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Jackson Browne on Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Stories

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

As reported by Rolling Stone Magazine, here is Jackson Browne’s Top 10 list of Bruce Springsteen’s greatest stories:

‘This list is the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. But you have an idea of what’s representative of him and what he means to me. When I first met him, his first album wasn’t out, and I had just released mine. He made two albums before he really blew up. But he’s an artist who has had many major turns and awakenings. A lot of surprising stuff has happened along the way.”

1. “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” 1973

This is an avalanche of exuberance. He’s coming for her: “I ain’t here for business/I’m only here for fun.” Which is not true. He is serious. It speaks to what was happening in our generation’s youth — breaking free of all restraints.

2. “Thunder Road” 1975

3. “Born to Run” 1975

4. “Jungleland” 1975

I don’t think of these as escape songs. They’re very ambitious. “I want to know if love is real” [from “Born to Run”] — there’s all this stuff you’ve heard of and you want for yourself. But you have to be honest. You can’t pretend. “Jungleland” has cinematic scope. It’s interesting how many different names he came up with for essentially the same characters who inhabit these songs — people everybody knows.

5. “Badlands” 1975

There is an economy of language that comes in here, in this context he’s already laid down. He’s building a persona, a lexicon of references, as he goes along. That’s him singing the high part, while his other voice, this full-throated thing, continues below. It’s cool and thrilling.

6. “Atlantic City” 1982

This is one of the most intimate things he’s done to date. He’s taking responsibility for the city. He’s not escaping anywhere. He wants to make something good happen.

7. “I’m on Fire” 1984

It’s about fundamental, deep-seated desire. But he lets the muscular playing fall away. It’s astonishing to hear somebody who relied so much on physical power be understated.

8. “My Hometown” 1984

It’s the same thing happening in “Atlantic City,” a song about recognizing that you’re in this place with these other people — that where you’re from will always be with you. That had to happen. You couldn’t go on being the outsider, rejecting everybody.

9. “Dancing in the Dark” 1984

When he says, “I ain’t nothin’ but tired/I’m just bored with myself” — the frustration and desperation are real. That was always a triumph, when a record that said something about your life was on the radio.

10. “Streets of Philadelphia” 1994

This required great empathy and understanding. To write from the perspective of someone who is emaciated, with AIDS, is to forsake all of the strength Springsteen had staked his career on previously. It is quite a feat.

11. “Sad Eyes” 1998

It’s understated and confident but dark. It alludes to the idea of people who are lonely, what they are looking for in each other. It’s another one of his melodies that you can walk around singing for days.

12. “American Skin (41 Shots)” 2001

The refrain is a question: How did this happen? What is heartbreaking at the center is the admission: You can get killed for the color of your skin. It’s not a preachy song or a diatribe. It’s a quest. And for a live song, it is masterfully recorded and performed.

13. “The Rising” 2002

It’s more universal than 9/11. The “dream of life” litany is wonderful — this open-armed thing pulling people together. We’re only here for a short time, so make it count, make it good.

14. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” 1995

This song is about a condition that was with us in the Dust Bowl era but is with us again. He appropriates this character from John Steinbeck to talk about the many people who, once again, with us and yet outside of us, are not part of our prosperity.

15. “Your Own Worst Enemy” 2007

This is a surprising turn musically, with a Pet Sounds approach. At the same time, he’s discussing our integrity, our capacity for self-examination — telling the truth and doing the right thing.

Bruce Springsteen at Light of Day 11 in 2011

Monday, February 21st, 2011

This was our second venture down to the Light of Day benefit in Asbury Park, NJ. My mother and I have made the pilgrimage down to Asbury Park in the dead of Winter two years in a row in hopes of catching Bruce at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. The lineup was pretty similar to the year before, only this year they added Alejandro Escovedo, so we had a feeling Bruce would definitely show. And he did.

Springsteen at Light of Day 2011, courtesy of

Bruchee at Light of Day 2011 - photo copyright

Joining Jesse Malin for Broken Radio, Willie Nile for One Guitar then gracing everyone with a ‘solo acoustic set’ of two superb but rarely performed tunes Your Own Worst Enemy and This Hard Land. This was a special moment we were sharing with Bruce. He was alone, with no backing band, in a small theater, singing with an acoustic guitar. I’ve never experienced him in this kind of intimate setting before and I was just trying to enjoy every minute of it before it ended.

Bruce then brought out Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers and kicked off a blistering set – trading songs from the catalogs of both Grushecky and Bruce like cards. He played old standards like Darkness on the Edge of Town, Pink Cadillac, Atlantic City, to “new” songs off of The Promise like One Way Street and Save My Love. He was having a blast, and so was everyone else in the theater.

