Lex on Bruce Springsteen

“Thunder Road.”

That is the title of the first Bruce Springsteen song I ever heard.  Back in the day, the Los Angeles airwaves were a live with the sound of artists that were not only creating the soundtracks of life, but inspiring legions of young musicians to get serious about their craft.  Radio was all-transforming.

I’ve written before about 94.7 KMET, aka “the mighty Met of southern California.”  On the immediate right on the radio dial was 95.5 KLOS.  KLOS’s format was a more rigid than KMET’s, but they had great deejays.  And the station had a bitchin’ commercial – a thirty second spot composed of 2 second film clips of great rock bands, framed by the stations racing track logo.

The last clip in the commercial is of Bruce Springsteen, who is seen giving it his all at the lyrical end of “Thunder Road.” He screams into the microphone, as if his life depended on it:

It’s a town for losers
We’re pulling out of here to win!

When I finally saw the clip in its entirety a year or so down the road, the entire clip hit me hard.  I wanted to be Bruce.  I wanted to pick up a guitar and sound like that.  I wanted a band to make my music sound big and great, like his.  If you ever see this clip, you will “lose it” . . . completely!

My first Springsteen record was “Hungry Heart.”  I heard it on Top 40 when it was new.  I thought it was an “oldie” that might have slipped through the waves.  I only had to hear it once to want it; to own it for myself.  When I hustled over to Record Retreat, I asked the resident “music guru and hippie” Marshall if he heard of the song.  “Heard it?  Heck, I’ve been playing it all day.  Would you like that copy with or without the picture sleeve?”

I took that record home and played it so much that the vinyl started turning gray!

Weeks later, Bruce was in town playing the L.A. Sports Arena.  Like a bad television rerun, I once again asked my mom if I could go to a concert.  Very much like the requests to see Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, my request was shot down.  But in the following allowance I found extra cash that my mom gave me – to buy Bruce Springsteen’s then-current album, The River.

Bruce-mania was in full effect in Los Angeles, and I had my souvenir album, which I played . . . well, until the vinyl turned gray!

I would finally get to see Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band during the fall of ’85, when Bruce was winding up his Born In The USA tour.  And for this great occasion, I was lucky enough to have fellow Bruce “head” Curt with me; he won tickets from KLOS, and invited me along.  What a long show!  Three and a half hours of relentless rock from “the Boss.”  Only one complaint – the band didn’t play “Rosalita” that night.  They played it the following night, for which Curt won another pair of tickets.  To be fair, he took his then-girlfriend.  Was I jealous? You bet I was!

Over the years, Bruce has turned out extraordinary music.  And like all of the greats before him, he followed his artistic muse.  Sometimes the music wasn’t that “commercial.”  Sometimes it was the sound of a man growing up, growing older, and taking his fans down musical paths where very few artists are willing to go.  Happy birthday, Bruce.  You still mean the world to me.

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).


~ by Poppermost on September 28, 2009.

2 Responses to “Lex on Bruce Springsteen”

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