Bruce Springsteen was on Colbert tonight promoting his new Born To Run autobiography.
It was a great interview, but for me the biggest takeaway from it – at least if you read between the lines – was that writers, whether it comes to songs, journalism, or other types of prose – do their best work when it comes from a center of passion and honesty.
That’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve always loved Bruce Springsteen’s songs. He may overstate things a bit sometimes. But when he positively nails it – like he does in this song he recently and inexplicably began performing again for the first time in years on the final dates of this year’s River tour – well, there is this mysteriously emotional and resonant place he touches deep within my own psyche.
Pete Townsend did the same thing to me as an isolated feeling teenager with Quadrophenia. Neil Young did it again when I was a young adult uncertain of where I was going with On The Beach. But Springsteen’s songs, well they usually tend to be more reaffirming. Nothing lifts me up quite like recognizing myself as one of those “tramps like us” who were “Born To Run” or “spitting in the face of these Badlands…”
I’ve been struggling a bit with my own writing lately, trying to find that place again. When The Beatles; The Who; Springsteen; Dylan; Neil Young; Prog; Punk: Hip-Hop; and even Steven Wilson have already happened, I mean, what’s left to write about for a music writer? It either sucks or it doesn’t, and these days – well , it mostly does.
But in a world where we may be about to elect an orange-haired carnival barker to the most powerful position in the free world; where the idea of black people being shot under questionable circumstances on a near weekly basis is something we continue to “debate”; where the middle class has all but disappeared, as we ponder a “homeless crisis”; and where just tonight, there was another mall shooting just a few miles north of where I live – well, it occurs to me there may be a few things left to say.
Like The Boss says, “So Walk Tall, or Baby, Don’t Walk at all.”