a caution, and—opening words about Springsteen's river songs

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My friends, the time has come.  Tomorrow I will join April Lindner, Jane Satterfield, Ned Balbo, and Ann Michael for "Springsteen and Storytelling," our panel discussion.  We're one of many Bruce conversations that will be going on this weekend at Monmouth University as part of the Glory Days Symposium.  And I'm so grateful to be given a chance to break away from my world for a moment, and to delve into this one.

Bruce and my bruised heart today have nothing to do with each other, but I feel the need to say this just now, while I have your attention (and I suspect that The Boss himself would agree with me on this one).  For any one who might be checking in on this blog, for whatever reason you may be checking, please trust me on this:  Not everything journalists write—however well meaning those journalists may be—is true.  And sometimes, even if we try very hard to get the record corrected, even if we cry, stomp, and offer to drain our bank accounts in the endeavor, we fail.  We cannot achieve the only right result, which is the truth.

For now, I am sharing this—the opening words of "Raw to the Bone:  Transported Toward Truth and Memory by Springsteen's River Songs," the paper I'll deliver tomorrow.
Might as well start with “Shenandoah,” the old pioneer song that Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band transformed into sweet bitters in the living room of Springsteen’s fabled New Jersey farmhouse.   “Shenandoah,” the tenth song on the We Shall Overcome/Seeger Sessions album, is music being made, as Springsteen himself has said.  Music created in the moment, held between teeth, conducted with the frayed bracelet strings of an uplifted hand.  It’s music hummed, hymned, and high in the shoulder blades, deep in the blue pulse of a straining vein.  Patti’s lighting candles in the darkening farmhouse, as the band tunes in.  The antique clock ticks.  The thickly framed mirror doubles the volumes of sound and space.  And now the Sessions band is elaborating, confabulating, and the Shenandoah roves. 
Oh Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Away you rolling river.
Oh Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Away, I'm bound away,
'cross the wide Missouri.


Florinda Pendley Vasquez said...

Hope your session goes well--wish I could be there for all the Bruce-talk!

Melissa Sarno said...

Here I am...checking in, as I tend to do ;) The truth is always worth fighting for. I'm sending you a hug with the hope that your heart heals soon.

This song brings a memory of singing this in choir. Such a longing, sad and yet beautiful melody. I feel like breaking into song right now.

Serena said...

Hope that the session is great fun, as I know it will be. I think that you need a big hug. I'm not sure why your heart is hurt, but I know that it will heal with time even if the record is not straightened...remember that you know the truth and those that love you know the truth and that's what matters most.

Richard Gilbert said...

Ah, yes, Bruce has a great feel for folk. My favorite song is, of course, Thunder Road, on a lamentably over-produced-sounding album. Nebraska and The River are great, but do you know his masterpiece, Darkness on the Edge of Town? I hope so.

patti.mallett_pp said...

Love to you, dear Beth - and many continuing prayers.

How I wish (do I dare wish more???) to hear you speak Bruce! You will rock it as you do everything else!!

You are deeply and richly loved by MANY, being sent heart-hugs even now from a number of them, I feel sure. (And one that I know of.)

Becca said...

Everyone who knows you knows that you only speak and write the truth. So if anyone insinuates otherwise they are just plain crazy.

And anyone who matters knows that.

Shenandoah is my favorite song and it moves me to tears every time I hear it.

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