Friday, July 22, 2016

Bleecker Street (Bleaker Street)

I was looking for pictures of street signs for Bleecker Street in New York City. It's such a great name that it begs to be included in songs.

Of course, it has been.

Bruce Springsteen mentions Bleecker Street in his song, Kitty's Back, from The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle.

I can't tell you how fresh and new Springsteen sounded to me back then. On hearing "The Boss," I agreed with music critic (and later Springsteen producer) Jon Landau that I'd heard "the future of rock and roll." Like Bono, who gave the speech inducting Springsteen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I loved Springsteen's passion. I also loved his lyrical genius, voice, melodies, and incredible backing band.

Even this song fairly pops with creativity and power, Springsteen's guitar, Clarence Clemons' saxophone, and the brilliant interplay band and leader, who were already at the top of their game.

Though Springsteen has had a long career, I think that he failed to be the future of rock and roll, playing out for me in a matter of a few years. (Of course, it's arguable that, with few exceptions, rock and roll is a thing of the past generally.) The last Springsteen LP that I cared for was Nebraska (1982).

Simon and Garfunkel earlier sang about Bleecker Street in a song of the same name on their Wednesday, 3 A.M. LP.

It's sort of a typical Simon and Garfunkel song from that period: faux-profound lyrics, a nice melody, acoustic guitar, pretty harmonies. Not bad for playing in the background when you're talking with friends over a glass of wine, but ultimately sleep-inducing. The duo gave us some terrific songs, of course: Sounds of Silence, Bridge Over Troubled Water, 59th. Street Bridge Song, and Mrs. Robinson.  But they never did much for me and I enjoyed several of Simon's solo projects--Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin' Simon, and Gracetown come to mind more than I enjoyed Simon and Garfunkel. From what I've read, I guess that Paul Simon did too.

Bleecker Street is a prominent east-west thoroughfare in Greenwich Village. Clubs there played an important role in the rise of folk music in the late 50's and early 60s. This post on Wikipedia talks about other songs that mention the street.

There ought to be a song that plays off the name, call it Bleaker Street.

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