I have been listening to Bruce Springsteen’s The Promise this week, the compilation of tracks he recorded (during his own hiatus) following the release of Born to Run. As is so often the case with Springsteen outtakes, many of them seem to me far superior to the stuff he ended up releasing on his official albums. A couple of the tracks on The Promise instantly rank among my favorite Springsteen songs, especially “Candy’s Boy,” because a killer organ part will always grab me (and Springsteen’s loose, confident performance will keep me coming back), and “Ain’t Good Enough for You,” which comes straight from the psyche of a guy who thinks he’s going to make it big but isn’t convinced it will help him get girls. The album also contains Springsteen’s version of “Talk to Me,” a favorite by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes from their Hearts of Stone album in 1978. (Southside Johnny’s voice is easy to pick out on the Springsteen version.)
Also playing at our house this week: the marvelous 40th anniversary edition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. The reissue features a DVD with a 70-minute documentary on the making of the album, and a 1969 TV special featuring interviews and concert footage. I really wanted to see the 1969 special, which is worth it for the performance footage—a viewer is frequently left gobsmacked by just how spectacular Art Garfunkel’s voice was in his prime—and the candid look at the Simon and Garfunkel relationship is fascinating. But apart from a montage featuring footage of the JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King funeral trains set to “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Simon and Garfunkel’s attempt to comment on the state of America at the end of the 1960s fails to say much that’s very interesting.
Far more interesting is the comment on the making-of DVD, in which co-producer/director Charles Grodin and Simon talk about struggling with sponsors and CBS over the program’s content. After watching the funeral montage, a network official told them, “It’s unbalanced.”
“What do you mean, ‘unbalanced’?” Grodin asked.
“They’re all Democrats.”
Simon: “We prefer to think of them as assassinated people.”
There is a reason why American television is as stupid as it can be, and it’s not new.
Both The Promise and Bridge Over Troubled Water are worth seeking out if you haven’t already. I know I’m behind the curve on both of them. It’s been that kind of a stretch lately. But there will be new posts here Friday, maybe Saturday, and definitely Monday, before the hiatus resumes for a little while longer.