Who’s the Boss? – The River

Who's The Boss?
Hi Everybody! The long wait is finally over. Time for the newest installment of “Who’s the Boss?” I can’t believe that it’s been almost 4 months since the last one – Darkness on the Edge of Town. Today, we’ll take a listen to Springsteen’s follow-up album, The River. If you are new, or missed the previous “Who’s the Boss?” articles, you can go ahead and see what this is all about.

I had heard of The River before, but I had no idea that it was a double-album. Let’s go check it out.


Originally, Bruce Springsteen’s album, The River, was to be released in 1979 as a single album called The Ties That Bind. But, after writing the song, “The River”, Springsteen wanted to add even more darker material to the album. The album was released on October 17, 1980. I did not read up on any information on the album before I started listening to it. So, I was not expecting the amount of dark material on the album. There are many fun rock songs on the album, then takes a dark turn. According to Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts – The Definitive Biography, 1972-2003, it was intentional to have a combination of fun and dark songs: “Rock and roll has always been this joy, this certain happiness that is in its way the most beautiful thing in life. But rock is also about hardness and coldness and being alone … I finally got to the place where I realized life had paradoxes, a lot of them, and you’ve got to live with them.”

Needless to say, this is a very interesting album. As always, you can click on the song title to listen to the song on YouTube.

Side one

1. “The Ties That Bind”

Great start to the album. It’s a good, rockin’ song. No matter how down you are, and how much you want to get away, and be by yourself, you will always have the ties that bind you to your friends, family and community.

 

2. “Sherry Darling”

This is a fun, upbeat song.

 

3. “Jackson Cage”

I’m already impressed with this album so far. This is another rockin’ song. It has that classic Bruce sound, with all instruments being heard, and some intense Bruce vocals.

4. “Two Hearts”

This is quickly becoming my favorite Springsteen studio album so far. This is another song saying that you shouldn’t be alone. This leads us to….

5. “Independence Day”

Time to slow things down a bit, which means Emo Bruce is in the house! It’s lucky for us that he had music as an outlet for his daddy issues. In this song, Bruce has come to the realization that he and his father will never get along, so he’s going out on his own. This is a sad yet beautiful song. I’m really taking to these storytelling songs.

Side two

1. “Hungry Heart”

Ah, a very familiar song. I always liked this song. I first discovered Bruce Springsteen from his Born in the USA album. When the songs from that album got overplayed, this was a nice alternative for me.

2. “Out in the Street”

I’m liking this song. It has the same type of beat as “Hungry Heart” – not a ballad, but not a flat-out rocker. The piano is well done. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a song that features a sax solo by the legendary Clarence Clemons.

3. “Crush on You”

Another great rockin’ song. I can totally see this one getting stuck in my head. Great guitar and drums in this song.

4. “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)”

Not to be confused with the Poison song I love (Look But You Can’t Touch), this is yet another really fun, rockin’s song.

5. “I Wanna Marry You”

This kind of starts off sounding like a Spanish type of song. This is a really nice ballad. While I am beginning to warm up to emo-Bruce, it is nice to hear him singing a slow song that doesn’t make you want to hang yourself.

6. “The River”

We have arrived at the title track. This is another storytelling song, which means emo-Bruce is back. He knocked up Mary just after high school, and they have to get married, and begin their real life. This doesn’t sound like the same couple from the earlier song, “I Wanna Marry You.” This wedding here sounds depressing:

We went down to the courthouse
and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress

And it just gets worse from there.

Side three

1. “Point Blank”

This is another dark, storytelling song. And just like several of the dark songs I have heard so far, this one is about growing up too fast, and not having your dreams realized.

I was gonna be your Romeo you were gonna be my Juliet
These days you don’t wait on Romeo’s
You wait on that welfare check

2. “Cadillac Ranch”

Alright! Now we are back to some upbeat rock! I remember this song from the Live 1975-85 album. It is a great live song, but I am also loving this studio version.

3. “I’m a Rocker”

Awesome! This song lives up to its name!

4. “Fade Away”

OK, this is the total opposite of the last song. You know it’s not good when the song starts with these lyrics:

Well now you say you’ve found another man who does things to you that I can’t
And that no matter what I do it’s all over now
between me and you girl

5. “Stolen Car”

Well this song starts off more promising:

I met a little girl and I settled down
In a little house out on the edge of town
We got married, and swore we’d never part

Oh no, but wait…here is the next line:

Then little by little we drifted from each other’s hearts

Just shoot me already!

