I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan, or at least I have been. Hearing him in the mid-1970s was a wonder, and I’ve done my time, though not recently, queuing for ‘Bruce’ tickets. But I’d tried (on TV) to avoid his appearance this year at Glastonbury because – and this sounds like one of these old retread type of conversations about rock – watching him and his patched up band go through songs that were electrifying thirty years ago was too dismal.
And I sort of failed. On my way home today, post-Glastonbury, I stopped in a bookshop which normally plays jazz, and they were playing Born to Run, CD and track (“I’m having a Glastonbury sort of a day” said the bookseller) and while I was at the counter it hit that long extended moment in the middle of the song, that pause where he counts ‘1-2-3-4’ before the East St Band kicks in to the last section, about the broken heroes on their last chance power drive. And looking for some post tennis stuff this evening on the red button, after Murray’s five-setter against Wawrinka, I got myself into a Springsteen-at-Glastonbury loop the BBC had cunningly inserted into its interactive service, Steve Lamacq asking some questions, Bruce playing some songs, clever use of the red button and those extra channels.
But but but. I like Bruce Springsteen, and Steve Lamacq asks him about turning 60 (soon) and he gives one of those honest but practised rock star answers (yeah, it’s no big deal, and on the day I’ll hit the bar, but on stage it’s only about – wait for it – 1-2-3-4), and then they cut back to Bruce playing Born to Run, and which producer wouldn’t make the connection between the interview answer and his most famous on-record count, and I’m thinking, I’m glad that in my work I don’t have to reprise things which I did thirty-five years ago. And much though I like Bruce, and know that he’s done some great unexpected things (like help rehabilitate Pete Seeger and his music) I’m also glad that I don’t have to make this choice for myself. It gives a sudden respect for those artists who, in that great phrase in Hay, (or hey?) by the Irish poet Paul Muldoon,
All great artists are their own greatest threat
As when they aim an industrial laser
At themselves and cut themselves back to the root.
The picture is from the ‘Serenity Through Haiku‘ blog, which makes the same point I’ve just made, but a lot more concisely. Really: a lot more concisely.