13 April 2011

Yeah, Goin’ Back

I’m not a fan of Bruce Springsteen. I admire his talent and work ethic, I enjoy some of his songs, and I can identify the big ones’ openings and choruses. But I don’t think I own any Springsteen albums, and I can’t find his name in my quirky iTunes library.

Given how many people absolutely adore Springsteen, that puts me closer to nineteenth-century Bushmen who died before he was born than to his real fans.

But I say that only to preface a strong recommendation for the episodes of Little Steven’s Underground Garage in which host Steve Van Zandt and Springsteen talk about their rock-and-roll influences, interspersed with music old and new. The last of the radio shows will be broadcast this weekend, and you can listen online to extended versions of all three conversations by registering at the show’s website.

Springsteen and Van Zandt met as teenagers in New Jersey, and have worked together in the E Street Band for decades. They reminisce and analyze their favorite 45s, telling stories about how Springsteen’s first guitar lessons didn’t take, and why they couldn’t get the distortion sound they heard on records (they still had their little amps set on 3).

Along the way we learn about the attraction of novelty songs, how to rip off an Animals intro without anyone noticing by changing it from minor key to major, and the subtle mysteries of Kinks chord changes.

And then there’s this counterfactual: if young Bruce and Stevie had heard any of the Beatles’ small-label American releases before “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” would they have had such an immediate reaction to that band?

No comments: