Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

The Weight

Bruce Springsteen found a classy way to pay tribute to the late Levon Helm at last night’s Newark show:

Sounds like at least half the people in the stadium were singing along. It reminded me that the first time I really listened to this song was when I bought Before the Flood, right at the start of what would turn out to be a lifelong Bob Dylan obsession. The album hasn’t aged well, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it because I realized I’d already heard “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek” at some point and gotten the choruses wound into the cellular structure of my brain.

It also got me thinking of what other artists have done with the song. Aretha Franklin, for instance:

Nice little slide guitar intro from Duane Allman. Gives Aretha the perfect launch platform for her vocals.

And then there’s this version from Gillian Welch:

This is a performance from last summer, with Levon joining Wilco on the stage. At about 3:39 Levon’s voice falters and his daughter smoothly steps in to complete the verse. The grin on her father’s face speaks volumes:

Finally, a performance from The Band itself, in its prime:

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Blue Monday

The new super-duper boxed-set edition of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town is coming out in a couple of months. While the packaging looks complete to the point of overkill, it probably won’t include a snapshot of the T-shirt that defined the New Jersey summers during the three-year layover between Born to Run and the 1978 release of Darkness. As anyone who was in the vicinity of Asbury Park back then would know, Springsteen fans were walking around the boardwalk with T-shirts emblazoned with MIKE APPEL SUCKS. Appel, Springsteen’s original manager, did not go quietly when rock critic Landau moved in on his meal ticket, which is why the followup to Born to Run took so long to arrive.  That’s why, to me, the title of Darkness will always be Mike Appel Sucks.

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Blue Monday (Tuesday edition)

I had no idea that Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen’s right-hand man, was in such poor health. This Bookslut review of his memoir, Big Man, lays out some of the guy’s troubles, as well as his obvious triumphs. I’m not a truly dedicated Springsteen fan so there are probably better examples of Clemons’ playing out there, but I always thought his finest hour was the epic saxophone solo on “Jungleland” off the . . . oh come on, you know which album. And here it is.

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Blue Monday

This guy was doing a free show in Philadelphia the same day I was hustling my book in Collingswood. The fact that Bruce Springsteen and Steven Hart were going head-to-head didn’t seem to hurt the turnout at either event, so no hard feelings. It’s a Jersey thing, you know? In fact, I’m sorry I couldn’t have been there.

And here’s a commercial done by another great musician, albeit not from New Jersey. Like Bruce Springsteen, Ralph Stanley is a big Obama supporter, and in this race, so am I.

ADDENDUM: Now Obama’s got Shakira on his side! Talk about a hat trick.

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