|Bruce Springsteen in the mid 1970s.
A quick post to acknowledge two things: firstly, an all-time hero of mine is marking one of the more important anniversaries of his career*. Secondly, sometimes I feel there’s little I can add analysis-wise to one of the most analysed recording artists ever. And then something pops into my head that I’m not sure I’ve heard nor read before.
Like, for example, is it ever it poured over by scholars of Bruce Springsteen that when he sits down at the piano – just him on his own – that there is a real beauty in his playing? Or maybe I’m a table for one on this, but whether it’s shaky fan-made YouTube clips or official DVDs where Bruce semi-tentatively plays his songs on the piano rather than guitar, I’m always struck by the beauty of those notes.
Most music critics – irrespective of being Bruce aficionados or not – have at least some appreciation of the man’s greatness. Though nobody (least of all the man himself) would say he was a great piano player. But for some reason, when Bruce plays the piano there’s a melodic feel that always gets me. I’d love someone who really knows their stuff to explain this, though maybe it just comes down to the simple reality that Bruce Springsteen songs have deceptively pretty melodies. And perhaps it’s regardless of it being Bruce playing them solo or a maestro like E Street pianist Roy Bittan, those melodies are especially highlighted with just the piano.
Whether it’s Thunder Road, Spirit In The Night, Jungleland, Valentine’s Day, or so, so many others, there’s an unrefined magic in the hitting of those keys. So with that in mind and to celebrate 40 years since Bruce Springsteen released his landmark, career-launching / saving Born To Run album, here’s my favourite track from an LP brimming with classics. Just Bruce at the piano from a 2005 concert in New Jersey, ignore the clumsy footage and appreciate the gorgeous sound. This is Backstreets.
*August 2015 marked 40 years since the release of Bruce Springsteen’s third album Born To Run.