Bruce Springsteen has always written about the past, and as I’ve spent time with The Ties That Bind: The River Sessions, a multi-CD/multi-DVD set that focuses on music Springsteen made during sessions for The River (and includes a fantastic live show from November 1980, three weeks after The River was released), I’ve been reminded of how a yearning for the past (the high drama of youth) was so much a part of Springsteen’s Seventies recordings.
At age 23, on his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, Springsteen was already looking back on songs such as “Growing Up’ and “It’s Hard To Be a Saint in the City.” Even on their release, Born to Run, Darkness at the Edge of Town and The River came across as romantic exaggerations of a time long gone. This wasn’t just due to the lyrics, which sometimes referred to events in the past tense.
Watch Springsteen and band do “Out In The Street” in Tempe, Arizona, 1980:
The sound of Springsteen’s music leaped back past the innovations of mid-to-late ’60s rock, a period that prominently included long-haired psychedelia complete with feedback, distortion and wah-wah pedal effects, to draw on Phil Spector’s Wall-of-Sound, the rhythm and blues of The Coasters, Sam & Dave and others, and party-rock hit-makers like Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and Gary U.S. Bonds.
Watch Springsteen and band do “The River” in Tempe, Arizona, 1980:
Consider that in 1975, when Born to Run was released, including a saxophone in the lineup was akin to using a horse and buggy for transportation. Springsteen’s E Street Band, of course, proudly featured the great Clarence “Big Man” Clemons on sax, and the Big Man took a solo in practically every song.
Even when Springsteen wrote in the present, as he did for “Thunder Road,” his line about “Roy Orbison singing to the lonely” placed the time period of the action in the early/mid-‘60s …
Read the rest of this column at Addicted To Noise.
Watch Springsteen and band do “Thunder Road” in 1975:
The MusicCares Bob Dylan tribute concert from earlier this year which honored Dylan as 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year will be released on DVD, according to Billboard magazine.
The concert, which took place on Friday February 6, 2015, included performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Norah Jones, Tom Jones, Los Lobos, John Mellencamp, Alanis Morissette, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks, John Doe, Jackson Browne and Neil Young. It is expected that they will all appear on the DVD.
As of now, it’s not known if Dylan’s 35-minute MusicCares speech will be on the DVD. In an earlier version of this post I reported that it would be included but that was an error. For now there is no info about the speech being included.
Dylan personally chose the performers and the songs they would sing at the MusicCares event.
Here are the songs performed:
Beck – “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”
Aaron Neville – “Shooting Star”
Alanis Morissette – “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
Los Lobo – “On A Night Like This”
Willie Nelson – “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)”
Jackson Browne – “Blind Willie McTell”
John Mellencamp – “Highway 61 Revisited”
Jack White – “One More Cup Of Coffee”
Tom Jones – “What Good Am I?”
Norah Jones – “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”
Dereck Trucks And Susan Tedeschi – “Million Miles”
John Doe – “Pressing On”
Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Girl From The North County”
Bonnie Raitt – “Standing In The Doorway”
Sheryl Crow – “Boots Of Spanish Leather”
Bruce Springsteen – “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
Neil Young – “Blowin’ In The Wind”
These photos of Woody Guthrie are part of a new three CD set, My Name Is New York; Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town.
Both Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are just two of the many, many musicians influenced by Woody Guthrie.
The press materials for the set describe it like this:
‘My Name Is New York; Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town’ is a three-disc collection that offers an intimate portrait of Woody’s NYC life through storytelling and music. Produced by Steve Rosenthal, Michael Kleff and Woody’s daughter Nora Guthrie, ‘My Name is New York’ presents two discs of an audio tour and stories that contextualize Woody’s New York with new interviews, song snippets and a history narrated by Nora, plus a third disc of music, including some never before heard demos and previously unpublished songs from the Archives. THere is also a book which can be purchased with the CDs or separately.
These photos of Woody are obviously very cool. Below them is a new video made by the New York Times about Woody’s years in New York. It includes Woody singing songs he wrote while in New York.
Woody Guthrie, “New York Town”:
Woody Guthrie, “Tom Joad”:
Billy Bragg and Wilco, “Go Down To The Water”:
Ry Cooder, “Vigilante Man”:
“My Name Is New York” promo:
Woody Guthrie, “Jesus Christ”:
Bob Dylan and The Band, “I Ain’t Got No Home,” Carnegie Hall, 1968:
Bob Dylan and The Band, “Grand Coulee Dam,” Carnegie Hall, 1968:
New York Times video about Woody Guthrie in New York:
Here’s info on the CD set and book from the Woody Guthrie website:
The CD set:
3-CD guide to 19 locations in New York City where Woody Guthrie lived and wrote.
