Menachem Mendel

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Jake Clemons’s Midrash on Bruce Springsteen

I just started read the extensive article in the New Yorker on Bruce Springsteen, and the following caught my eye.

At each show, the most striking musical difference between the old E Street Band and the new was the increasing prominence given to Jake Clemons. His playing grew stronger, his willingness to take center stage more pronounced. After a few performances, he was moon-walking across the stage. And yet every time Springsteen paid tribute to Clarence Clemons Jake seemed overcome, pounding his chest with a double tap of respect for his uncle and appreciation of the crowd’s response. “Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Jake said. “A Springsteen show is a lot of things, and it’s partly a religious experience. Maybe he comes from the line of David, a shepherd boy who could play beautiful music, so that the crazy become less crazy and Saul the king finally chills out. Religion is a system of rules and order and expectations, and it unites people in a purpose. There really is a component of Bruce that is supernatural. Bruce is Moses! He led the people out of the land of disco!”

Don’t worry, I don’t think that Bruce is supernatural, but I liked Jake’s use of Biblical imagery to describe what Bruce Springsteen embodies as a performer. See here for an earlier post on Biblical imagery in Springsteen lyrics.

5 Responses to “Jake Clemons’s Midrash on Bruce Springsteen”

  1. 1

    Ehhhhh. I never particularly cared for Springstein’s songs, though I did like Dancing in the Dark. When I got older I found out he was a hyper partisan lefty. [and a huge hypocrite, too. The guy calls his tour the Ghost of Tom Joad, as though he were of the common folk, and then goes home in is private jet to one of his billionaire mansions.] Typical baby boomer.

  2. 2

    Jake Clemons comments in the New Yorker are briliiant and insightful.

    DF-Really, you know one of his only top forty hits, Dancing in the Dark and you feel the rite to comment. Why don’t you learn something about his music that sings to people just when they need it most and his altruistic side that he shows at each concert inspiring and orchestrating people to give to their local food banks before making such ridiculous comments.

  3. 3

    I know plenty more than just dancing in the dark. I also know his pro-homosexual song, streets of philadelphia, for example. I just dont care for them, is what I said. You are entitled to disagree. But as a matter of fact (not opinion) the guy is a colossal hypocrite.

  4. 4
    Menachem Mendel:


    I think that Bruce is very aware of his position. It’s not surprise that in his song “Better Days” he sings “It’s a sad funny ending to find yourself pretending a rich man in a poor man’s shirt.” Also see the following from the New Yorker article:

    “Springsteen was aware of the comical contradiction: the multimillionaire who, in his theatrical self-presentation, is the voice of the dispossessed. Very occasionally, twinges of discomfort about this have leaked into his lyrics. In the late eighties, Springsteen played “Ain’t Got You,” which appeared on his album “Tunnel of Love,” for Van Zandt. The lyrics tell of a fellow who gets “paid a king’s ransom for doin’ what comes naturally”—who’s got “the fortunes of heaven” and a “house full of Rembrandt and priceless art”—but lacks the affections of his beloved. Van Zandt recognized the self-mockery but didn’t care. He was aghast.

    “We had one of our biggest fights of our lives,” Van Zandt recalled. “I’m, like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ And he’s, like, ‘Well, what do you mean, it’s the truth. It’s just who I am, it’s my life.’ And I’m, like, ‘This is bullshit. People don’t need you talking about your life. Nobody gives a shit about your life. They need you for their lives. That’s your thing. Giving some logic and reason and sympathy and passion to this cold, fragmented, confusing world—that’s your gift. Explaining their lives to them. Their lives, not yours.’ And we fought and fought and fought and fought. He says ‘Fuck you,’ I say ‘Fuck you.’ I think something in what I said probably resonated.”

  5. 5

    So he’s worse than “stam” a hypocrite; he’s a hypocrite, and he KNOWS it!

    Of all the things that disgust me about the left, when I bother to think of it, is their hypocrisy. They were all for bussing and desegregation, though not a single one of them had their kids in public school. They’re all for affirmative action, yet not a single one of them would give up their own jobs to someone less qualified, in the name of it. They’re all for enacting tough environmental regulations on companies, but meanwhile their own carbon footprint is gigantic. They’re all for raising taxes, but meanwhile they pay teams of accountants to find every loophole possible to lower their own axes. They are all for tolerance, except when it comes to people they dont want to tolerate. And they are all for regulations and government, but only a tiny percentage of them actually own businesses that are affected by them.

    There are dozens and dozens of examples of this. It’s just nauseating. There ought to be a law, that before any politician can vote for a law, it must first that be shown that he or his child will be immediately affected by it.




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