Friday, August 3, 2012

Not So Bruce

The Boss
Yes, I did sit down and read the entire 75,000-word piece by David Remnick that appeared in last week's number of the New Yorker. And yes, it was OK, but not critical of the man or the music in the slightest. Not that it wasn't worthwhile, although it reminded me of past New Yorker articles in it's near interminable length. Reading it was a commitment. And when I was done, I wondered whether the time was worth it, although I have to confess there is no way I would not have read the article.

So a much shorter corrective by literary editor Leon Weiseltier in the latest New Republic is necessary for proper perspective. In one long paragraph he delightedly rips the Springsteen fanatic fandom of such people as New Jersey governor Chris Christie and NY Times columnist David Brooks, and he begins the second long paragraph with this:
Do these men have ears? The musical decline of Bruce Springsteen has been obvious for decades. The sanctimony, the grandiosity, the utterly formulaic monumentality; the witlessness; the tiresome recycling of those anthemic figures, each time more preposterously distended; the disappearance of intimacy and the rejection of softness. And the sexlessness . . .
I have a confession to make. Although I have a fair sampling of Springsteen music in my collection, he was never a favorite. I didn't hang around breathless waiting for his next album, and their arrivals didn't stir me like new stuff by Neil Young, the Stones, the Pretenders, the Talking Heads, and others. But Bruce, like some of the others, has not got a pretty long-tailed history, and rock critics are younger, more hip, with different ears, and a whole universe of music that didn't even exist when Bruce and his band started. And the longer your history, and the older you are, unless you're a genius, the less relevant you're going to seem--and be--to the younger people.* It think what Weiseltier is saying is that Bruce has reached that point. And he's not necessarily kind about making his point.

*Not that Weiselteir is all that young . . . he was born in 1952. But he's not a rock critic per se but rather a cultural critic. I'm talking here about the kind of people writing reviews in places like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Spin.
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