James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: Bruuuuuuce!

1 comment
American performer Bruce Springsteen. Photo / AP
American performer Bruce Springsteen. Photo / AP

Hello, James.

Hello, sub-conscious James.

What are you going to write about this week?


Forsyth or Springsteen?

Don't be a dick, sub-conscious James. You know exactly which Bruce I'm talking about. The Boss. The One True Bruce.

Are you sure you want to write about Bruce? There's a lot going on at the moment.
Telecom is changing its name to something with more spark and a lot more stupidity; Richard Prebble is rising from the crypt to guide the Act Party to a small percentage of power and, apparently, the Mafia runs our supermarket industry.

Yeah, I know, but given the choice between writing about Frankenprebble or Bruce, I will write about Bruce every time. And you know that too, given that you're my sub-conscious and everything.

Fair enough. So what are you going to say about Bruce?

Good question. To be completely honest I'm not sure where to start. Driving round Hawkes Bay in the late 70s listening to Born To Run on the cassette player might be a place to start. True, my mum's Datsun Bluebird wasn't exactly the sort of car you'd find in a Bruce song, but at least we were driving, even if it was only round and round the Hastings ring-road system.

Not exactly the killer Bruce-related image you're looking for, is it?

That is fair comment, sub-conscious James. So I guess I'll have to settle for the fact that the music of Bruce Springsteen has been a significant part of my life since, well, forever.

This is why these concerts, in Auckland, this weekend, mean more to me than dodgy food retailing practices. Also, if I write about the whole Countdown thing, I will have Shane Jones in my head - and that is not a good thing.

Speaking as your sub-conscious, I heartily concur. Not a healthy image to have lingering down here. But are you sure you're even qualified to write about Bruce? You know nothing about music, for starters.

That is true. Can't play a note; can't hold a tune. But isn't the point of music, as with any art form, that you don't need qualifications to consume it? And if you can consume it, don't you also have the right to write about it? Also the whole point of this column has always been about writing about stuff I don't understand, so why should music be excluded from that extensive list?

It is an extremely extensive list, true.

Maybe one of the things I love about Bruce's music is that the songs are about things that my feeble brain can grasp, at least on a basic level. They are celebrations of life and love. But they are also about the sort of injustices that ordinary inhabitants of planet Earth, like me, can relate to. Critical cynics - or cynical critics - write off Bruce's songs as being about cars and girls, but they're much more than that.

Not that there is anything wrong with a good car/girl ditty, mind you.

So you're going to the concert this weekend, obviously.

To two of them. I'm going to both concerts. I was only going to go to one but then I thought "what if Bruce plays Jungleland at the concert I'm not at? I will never forgive myself." Also I'd had a few wines and they'd just released some new tickets that looked pretty good.

The old wine/internet/credit-card trap, eh?

Yep. 'Fraid so.

So what's so important about this Jungleland song then?

Of all the Bruce songs I love - of which there are many - this is the one that sits in my brain and, I guess, in my heart. It is epic and I like epic; it tells a story, about the Magic Rat and the barefoot girl and, being a storyteller it appeals to me on that level. And it has strange, wonderful lyrics that conjure up all manner of images about poets who don't write nothing at all and people who wind up wounded and not even dead. I guess it ticks all the boxes I look for in a song.

But Bruce hasn't been playing Jungleland lately, has he James?

No. No sub-conscious James, he hasn't.

And how do we know this?

Because I am such an excited Bruce geek that I have been checking out the set-lists of his Australian concerts and no, no Jungleland so far.

That is tragic - on several levels.

Well, yes - especially on the geekiness level. But no, it's okay, because he is the Boss, after all, and whatever he plays will be good for me.

Us. For us. I will be there too - being your sub-conscious and all.

Yeah, but I'll be ignoring you for the night.

Fair enough. You know this is the weirdest column you've ever written, right?

Acutely aware, thank you.

- NZ Herald

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James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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