#504: 1996, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Joad

by George_East on July 15, 2012

A combination of two things has led to today’s Song To Learn and Sing.  Firstly, yesterday was not only Bastille Day but also the centenary of the birth of the greatest of all folk protest singers, Woody Guthrie.

Guthrie has, of course, been a huge influence on just about every politically inspired singer songwriter ever since, from early Bob Dylan (who even wore a cap just like his hero Woody on the cover of his debut album), through to Billy Bragg and more recently the great Pete Molinari.  He has also been a big influence on the Boss – particularly in his quieter folkier albums like Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad.

The second reason for this post are the ridiculous events at the Hyde Park Bruce  Springsteen gig last night.  I hasten to add that I wasn’t there but I know that I would have been mightily pissed off if I had been.

At the end of the set, Paul McCartney joined Springsteen and the E Street Band for a couple of tracks:  raucous versions of I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout followed, but in the middle of the latter some officious prick of a suit pulled the plug on the PA system. You read that correctly.  They pulled the plug on Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney.  It wasn’t midnight or even 11 o’clock at night.  It was 10.40.  On a Saturday night. In the West End. In London, the biggest city in Europe. Miserable gits.

So bringing the two threads together, this is Bruce Springsteen’s cover of Woody Guthrie’s fantastic, Tom Joad, itself influenced by John Steinbeck’s masterpiece of dustbowl fiction, The Grapes of Wrath.  The video has a montage from John Ford’s classic  film version of the novel from 1940. There’s a lot of greatness in this package.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray_North July 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I’m really glad you weren’t there George – you’d have been far too cross, in fact it could have resulted in me having to bail you out of a prison cell!


George_East July 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Quite possibly.


Ray_North July 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm

… I’m sniggering to myself at the idea of you getting arrested at a Paul McCartney gig!


George_East July 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Mate, I’ve seen Paul McCartney live – when he did the same thing at the Neil Young Hyde Park gig in 2009, joining NY for am encore of A Day In The Life. I thought he was some old roadie when he first came onto the stage. No one pulled the plug then.


Mike Killingworth July 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

I had The Boss’s first album in my vinyl days but astonishingly I haven’t got anything by him in my CD collection. Recommendations, please.

(The same is also true of Macca’s Wings – and it’s staying that way.)


George_East July 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Mike, it depends if you are more inclined to the folkier stripped down stuff or the rockier material. If (like me) the former than the two albums I mentioned are well worth checking out: Nebraska (for me his best) and The Ghost of Tom Joad. Also the recent (well 2006) – We Shall Overcome – Seeger sessions collection of classic American folk and protest songs is superb. If the latter than Darkness on The Edge of Town and The River are both brilliant (and, of course, his breakthrough, Born To Run).
I’m with you on Wings.


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