Lately, I've been forced to defend my ambivalent attitude
Springsteen. My wife loves him. Her brother looks up to him. (Great bro-in-
law that I am, I introduced them at a party on the Lower West Side after a
Sting show. On our way out, I asked Bruce why his chick was crying in the
song, Racing In the Streets, on my favorite of his albums, Darkness At the
Edge of Town. She's just sitting on their porch crying, some time after
he's stolen her away from another guy with a slower car. As cliche'd as
the imagery may be, it still haunts me. So Bruce just laughed, I guess I'd
caught him by surprise, or it was too many beers into the night. He laughed
and said, "Oh man, it's too late for that now!" I let him off the hook. I had
the suspicion that if I didn't, things would have turned ugly, or I woulda
gotten beaned. Maybe that's what I don't like about Bruce Springsteen. Call
it paranoia, deficient testosterone, whatever. He's too much MAN for me...)
When I was working as an equipment humper and setter-upper at SIR
Rehearsal Studios, when they opened in NYC in '75 or so, I actually tried
out for Bruce's band. He had open auditions, you just signed your name in
this book, and got your turn. Man of the People. The set went ok, alot of ups
and downs dynamically, but the drummer was auditioning too, and I didn't
know some of the material. Enough excuses? Roy Bittan, who got the gig to
replace David Sancious, Bruceís earlier and perhaps too musically
adventurous piano player, has set a whole style of playing. He is widely emulated
and easily identifiable, but while I admire him, it's a bit too perfect after a while. (He
played and arranged on Ian Hunter's Schizophrenic album, BTW.) Mike Garson, by contrast,
another pianistic genius, who played with David Bowie, stretches ones mind and ears.
My final Bruce story: when we were recording "Cuts Like a Knife," Bryan
Adams' third album, but 2nd with Clearmountain, us and the Power Station
behind it, Bruce came by to say hello. Maybe Bob had invited him, or else he
wanted to meet this young guy that people were talking about in the same
breath as him. (He had also dropped in on a Robert Gordon session that I
was on in the Power Station another year.) It was great having him there,
because, after all, heís done some very cool shit. So then as heís leaving, I
decide to do a good turn for a friend. I followed after him, out of the
Studio A lounge, and caught him near the reception desk.
"Bruce," I said, and he turned around, his eyes mere slants, taking me in
askance, with a "This better be good, boy," glare.
Unfazed, but surprised, I went on. "I heard some scuttlebutt that you
might be looking for a rhythm guitarist..." (Little Steven was rumored to be
setting out on his own at that point.) I had prepared a card with my
buddy's name and phone number on it, and I handed it to Bruce.
"This guy sings and plays rhythm guitar great, and heís a real team
player," I said. He took the card.
"You might know him, he comes from Linden," I nonsensically added, since
my pal was originally from Staten Island (home of so many rockers, from
David Johansen, (now called Buster Pointdexter,) to Kasim (Utopia bassist
and vocals) Sulton, to Thommy (Billy Idol drums) Price, to this particular
pal,Tommy Morrongiello, who's played with me in Hunter/Ronson, and
without me for Carlos Alomar and Jimmy Destri, Cherry Vanilla and
Imaginos* (a Blue Oyster Cult spinnoff), and is now Bob Dylanís guitar
I bought Bruce's 1st album, Greetings from Asbury Park, when it
came out. He had something pure in there. And, as I said, Darkness... is
chock full of incredible stuff. The sax/piano solo on Jungleland, off of
Born to Run, still gives me the chills. I love "Secret Garden" and "Born In the USA".
But I worry about Bruce. Like that he'd run for president or something, and we'd all have to wear blue jeans and eat hot dogs. Maybe YOU can explain it to ME. I'm in the book.
(*Imaginos was the solo project of Albert
Bouchard, the drummer of BOC. Due to Women in Rock complications,
he found himself on his own. So he combined legends of historical Pirates,
Tyrants, and Time Travel into a Paranoic Saga whose chilling weltanschauung
was warmed only by the fires of his metal riffs. Now he and his (new) Woman
in Rock, Debbie Frost, are in the BrainSurgeons.
Catch em on tour, or at CBGB.)
Sandy Perlman cowrote Imaginos, which finally appeared as a Blue Oyster Cult album after the jack-booted, militia minded Perlman had ripped it away from gentle trusting Albert.
addendum: Now I really like Bruce. He hosted a
sad gathering that I attended,
with grace and generosity. As I was leaving, he stood with me until they
brought my car up for me to go home. Perhapsm NJ boy he is, he wanted to
see what I was driving. Hope the Maroon Wood Panel'89 Buick Century Wagon
didn't disappoint you, my brother...