Fargo Rock City

I recently re-read Chuck Klosterman’s ‘Fargo Rock City’. If you ever owned even one metal record in the 80’s and haven’t read it, it’s a must-read. Period. It’s a bit dated now, but still fantastic. As such, I’m rolling through my old cassette collection from back in the day thanks to the modern magic of Apple Music. A forgotten gem right here – Bulletboys. I didn’t realize these cats were a: still putting records out; b: had such the revolving door of members over the years including the likes of DJ Ashba, Stephen Adler, Keri Kelli and more. These guys were fringe back in the day but their videos for ‘Smooth Up In Ya’ and ‘For the Love of Money’ got heavy rotation on MTV. Listening back now, they had a lot of Van Halen going on in ‘em – in a good way. I was just commenting to @tyler how I preferred my metal vocalists to be more of the ‘gritty’ sound than the more operatic (i.e. Jani Lane) sound. Marq Torien fit that bill, and apparently is currently the only original member of the band. Works for me. Excuse me while I do some scissor kicks. 

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Live/1975-85, 1986

All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood

I have to cop to being completely unaware of Bruce Springsteen prior to the advent of MTV. I was introduced via the ‘Born in the USA’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark’ videos. Being the self-proclaimed music geek I am now, I’m almost ashamed to admit this – it seems blasphemous. I grew up in the middle class, predominately white suburbs, mostly on pop-rock radio, new wave, and I dabbled in prog-rock. I remember digging the 2 aforementioned tunes enough that when I heard the buzz about this box set being released, I thought it seemed like something I should check out. 

I still remember the packaging – I got the cassette version, 3 cassettes in the box, the liner notes – even then I’d never really seen anything like that. It had weight. Substance. This must be some important shit. I’ll admit, it took me a few listens to get into it. It wasn’t at all what I was listening to, save the few Bruce tunes that made it onto pop/top40 radio. 

At the time, I didn’t have a full appreciation for live music, live musicians and the magic that is conjured during a live performance. This introduced me to that. 

More so, I was blown away by the songs. I had no idea you could tell stories like that through rock music. These characters and stories that Bruce sang about were fascinating to me. They might as well have been from another planet. I can’t think of another record right now (there may have been some others) that first introduced me to the notion of a singer/songwriter. The narrative voice in rock/popular music and songs that could make me feel a full range of emotions as opposed to just ‘joy’ or wanting to ‘rock out’. 

In the years since, I’ve loosely followed Bruce’s trajectory and future releases. Strangely enough, I’ve never bought another Bruce record. Though I’ve never considered myself a huge *fan’, whenever I catch a new tune, or hear one of the old ones, I’m always struck with that, “holy shit what a well-written song” thought. There are songwriters that can totally transport you to that moment they’re singing from – Bruce is one of em, a master storyteller.

Listening to this for the first time today in probably 20-25 years at least and the stories are still there, timeless, unfaded by the passing of the years in between.