Going to the Rexall for Some Batteries

So last night I headed out to this bar downtown called The Gas Knob to knock back some whiskey and listen to some friends of mine play Irish drinking songs. It's a nice bar, only been open a little while -- with a cherry location right across the street from the minor league baseball field and right next door to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

So I pull in about 11, park nearby and as I'm walking by the concert hall I notice that people are starting to filter out the doors. I hadn't realized anyone was playing tonight, but whatever -- there are plenty of shows that go on in that hall that I don't really have any interest in as a listener.

So I get to the bar, order up a shot and start singing along with Spade McQuade and the All Stars when suddenly the floodgates opened up and an endless sea of asshats just started pouring into the place.

Older guys. Teva sandals, khaki shorts, and hats that say PING. Cigars in their mouths and cell phones pouches on their belts. Just pushing and shoving and completely ignoring all ideas of decency and etiquette when it comes to standing in line at an understaffed bar. One minute I'm standing there trying to explain all of the ingredients that go into a Colorado Bulldog, and the next there's some dude interrupting me demanding that the bartender get 4 bottles of Bud Light and for him and his boys.
Annoyed, I lean over to the guy on the other side of me and ask,
"Where did all these assholes come from?"
"Next door, probably"
"Who was playing?"
"Springsteen."
..Oh no.     
Oh hell no.
For the life of me, I've never understood Bruce Springsteen (and I'm not just talking about his mumbly-shouting style of singing, either). Honestly, white people look at him as if he were some sort of god -- and for what?
Born to Run??
I know everyone says he hit superstardom in the 80's with all that Dancing in the Dark/Born in the USA crap -- but people were talking about his ass way before that, and whenever you'd listen to his music all you could really think to say was,
Am I missing something here?
I've always sorta harbored this theory that every generation has an artist that fits perfectly into a moment in time, and resonates with the experiences of people in that time. I think to a large extent Sinatra was like that -- because in his heyday he represented an ideal of what a lot of people aspired to be at the time.
The difference is, Sinatra had talent.
Unfortunately for the rest of us who weren't there in whatever particular moment it was that Bruce snuck in, it leaves us scratching our heads as to what the big fat hairy deal was.

To me, Bruce Springsteen is sorta like what Jimmy Buffet would be like if he couldn't swim. He's a billionaire who makes a living telling you what he does on his vacation, and you eat it up like he's describing Shangri-la. And I know lots of people love "Margaritaville" and all that mess, but really -- when you sit down and examine all those songs, it's like he's singing the same thing over and over:
"Gee ain't it great to be a bum."
You wanna dance to unemployment? Get yourself some Sam Cooke.
That's a brother who knows what it's like to eat government cheese.
Besides, the guys that were clogging up the floorspace at the Gas Knob Saturday night wouldn't know a steel mill if it came up and hit them in the face. These were upper management/vacation house up in the Hamptons types. Guys who have had it easy for so long that they actually romanticize what it's like to have to work your ass off just to put food on the table.

And not for nothing, but that one Springsteen song "I'm On Fire" (which would play all the frigging time at the radio station I used to work at) is flat-out creepy. I think it's supposed to be a love song, but only if you're the kind of guy who's worried about running into Chris Hansen and a Dateline NBC camera crew when you arrive at the girl's place.
Hey little girl is your daddy home
Did he go away and leave you all alone?
I got a bad desire
I'm on fire

Tell me now baby is he good to you
Can he do to you the things that I do
I can take you higher
I'm on fire

Sometimes its like someone took a knife baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley
Through the middle of my soul

At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet
And a freight train running through the
Middle of my head
Only you can cool my desire
I'm on fire
Seriously, ladies -- do you really want that guy to buy you a drink? Are you really looking for someone like this to raise your kids?
Or are you like me and already filling out the paperwork to make sure he
stays at least 500 feet away from you at all times under penalty of law?
I don't know -- maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just not from the right generation or time that would help me to get it -- or maybe I'm just too much of a jaded music snob anymore to be able to open my ears and discover his appeal. Not that I'd really want to, if it means I'd have to hang out with people like the ones that clogged up the bar like a fat guy's artery the other night -- but perhaps just to understand why so many people enjoy listening to music like that, instead of songs that I think are fantastic
Like this one:

[Listening to:  Dead Kennedys"Terminal Preppie" ]

Comments

Adam said…
Well, I know it's a bit of a cliche, but Nebraska has some pretty decent bits. Especially "Highway Patrolman." Easily one of my favorite songs. I'd have to put Springsteen in a league above Sinatra, because Springsteen actually writes his songs. Maybe that's not too fair, though, as Sinatra was from a different time; a time when singers and songwriters usually weren't one and the same. But he was a pretty decent actor, though! That said, I tend to think Springsteen is a bit of a sweaty shouty douchebag... maybe a proto-Bon Jovi.
Anonymous said…
yes, the gasknob is great. and yes, it is going to be horrible in there when concerts let out. and yes, springsteen is icky. (i agree with the buffet comparison...spot on, actually.)

you must check the concert calendar before going.

how have you been?

jmg
Werdna said…
2 things Springsteen and Terminal Preppie.

