Discovering Bruce Springsteen's The River
On the Another Country facebook page Norrie expresses mild disbelief that I might not have owned 'The River' until six years after it came out. The year was 1980 and I was a volunteer youth worker working in the City Churches in Dundee. I was paid some amount that was pretty marginal and given free rent in a flat in town. I was totally happy, but there wasn't a lot left to buy records. I was going out with a girl who arrived at my flat one day with a copy of The River and we put the album on. I'd heard about Flo and Eddie from Frank Zappa days but nothing prepared me for the impact of the second verse of Hungry Heart. It was a moment. Why had I not heard it until then? The reason was simple; Bruce Springsteen didn't get played on any radio station I'd ever heard of...at least, not during waking hours.
Bruce Springsteen (2009)
So it was the time, poor times for most people and certainly for me, when you got any copy of your new favourite album and you hoped to buy it second hand or get a present for Christmas. Double albums? Well, that was double the price. As I said on the facebook page it was my intention when I signed to CBS records to get my hands on some serious bits of missing catalogue. Cue the sudden acquisition of Bruce's missing albums, Dylan, Thelonius Monk, Willie Nelson and George Jones. I'm nothing if not eclectic.
What else could be done and not done in 1980? We stood at football matches and people took in bevvy on a grand scale to the match. They smoked in pubs...they smoked everywhere! Gigs were cheap. It cost the same to go to a gig as it did to buy an album....so you can work out why the recording business is in such disarray. You think things are bad now economically? It was terrible then. No one seemed to have any certainty of finding work and things were about to get even worse for a few years. But in among the gloom were pieces of music that took you out of yourself and made you believe. The River was one. On Friday night we'll celebrate that album.
We're not celebrating alone. We'll be joined by a band of brothers who love that album as much as I do. Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire have just brought out their 3rd album "Road of Bones" on vinyl no less! They will be playing songs from that record, we'll be talking about the music with Roddy and they are going to play one of their favourite songs from The River. Country music...? Oh yes. Nice new things from Rachel Harrington, Mt Desolation and The Duke and The King.
I went to Hampden on Tuesday night with my wee boy and some pals of his. It was a great night because the team were heroic, even though we lost. I hate the Hampden PA system (hate Hampden mostly) and their dire music and stupid Americanisation of our great game - the fireworks, the dafties telling us to 'make some noise' but on the way out they played Dignity. It was a nice wee moment.