Side four

1. “Ramrod”

Alright! We’re pulled out of the doldrums! This is a fun rockin’ song. Let me take this in. I see the title of the next song, so I’m sure this high won’t last too long.

2. “The Price You Pay”

Kurt Cobain and the whole grunge movement ain’t got nothin’ on Bruce, man! All I have to say about this song is:

Now they’d come so far and they’d waited so long
Just to end up caught in a dream where everything goes wrong
Where the dark of night holds back the light of the day

3. “Drive All Night”

I can’t believe how depressing this second album is. At least this is a love song.

4. “Wreck on the Highway”

Will we close out the album with a fun rockin’ song, leaving us wanting more, or will we end with emo-Bruce. Here’s a hint:

An ambulance finally came and took him to Riverside
I watched as they drove him away
And I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife
And a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
To say your baby died in a wreck on the highway

As depressing as these songs are, I really enjoy the storytelling.

 


Fun Facts

Fun Facts. Woo-ooo-ooo. Say it proud and Geek Out Loud, it’s fun facts

– “Hungry Heart” was Springsteen’s first U.S. pop singles chart top ten hit single, reaching number five. When Bruce wrote the song, it was actually intended to be for The Ramones. However, manager/producer Jon Landau convinced Springsteen to keep the song for himself.

– According to BruceSpringsteen.net, it was announced on October 16, 2015 that Springsteen will celebrate the 35th anniversary of The River by releasing the long awaited box set titled The Ties That Bind: The River Collection on December 4, 2015. It will contain 52 tracks on 4 CDs with a wealth of unreleased material along with 4 hours of never-before-seen video on 3 DVDs or 2 Blu-Ray discs.

Final Thoughts

Even though it may seem like I was not enjoying the dark songs, I really loved this album! This may even be my favorite Springsteen album so far. The upbeat songs just flat-out rock, and the dark songs tell good, albeit depressing stories. It’s good to have a combination of the different styles. And Springsteen did this masterfully.

The next album will be one that most of us are familiar with. I’m sure you can pretty much guess what it is. There are some songs on it that are new for me, so I am looking forward to it. And it won’t take as long to post about it.

Let me know what you think of The River,and if you have any memories from it.

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Remember That Song: 10/30/15

Hair’s to Friday!!!

Can you name the artist and song:

I got my whiskey, I got my wine
I got my woman, and this time the lights are going out


Last Song: “A Groovy Kind of Love” by Phil Collins from Buster: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1988)
Great job Robert (@mishouenglish)!!!

When you’re close to me
I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing near my ear

80s Documentaries on Netflix

Hi Everybody! Today, we have an article from Robert about two documentaries that may be of interest to you. This year, I just started using Netflix. So I am excited to be able to check these out.
Please let us know if you have seen either of these docs that Robert discusses, and let us know what you think.

 


 

Things are busy. There are so many things to do that it has become extremely difficult for me to consistently watch a television series with any sort of regularity. Honestly, I have given up trying. If there is a television program that I am interested in and I cannot catch the first episode, I am forced to find other means. Fortunately, there are other means. I could DVR these shows, but I save that space for movies, sports, and cable series like The Leftovers and Game of Thrones. I have not yet subscribed to Hulu – no reason, just haven’t. So I am heavily reliant upon Netflix to save me. I admit that patience is a must, but I am just fine with that. I have found it preferable to watch a series straight through – consecutive seasons at a time – as opposed to week by week on television. I have thoroughly enjoyed binge watching How I Met Your Mother, The Inbetweeners (British series), Mad Men, and New Girl (although I must exude real patience waiting for final or new seasons to be available). I sincerely hope that The Goldbergs will be added soon.

My family considers me a bit weird, but I really love watching documentaries on Netflix nearly as much as movies and television series. Documentaries do not come to movie theaters in my smallish town in Nebraska. I am anxiously waiting to see if the new version of Macbeth will be able to get a screening with Star Wars: The Force Awakens being released at the same time. I also do not go and see many movies like I used to. There needs to be something pretty special for me to go to the theater instead of just waiting for the Blu Ray or iTunes to release a movie. Also, I cannot see myself paying for a ticket to see a documentary – no matter how good. So I am very excited when Netflix adds new documentary films. Occasionally, a new one is added that also speaks to my 80s conscious – and it has happened twice this month!

