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August 13, 2005

In defense of Bruce

Some things that need to be said.


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"Sure, he used to be great and all that, but he became all rock star-ish and washed up, so why bother with him at all?" Cliff defends Bruce Springsteen against... [Read More]


Got the first four, consider side two of E-Street Shuffle as good as anything in rock. My image of Bruce is the New Jersey kid spending Saturday in the big city. Prefer Darkness to Born to Run, think Thunder Road the best romantic rocker ever, and got to get the River.

When I think of how bleak the 80's would have been without his music, I don't know if I could have survived. It got so bad that whenever I heard Cyndi Lauper or Flock of Seagulls, I had to run home and throw Born to Run or The River onto the turntable.


I just tonight acquired a very rare bootleg. Phil Ochs Live in Montreal, 11.22.66. Simply Ochs on guitar, pretty clean, performing his usual favorites, and every song from "Pleasures of the Harbor". AMG says the 68 concert is the ultimate treasure, but Ochs was two years more depressed, which means pretty depressed. This is a treasure. Several of these songs I have never heard of live recordings anywhere, like "I've Had Her" and "The Party". The only small note found on the web mentions rumours this was recorded by the FBI. :)

I remember you liked Ochs, and thinking of ya.

Thanks, Bob. I love Phil Ochs. His live album from Vancouver is one of my favorite recordings of all time--not because it was clean, or even competently executed--but because it was such a stark portrait of an incredibly talented guy who was so personally aggrieved by American politics and so throughly incapacitated by mental illness. And yet, somehow, he put on a truly great show. In a way, it was more punk rock than punk rock.

(I totally emphasize. The are so many musicians who are anguished or disgruntled by various and sundry things. But Phil Ochs is one of the few people who really convinces me that he's wrist-slashingly sad about the hypocrisy of American politics.)

I don't remember if either of these were on the Vancouver concert, but I think Rehearsals for Retirement and I'm Tired are the two best portrayals of depression in American popular music.

I think the lyrics to When I'm Gone are going to be tomorrow's Sunday Sermonette--thanks for reminding me.

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