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« Freedom of the press | Main | Let us now praise famous men »

Nov 20, 2009


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Wore the grooves out on that one. Every track was excellent.

Andrew Brod

Better than Bruce? Um, no.


Great artist, his greatest album. But, overall, better than Bruce? No.

That said, both Tom and Bruce look down on pop music from a place where the air is pretty thin, and they don't have much company.

Joe Killian

I love Tom Petty. Own all but one of his albums. But there's just one way I think you could seriously argue that Petty is better than Springsteen:

Almost any Petty video is going to win in head-to-head competition with any Springsteen video. With the exception of that "Streets of Philadelphia" video it doesn't seem to me Bruce has been all that interested in the form.

David Wharton

Bruce is the sincerest of poseurs: he has become his poses. He is also a consummate writer of Important Songs.

He is the thinking man's John Cougar Mellencamp.

Ed Cone

Springsteen writes some clunky lyrics, but I don't think of him as a poseur.

Sometimes he reaches, and doesn't always get there. Certainly he's fallen victim in latter years to the burden of megastardom -- hard to keep it real when you are that rich and famous -- and his liberal politics seem to irk some people.

But his live show sets him apart from most performers, and it remains a definitional part of his work and his persona. If it's insincere or poseurish, then those are awesome things to be. And there are moments throughout his recorded career that still ring true. When I'm not listening to him, I find it easier to throw stones, but in the moment he's pretty great.

To each his own taste, of course.


A Springsteen show is the best three hours a person can spend on the planet.

David Wharton

Yes, I have heard that his live shows are greatly enjoyed by his fans.

I understand that this is also true of Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, and Julio Iglesias.


"Yes, I have heard that his live shows are greatly enjoyed by his fans.

I understand that this is also true of Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, and Julio Iglesias."

I hear the same about Yawni Yanni, too.

John Amberg

I had a very serious conversation with a very good friend of mine from the college days two years ago up near Chicago. This conversation lasted over many beers on my pal's deck and the topic was this: Who is the greatest all-time American rock & roll band? My buddy maintained that title belonged to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. I, of course, stuck to my guns and insisted that the standard bearer was Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. I argued that in terms of the key band members, keyboards, guitar, and drums, Bruce's band won hands down. Benmont Tench is a great keyboardist, but Roy Bittain is, in my opinion, the greatest rock & roll pianist of all time. Guitar? Mike Campbell is very, very good. But Little Steven rocks your mamma's house. As far as drums go, one word: Max.

We never really resolved it, it was sort of a "we'll agree to disagree and is there any more IPA in the cooler?" thing.

Personally, I absolutely love "Damn The Torpedoes," and that remains my favorite Petty disc.

Until Tom can write a song as epic as "Backstreets," I've got to give it to Bruce.

John Amberg

And yeah, it did kind of break my heart when Bruce pimped an Al Franken book onstage at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill in 2003.


Jerry Lee Lewis is the greatest rock and roll pianist of all time.

Ed Cone

Your favorite band sucks!

Seriously, there are layers of subjectivity at work here. Not just one's personal tastes, but one's phase in life, mood at the moment, the time and manner in which one first heard the music, etc.

Arguing with a fan is a sucker's game.

As another pantheon band reminds us, it's only rock and roll.

Petty is very good at it. But for me at least, Springsteen at his best is operating at another level.


OK, a contrarian viewpoint sure to please no one. Springsteen just never did it for me. What I remember, is in 1975, when there were more great bands than you could possibly know what to do with, he shows up on the cover of Time and Newsweek on THE SAME WEEK and was proclaimed as God. If you didn’t accept that sight unseen, there was just something you didn’t get. For me, the music never caught up to the hype. I tried, but all the “barefoot girls sittin on the hood of a dodge drinkin warm beer in the soft summer rain” stuff just came across as a little too contrived rootsiness to me (We were already doing that in Wilkes County), so yeah, he struck me as a poseur. Then again, I have never really gravitated toward the lyricist, poetic or image-oriented musicians. It’s instruments (including voice-just not his) that give me goosebumps. Having said that, despite the lyric quoted above, I’ve always thought “Jungleland” was better than everything else he did put together—a north-of-the-Mason Dixon “Free Bird”, so to speak. I am told that he never plays that in concert, which is quite odd to me, and since I’ve only seen him once, I could be wrong. Any of you diehards know if he does play it?

OK everybody, you can publicly stone me with 8-track tapes now.

Ed Cone

That warm summer rain falls in a pretty gritty landscape.

I remember the week that Springsteen made the cover of the newsweeklies when I was in middle school, and I remember liking Born to Run well enough...

...and then I saw him and his band live in Philly during my freshman year in college, and I thought, oh, that's what everyone's been talking about.

And every time I've seen him since, even when the odds were against him being awesome, he's been great -- not a Rock Star, but a rock and roll star.

His band -- the instruments and how they are played and play together -- is a huge part of that story.

Jungleland live, and a few dozen more.

Critics, fans, and hype can ruin almost anything.

All that said, any number of people just may not really dig the guy's music. Which is, y'know, fine.


Youtube, Google and Wiki render it inexcusable to lazily ask anyone for information anymore. Sometimes I forget.

Ed Cone

Look at it as a collaborative research project, CP...

FWIW, I would not count myself as a true hardcore Springsteen fan, although I'd have to put his live shows near the top of any list of concerts I've experienced...I like bands that can play live, and jam and not play the same set every night, and his live sets are for real.


The sheer volume and quality of his catalog along with his underestimated musicianship which is overshadowed by his songwriting, combined with his electrifying (overused term, but apt) live performances puts him in a class by himself. It's often been said that you may not care for Springsteen if you just hear him on the radio, but once you go to a show you're a fan for life.


Jungleland has been on the set list for a while, especially on this tour where he plays the entire "Born to Run" album. I agree that it's his best song, along with "Rosalita"


I miss Mr. Sun when the conversation turns to Bruce. I hope he is well, wherever he is keeping himself these days.

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