I’ve been listening to a lot of Springsteen lately. A lot of Springsteen.
One thing I’ve noticed (and admire) is how certain words keep coming back time and again. The most obvious example, of course, is “born.” But there are other words that keep cropping up and over time they take on a greater meaning. Especially when used with other words – words that may or may not be taken literally. So things like “cars” are, you know, “cars.” But when “cars” is used alongside “kids,” and those kids are looking to break free and get out, then you see the car not so much as something you want or need, but something that provides a passage to freedom.
“Man, Springsteen’s Nebraska is bad ass!” said no one ever.
It’s a challenging record, to be sure. Especially if you’re accustomed to the “Born” songs or you like “Dancing in the Dark.”
But, geez, you guys, it’s outstanding. I listened to Nebraska on the way in to work and, because of the normal soul-crushing traffic, I got to really listen to the words and really take in the music. Those words that Springsteen has given so much meaning to, words like “cars,” “blood,” “work,” and “fences,” help fuel simple storytelling and make it so much more personal and relevant.
I love Bergman and Chekov. I love slow moving narratives that seem to say little and yet say everything. Nebraska does just this. Simple stories, just a guitar, harmonic, and Springsteen’s voice. And yet there isn’t an emotion or feeling or issue or challenge that isn’t addressed. On top of which, layer it all thick in reverb and you’re instantly transported to the state itself, where nothing seems to be happening and people still live full, complete lives.
I admire Bruce Springsteen for releasing an album like this. It might have seemed like career suicide at the time. To follow up a run of three records with a depressing, sparse release? No, Bruce. Don’t do it!
And yet his career survived just fine, thank you very much, with the subsequent release of Born in the USA and years of touring and recording.
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I love you.
So I think it went well last night.
In case either of you forgot, I sang at a cabaret show last night, thereby checking off an item I never knew was on my bucket list until I was done.
There was a fantastic turnout. Many of the Front Line Cabaret shows have been in North Dallas and Plano, but I think moving the show south of 635 really helped. And they were receptive and loud and really into it.
The hours and minutes leading up to actually performing are kind of a blur, but once I got up and cracked wise a couple of times, it got a lot easier. I think the song went well. I didn’t forget any words and people laughed at the appropriate places. It was fun.
It’s amazing how hyper-aware one becomes when standing in front of an audience. You become aware of every little thing happening on your body. What your hands are doing, what your voice is up, how your hair falls on your head.
Which is why I love watching my wife, Jenn, perform. She looks so relaxed and at ease when she sings. Like standing in front of a roomful of strangers singing (singing!) is as normal and natural as sitting around in your underpants, watching reruns of Sanford and Son.
And the way she’s moved by the music! She gets lost in it, y’all! It’s a perfect balance of controlling the direction of the song and letting the song control her.
Seriously, you two, I almost turned into one of those kids from old Beatles concert footage who are leaning over the railing screaming, wailing and gnashing teeth.
What’s next? I don’t know. I need to write some more songs – I don’t want to be a literal one-hit wonder – and also work on my wardrobe. Good god. I said it last night and I’ll say it again: I am, hands down, without a doubt, the worst dressed man in cabaret. Which leads to some questions about personal brand and aesthetics…
Is it possible to dress hip and cool and not look like a member of the Lumineers? Is it okay to use Chris O’Dowd’s character from “The I.T. Crowd” as a model for my attire? At my age is it okay to just give up and dress like an old fart?
Tonight I get to do something I haven’t done in a while, yet kind of would like to do a lot more of. And that’s sing in front of people on purpose.
A couple friends have their own cabaret production company called Front Line Cabaret. They produce these amazing shows featuring some fantastic talent (including my wife!). You can learn more about them and what they do here. I’ve performed in one before. I played guitar for Jenn as she sang a great Christmas tune.
I’ve always been a little intrigued with the idea of the cabaret performance. I don’t think I’ve always called it that, but the idea of of just one or two performers in a smaller venue… I love the intimacy of it and the purity. The performer, the audience, the music.
Well, now I get to sing one of my songs that I wrote quite a while ago for a bunch of people who will dig it I hope.
I’m scared to death.
But it’s a good kind of scared, I think. I’m only going to be on stage for a few minutes. I’ve rehearsed the song a lot. I think I’m ready to go. And if I stink, I can always just sit back and enjoy my wife’s performance, which she always rocks.
If you’d like to see the show, all the info you need is on their Facebook page, which you can find here.
I’m not sure if this gets me any closer to becoming a Rock Star, but I guess it can’t hurt.
Come see the show. It should be a hoot.