This week, Jen Kehl has charged us with coming up with a list of songs that we’ve always loved, but came to love even more when we heard them live. It will be difficult to limit this list to five, but I’ll play by the rules as best I can.
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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND, Thunder Road
I could, very seriously, include every Bruce Springsteen song ever written in this post. His music, more than almost any other artist, is best heard live. Like millions of others, I’ve attended countless Springsteen concerts. The difference is that I’m from New Jersey where such a thing, along with eating a meat product we call Taylor ham (with cheese! on a hard roll!), is not only expected, but required.
That being said, I’d love Bruce regardless of where I lived. My favorite Springsteen song, by far, is Thunder Road. Even in a sold-out arena, it manages, in concert, to be both intimate and personal. When I hear it live I can’t help but think he’s speaking directly to me when he sings, what may in fact be the greatest lyric ever written, “You ain’t a beauty, buy, hey, you’re alright.”
Sure, that particular statement wouldn’t make your heart flutter if it was recited by your beloved — likely if he said it, he wouldn’t be your beloved for much longer — but, when Bruce says it — directly TO you — it’s just about the most romantic, the sexiest damn thing you’ll ever hear! Really. It is. I swear.
NOTE: Here are some links to other live versions of Springsteen songs that I think are worth at least one listen or, if you’re a fan, thousands.
Jungleland (my husband’s favorite)
CROSBY, STILL, & NASH, Teach Your Children
I look forward to this song when I see CSN live. I’ve been lucky enough to see them do it acoustically while they sit, dangle their feet off the edge of the stage, and lead the crowd in the ultimate sing-a-long. If you are an American who hasn’t been limited to bubble living or hasn’t just discovered hearing, you know this song. Certainly if you’re at a CSN concert, you know this song. Thousands of voices joining together to sing it always makes me leave one of their concerts with a spring in my step and the notion that love — parental and otherwise — can, indeed, save the world.
DIRE STRAITS, Romeo and Juliet
I always tell people that of all the bands I’ve seen in concert, Dire Straits was the most surprising. I’d always liked them, but once I saw them live, I loved them. They really are THAT good in person — better, frankly, than I ever would have imagined.
Of all of their songs, my personal favorite is Romeo and Juliet. The recorded version is spectacular; the live version breathtaking.
NOTE: This video is from the same tour that I had the good fortune to see — take note of the saxophonist, he’s a hottie.
PETER GABRIEL, In Your Eyes
Lots of folks know this song from the John Cusack movie “Say Anything”. It’s takes center stage in powerful and lovely scene in the movie. The live version will give you goosebumps. I promise.
THE GRATEFUL DEAD, Uncle John’s Band
I never really “got” the whole Grateful Dead thing — a little too hippy-dippy for me, but I have to admit that after seeing them live I at least understood their appeal, even if their music didn’t make me want to chuck everything and live in the back of a van for the duration of the tour.
The music, the atmosphere, even the presence of lots and lots of Deadheads, when taken as a whole really was an experience that I’m happy to have had. I don’t know now, nor did I know then, many of their songs, but I knew and always liked their signature song, Uncle John’s Band. It was really quite a treat to hear it live. I gained a new appreciation not only for the song, but for The Grateful Dead, as well. Oddly enough, my unfamiliarity with their songbook did not mitigate how much I enjoyed the show and that, my friends, is saying something.
NOTES ON THE MUSIC:
Thunder Road, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND from the album Born to Run (1975). Words and music by Bruce Springsteen.
Teach Your Children, CROSBY, STILLS, & NASH from the album Deja Vu (1970). Words and music by Graham Nash.
Romeo and Juliet, DIRE STRAITS from the album Making Movies (1980). Words and music by Mark Knopfler.
Uncle John’s Band, THE GRATEFUL DEAD from the album Workingman’s Dead (1970). Words by Robert Hunter, music by Jerry Garcia.