Springsteen: I dunno, yeah, whatever. I've always thought he was meh. I don't get it. But I'm so apathetic about him, I can't even barf up dislike for him.

I thought this was the best Springsteen song I'd heard, then I found out it wasn't Springsteen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7RO0y1-ZAE

Heard it on one of the alterna stations here. They sometimes place springsteen. Turns out their a group from Brooklyn or something. Anyway. I'm glad I heard the music before seeing the video of them, otherwise I might not have made it through.

Re: Terminal Preppie is awesome. I was listening to my sole DK album (the only one that has survived without being stolen this long) Give me conveniance or give me death. Which is apparently the only one people don't want.
Adam said…
The one good thing about The Hold Steady is that they are old guys. I think the main guy is 36 or 37. I also thought that Chef Boyardee-looking guy playing keyboards was pretty funny. But I had a strong urge to slap that singer guy, and couldn't make it through the whole clip!
unMuse said…
give me someone who can sing any dead milkmen song other than punk rock girl and bitchin camaro and I'm in heaven.
whatigotsofar said…
I love Bruce Springsteen. That is all.
Heff said…
I never understood the Springsteen craze, either. I'm from the original MTV generation, and I had to tolerate his "hits" CONSTANTLY.
Hex said…
Adam -- I'm so out of the loop with Bruce that I actually thought for a second that you were talking about the state of Nebraska.

I was all like, "Have you been to Omaha? It's awful."

jmg -- see, that would imply that I actually plan things around drinking. You should know by now that I'm the guy who drinks around planning :)

Wernda -- I've been there, I heard this song on the radio that I swore was Nelly Furtado (whom I loathe) and later was sooooooo relieved that it turned out to be Jerzee Monet. Totally dodged a bullet on that one.

I know it's not their best, but I love "Plastic Surgery Disasters" Dorian and I used to jam out to that in her car all the time. Winnebago Warrior, ftw.

Adam -- Yeah, singer guy was a little too happy about being on TV.

Unmuse -- I worked a few shows with them back in the Metaphysical Graffiti days, and whenever they played the Milk Bar, they'd get mad when the manager would turn off the TV's before they started playing, to the point where Joe was on stage saying, "Hey, I was watching that!!!"

wigsf -- Well can you help me out then? What's the appeal? I'm not trying to bag on you, I actually want to know.

Heff -- Born in the USA is pain. It just hurts to listen to it. Luckilly the intro is half an hour long, so you have plenty of time to change the channel before Bruce starts howling at you.
whatigotsofar said…
I'm going to answer your question on my blog. It was getting pretty long.
MsPuddin said…
man we need to work on your people skills (not that im one to talk) but i probably would have all those springsteen groupies drinking your bulldog...whoop whoop!!
Satorical said…
If a band can be judged by its fans, Springsteen, Buffett and Bon Jovi should get ready for an eternity in the Ninth Circle right now. Bad Medicine? Really?

Other things I don't get: Kiss, Aerosmith and The Eagles.

Also, Republicans.
Hex said…
First off, a programming note -- please take a moment to check out WIGSF's counterpoint to this post where he discusses the appeal and his reasons for being a Springsteen fan. Really good stuff.

wigsf -- thanks for doing that, bro. I can't say it swayed my opinion, but you never used the word "Boss" once in the entry, which to me made it a lot more credible.

Puddin -- I don't know how much skill it takes to get a Jersey girl to drink, but sometimes when you're faced with group douche-itude all you want is for it to go away as quickly as possible.

Satorical -- considering WIGSF's response, I think I might be factoring in a lot about how annoying "Bruce the icon" and especially how annoying most Springsteen fans tend to be (which can easily be said for Buffet fans as well).

I've always adored Kiss, but mainly because of their beyond awful movies. They're like a cartoon come to life, complete with lasers, fire, and blood. That being said, I wouldn't pay a dime to see them live at this point -- and my days of face painting to match their look are long, long, gone; but if "Detroit Rock City" ends up on the radio, I'm there.
The Ex said…
I cannot find an email for you. I demand this be rectified!
I just saw the video/pic you posted up and it brought tears to my eyes reminiscing in memories 12 years ago when I myself once had a band as well..
We played in the basement/garage, we performed in talent shows/pubs, we did everything right, we got a record deal with some small time corp, but now I still remain a plumber in misery. Hey ya'll, pursue your dream, dont let it fall out! Make your dream come through because only you can make it true :)!!!