Saturday, August 31, 2013

I'm a gen-x'er, and I hate Springsteen

Full disclosure: I don't actually hate Bruce Springsteen. About ten years ago, I had minor "come to the boss" moment listening to Nebraska in its entirety while stuck in a car during a thunderstorm, but overall, my experience with one of the most acclaimed songwriters of my generation has more along the lines of "Meh. Not for me, thank you very much."

That being said, I was kind of surprised to see this kind of Springsteen apathy a millennial phenomenon.  I'm firmly positioned smack in the middle of generation x, and Springsteen's working-class populism never spoke to me either.

I grew up in the world he sings about and... not. His document of working-class America seemed forced to me: the down-on-his-luck anti-hero, a kind of guarded, working-class masculinity that buried deep inside beats a heart of gold -- I can't even write about it without resorting to cliches. And lets face it, mid-80s arena rock Bruce made a terrible first impression. As a teenager, I ran very far away from that, right into the arms of punk or metal which had no tolerance for sentimentality. I am neither proud, nor ashamed of this, since it formed a lot of who I am today, but I was that kid who rejected everything: good ol' Midwestern values, gender roles, religion... you name it. Frankly, I found Springsteen's music embarrassing.

I don't now. I appreciate his contribution to music as a whole, and that he often uses his fame for good. Most of the singer-songwriters I listen to today are indebted to him, and I respect that. But I still can't shake my childhood image of a boss in tight jeans fist-pumping and dancing in the dark with a pre-Friends Courtney Cox.

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