I decided to review the new Bruce Springsteen album in the style of a white male mainstream music critic reviewing the new Madonna album.
We all get old, but never at the same age. Unless you are talking physical condition, but let’s pretend we’re not for the sake of some dreary argument. Some of us are old when we start writing about music, always harking back to a past when there was no confusion over gender because only one gender was allowed, back to the days when good music was popular and popular music was good and there was none of this annoying pop shit, others leave uni with the thrill that they need never pretend to like anything released after 1981 again, others are female so they automatically qualify as old soon as they hit 40 – 45, tops. Most of us think we’re doing pretty well, then we find ourselves nodding appreciatively at something in the Coldplay catalogue and suddenly death is real.
For years, Springsteen outpaced all of this. In 1980, The River looked like ushering in his middle age, but he did a surprise about turn, delivering blue collar rock on Tunnel of Love (1987). Wrecking Ball (2012) was even better, its Abba samples and smooth deep house [Are you sure about this? – Ed] a way for him to stay out past midnight with dignity, rather than trying to score gin and juice off twenty-something rock bands at after-show parties, musically speaking.
But he couldn’t run forever, despite his claims otherwise. Perhaps it began pre-The River when he nicked John Steinbeck’s entire oeuvre so he could parasitically extract his youth and stay young forever. Not to go on about his age, you understand. Certainly by 2008, Springsteen was playing catch-up with the new breed of blue collar rockers (Mumford & Sons, Timbaland), spurring Foo Fighters on to some of their weakest work ever, a good 50 years after their pomp.
Springsteen doesn’t try to sell himself as a sex symbol by gyrating on stage in skimpy clothes, tongue flapping around the place like a Vegas stripper, while trying to sing songs that clearly imitate the latest trends in shite pop music. Not like some people we know. Oh no. That’s not for Springsteen (let’s call him Bruce). Bruce sells himself as a sex symbol by gasping into tight jeans and sweat-patched white T–shirts, flexing his biceps, guitar flapping all over the place like Donald Trump faced with a bevy of Royal asses to lick, while trying to sing songs that imitate the latest trends in shit rock music.
To his credit, Bruce has not done what many in his position would do: lick his wounds and continue touring the world endlessly. [Some mistake surely – Ed] With Western Stars, Bruce Springsteen instead licks his wounds, grits his teeth, flexes his biceps – which surely belong to a man of 50 rather than the 70 he actually is – finds a brand new tight white T to wear, breaks open a fresh six-pack and goes out riding with the lads down to the liquor store. He’s 70, and boy, I would. Wouldn’t you?
He looks in the mirror with some seriously reduced eyesight (I mean, he’s 70, right: so no disrespect) and says: “Bitch, I’m Bruce Springsteen.” And by drawing on the blue collar influence of his fake upbringing he has once again produced his most natural-feeling, progressive and original record since whenever the last one was.
Buck up Bronco, the cover seems to be saying. Ride ’em home cowboy. Yee-hah.
Seventy years old and he doesn’t look a day over 65.
Note for the tourists: the title of this blog IS How NOT to write about music. Do not write about music this way. You will never get paid work again.
Related posts: Run, Bruce, Run!