Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bruce Springsteen: Wild Billy's Circus Story [1973]

In 1989, the American novelist Walker Percy wrote a letter to Bruce Springsteen, expressing a desire to meet him. Percy had heard of Springsteen’s admiration for Flannery O’Connor and wanted to discuss the role that “spiritual journey” played in his music and life. However, it was not to be as Percy, already in ill health, died the following year. Some eight years later, Will Percy, Walker’s nephew, conducted an interview for DoubleTake magazine in the spirit of that original letter. It is an interesting read, particularly on Springsteen’s literary influences.

This is from Springsteen’s second album, 1973’s The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. It’s one of my favorites and not only for the spirited use of the tuba. The songwriting is earnest but not without irony. And these early songs which seem to be set on boardwalks, in the shadow of carnivals, populated with stock characters, show a surprising sensitivity to the grotesque. Not quite Tom Waits, perhaps, but I do think there is something that isn’t that far removed from O’Connor here. God bless the human cannonball, indeed.

And thanks to Big B for giving me a copy of this interview years ago...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of my favoite Bruce songs too...it's amazing how descriptive he could be back then...this album is my favorite Bruce, maybe one of my all-times. Love the kind of descending "choruses" of "the circus town has been born", and "the circus town's on the live wire". what sould be the biggest hook is the "lowest" part.

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Sheridan Dupre said...

It is my favorite album, too. I was torn between posting this and Sandy -- I love "Sandy, that waitress I was seeing lost her desire for me..." I will check out your site.

I guess I should have put God SAVE the human cannonball, but the point still stands...

Anonymous said...

the boss sounds a bit like adam sandler at the end of this track. good stuff.

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