Sprinsteen Revisited: Greetings From Asbury Park NJ

The following is part of an ongoing series in which I re-evaluate Bruce Springsteen's records, in chronological order (reverse chronological in this blog), and their impact on my life and musical tastes. Some are more well written than others and the same holds true for grammatical errors. They were originally written for an online community that I participate in, but I thought I'd post them here for the sake of posterity.

In the same vein as I went through Tom Petty's catalogue I am now embarking on a trek through the Boss's oeuvre. It is a much more daunting task than the Petty binge. First of all there are so many more albums to listen to. Second of all I fear that I will not be able to come up with enough superlatives, as I like so much of his stuff. Third, I am much more familiar with Springsteen's output than I am with Petty's, so my opinions are pretty much already formed.
But I'm gonna get through this...I hope. Don't be disappointed if I give up mid-stream 'cuz you never know, I might be stricken with "Springsteen Burnout", especially around the time of Live 1975-1985 or, if I make it that far, the Tracks box set.
Gonna use a star rating system this time around, all ratings are relative to Springsteen's other work, and I'm also going to list "Favorite Tracks" and "Least Favorite Tracks" (both of which will be limited to, but not necessarily including, 4 songs...this is going to be hard on albums like Darkness on the Edge of Town and Tunnel of Love.
And one last thing before I get to the man's debut album...I am DREADING the time when I get to the dismal Pete Seeger Sessions.

As for Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., it's a wildly uneven affair. I wouldn't blame anyone for turning the damn thing off after the silly, meaningless and pointless "Blinded by the Light". It's junk like this that garnered the "Next Bob Dylan" accolade, but the only thing he has in common with Zimmy is a tendency to be verbose. At least Dylan's wordy stuff makes a little bit of sense. "Blilnded by the Light" seems to revel in it's inability to be anything more than an exercise in the proper use of a rhyming dictionary.
And it doesn't get much better with "Growin' Up", which for some bizarre inexplicable reason is a fan favorite. But just take a gander at this lyric: "When they said come down I threw up". Huh?
There are lots of silly lines scattered throughout this album that seem written just to fill up a verse. Even "Mary, Queen of Arkansas", a song I quite like, contains this horrendous line" "I've been a shine boy for your acid brat and a wharf rat of the stage". What the fuck is an acid brat, I want to know? And why does he need a shine boy?
"Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street" is a monotonous affair with such sage wisdom as "Don't trust men who walk with canes". Why not? Why are they less trustworthy than those who have full use of their legs? I'm sure there's some deep symbolism involved, but it sure as hell went over my head.
After this 1 for 3 hitter we finally get to a good, possibly great song, "Lost In The Flood", a precursor in many ways of "Jungleland". It took me awhile to figure out what he was really saying with "Nuns run bald through Vatican halls, pleading immaculate conception"...I thought, well why would they be bald? Then I realized he was playing with words and the implication was "Nuns run BALLED...". Maybe I'm wrong on this one.
"The Angel" has long been my favorite song on this album. It starts out kind of like something you might expect from Nebraska until a cello comes in at about the half-way mark. The singing is equal parts weary and impassioned. My only question is, Who are "The Servants", what is their purpose, and why do they keep popping up in this song? I've ALWAYS wondered this.
Another fan favorite, "For You" has never been a favorite of mine (especially after hearing Manfred Mann's Earth Band's version). That said, I have to say it sounded better to me now than it did in the past. It has a minimal share of ding-dong lyrics, and that's saying something.
Likewise, "Spirit In The Night" is another one I never cared much for in the old days. But aside from the music, which I'll probably never cotton to, the song was actually pretty impressive (which would mean that I thought the lyrics, vocal performance and melody were pretty good). Nice story song, and who can resist a line like "Janey's fingers were in the cake"?
Taking it all home, where most of it belongs, is "It's Hard To Be a Saint In The City". It's not too bad, but it has it's share of goofy lines. Reminds me too much of "Does This Bus Stop...". They should have closed the whole show with "Lost In The Flood" and who knows why they chose this one. Not me.

