the other.

In my poverty stricken days of my late teens I sold a load of LPs to a second hand record dealer on Louth market. He didn’t give me much for them as I recall. David Cassidy, Donny Osmond,   The Bay City Rollers etc. went but I held on to a few faves including The Monkees which was the first album I ever owned - Davy Jones was a practice run for David and Donny. My brother bought the LP for me one Christmas or birthday and that makes it special. It hasn’t been played for years but I will never part with it.

So…1984 ‘Born in the USA’ … to be continued next week.