Anyone with any memories of growing up in the ‘80s needs to run to their television/iPad/tablet – whatever you stream Netflix through – and check out two excellent documentaries that have the 80s flowing through them. The titles you need are All American High Revisited and Back in Time.

All American High School Revisited

In 1984 (released in 1986) Keva Rosenfeld directed this film that followed a group of seniors attending Torrance High School in California. The dominant narrator of the film is Rikki, an exchange student from Finland, and the film depicts typical high school scenes – Homecoming, football games, classes, lunch – exactly what you would expect. BUT IT IS ALL IN 1984!!! As I have mentioned in previous articles, I attended high school in Frankfurt, Germany. We had to wait a few months for movies to make it to the American theaters and movies like All American High were never shown. I never heard about this movie until I stumbled across an advance article talking about a re-release with updates on the main characters, hence the Revisited. The film did not run in my town, so when Netflix added it, I jumped off my seat and watched it immediately (full disclosure: four times in a week).

I cannot call this a great film, but it will strike a purely nostalgic chord with any viewer who went to high school in the ‘80s (I graduated in 1987 so I was a sophomore in the fall of ‘84). While it may not be a perfect film, it did receive, among many other awards, the Distinguished Documentary Award from the International Documentary Association. The film presently has an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100% audience approval rating.

The film begins with a montage of a typical high school with the following words in between short clips:

Back in 1984
things were a little different
technology was simpler
fashion was so awesome
high school was fun
especially to a foreigner

Check out the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpKcn9i4Hgo

The film does not really turn into a tell all expose on what real American teens were doing when their parents weren’t looking. Yes, it does contain a few party scenes with some very ambitious young men making a few bucks, but it never turns negative. Rosenfeld keeps the focus on Rikki and how different the American high school experience is compared to the experiences she had in Finland. Rikki makes some keen observations that most of us take for granted. She is amazed at the number of items available to buy at the local mall and, in the same breath she expounds on the social nature of American education. She says that at times she feels like an outsider, but the school and many of the students do an excellent job in including her in daily school life.

Rosenfeld includes an array of scenes that capture high school life. There is the Homecoming court being revealed, there is a discussion on the threat of nuclear war in a political science class, and there is a student explaining the social groups at Torrance High: the punkers, the metalers, and the preppies.

The Revisited section of the film arrives during the final thirty minutes. Rosenfeld was able to catch up to several of the students who were featured in 1984. He is even able to go to Finland and interview Rikki. The documentary is viewed by her family with Rikki watching along – laughs and tears dominate this scene. The updates are given in a Fast Times at Ridgemont High style and the film comes to a much too early close.

I mention Fast Times at Ridgemont High because this film reminds me of it in many ways. I know that Cameron Crowe, the author of Fast Times, did his undercover research posing as a student in a California high school (not Torrance). So, technically, the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High is fictional and based on people Crowe met doing his research. All American High Revisited is different. It is the documented life of high school teens in 1984. Do yourself a favor, you ‘80s lovers, and “stroll down amnesia lane” (Robin WIlliams in Dead Poet’s Society). Everyone who went to high school in the ‘80s needs to see this fun, yet compelling documentary.

Back in Time

Netflix’s timing could not be more perfect. They added this documentary on October 21, 2015 – Back to the Future Day. As the title suggests, director Jason Aron has created, not only an homage to the ‘80s classic films Back to the Future, Back to the Future II, and Back to the Future III, he has examined the cultural impact that this film has had on, not only the ‘80s, but today as well.

Check out the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAUEgDfkKbg

This documentary has garnered no fewer than eight awards at various film festivals around the country. This is a testament to both this film and people’s long existing fascination with this film. Back in Time is packed clips from all three films, as well as compelling interviews with stars from the film including Lea Thompson, Christopher Lloyd, and Michael J. Fox.

This documentary starts by reviewing the scope of each three films’ plot. The balance of clips and interviews is masterful. Beginning this way reminds the viewer (as if they needed it) of the timeline encompassing the three films. The clips from the films give this documentary a great pace, while the interviews offer excellent insights from the performers, director, and writer. The fact that Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly and began filming, but was later replaced by Michael J. Fox, is handled honestly and not avoided. The rotating interviews are nothing short of wonderful and insightful. It is wonderful to see the stars today – aged, more experienced – discuss their experiences filming the Back to the Future trilogy with reverence and a true sense of respect and nostalgia. It is clear that the films hold a special place in their hearts and they let it show. While the casts changes from Back to the Future and Back to the Future II are discussed, it is clear that these changes had no ill effects. There was no original plan to make two sequels, so inevitable cast changes were bound to happen.

The second part of Back in Time delves into audience reaction to the films, as well as how fans are trying to keep the memory of these great movies alive. Director Aron tracks the buying, selling, and modifications of DeLoreans. He includes footage of an original DeLorean at Universal studios theme park; this is expected. He also interviews and shows collectors who have purchased a remaining DeLorean or a non film DeLorean and modified it to look like the ones in the film. There are Back to the Future car shows (and even a marriage proposal at one) where people come together to celebrate the film. Many of these shows feature an actor from the films, costumes, DeLoreans- everything.

One touching aspect of fandom is a husband and wife who modified a Delorean and travel around the country raising money to eradicate Parkinson’s disease. Clearly this is being done in direct connection to this horrible condition that Michael J. Fox suffers from. He even shows his appreciation of their work by recognizing their efforts and occasionally making appearances at their events.

At times, fans dedication to Back to the Future seems a bit excessive, but it becomes more understandable and a true reflection of the impact that these films and characters have had on contemporary American pop culture. Back in Time has its own website that is full of information about the documentary: http://backintimefilm.com/

One thing that this documentary did to me was take me back. I watched this film with my eighteen year old son. He has seen and loves the Back to the Future films; in fact he was watching Back to the Future when I suggested (demanded?) we watch the documentary. While we were watching, he asked me questions about when I first saw the movie – and I relished telling him all about it. I happily told him that my two best friends (whom he has met) and I went to the Idle Hour movie theater that was on the same military base as our high school. I told him how much the movie captured us; we were riveted the entire time – enjoying every second of the movie. In a strange sort of way, I think that we knew that we watching something special. Back in Time validates our feelings. I texted my buddy the next day (the brothers both live in Louisville- nowhere near Nebraska) and he immediately asked my what my son thought about it. If an eighteen year old boy who seems more concerned about his Xbox, sports, and his girlfriend can sit and watch a documentary, then it must be pretty good.

My purpose here is not to review all of the contents of these films, rather I come to convince. Convince you that any person that lived through the ‘80s – any part of the ‘80s – needs to watch these two titles. Both of these documentaries that Netflix recently added, All American High Revisited and Back in Time are must see films. They will take you back to high school, teach you more about one of your favorite movies, and leave you with a true sense of what you loved about being young in the ‘80s. The sense of wonder, discovery, fleeting innocence, and, well, joy, will hit you hard. Both will make you miss high school and the first time you watched a classic film of the decade. For myself, I cannot stop watching either of these two films – I love them. Both leave me with a sense of melancholy for days passed, and a renewed sense of happiness and appreciation for the decade I grew up in. No time is without its problems, but I definitely look back at the ‘80s with a sense of longing – so be it, I am not going to change. These are great documentaries and need to be watched by everyone reading this.

Remember That Song: 10/29/15

Can you name the artist and song:

When you’re close to me
I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing near my ear


Last Song: “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston from the album Whitney Houston (1985)

But each time I try
I just break down and cry
‘Cause I’d rather be home feeling blue

Remember That Song: 10/28/15

Can you name the artist and song:

But each time I try
I just break down and cry
‘Cause I’d rather be home feeling blue


Last Song: “Is There Something I Should Know?” by Duran Duran (1983) in honor of Simon Le Bon who just turned 57 yesterday.

Great job Jim (@JimVilk)!!!

I made a break I run out yesterday tried to find my mountain hideaway
Maybe next year maybe no go
I know you’re watching me every minute of the day yeah

Remember That Song: 10/27/15

Can you name the artist and song:

I made a break I run out yesterday tried to find my mountain hideaway
Maybe next year maybe no go
I know you’re watching me every minute of the day yeah


Last Song: “Leave a Light On” by Belinda Carlisle from Runaway Horses (1989)

Take my hand
Tell me what you are feeling
Understand
This is just the beginning