2 Stars
Favorite Tracks: "The Angel", "Lost In the Flood"
Least Favorite Tracks: "Blinded by the Light", "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street"


Jubal Blog: A Festival in Lexington

For the last two weeks I haven't written the blog posts at our MySpace page (even though the last gig at the 89'er club in Lexington was a blast), mainly because I was convinced that very few were actually reading it. I still am. But boredom inspired me to do something this morning, as I had awakened far too early and could not get back to sleep. And so I decided to write a blog post. I don't know if this will be the last one from me...my brother has taken over that duty (somewhat reluctantly, I believe). But who knows..I may find myself awake at a ridiculously early time and dash one off now and again.
Anyhoo, here's the latest installment:

It's now officially confirmed...They love us in Lexington. And that's very encouraging, because we have come to love the people there as well.

Saturday we were the headlining band at the 89'er Festival, where the streets are lined with vendors selling their wares (mostly in the form of vittles), the carnival stays packed all day and bands of various stripes take the stage on the other side of Main Street. We played pretty well for the most part for audiences that came and went most of the day and then got pretty big near the end of the night. The only real problem we had was that we were told, after some of us had already put our instruments up and we'd said "Goodnight", that we were expected to play until 10PM. All of us were under the impression, even up to then, that the show was to last from 5:30 to 9:00. But the policeman who hired us said that the Chamber of Commerce or whoever was sponsoring the whole shindig had advertised that we would play until 10:00, so we really didn't have much of a say in the matter. We pulled out our instruments after taking a short break and gave them another 45 minutes. I don't know about anyone else, but I, as the bass player, silently lamented the level of pain in my fingers from playing a 4 & 1/2 hour gig with only two short intermissions. The wind was brutal and it got a little nippy towards the end of the night, but all in all the weather was cooperative.

While there, Jerry, the owner of the 89'er Club, offered us another gig in a couple of weeks. It's always a hoot to play there so we jumped at the opportunity. That show will be on May 5 and the address is 108 W Broadway down there in the swirling metropolis of Lexington. After that we're taking the weekend off before we hit the Watering Hole in Shawnee. That's a pretty fun gig, too.

Something you might want to know...we are NO LONGER hosting the Sunday night Tri-City jam sessions at Dietrichs. To the best of my knowledge no one is picking up where we left off, so there will most likely be no jam sessions anymore in the foreseeable future. Of course there are reasons for this and they are many, but discretion prevents me from sharing them in this forum. Suffice to say that I don't THINK there are any hard feelings in the wake of our departure. It was fairly amicable as far as I know, but by the same token I don't claim to know much about the whole she-bang. I'm just happy that now I can spend Sundays with my family. It was getting hard for me to come home at 3:30 in the morning, wake up wore out and ragged and then have to do the jam later in the day. Ugh! But I must reiterate, that's just ME. The other guys likely had no problems with that. I'm just kinda sickly these days and can't get around like I used to.

And finally, we were somewhat troubled when Jubal didn't make it to the show yesterday. That was a real heart breaker, not only to us but to his dedicated legion of fans, many of who had driven quite some distance to see him. I pulled out my cellphone and called him...this is what he had to say, "Man, I'm sorry but I don't like Festivals. I can't handle 'em, it's something that's haunted me since childhood. I don't know, maybe my mom left me at a carnival for several hours while she went out to do her own thing. Maybe the carneys spooked me. All I remember is getting on the Ferris wheel all alone and crying my eyes out, screaming 'Mother! Mother! Where are you?'...So you can have yer Festivals, each and every one. I won't be there."


Jubal Modine & the Love Handles: "One Nite Only" at the 89'er Club

I don't know that I'm going to continue writing the MySpace blogs for our band...last time I did it was pretty much an out and out plea for Comments and I got none. Zilch. Zero. Nada. I was mainly wanting to see who was reading them, since the counter indicated that several would view it in the period directly after I'd post one (like 30-40 hits). But then again, I also figured that many of those were spammers/hackers or whatever, not interested readers. So I threw out that last blog post fishing for comments and got none whatsoever.
So I really don't feel like wasting my time...not that NOONE is reading it. I'm sure the band members read it and their girlfriends/wives, but they already know all the stuff that I write about there. I had hoped that we would get some folks who weren't directly involved with the band to read it (hopefully regularly).

Anyway, we played last night at a place called the 89'er club in Lexington Oklahoma. It was the furthest we've had to drive to do a show so far. Long ass trip, but it turned out to be well worth it. A crazy night, really.
You see, there's this guy who plays keyboards that we met during one of our jam sessions. His name is Isaac and I guess he knows our guitarist pretty well. He lives in the general area of Lexington, so he asked last week if he could sit in for a couple of sets and that if he did he could bring in several people he knew to the gig. He's played with us, like I said, at the jams and he's not a bad keyboard player, tends to blend in pretty well with what the band's doing. So we were okay with the idea.
So we get there and get all our stuff set up. We're wondering where Isaac is going to sit because the stage they had was very small. So small that our keyboard player and guitarist had to be on the floor and I was in a pretty cramped space on a stage that's just a little bit bigger than a typical drum riser.
But we were starting to think that it wouldn't be an issue because Isaac was nowhere to be seen. He did eventually show up, just before we were about to take the stage, so we were delayed while he started to set his stuff up.
I don't know, maybe he was frustrated because there really wasn't a suitable place for him to be and he tried a couple of spots.
Then, for whatever reason, he made a couple of disparaging remarks (ie. he "popped off") and the next thing you know the club owner, Jerry, is just yelling at him at the top of his lungs. I mean to tell you he was pissed at Isaac and voiced his opinion in no uncertain terms. It turned into a bit of a verbal exchange and Isaac tried to throw some insults around (about the bar, about Jerry, that kind of thing). But he cowered in comparison to Jerry's wrath, which was kinda scary even for us not on the receiving end. When it all started the place turned quiet as a mouse. I don't think I've ever heard a bar get so quiet. I KNOW I haven't.
Well, long story short, Isaac got kicked out of the bar (I'm sure he would tell you he left of his own free will, but anyone who was there knows better). So we didn't have to worry about having an extra man. As soon as Isaac had dragged his last piece of equipment out the door we took the stage and I tried to lighten the situation by singing an a capella version of "Happy Birthday" to Reita, our keyboard player's wife. It seemed to work. It didn't hurt that at that time there weren't that many people there.
And from that point on the evening just got better and better. We got some of the best responses we've ever received with lots of people singing along and making that noise we so like to hear after the songs (that would be "applause"). The place filled up in increments and though it wasn't quite a packed house it was nevertheless respectable. Lots of people wound up using the small dance floor, too. That's always encouraging, to me at least.
There was a police officer who came in and stayed for a little while. I guess he was in charge of booking the bands for the upcoming 89'er Festival (on April 21) and he liked us so much that he asked if we'd be interested in doing the 5:30PM-9:00PM slot that day. The money was good so we all said "yes" and he hired us on the spot.
Then, at the end of the night, besides giving each of us a little bit more cash than we had agreed to, Jerry asked us if we'd come back. We had had such a good time that we said "sure...when do you want us?" We figured it would be next month at the earliest. But he had an open night THIS UPCOMING SATURDAY and wanted us then. Long, long drive notwithstanding, we agreed to do it and I gotta say I'm looking forward to it. Really good crowds like that are hard to come by. I don't mind travelling a bit, as long as it's not every week.
The only thing about playing next Saturday...I know for a fact that my voice is going to be wrecked when it's all over. Plus, being up so late and getting home so early really takes a toll on me (for instance, I am exhausted right now after last night's festivities). So what am I supposed to do when we have a regular weekly jam session at 6:00PM every Sunday? I dunno if I can do it. I guarantee I'm not going to WANT to do it, so not only will I have a ruined voice and be worn out physically, I'll likely be in a pissy mood as well.
I like our guitarist's idea to scale back and only do the jam sessions once a month. I'd even go twice a month. But this every week plan has lost it's novelty, at least as far as I'm concerned. And for the rest of the month we have Saturday night gigs. Hmmph. We shall see what transpires.

I hope everyone is having a nice Easter. I have always loved this holiday, as it reminds me of Jesus' death and resurrection. Plus, we don't have to do a jam session! Whoopee! Surely the club is not open today. Gotta be a lot of bad luck associated with being open on Easter.
That's all for now. See you next time, be it in a couple of days, a couple of weeks, a couple of months or a couple of years.


69 "Dirty" Little Secrets Meme

Here's a meme I filled out over on MySpace. Yes, I was bored. I don't know what's so "dirty" about any of it, but it was kind of fun anyway.

1. The phone rings; who do you want it to be?
My daughter, who I haven't seen in almost 20 years.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?

4. Do you take compliments well?
Depends on what the compliment is and who is doing the complimenting. I always like to hear people say I'm a decent bassist, guitarist and vocalist.

5. Do you play Sudoku?

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?
Probably not. I'm too spoiled by modern-day conveniences. I think most people are.

7. Do you like to ride horses?
Yes, but it's been a long, long time.

8. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
Yeah, 3 or 4 times.

9. What was your favorite game as a kid?
Gee, I don't remember. We used to play a lot of gin rummy with my mom, though.

10. If a person was pursuing you, but you knew he/she was married, would you go for it?
I'd have to ask my wife it was okay first. ;)

11. Have you lied to get out of a date?
I didn't exactly have a lot of dates when I was younger. I'd have been more prone to lying to GET a date rather than to get out of one. So the short answer is NO.

12. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?
Well, I'm married to someone who has different religious beliefs than I do, so I guess so.

13. Do you like to pursue or be pursued?
Depends on whether or not a gun is involved.

14. Use three words to describe yourself?
Philosophical, Introspective, Audiophile

15. Do any songs make you cry?
"Ruth Marie" by Mark Kozelek, "Valentine's Day" by Bruce Springsteen

16. Are you continuing your education?
In a sense.

17. Do you know how to shoot a gun?
You just aim and pull the trigger, right? I'm not too keen on firearms.

18. If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?
Easy. My Bible. (That's assuming that my wife and son have already escaped the flames)

19. How often do you read books?
Just about every day.

20. Do you think more about the past, present or future?

21. What is your favorite children's book?
I used to like Dr. Seuss when I was a tot, but the passing years have found me appreciating children's books less and less.

22. What color are your eyes?
An indescribable color.

23. How tall are you?

24. Where is your dream house located?
Probably in Colorado with a view of the mountains.

25. Do you have a secret fetish?
Secret fantasies, maybe. Secret fetish, no, I think not.

26. Have you tried sushi?
No, I don't even like seafood.

27. Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth?
Who hasn't?

28. When was the last time you were at Olive Garden?
I've never eaten there. I was going to take my wife to the one in Tulsa for our anniversary a few years ago, but the line at the door was just too long.

29. When was the last time you were at Church?
It's been awhile. I assure you, I'm no less a Christian for not attending church services lately.

30. Where was the furthest place you traveled today?
To the bathroom and back.

31. What was your favorite job?
I liked working at CD Warehouse a lot, and I enjoyed the regular gig playing in the house band at Charlie's Palace.

Where is #32?
Spending the weekend in Boley.

33. Do you prefer to sleep or eat?
Sleep. Oh how I love to sleep and dream.

34. Do you look like your mom or dad?
I don't think I look like either.

35. How long does it take you in the shower?
15-20 minutes

36. Can you do the splits?

37. What movie do you want to see right now?
I can't think of any movie I want to see right now. The last one that was on my "must see" list was "The Departed" and I watched that one this morning.

38. If you could fast forward your life, would you?
Maybe until this time next year, then I would slow it down considerably

39. What did you do for New Year's?
Nothing, really. In fact, I think I went to bed before midnight.

40. Do you think The Grudge was scary?
No, actually it was kind of dumb.

41. Could you relate to a character in Mean Girls?
It's been too long since I saw that movie, I don't recall much of it. And I won't watch it again because Lindsey Lohan has become increasingly annoying to me.

42. Do you own a camera phone?
Nope. Don't want one.

43. Do you have an "ex box" with pics and letters in it?
Got a lot of photos from years past, but I don't save letters (as if I've received any in umpteen years...e-mail killed the postage stamp...huh?)

44. Was your mom a cheerleader?
I don't think so, but I was.
(Just kidding there)

47. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Ever since I began taking Ambien I've been getting at least 8 hours a night. This is wonderful to me, because I suffered from some pretty bad insomnia for most of my life. Ambien is my wonder drug.

48. Do you like care bears?
What do you expect me to say? "Yes, they're so adorable"? Of course I don't like care bears. I'm almost 45 freakin' years old! (Which does not explain why I'm filling out memes on the internet OR why I even have a MySpace profile...he he he)

49. What do you buy at the movies?
I don't. Even on the EXTREMELY rare occassion that I'll go to see a movie in a theater, all the concessions are ridiculously over-priced. MAYBE a monster Coke to share with wife and son...that's about it.

51. Do you wear your seatbelt?
Yes. It's the law, you know? And once you've been busted for failure to wear your seatbelt (and they slap you with that hefty fine) you kinda remember to buckle up from that point on. Though it may be irresponsible I must say that if it weren't illegal not to wear them, I wouldn't.

