Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 27, 2009
POP CULTURE: Swing And A Miss

You know, I love Bruce Springsteen, have for many years, and I've scarcely ever heard him do a bad cover, so I was fairly enthused when I saw on his YouTube channel a live rendition of the Clash classic "London Calling." But unfortunately, this just doesn't work:

The major reason is that Bruce's voice is pretty ragged these days (it's a miracle he has any voice at all - he'll be 60 in September, and all those years of howling 3- and 4-hour arena shows are more punishment than almost anybody has put on their vocal chords. But he's still in better shape vocally than Dylan or Jagger, and he's probably lost less range to time than Bono or Billy Joel have). On his own material, that's less obvious, as he generally knows how to work the gravel in his voice to keep performing live, but this is a shouting song, and a classic young man's song at that, and Bruce just isn't up to it. The band just doesn't stomp enough on the main guitar and drum lines, either. Bruce does pull out a very impressive guitar solo around the 2:30 mark that makes the video worth watching all by itself (Bruce is a better guitarist now than he was in the 80s), but otherwise, thumbs down.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:18 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Better version with Bruce, Steven, Dave Grohl and Elvis Costello

Posted by: Bruce at July 28, 2009 10:55 AM

The great bass line of the original is lost. Too much rhythm guitar.

I agree about Springstein's solo.

Posted by: Henry at July 28, 2009 12:18 PM

I guess that's what makes markets, and why we don't all chase the same woman.

I'm not much of a fan and I thought that at least passable.

Posted by: spongeworthy at July 28, 2009 2:29 PM

I thought Bruce was holding his own until he let Steve Van Zandt sing.

Posted by: Jerry at July 28, 2009 3:53 PM

Like only a few Bruce songs and really can't stand the Clash so......

Posted by: dch at July 28, 2009 8:38 PM

Springsteen's best covers have always been the quiet songs with minimal arrangements, and the fewer band members involved the better. When he tries to rock out on tunes like "London Calling" it just turns into a mess because he's got something like 30 people playing on stage these days. The Clash sounded bombastic and clean with four guys. Springsteen should have gone the same route.

Born to posture.

Maybe Bruce's voice is ragged these days because he spent the last four years screaming his lungs out about how GWB wouldn't grant habeas corpus to Al-Qaeda prisoners, and was listening to all our phone calls, and practicing rendition, and wouldn't open the border with Mexico.

Funny how the last six months he's not raised his voice one time on those issues. Guess it was time to give the vocal cords a rest, right?

Posted by: ShoelesJoe at July 28, 2009 9:57 PM
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