1987…… late 1987. I am in the home of the ‘family of music’ CBS Records in Soho Square, London. I’m there to meet Bob Clearmountain who is in London to work with our band and intends to re record one of our songs in order to make it sound like the smash record everyone tells us it should be. Bob’s in the A & R office and together we make our way to the studio where we’ll be working. I tell him how much I like the new Bruce Springsteen album. (Tunnel of Love has come out in September) He likes it too. We share a few sentences on the themes of love, disillusionment and fear which seem to rise to the surface from Tunnel of Love. ‘Yeah’ says Bob, as he looks bewildered at the London traffic, ‘ I said to him at the time,……’Has Julie heard these songs?’
A few months later Bruce Springsteen’s short marriage to Jilianne Phillips was over. The man who had paid to go through that Tunnel of Love had come out the other side a slightly more perplexed figure than the one who had gone in. He didn’t go up to the fat man sitting in the ticket office and ask for his money back but heck he did decide a few more shots on the waltzers might be worth the money. By spring ’88 I was in pole position to see the Tunnel of Love Express tour open in Madison Square Gardens NY. Bruce looked at Patti Scialfa all night and Patti looked back. The rest was history.
Five years earlier I was leaving Dundee to come to Glasgow. I remember trying to make sense of my friend, Andy’s 4 track cassette recorder. It was great. For five minutes it sounded like you were making an album. Drums on one track, bass, keys vocals…..wasn’t this how The Beatles did it? Bruce Springsteen also bought one. He set it up in his house and recorded what we now know as Nebraska. The story goes that Bob Ludwig refused to master it, and again the rest is history.
On Friday we celebrate the significant anniversaries of these two seminal albums. Some would say they may be the best albums Bruce has ever recorded. You can judge for yourselves but both records have drawn country artists in and we’ll play you some great covers of the songs as well as the unbeatable originals.
That’s not all. As promised we also chat to this band.
It’s Grizzly Bear who return with a great new album and we’ll ask all the right questions to the men from Brooklyn and hear some of these new songs.
All the usual mix of old and new from five past eight this Friday on BBC Radio Scotland.
In the world of synchronicity or is it serendipity…..whatever. As it so happens there has been a tribute album put together of Nebraska by Clubhouse Records UK. Its got all sorts of country/americana boys and girls on it which looks like a perfect fit for AC. Probably too late to feature this week, but then again ? (there are also a number of youtube clips up from this compilation).
Great post and bound to be a great show. 2 fantastic albums. I have a Nebraska tribute album which is well worth seeking out called Badlands.
Having to play catch-up with the show this week as I was out at a (decidedly un-AC) gig last Friday. I always love the forays into Springsteen’s back catalogue on the show, and both “Nebraska” and “Tunnel of Love” are albums that totally passed me by at the time, but resonate more with me now, and especially so thanks to your own commentary and insights, Ricky.
I also thought I would share the following article from Psychology Today entitled “Bruce Springsteen and the Politics of Meaning in America”, which joins in on this week’s examination of US politics too. I think I happened across it as Martyn Joseph—an artist who first made me peer beneath the surface of the Boss’s music, and who recorded a wonderfully stripped-down version of “One Step Up”, a personal favourite of mine, on his last album—shared it on Twitter. It’s a fascinating and truly resonant piece that once again serves to reinforce the potential for power and meaning in both the craft of songwriting and the art of performance, and illustrates the cultural and social significance of Springsteen’s body of work. There are even quotes from both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton that might just indicate they’ve been listening to the Deacon Blue back catalogue!
Anyway, all in all another great show. Loved the new song from Randy Newman (duly downloaded), and I’m looking forward to hearing more of Tift Merritt’s new album when it arrives in the mail later this week. Congratulations, too, on the success of “The Hipsters”—which grows on me further with every listen—and I trust you and the band will have a great time travelling together out on the road…
I just had to pop back to this post as I happened across a video of Martyn Joseph offering both an exquisite performance and perfect deconstruction of “One Step Up”, something I’ve heard him do live myself. Here, across ten minutes, is why I love both the song and this artist:
Thanks so much for the Martyn Joseph link.