52. What do you wear to sleep?
I sleep butt naked. Whoopee!

53. Anything big ever happen in your hometown?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha! You're joking, right?

54. How many meals do you eat a day?
2 or 3.

55. Is your tongue pierced?
Nope. Can't see the point of it (although I'm sure the millions who've had their tongues pierced had a good, utilitarian purpose for doing it)

56. Ever meet anyone you met on MySpace?
Can't say that I have. Most of my MySpace friends are people/bands I already know.

57. Do you read myspace bulletins?
Depends on who posts them. Most of the time I do, though. Don't be offended if I don't respond to "chain letter" type bulletins. It doesn't mean I don't consider you a friend. I just don't forward anything to anyone, basically.

58. Do you like funny or serious people better?
Probably serious people. My wife's pretty serious, if that means anything...I gotta LIVE with her.

59. Ever been to L.A.?
No, and I don't really have any desire to go there. I'd rather spend some time in New York.

60. Did you eat a cookie today?
No, but believe it or not, I ate one yesterday. One of those big cookies you get at Subway. I'm not really much of a cookie eater, though, to be honest.

61. Do you use cuss words in other languages?
Nope. Just English.

62. Do you steal or pay for your music downloads?
The few music files I've downloaded were from LimeWire, so yeah, I guess I stole 'em. I don't need internet music downloads because I have a CD collection that's 2,000 strong PLUS I have XM Satellite Radio.

63. Do you like chocolate?
When I was a kid I kinda had a taste for chocolate, but anymore I just don't care for it. We're talking about plain chocolate here, because I DO like Snickers, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Heath and few other candy bars.

64. What do you and your parents fight about the most?
I don't remember fighting much with my mom. As for what me and my dad fought about, what have you got? Just about anything and everything.

65. Are you a gullible person?
I hope not.

66. Do you need a boyfriend/girlfriend to be happy?
10 years ago, probably yes. Now, probably no.

67. If you could have any job what would it be?
Police officer. You didn't say I had to have any aptitude for it.

68. Are you easy to get along with?
I think most folks would say I'm NOT easy to get along with, not counting long term friends. Not that I'm cranky or anything, I'm just introverted and I don't trust a lot of people.

69. What is your favorite time of day?
Bedtime, of course.


Jubal Blog: 7th Tri-City Jam Session

April Fools shenanigans notwithstanding, the 7th Tri-City jam session went down yesterday and, in stark contrast to the last couple of weeks, we had quite a few jammers show up. We've been doing this for almost 2 months now so it's no wonder the word has spread about our little Sunday parties.

Let's see, we had Alan on guitar (at least I think that's his name), Lee on guitar, Dave on bass, Robert on drums, Jimmy on drums and Isaac on keyboards. As far as I know it was the first time these guys had ever played with each other (I could be wrong). They played several songs...and spent a lot of time tuning up---LOL. They did a good job, especially on such short notice.

Next up was a short set by a rock band called Element of Existence (and there's no way we'll ever forget the name, as the singer said it over the microphone at least 40-50 times). Loud and pretty doggone heavy, these guys were a bit of a change of pace for the Tri-City jam session. Regardless, they were quite entertaining and received a tremendous outpouring of support from the audience. I'm told that these guys are gearing up to perform at a Battle of the Bands somewhere, and I think I speak for all of Jubal Modine & the Love Handles when I wish them the best of luck. They all seemed like nice guys (plus they brought ALL of their own equipment! Kudos!).

We brought the show to a close with Alan, who really wanted to perform the Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See" with us. It was an excellent rendition.

As for our band, we only got to play the first set, there were so many jammers. It was a pretty good set. Not our best, but there were highlights. "Werewolves of London" sounded great, IMO. A couple of other songs...

Remember, folks, there will NOT be a jam session this coming Sunday, April 8. It's Easter, you know, and some of us are going to be spending time with our families while the rest of us are going to be hunting Easter eggs.

Jubal failed to make an appearance yesterday. Instead he opted to stay home and write letters to the President. "I can't be bothered," he said, "I'm lost in the Thesaurus!...Get it? Lost in the Thesaurus...kinda rhymes, see?"

Here are a few pictures of the band for ya...

Left to Right:
Jeff Easley-Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Charles Casey-Drums, Vocals
Jim Casey (me)-Bass, Vocals
Roger Holman-Guitar, Vocals