This Must Be One of Those Monthlong Vacations In the Stratosphere


My residual regard for Bruce Springsteen made me reticent to give any comment about The Boss' unbelievably pompous and boring interview with Jann Wenner, which appeared in Rolling Stone a few issues back. But now that our long national nightmare of the Vote For Change concerts is over, and Bruce's duet on "Because the Night" with Michael Stipe lives on only in my nightmares, I have to ask: Why? It's clear that sometime in the late seventies, Jon Landau, the O'Brien of pop music, squeezed Bruce empty and filled him up with himself, and it's been a long, flatulent journey toward terminal piety ever since. But the Ghost of Tom Joad himself would be spooked by this nugget of wheezology:

Pop musicians live in the world of symbology. You live and die by the symbol in many ways. You serve at the behest of your audience's imagination. It's a complicated relationship. So you're asking people to welcome the complexity in the interest of fuller and more honest communication.

And that's one of the breezier sentiments bubbling up from Wittgensteen's teeming brain.

Wenner doesn't fare much better. I know I'm in desperate need of a career change when I think of where you end up after being a crucial figure at the red-hot center of the New Journalism and spending four decades as the head of one of the most valuable and influential properties in American media: asking a self-infatuated former rock star questions like "Because you scrupulously avoided commercial use of your music, you built a reputation for integrity and conscience. You must be aware of the potency of that."

But for me it's Bruce who provides the real sting. I owe my own spiritual emancipation to the stunning critique of religious orthodoxy, "Nuns run bald through Vatican halls, pregnant, pleadin' immaculate conception," from Greetings From Asbury Park. But now I must repeat in all seriousness a comment the Sucksters once made in jest: Sir, you're no Meat Loaf.