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Article 16

Rock On

Born in the USA -Bruce Springsteen

(Published in Times of India, Pune on 22nd September, 2001)


I would like to thank the fabulous Rock loving audience that was present at my concert at the Jazz Garden on 15th September. Their warm response is a clear indication that Rock is stronger than ever. Now, if only the concert could have gone on longer! Alas, the police restrictions put a stop to that and left both the audience and I asking for more. I hope the next time around, we get the chance to sing all those other classic Rock songs that my band and I had worked on for you. It was also a great opportunity to meet the numerous readers of the "Rock On" column. The gig at Music World was great too where my drummer, Willy and I did a short unplugged acoustic set. It was in the seventies that Remo, Darryl and I did acoustic sets at college festivals and it brought back many great memories. I do hope I get more opportunities to do shows like that!-Nandu

O ne of the few genuine rock acts that I had the pleasure of seeing live, was Bruce Springsteen and the E street Band. And what's more, it was in our very own India! Strangulated by the stringent exchange, tax and custom regulations of the government, we have always been bypassed by the world's greatest western music acts in spite of the huge audience that exists for this music. So it was a godsend when Amnesty International organized the HUMAN RIGHTS NOW! Tour to celebrate the achievements of the human rights movement and to introduce the idea of basic human rights protection to millions of people worldwide. The list of artistes was impressive to say the least and it included the Boss himself headlining the tour. It took no convincing for my friends and I to pack our bags and head for Delhi on that fateful day. And it was a concert that one could never forget!

"I saw rock 'n' roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen' was the rather arrogant statement made by the former 'Rolling Stone' critic Jon Landau when he heard Bruce live for the first time in 1974 and history has proved his prediction totally correct! Bruce burst on the scenes with the release of "Born to Run" and simultaneously made it to the covers of Time and Newsweek that year but his debut album "Greetings from Asbury Park" didn't even make the Top 200. Disco, glam-rock, heavy metal and arena-rock ruled the charts and the urgency and realism of Bruce's songs, were indeed a heavy dose for the fantasy filled world of the rock audiences of those days Fortunately, Bruce had caught the attention of the media and the critics hailed him as successor to Bob Dylan. Bruce with his band, later named E street band were constantly on the road playing in small clubs all around the USA in those days. It was Bruce's blue-collar manner and common man concerns that endeared him to his audience. Who was to know that this working class hero was all set to conquer the world and become a very rich man as a result!

Record Company contracts and management hassles have plagued many Rock artistes especially in their formative years and Bruce was no exception. The next three years saw Bruce sit it out, as a dispute with his manager resulted in him being barred from recording. Contracts signed in earlier years are often one sided and always favor the companies that represent artistes. Famous artistes like George Michael, Prince, John Fogerty (CCR) etc. have lost precious creative years to this malady. Fortunately, an out of court settlement saw Bruce back in the studios and what followed was a string of albums that were truly the golden period of Springsteen's creative life.

"Darkness On The Edge Of Town", "The River", "Nebraska" were the albums that hit the stores at regular intervals and 1984 saw the release of his largest selling album "Born In The USA". Springsteen penchant for strenuous touring resulted in a mammoth European tour in 1985 which became the height of Springsteen Mania and saw all his seven albums enter the UK charts. His concern for social issues also saw him to do the USA For Africa's song "We Are The World", Artists United Against Apartheid song "Sun City" and thankfully for us Indians, the Human Rights Now tour for Amnesty International in 1988.

Springsteen was at his very best on that day at that fabulous concert held at the capacity-filled Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. Closing the marathon 5-hour concert, after the likes of artistes like Youssou N'Dour, Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel and Sting, would have been a tall order for any artiste. Yet Springsteen pulled it off like a dream and left the crowd asking for more. We saw him grab a Delhi girl from the crowd for "Dancing in the Dark" just like in the video and pictures of Springsteen and the girl dancing were splashed on the front pages of all newspapers the next day. The original video had the yet undiscovered Courtney Cox (Monica of "Friends") dancing with Bruce. After all these years, it would be great to meet that Delhi girl and ask her what she felt about her moment in the spotlight with the living Rock legend himself!

Rock on!

Nandu Bhende

http://nandu_bhende.tripod.com


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