Bruce Springsteen Part Three
It’s great to do this blog Bruce Springsteen Part Three, because I can play “Born In The USA”, while I’m doing this blog I have the vinyl LP and the 12″45, which sad to typed, isn’t on iTunes, nor CD, because Im have all three.
1984— 1991: Commercial And Popular Phenomenon
Springsteen is probably best known for his album Born in the U.S.A. (1984 ), which sold 15 million copies in the U.S., 30 million worldwide, and became one of the best-selling albums of all time with seven singles hitting the Top 10. The title track was a bitter commentary on the treatment of Vietnam veterans, some of whom were Springsteen‘s friends. The lyrics in the verses were entirely unambiguous when listened to, but the anthemic music and the title of the song made it hard for many, from politicians to the common person, to get the lyrics— except those in the chorus, which could be read many ways. The song made a huge political impact, as he was advocating for the rights of the common working-class man.
The song was widely misinterpreted as jingoistic, and in connection with the 1984 presidential campaign became the subject of considerable folklore. In 1984, conservative columnist George Will attended a Springsteen concert and then wrote a column praising Springsteen‘s work ethic. Six days after the column was printed, in a campaign rally in Hammonton, New Jersey, Reagan said, “America‘s future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire— New Jersey‘s own, Bruce Springsteen.“ Two nights later, at a concert in Pittsburgh, Springsteen told the crowd, “Well, the president was mentioning my name in his speech the other day and I kind of got to wondering what his favorite album of mine must‘ve been, you know? I don’t think it was the Nebraska album. I don’t think he‘s been listening to this one.“ He then began playing “Johnny 99“, with its allusions to closing factories and criminals.
Springsteen also turned down several million dollars offered by the Chrysler Corporation to use “Born in the U.S.A.“ in a car commercial. In later years, to eliminate the bombast and make the song‘s original meaning more explicitly clear, Springsteen performed the song accompanied only by acoustic guitar, thus returning to how the song was originally conceived. The original acoustic version of the song, recorded in 1982 during the Nebraska sessions, appeared on the 1998 archival release Tracks.
“ Dancing in the Dark“ was the biggest of seven hit singles from Born in the U.S.A., peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard music charts. The video for the song showed a young Courteney Cox dancing on stage with Springsteen, which helped start the actress‘s career. The song “Cover Me“ was written by Springsteen for Donna Summer, but his record company persuaded him to keep it for the new album. A big fan of Summer‘s work, Springsteen wrote another song for her, “Protection“. Videos for the album were directed by Brian De Palma and John Sayles. Springsteen played on the “We Are the World“ song and album in 1985. His live single “Trapped“ from that album received moderate airplay on US Top 40 stations as well as reaching No.1 on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart.
During the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, Springsteen met actress Julianne Phillips, whom he would marry in 1985. He also that year took part in the recording of the USA For Africa charity song “We Are The World“; however he declined to play at Live Aid. He later stated that he “simply did not realize how big the whole thing was going to be“. He has since expressed regret at turning down Bob Geldof‘s invitation, stating that he could have played a couple of acoustic songs had there been no slot available for a full band performance.
Springsteen at Félix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Ivory Coast during Amnesty International‘s 1988 Human Rights Now! Tour
The Born in the U.S.A. period represented the height of Springsteen‘s visibility in popular culture and the broadest audience he would ever reach( aided by the release of Arthur Baker‘s dance mixes of three of the singles). From June 15 to August 10, 1985, all seven of his albums appeared on the UK Albums Chart: the first time an artist had charted their entire back catalogue simultaneously.
Live/1975— 85, a five-record box set (also on three cassettes or three CDs), was released near the end of 1986 and became the first box set to debut at No. 1 on the U.S. album charts. It is one of the most commercially successful live albums of all time, ultimately selling 13 million units in the U.S. Live/1975— 85 summed up Springsteen‘s career to that point and displayed some of the elements that made his shows so powerful to his fans: the switching from mournful dirges to party rockers and back; the communal sense of purpose between artist and audience; the long, intense spoken passages before songs, including those describing Springsteen‘s difficult relationship with his father; and the instrumental prowess of the E Street Band, such as in the long coda to “Racing in the Street“. Despiteits popularity, some fans and critics felt the album‘s song selection could havebeen better. Springsteen concerts are the subjects of frequent bootleg recording and trading among fans.
