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Wednesday, 04 July 2007 00:00

Recommended diversions

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Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska

Oh, he’s the boss alright. But sometime around ’82 he holed up in a friend’s studio, with nothing but a Tascam 4-track recorder, and decided to let everybody in on a little secret- Springsteen ain’t all “Born To Run” and “Glory Days,” even if those tunes themselves are quite thoroughly misunderstood by the majority of “fans.” He can be as dark and nihilistic as anyone out there, as evidenced by this sleeper of an album.

Nebraska is lonely, it doesn’t offer much in the way of hope, and it’s one of the most gut-wrenchingly candid depictions of, well, to paraphrase the last line in the title track, the “... meanness in this world” you’ll ever find. It could be the meanness we show to one another, or just the way things never seem to work out for some people, but all through Nebraska you get the picture that the world isn’t fair, and expecting it to be is your first mistake.

Whether it’s the poor folks living vicariously through the goings on at the “Mansion On The Hill,” the late-night internal monologue of “State Trooper” or the circumstances that drove otherwise normal people to crime in “Johnny 99” and “Atlantic City,” by the album’s end it’s clear that Springsteen tapped into something while writing Nebraska that he was never really able to achieve again later in his career, prickly and painful as it may have been at the time.

Music In The Streets

Just a little while back it seemed that there were only a few times a year that you might wander down Main Street in Sylva and find people picking on the sidewalk. With the advent of the Play For Peace concerts, the newly added Gallery Strolls downtown and the regularity of live music at Spring Street, Guadalupe Café and 553, it seems I can now count on looking out the store window to find someone partaking in the time-honored tradition of busking. It might be local solo jazz guitar cat Chad Hallyburton working his chord melody thing out in front of Black Rock, sometimes trading solos with WCU guitar professor Stephen Wohlrab, or today when a violinist and banjo player plopped down on a bench on the corner and commenced to picking for the passers by. What’s it all mean? Not sure, but it can’t possibly be anything but good for all of us.

Living Simply

Moved into a new apartment at the beginning of June, and I’ve yet to hook up the television. In fact, it wasn’t until last weekend that I even got my stereo up and running. With a minimum of furniture, a sleeping bag and a bunch of guitars, I’ve felt a whole new set of priorities arise, like the fact that as I go to sleep I find myself looking forward to getting up in the morning and making coffee, simple a thing as it may be. Or the joy of freshly dried laundry, and the way it makes the whole place smell. The killer thus far has been when I found a Star Wars calendar that I got as a child back in 1979, opened it up to June and found that it was accurate again — yeah, it makes me feel a bit old, but that feeling is far outweighed by the fact that I know I’ve got the coolest calendar in the world ... again.

— By Chris Cooper

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