Like most of my generation, I grew up on what is now considered classic Rock & Roll. The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zep, The Doors, Tom Petty, Dylan, and the list goes on and on. The songs on classic albums like Sgt. Peppers, Sticky Fingers, Damn The Torpedoes, and Blood on the Tracks were the soundtrack of my youth and I still listen to much of the same music today.
Still, I have to pick one favorites artist of all time, the choice is easy. Bruce Springsteen. The Boss.
In 1975, my sister Paula and her friends would spend hours listening to everything from Neil Young and Paul Simon to the Eagles, Steely Dan and, of course, Bruce. At eight-years old, I had no understanding of the issues Bruce was addressing in his songs, but I did know they sounded cool. Big guitars. Pounding drums. A wailing sax. And stories about cars, gangs, fights, and exotic sounding places like Thunder Road. I was hooked.
As I got older, the meanings behind Springsteen’s songs became clearer and his music continued capture my attention, both sonically and lyrically. While not every song or album he’s put out over the past 30 years has been great (or sometimes, even very good), I remain a fan simply because of the effort he puts into each release and live performance. He believes in the power of music to move, inform, entertain, and even educate his audience.
What’s more, he’s still a fan of all types of music. How do I know? Because I listened to his incredible key-note speech from the annual SXSW conference yesterday. In about one hour, Springsteen talked about the influences that shaped his career and encouraged up-and-coming musicians to keep following their passions.
The purity of human expression and experience is not confined to guitars, to tubes, to turntables, to microchips,” said Springsteen. “There is no right way, no pure way, of doing. There is just doing.
It’s hard to argue against that advice, but then again, they don’t call Springsteen “The Boss” for nothing.