During the 1980s, several Springsteen fanzines were launched, including Backstreets magazine, which started in Seattle and continues today as a glossy publication, now in communication with Springsteen‘s management and official website.
After this commercial peak, Springsteen released the much more sedate and contemplative Tunnel of Love album (1987 ), a mature reflection on the many faces of love found, lost and squandered, which only selectively used the E Street Band. It presaged the breakup of his marriage to Julianne Phillips and described some of his unhappiness in the relationship. Reflecting the challenges of love in“Brilliant Disguise“, Springsteen sang: “So tell me who I see when I look in your eyes/Is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise“?
The subsequent Tunnel of Love Express Tour shook up fans with changes to the stage layout, favorites dropped from the set list, and horn-based arrangements. During the European leg in 1988, Springsteen‘s relationship with backup singer Patti Scialfa became public. Phillips and Springsteen filed for divorce in 1988
Springsteen performing on the Tunnel of Love Express Tour atthe Radrennbahn Weißensee in East Berlin on July 19, 1988.
On July 19, 1988, Springsteen held a concert in East Germany that attracted 300,000 spectators. Journalist Erik Kirschbaum has called the concert “the most important rock concert ever, anywhere“, in his 2013 book Rocking the Wall. Bruce Springsteen: The Berlin Concert That Changed the World. It had been conceived by the Socialist Unity Party‘s youth wing in an attempt to placate the youth of East Germany, who were hungry for more freedom and the popular music of the West. However, it is Kirschbaum‘s opinion that the success of the concert catalyzed opposition to the regime in the DDR, and helped contribute to the fall of the Berlin Wall the following year.
Later in 1988, Springsteen headlined the worldwide Human Rights Now! tour for Amnesty International. In late 1989 he dissolved the E Street Band, and he and Scialfa relocated to California, marrying in 1991.
1992— 1998: Ups, Downs, And Soundtracks
In 1992, after risking fan accusations of “going Hollywood“ by moving to Los Angeles and working with session musicians, Springsteen released two albums at once. Human Touch and Lucky Town were even more introspective than any of his previous work and displayed a newly revealed confidence. As opposed to his first two albums, which dreamed of happiness, and his next four, which showed him growing to fear it, at points during the Lucky Town album, Springsteen actually claims happiness for himself.
An electric band appearance on the acoustic MTV Unplugged television program (later released as In Concert/MTV Plugged) was poorly received and further cemented fan dissatisfaction. Springsteen seemed to realize this a few years hence when he spoke humorously of his late father during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech: I‘ve got ta thank him because— what would I conceivably have written about without him? I mean, you can imagine that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I would have written just happy songs— and I tried it in the early ’90s and it didn’t work; the public didn’t like it.
A multiple Grammy Award winner, Springsteen also won an Academy Award in 1994 for his song “Streets of Philadelphia“, which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Philadelphia. The video for the song shows Springsteen‘s actual vocal performance, recorded using a hidden microphone, to a prerecorded instrumental track. This technique was developed on the “Brilliant Disguise“ video.
In 1995, after temporarily re-organizing the E Street Band for a few new songs recorded for his first Greatest Hits album (a recording session that was chronicled in the documentary Blood Brothers), and also one show at Tramps in New York City, he released his second folk album, The Ghost of Tom Joad, inspired by John Steinbeck‘s The Grapes of Wrath and by Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of theNew Underclass, a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dale Maharidge and photographer Michael Williamson. This was generally less well-received than the similar Nebraska, due to the minimal melody, twangy vocals, and political nature of most of the songs, although some praised it for giving voice to immigrants and others who rarely have one in American culture. The lengthy, worldwide, small-venue solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour that followed successfully presented many of his older songs in drastically reshaped acoustic form, although Springsteen had to explicitly remind his audiences to be quiet and not to clap during the performances.
Following the tour, Springsteen moved back to New Jersey with his family. In 1998, he released the sprawling, four-disc box set of outtakes, Tracks. Later, he would acknowledge that the 1990s were a “lost period“ for him: “I didn’t do a lot of work. Some people would say I didn’t do my best work.“