It’s the story of Woody’s 27 years living here in the city, and we visit 19 historic locations – in this 3-CD set – where Woody lived and worked. Now, for the first time, you’ll actually be able to hear these stories told by those who knew him best, in many different ways and through various encounters and circumstances; music partners Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry, and Bess Lomax Hawes, Woody’s first wife Mary Guthrie, Woody’s merchant marine buddy Jimmy Longhi, Bob Dylan, Woody’s second wife Marjorie Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Nora Guthrie and many others share their memories with you first-hand.
3-CD Track Listing:
Disc 1: February 16, 1940 — November 1942
1. 59th Street at 5th Avenue, Manhattan
2. 101 West 43rd Street, Manhattan
3. 57 East 4th Street, Manhattan
4. 31 East 21st Street, Manhattan
5. 5 West 101st Street, Manhattan
6. 70 East 12th Street, Manhattan
7. 130 West 10th Street, Manhattan
8. 430 6th Avenue, Manhattan
9. 148 West 14th Street, Manhattan
10. 647 Hudson Street, Manhattan
Disc 2: December, 1942 — October 3, 1967
1. 74 Charles Street, Manhattan
2. 3815 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
3. 3520 Mermaid Avenue, Brooklyn
4. 49 Murdock Court, Brooklyn
5. 517 East 5th Street, Manhattan
6. Brooklyn State Hospital, 681 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn
7. 159-13 85th Street, Queens
8. Creedmore State Hospital, Queens
9. Final Resting Place: Atlantic Ocean, Brooklyn
Music Bonus CD Tracklist
1. “New York Town” (Woody Guthrie/Cisco Houston/Sonny Terry)
2. “New York Trains” (Del McCoury)
3. “Union Maid” (Almanac Singers)
4. “My New York City” (Mike + Ruthy)
5. “Tom Joad” (Woody Guthrie)
6. “Man’s A Fool” (Woody Guthrie/Sonny Terry) home tape
7. “Vigilante Man” (Woody Guthrie)
8. “Union Air in Union Square” (Lowry Hamner)
9. “Round and Round Hitler’s Grave” (Almanac Singers)
10. “Jesus Christ” (Woody Guthrie)
11. “Beatitudes” (Reverend Billy & the Stop Shopping Choir)
12. “This Land Is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie)
13. “Go Coney Island, Roll On The Sand” (Demolition String Band with Stephan Said)
14. “Howdi Do” (Ramblin’ Jack Elliott)
15. “My Name Is New York” (Woody Guthrie) home demo tape
16. “Go Down to the Water” (Billy Bragg & Wilco)
Total time: 167:34
A pocket-sized guide to 19 locations in New York City where Woody Guthrie lived and wrote.
– Historic text and photographs from each location
– Chronological listing of songs written in NYC
– Original song lyrics and never before published documents from the Woody Guthrie Archives
– Excerpts from Woody Guthrie’s NYC address book
Dust bowl troubadour Woody Guthrie first arrived in New York City on February 16, 1940. Although he continued to ramble, for 27 years— from 1940 until his death in 1967—New York was the city he called home and always returned to.
For the first time, this wonderful New York story comes to life with historical photos, documents, and previously unpublished lyrics from the Woody Guthrie Archives. Highlighting 19 significant locations, this little guide provides an expansive yet intimate portrait of Woody Guthrie’s NYC life. We invite you to walk the streets, ride the buses and subways, or sit down and relax on some of the stoops, park benches, or beaches where Woody Guthrie did—always strumming away on his guitar, always working on a new song.
Many of Woody’s most popular songs were written in apartments, lofts, and other locations around “New York Town.” That song, along with “Jesus Christ,” “Vigilante Man,” “Hard Travelin’,” “Tom Joad,” “Reuben James,” “All You Fascists Bound to Lose,” and “1913 Massacre,” are among the more than 600 he composed in The Big Apple. Most surprisingly, his iconic “This Land Is Your Land,” was written at a small rooming house on 43rd Street and Sixth Avenue, on February 23, 1940 within a few days of his arrival. With new friends Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee and the Almanac Singers he was at the center of a new movement—introducing and popularizing rural, roots, topical, and protest music to modern, urban audiences.
[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in the new issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]