It is Alright Ma, I’m Only Greeting: Dylan, Springsteen, and Greetings from Asbury Park


At the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009, Jon Stewart in his speech about Bruce Springsteen mentioned, “Bob Dylan and James Brown had a child.” Listening to Greetings from Asbury Park, it sounds much more like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison had a child. Record firm influence co-mingled with Springsteen’s rock and roll desires to develop Greetings. That uneasy tension in between singer-songwriter fare, and quickly-paced complete band numbers makes the album fantastic. It also marks it as of a time in Springsteen’s profession when he was nonetheless browsing for his voice.

Bob Dylan’s influence on Springsteen is a topic for a later post. As is the significance of the musical tradition that Dylan represents on Springsteen. I found Bob Dylan’s music extended prior to I located Springsteen’s. In truth, I cannot accurately recall a time when I didn’t know who Bob Dylan was.  I loved the Rolling Stones’ cover of “Like a Rolling Stone” from their album Stripped — the second album I ever designated my favored soon after Bob Seger’s The Fire Inside. The very first favored film was The Final Waltz, and while Dylan’s parts were not my preferred selection (hunting at you Ronnie Hawkins/“Who Do You Love”) I knew he was present, and I knew about his involvement with The Band. I delved deep into Dylan when I was a budding political radical, angry at the Bush administration and the Iraq War. “Masters of War” went into regular rotation about that time. “Motorpsycho Nightmare” became my new anthem for no other reason than I liked the way the words all rolled with each other. I wrote songs with what I thought have been Dylan-esque titles like “Romaine Lettuce Blues.” It was a formative musical time, but one particular that did not last.

Dylan eventually receded into the background of my musical life. His songs did not continue to speak to me in new methods. They had been, and are, brilliant and special, but felt, to me, of a time and place that was by no means my own. His music was so immediately ensconced in the American song book, that even when I was discovering him, his melodies and lyrics felt sacrosanct and untouchable, almost as if they constantly had been and always would be. Plus, I was a rock and roller at heart. The folk music of the 60s was never as exciting to me as conventional Appalachian music, delta blues, Chicago blues, or early rock and roll.

I did not uncover Bruce Springsteen through Greetings from Asbury Park, but for the 1st six months that I was a Bruce fan, it was his very first three albums that I loved: Greetings The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle and Born to Run. I did not know much about (or, at that point, care considerably for) his later offerings. Greetings took almost everything I loved about Bob Dylan’s wild wordplay, and flipped it into a darker, stranger concoction not as wealthy in cultural import or generational angst, but thicker in concrete imagery. Springsteen’s lyrical excesses painted a image of one strange boardwalk night. A night I wanted to go to once more and once more.

Where Dylan told fantastical stories about Maggie’s Farm or a opportunity meeting in between two people at the end of the globe, Springsteen developed weird every day characters in his songs. A fast and useful comparison is Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light” the initial song on Greetings. Each songs have more words than an Ernest Hemingway short story, or an album by practically ANY other artist.

Dylan’s words twist about each and every other in tight rhyming circles almost also virtuosic to think. Springsteen’s spill over, exploding beyond the tight containment of the melody. Dylan builds an etherial netherworld where each utterance takes on higher which means poetry and profundity conjured out of nowhere. Springsteen paints an impressionistic picture of a wild evening on the Asbury Park boardwalk comprehensive with “new mown chaperones” “silicone sisters” and “hazards from Harvard.” Dylan aimed larger than any well-known musician prior to or considering that with his lyrical ambitions. Springsteen, inspired by that poetry, sought to lift up the everyday experiences of these he knew. Discussing the connection amongst Dylan and Springsteen, Tom Watson writing for Forbes commented, “Certainly in terms of post-war American musical voices, Bob Dylan has to sit at the head of the table – but in many ways, Bruce Springsteen is his hyperactive stadium-packing cultural son.” These two songs demonstrate that, from the earliest, Springsteen was that earthy successor to Dylan’s legacy.

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One particular WEEK // A single BAND

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