After the rousing Light of Day, we knew the end was coming. Everyone came back on stage for Twist and Shout which usually marked the end of the night. We were ready to grab our things and head to the Wonder Bar when we heard Bruce ask for his acoustic guitar. We stopped dead in our tracks and turned back towards the stage to catch Bruce sing Thunder Road with the help of the entire audience. This was another special moment that we were all sharing with Bruce. Here we are in Asbury Park, a town that Bruce helped put on the map, and helped rebuild with all of the money he has contributed to the town, hearing him sing this song that we’ve heard thousands of times on the radio, record players and ipods… it felt more like we were all in a living room, singing along to a familiar song, with a familiar guy we’ve seen around town, not even realizing it was this guy who wrote it and made it what it was.

Losin’ Kind – The Bruce Springsteen Nebraska Demos

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

This is the first official blog (outside of MySpace) that I will attempt to keep up with.  I’d like to talk about a bunch of different topics here, but mostly it will be music – and at that, music with meaning.  Anyone that’s ever wondered where any of my songs came from, this is where you’ll get an idea of what has moved me musically.

With that, a Twitter friend of mine gave me a heads up on where to find the Bruce Springsteen Nebraska Demos.

Bruce Springsteen Nebraska Demos

Bruce Springsteen Nebraska Demos

Bruce has been on a roll lately with releasing music from the vaults. “Tracks” contains 66 throwaway tunes, (some are better than anything you would hear from any other artist), and the newly released “The Promise” featuring 22 unreleased tunes from the “Darkness on the Edge of Town” sessions. I almost get angry when I hear some of these songs, like The Promise and The Brokenhearted, wondering how you can write such beautiful songs and never release them.

While listening through the Nebraska demos, a song leapt out at me. The song was Losin’ Kind.

Nebraska is full of these types of songs, so I can see where his mind was when he was writing this. But there’s something about the imagery in this song that gives me chills. As if Nebraska or Highway Patrolman don’t do that every time I hear them… or any song on the Ghosts of Tom Joad record… I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m hearing this for the first time now, 30 years after it was recorded. This song evokes such a feeling and I’m just angry I’ve lived my life without it so far.

Though, it’s just got to be the story. How he tells a life lesson in under 5 minutes, starting with a random encounter where the main character, Frank Davis meets his fate (a girl) outside a bar. The two immediately get into some “trouble” and are on the run together within the same night. He’s telling it in the first person, as if he’s recounting the story as a confession from a jail cell. Throughout the story, it’s evident that he knows he’s “messin’ with the losin’ kind”.

I’ve been in these kinds of situations more than I would like to admit. Where you know you’re messing with the wrong kind of gal, but you keep going with it, just hoping for the best. I guess hindsight is always 20/20.

Having this kind of personal connection with Bruce’s music happens all the time, especially when I hear a song for the first time and can immediately relate to it somehow. But the beauty of it is how he creates this beautifully heartbreaking story to convey the message. He’s a true storyteller.

The lyrics, according to, are as follows:

“My name is Frank Davis, drive a Dixie 109
I was out on Highway 17, just south of the Camden Line
It was down there in the heart of Wilsonville where I met my fate
She was standing outside the bar room said she was waiting for a date
But I knew that that was just a line
And I knew I was messin’ with a losin’ kind

Well I knew what we were both doin’ and I knew that you can’t win
But when the light turned green, I reached across the seat, popped the lock and she slid in
She said she liked Mexican music, she knew a place if I had the time
Well we had a few drinks and we danced a while, I pulled her close, she didn’t mind
And what I knew kinda slipped my mind
And I couldn’t resist her messin’ with the losin’ kind

Well we drove around in my Buick, getting drunk and having fun
Well we ended up at this Best Western out on Highway 101
It was around 3 A.M. we went out to this empty little roadside bar
It was there the cash register was open, it was there I hit that guy too hard
But I knew when I hit him for the second time
That one attracts the other when you’re the losin’ kind

Well I grabbed her hand to get out of there and I felt like I was gonna be sick
And half hour later the sleet started coming down and that highway got pretty slick
I seen some lights in my rearview mirror, I guess I panicked and I gave her a gun
Well then I wrapped us around a telephone pole south on Highway 101
Well she just stumbled out onto the bank and sat down in a pout
Well I kicked out the driver side window but buddy when I got out
Well all I had to greet me was a highway patrolman’s .45
He looked at the wreck and then he said “Son you’re lucky to be alive”

Well sir I’ll think that one over if you don’t mind
Now luck ain’t much good to you when it’s the losin’ kind”

Another song you just sit on and never let see the light of day, right?