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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Greatness of Bruce Springsteen (and Neil Young)

Bruce Springsteen
"You know, the difference between the greatness of Bruce Springsteen and that of Neil Young?
Bruce makes you think you, too, can be as great as he is; Neil makes you think he is really no better than you are to begin with. Remember that.
Dr. Eric Alterman - Altercation

Much as been written about the importance and impact of Bruce Springsteen's music.

So why would we even bother to highlight yet another homage to Bruce in the never ending flood of coverage? On a Neil Young blog nonetheless?

Mainly, because it's the kind of article we would like to have written about Neil Young.

An article which would explore the loss of Ben Keith and its impact on Neil -- just as the loss of Clarence Clemons impacts Bruce. An analysis of the parallels between Bruce's tribute to Woody Guthrie on Nebraska and Pete Seeger on The Seeger Sessions relative to the upcoming Americana.

Of how Bruce's "Born in the USA" was co-opted by the Reagan administration to project an image of America that was diametrically opposed to the true meanings of the lyrics -- similar to the misinterpretation of Young's "Rockin' in the Free World".

The article by long time Springsteen scholar and fan Eric Alterman is adapted from the book The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism From Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama and is online at Bruce Springsteen's Political Voice | The Nation.

Definitely worth a read if you like Bruce. Or Neil. But especially if you like the greatness both artists.

bruce-springsteen-electric-open.jpg neil_young_oldblack_flannel_hat
Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young

More on Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young: The Difference in Greatness

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At 4/13/2012 10:44:00 AM, Blogger setlistthief said...

I was just thinking of that great quote this morning. Thanks for the link, Thrasher.

At 4/13/2012 12:05:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

Neil Young is Woody Guthrie with a Bigsby.

At 4/13/2012 01:18:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

"Neil Young is Woody Guthrie with a Bigsby."
Nice. :)
Liked & Trademarked

Don't be surprised if you see this quote popup on TW someday.

At 4/13/2012 02:41:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Like so many others before and after him, Springsteen broke out of the mold that the industry was trying to build around him. Bruce was like a stick of dynamite going off when he first came into his own as an artist, storyteller, and preacher man. Neil was sort of slow and gradual. He hesitated. Almost fizzy. Never had the confidence early on like Bruce had I suppose.

Anyway, isn't Bruce like one million up on Neil as far as a fan base? Dylan is twice as many?

I don't get the comparison of Neil to Woody. Woody didn't care about making money. His attitude was totally different in regard to song ownership, too. Are we talking writing ability, playing ability, or just man to man?

At 4/13/2012 03:57:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Is anyone going to Woody's centennial tonight?

At 4/13/2012 04:53:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@MNOTR - good question on Neil to Woody.

We'd have to say this is more about man to man. Philosophy more so than musical style, for sure.

It would be curious if Woody were to appear on the scene, what he might think of the Bruce's & Neil's.

If anything, he's say: "It's a free concert now, man. C'mon."

At 4/13/2012 04:59:00 PM, Blogger La Johnson said...

They've both made some great music but this theme seems a bit over the top! They haven't changed the world just made it a better place to be - get a grip!

At 4/13/2012 06:48:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

By making the world more tolerable (or a better place to be) involves an internal change of some kind to occur, no? Bruce improved my QOL by 200% shortly after Nebraska and when he backed Lefty Wilbury during the B&W Concert.

Neil improved it by 250% ever since After the Goldrush and before that, Emperor of Wyoming.

I'd be curious to get Lucky Wilbury's opinion about Woody and Neil.

Love that triple two-step shuffle on roller skates.

At 4/13/2012 07:23:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@LAJ - "They haven't changed the world just made it a better place to be"

Isn't that enough? Can you say the same?

At 4/14/2012 01:50:00 AM, Blogger La Johnson said...

Yup it is, calm down. They have been in the fortunate position to be able to do that. Can I say the same? well with the resources at my control maybe? They are wealthy men and have chosen to support many causes, especially Neil's Bridge School. I'm just trying to keep a balance - as a Neil fan for 40 plus years - I have a good understanding of his music. Dare I say it's been 20 years since his last GREAT record?

At 4/14/2012 07:29:00 AM, Blogger SONY said...

Obviously these fellas represent two of the greatest songwriter/rocker performers ever to tour the planet. They are not singer songwriters, they are the epitome of rock and roll stars as they have crafted the sound with pen, voice and strings. And also with their blood, sweat and tears.

As a certified Neilhead I can only tell ya that Bruce took me to new heights on a 3 1/2 hour show in Tempe AZ one night way back. An event I hadn't expected and really have not encoutered since.

At 4/14/2012 09:37:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I think the big difference is that Bruce can articulate his perspective and opinion in candid dialog and song. Neil's strength lies in his ability to articulate what he's thinking in a song.

Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bruce Springsteen have been very very candid and clear in interviews about their politics and beliefs in general. Even more clear in the songs they created.

Both Neil and Bobby are known for editorializing about social injustices in song only. They get irritated and agitated when people ask them to elaborate about the songs they've written about social injustices. Publically, they are ambiguous, shy mostly, and apprehensive.

Honestly, Neil or Bobby Zimmerman have never been outspoken about social injustice in interviews or public speeches. Only on stage. Did you see when Scorsese interviewed Dylan? How about Neil's interview in "Don't Be Denied." Very telling interviews about how they perceive themselves as public figures. It's only when you listen to their songs can you see the big picture or social commentary in their head.

At 4/14/2012 09:52:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Also, both Woody, Pete, and the early folksingers/writers lived according to the politics and philosophy they preached in their songs. Ask anyone of their family members. I think Bruce, Neil, and Bobby live according to the rules of "Rock'n'roll" which continue to change because of the politics battles and different personal philosophies by which so many live their lives.

Bruce has always been very clear and outspoken about his political leanings. He's progressive liberal and I love his folk stories in the songs he writes. Neil leans toward being a "libertarian" because he's made it pretty clear he lives by his own rules.

At 4/17/2012 05:43:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

The difference is that Bruce wanted to be a cross between Elvis and Roy Orbison without the baggage. Neil wanted to be a cross between Dylan and the Stones and became consumed by all the baggage until he met his wife. Dylan wanted to be Woody and created his own baggage. Roy wanted to be Roy and lived with a lot of baggage. Elvis wanted to be Elvis and died because of all the baggage. And Woody wanted to be the voice for all the people who were carrying around a lot of baggage at the time.

At 5/14/2012 08:32:00 PM, Anonymous birds said...

neil young completes me.


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