All Hail The Springsteen Cover Bands
They love the Boss, wouldn’t play for Trump and do great songs like “Born to Run.”
I’m thinking of starting a tribute band to that hard working tribute band, Jersey. It will pay homage to them and all those cover bands who obviously idolize Bruce Springsteen and want to be The Boss, too. Most have a shot at Employee of the Month, at best. But the love in their eyes and their fans makes it authentic enough for me.
Speaking of The Boss, America now has a new one, though the level of President Trump’s authenticity and legitimacy are still being debated by many. He played a boss on TV and in real life, but he’s not the real Boss. Though he questioned the origins of the “O” Boss (as in “Obama”), the one we love, respect and wish would stay on, he’s not in the same league.
When the New Boss realized he couldn’t get the Real Boss to play at his party, he tried to hire the next best thing, a tribute band. There are a slew of them, I found out. There may be discussions among themselves and their fans about who’s really the next best thing to Bruce, but we know they’ll never get to be the real thing. So one of these groups received an invitation to play the inauguration. (I’m going to guess the chosen one was the most expensive because they had to be the best, right?) The B Street Band’s members were sorely tempted — in fact they took the gig at first. But in the end, they chose the path of least scorn, turning down a nice payday, I’m sure.
I’m not as strong as these guys. There is a dollar amount I absolutely would not turn down if I was offered the gig. It would have to be a ridiculous amount, like a million dollars, but for that I would take it and fake it. All conjecture anyway, as my name is not on everyone’s lips at the soon to be gilded White House.
“Born to Run” is close to my favorite Springsteen song. You would never call it unambitious. It took a long time, six months I’m told, to create in the studio and has unstoppable energy. It’s a tale of working class frustration, more likely the white kind, but that’s OK too. It was no picnic in The Garden State, name notwithstanding. And if working in factories sounds frustrating, imagine them closing and then being swamped in nostalgia for those soul crushing, but good paying jobs. Only a small percentage made the switch to covering Springsteen songs, and I’m pretty sure there were no bennies. The rest took it on the chin and lived out many of Springsteen’s downbeat scenarios.
The adoring crowd in this version of the song by the B Street Band video, both on and off the stage, could easily be Trump voters. I hope not. But much of the working class, once solidly Democratic, has had a change of heart and now swears allegiance to Bizarro Boss. It is an odd turn of events. But, for now, erase all that from your mind and enjoy what a fine piece of writing this is:
In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway nine,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin’ out over the line
H-Oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
Yes, girl we were
Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs ’round these velvet rims
And strap your hands ‘cross my engines
Together we could break this trap
We’ll run till we drop, baby we’ll never go back
H-Oh, Will you walk with me out on the wire
`Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta know how it feels
I want to know if love is wild
Babe I want to know if love is real
Oh, can you show me
Beyond the Palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
Girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you Wendy on the street tonight
In an everlasting kiss
One, two, three, four
The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight
But there’s no place left to hide
Together Wendy we can live with the sadness
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
H-Oh, Someday girl I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
Oh honey, tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
Come on with me, tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
© Bruce Springsteen
I didn’t get though B Street Band’s version of Born To Run nor of the version by Jersey, which might be stronger. At least their first verse sounded totally professional. In both versions the tribute-audience go tribute-crazy, so I’m guessing they got their money’s worth. The band guys look like they are fighting over who gets to be the “Big Man.” Probably no tribute-trainers working on their abs but again, lose your livelihood and see how motivated you are.
The original inspired recording by Springsteen is epic in every way. The production is an obvious homage to Phil Spector. It’s just a hulking giant of a song, but lift the hood and you see it’s beating, tender heart. The new hulk with little heart and no tenderness? — let’s see what he comes up with. When even tribute bands turn down a gig offered by the celebrity-apprenticed President of the United States, this reality show has officially jumped the shark.
Note: My video addendum is out with the flu. Back in two weeks!